Ambarin Afsar strolls around the city with the BenQ GH200 in an attempt to discover what this compact brings to the table.
Announced in March 2012, the GH200 is the latest compact offering by BenQ, the manufacturers famous for their projectors and monitors. Now, there are a slew of compacts with plenty of features that give their competitors a run for their money. Hence, I was intrigued by what the company may have in store with its addition to the compact market.
A 14.1MP camera with 12.5x optical zoom, the GH200 has an effective focal length of 24–300mm in 35mm parlance. It features a Super Macro mode that lets one shoot subjects as close as 1cm. Considering its price, the amount of zoom is certainly value for money. Also, the camera features optical IS.
The GH200 has 22 scene modes to choose from, such as Auto, Simple Auto, Candelight, Landscape and Night Portrait, but no Panorama mode. Interestingly, the Auto mode functions as a Program mode. You can navigate to the menu and access settings like ISO, White Balance, Exposure Compensation, Focus Area and Focus modes. I found this degree of manual control to be quite helpful. All that was missing was control over aperture and shutterspeed.
Also found in the shooting menu is the option to switch between colour modes such as B&W, Sepia, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink and even Purple! Images shot in the B&W mode had rich tones, except what was missing was a grainy feel.
The rest of the colour modes were like fun colour tints that you would usually add to your photos in a photo editing software. Considering the wide number of image effects provided by cameraphone apps and other image editing services, I found this feature to be a smart and sensible addition.
The scene modes also include MagicQ, a filter that BenQ has been promoting extensively. The MagicQ filter is supposed to function a little like an HDR filter and make scenes look like surreal paintings. While it certainly does look dramatic, it also tends to overcook images and sometimes, you end up seeing halos around edges.
Additionally, the camera offers 720p HD video and has a standard 2.7-inch LCD with a resolution of 230K dots, both of which are not class leading.
The camera looks sleek and stylish. I would even call its styling a little retro, considering its metallic finish. However, the LCD cannot deal with bright light sources in the frame and ends up causing a vertical pink bar on the screen that disturbs shooting.
The LCD also tends to display photos much brighter than they actually are. Besides the LCD, the rear sports a four-way controller in which the top button is dedicated to the information displayed on the screen, while the bottom button is for the Flash.
And now, coming to a feature that seemed indispensable to me—the left and right buttons of the camera can be customised to access and control one particular setting from ISO, WB and Exposure Compensation. This sort of customisation is rarely available in cameras at this price point.
Additionally, there is a dedicated video recording button. All in all, the ergonomics are quite good and I like the button layout. The only really redundant button is the Display button. I feel that it could have been better utilised had it been set to another function, like controlling ISO values.
The overall image quality of the GH200 is quite decent. At lower ISOs, images are sharp throughout all focal lengths and the lens performs acceptably when shooting against the light. There is some purple fringing, but it can easily be corrected.
Images shot in low light are subjected to aggressive noise reduction, which leads to smearing of details. The colours appear well saturated and the camera has a decent dynamic range. The metering is spot on in most cases and a great amount of detail is recorded in shadow and highlight areas.
Priced at Rs. 9500, the BenQ GH200 is a nifty little shooter that will take care of most of your shooting needs. At 14.1MP, the images are sharp, crisp and vibrant. However, if you are looking for Full HD video or complete manual control, then the market has other options for you at only a slightly higher price.
Great colour modes, some manual control, 720p video, no panorama mode
Good image quality marred by aggressive NR, good dynamic range
Well built, easy to grip
Few buttons can be customised
Warranty & Support
Two years warranty, limited service centres
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Who should buy it? Someone looking for a bundle of good features and image quality within this price bracket.
Why? There are hardly any flaws in the BenQ GH200 except for the fact that it does not offer complete manual control and Full HD video.