Benq is usually associated with digital projectors, monitors and computer peripherals like keyboards and mice. However, the company has an extensive line of cameras to its name, and it’s recently launched the AE100. This camera boasts of features aimed at the younger generation as well as the budget-conscious consumer. It features a 14 megapixel sensor, 5x zoom, and 720p video recording. Read on to know if this entry-level camera is worth your money.
5x optical zoom
Design and Build Quality
The Benq AE100 is a stylish looking camera with a fairly slim profile. There are two colour options available – reddish pink and silver. We received the former in our lab. The front of the camera has a textured feel to it, which Benq describes as a diamond style. This texture lends a fair amount of class and also reduces fingerprints during usage. The branding is featured on the front left of the camera, next to the LED flash, an auto focus assist, and the lens.
The rest of the body has a matte finish, which also helps in preventing fingerprints. The buttons are located to the right of the 2.7-inch screen. These buttons are for the menu, a four-way navigational pad with the select button in the centre, and a function button. There is also a toggle switch for shifting between image capture, video recording and playback. All the buttons on the camera are finished in silver and like the rest of the camera, they are made of plastic. The on/off button is located at the top of the camera along with the shutter release button. Like many cameras nowadays, the zoom rocker is featured next to the shutter release. There is a proprietary USB port located to the side of the camera that is used for charging and transferring data. The battery bay is located on the underside of the camera and it houses the memory card as well.
Thin and extremely lightweight
This is a fancy looking camera and the reddish pink colour would appeal to women. The camera is really slim as well, allowing it to easily fit in a pocket, and small enough to slip into a purse. The build quality feels a bit flimsy and plasticy, but it looks like it could withstand a couple of accidental drops from a low height.
The Benq A100 has a quite a few features for an entry-level point-and-shoot, the chief feature being the wide aperture of f/2.4. Thanks to this, more light can enter the lens, making it possible to click better images in low light conditions. The other headlining feature is the 14.0 megapixel CCD sensor from Panasonic. The camera features 5x optical zoom along with an image stabilizer, ensuring that there is next to no blur while capturing images. ISO sensitivity on this camera ranges from 100 to 6400, giving users a fair amount to tweak in manual mode.
The buttons are well spaced
An interesting feature of this camera is the ability to record 720p videos, which is usually found on cameras that are priced higher. With this inclusion, even a budget-conscious consumer to enjoy HD video recording capabilities. The interface is fairly simple to navigate through; all controls can be accessed through the menu button and further settings can be changed by using the function or the set key. Someone who is completely new to digital cameras can get used to it with a little practice, making it the ideal entry-level buy. This camera is also loaded with a ton of shooting modes, allowing one to be entertained for a considerable amount of time by merely playing with the different settings, such as fish-eye, beauty enhancer, self portrait, love portrait, etc.
Overall, the features of this camera are pretty good and it would be the ideal camera for nights out, parties, etc.
The BenQ AE100 was tested in a controlled environment indoors, as well as outdoors.
ISO sensitivity test
The lowest ISO setting on this camera is 100 and at this setting, there is no image noise and the colours appear natural. However, from ISO 200 onwards there is a change in the colour. From ISO 800 onwards, the image starts appearing grainy and there is some saturation noticed. ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 had a lot of noise and even in the controlled environment, there was a lot of grain visible.
Aperture priority test
The main feature of this camera is its wide aperture priority, which is F/ 2.4. At this setting, there was a fair amount of depth of field. At aperture set to F6.0, the image appeared crisp and there was hardly any depth of field noticed.
The zoom capability of this camera is pretty good. In our zoom test, with the zoom set to maximum (5x), the image stabilizer worked well and there was no blur noticed.
Indoor images showed a fair amount of detail
While capturing images outdoors, when in a well-lit area, we noticed some anomalies across the screen. However, images captured well and these anomalies were not visible. The camera takes time adjusting to the light, making it difficult sometimes to capture images quickly from a dark area to a bright one. While capturing indoor pictures, there was no grain noticeable and the camera performed quite well. While recording videos at 720p, the video recorded well and the playback was smooth. For a 31 second video, the size is approximately 30.3 MB, which is fairly decent for a clip of this length. The flash is pretty powerful and lights up an area of around 12 feet. Benq has bundled a 700mAh battery with this camera and the company rates it at approximately 200 shots on a full charge.
Diamond style textured finish
The Benq AE100 is available in India at a market price of Rs 4,699. This is a decent camera and can be the perfect companion during get-togethers and parties. The camera is extremely lightweight, so carrying it around is not a task at all. However, the performance is not as great as some of the other cameras available in the market that cost a thousand rupees or so more. But for this price, this is a good camera encased in a stylish design.
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