There are some companies which everyone ends up associating with only certain products in their portfolio. The first association when someone mentions BenQ, for example, would be projectors and monitors. And, although not the most popular brand in India for its imaging products, BenQ has a decent number of digicams and camcorders in its lineup of products. The company recently released the BenQ GH200, a 14-megapixel digital camera. The camera was on our test bench for a couple of weeks and here's how it fares as a clicker.

The BenQ GH 200 looks like most other digicams currently being sold in the market, with its black plastic body and chrome trims. The metallic bezel on the top houses the Power button as well as the zoom toggle button.

The main controls lie next to the 2.7-inch LCD screen for framing a shot and reviewing it. There's the usual clickwheel surrounding the main menu button. Unlike most other digicams where all four sides of the clickwheel are assigned with some function, the one on the BenQ GH 200 only offers two shortcuts. The top section of the clickwheel lets you toggle between a simplified or an elaborate settings guide while you frame a shot. The bottom is a quick-access button to choose to have the Flash on, off or on a timer.

As far as the controls are concerned, they were a bit of a mish-mash and not the most wisely designed. For example, there were three separate buttons to click depending on whether you want to shoot still images, record movies or playback your pictures. Usually, there's just one button doubling up with two or more such functions doing away with the need for you to fumble for the others when you want to switch modes.

There are people who go 'all-out Auto' on entry-level digicams. They wouldn't really bother with delving deep into the settings or scenes to tweak the way they want a photograph clicked. For that type of an audience, the BenQ GH200 comes with a special Simple Menu mode. Once activated, you'll only have access to Self-Timer option, freedom to have the Flash on or off and tweak the resolution or image size of your pictures.

Pictures that we shot in relatively low-light conditions were grainy and took a lot of time to process by the digicam. While reviewing the shots right after they were clicked, the camera too tagged them as underexposed. Under normal lighting conditions, the colours were well-saturated and the images reasonably sharp.

With most shots, the processing time post-capture wasn't significantly delayed. However, those shot without the Flash on and under dim ambient light took quite a while to process.

The BenQ GH 200 comes with a 12.5x optical zoom lens which gave us decent results while shooting under bright sunlight. The camera always had the image stabilisation on by default. The results were, however, not as good as we'd got on the Samsung PL210, another budget camera, which featured a dual image stabilisation process.

With the video shooting mode on, the BenQ GH 200 lets you shoot videos at 720p (30 frames per second). The video cam gave us decent results both indoors and outdoors. The 12.5x zoom can be used in this mode as well. However, the results while shooting a video and zooming in weren't exactly optimal. The camera has trouble focusing on an object while we were zooming in and as a result the final footage ended up being quite blurry. All videos are recorded in the H.264 format.

The BenQ GH 200 features a special filter called the MagiQ Filter which lends the pictures a HDR-ish effect. We tried it on a couple of different paintings and portraits and mostly the results were interesting enough for us to want to experiment with the Magic Filter every once in a while. Apart from this, the digicam comes with other modes such as Party, Candlelight Portrait, Kids, Sports and so on. With a market more than flooded with options when it comes to digicams, the BenQ GH 200 is yet another that joins the bandwagon. For absolute beginners, the GH 200 is a decent model to start exploring their latent photography skills with. While the build quality is decent, the ease of operation needs small tweaks to make for more convenient operation. The images quality is what you'd expect of an entry-level digicam. However, at the marketed price, there are a couple of options from rivals with slightly bigger specs and potentially better imaging than the BenQ GH200.

Rs 9,500

Love – Decent build, Magic Filter

Hate – Redundant buttons, unpredictable results with zoom

mahananda.bohidar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 31, 2012)
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