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|BenQ DC E40 - Digital Camera Review|
The BenQ DC E40 was first announced on the 19th of July 2004 - "BenQ announces the release of the BenQ DC E40 digital camera. Targeted at females, the E40 features an intuitive touch screen with photo framing and scrawling options and equipped with a 4 mega-pixel high sensitivity image sensor." Initial reaction was mixed, due to the camera being targetted specifically at women.
The Camera: It's
compact and made out of shiny red and beigey / silver plastic.
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic, this camera is smaller than the Pentax.
Specifications / Features:
Full Specifications can be found on BenQ's site.
Average box contents - 8mb memory is very poor - especially considering the low price of SD memory cards ie, a 128mb SD memory card is only £12!
Battery usage: The camera uses a small 3.7v 780mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery made by BenQ. To charge the battery, the battery must be in the camera, and then a small convertor is connected to the camera's USB port, and then the AC adapter is plugged into the convertor - alternatively the camera can be charged through the USB cable, you simply plug it into your computer.
Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the dial on the top - the dial has the following modes: Photo, Play, Video and Dictaphone.
Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:
The options are: Manual / Auto, Scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Back Light, Night Scene), Timer, Continuous shooting, File size, Image compression, on the next screen: White balance, ISO, Photo effect (Normal, Black and White, Sepia, Vivid), Exposure compensation, Metering, Date Imprint (Year, Month and Date only - not time).
Setup menu options: Memory, Date/Time, Date Format, LCD Brightness, Sound, File number reset, on the next page: Video output, Power saving, Language, Default setting (reset), Software version, Touch panel calibration.
Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 8mb:
You can fit a poor number of images on the provided 8mb memory - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / lower compression options. There is a fairly good choice of image sizes, and there is a good choice regarding image compression.
A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at least a 128mb or 256mb memory, or larger especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the BenQ DC E40:
128mb SD memory card
Speed, Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, quick to switch on, and quick to take photos - the camera has the advantage in that the lens doesn't have to focus (it's fixed focus). The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use - the touchscreen menus quite responsive. The screen updates are quick and smooth. The camera is compact and fits very easily into pockets. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to press. The modes are very easy to access, quick and simple, as there are only 4 modes: Photo, Play, Video and Audio.
The playback mode is also quick, although it only allows you to zoom as close as 4x. In playback mode, you can either use the 4-way controller or you can use the touchscreen in order to scroll through the photos and zoom in.
Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel good, and are labelled fairly well. The on/off switch seems too close to the shutter button, as I often turned the camera off when trying to take a photo.
Battery usage: Battery life seems average, giving about 100 or more images per charge - a backup battery is recommended as the camera does not take AA batteries, however the battery can be charged through the usb cable, so as long as a computer is nearby you should be able to easily charge the camera. You can switch off the display to conserve battery power, although there is no optical viewfinder.
LCD Display (Photo mode / Playback mode):
LCD display in photo mode: The screen is a fairly decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. Shown above - it shoes flash, mode, macro mode, picture size, remaining pictures, battery life.
Playback mode: The camera shows the file size, and number, but little else. Scrolling through the photos is very quick. The zoom is quick from 2x - 4x, and easy to use. Playback menu options are discussed above.
Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!
Inside: The camera struggled with the usual test photo of Heather and the flower picture, but in other situations, the camera did an okay job taking indoor photos, as long as the subject was not too close. The camera has a decent flash, and copes quite well with group photos - in darker conditions noise is quite visible.
is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect
over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital
camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO
setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable
in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels
(with a range between 100 and 200), as well as manual ISO settings: 100,
and 200. To demonstrate the effect of the different ISO levels on this
camera I have taken these pictures, and cropped an area of the image to
show you at 100% what the noise looks like.
Noise levels at ISO100 are fairly high - at ISO200 noise is horrible.
Outside, the camera had decent colour, with good contrast, saturation. Although detail was lacking, noise was quite high, and images did seem quite dark. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.
camera has no optical zoom and a built in 4x Digital zoom - in the case
of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the
photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is
not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it
degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained
by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples
below simply to show what these features do.
Lens noise and zoom: Not applicable.
Other Image Quality issues: I did not notice any Chromatic Aberrations / Purple Fringing.
Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you must move the switch on the side of the camera, this allows you to take close up photos with the subject 30cm away from the lens. The camera does not let you use the flash when you are in this mode.
The macro mode is very poor - you can't get very close at all - it's more like a 'close-up' mode rather than a normal macro mode, and it's especially lmited because you can't use the flash, meaning for close-up photos of people it's not very useful unless you're outside on a sunny day.
Movie: 320x240 / 25fps with sound - you can't use the digital or optical zoom whilst recording a video or before. The movie is recorded as an .ASF file. Length is limited only by the size of the memory card.
The quality of the movie(s) is quite good, colour is quite good, 320 x 240/25fps with sound is slightly better than average.
Summary: The BenQ DC E40 is a compact 4 megapixel digital camera with a 1.5" touch-screen. The camera records unlimited length videos with sound. The camera is easy to use, but produces average images with high noise, low detail, and slightly dark images. The camera's touch screen is an interesting idea, but poorly executed with a small screen. For around £100 (UK) this camera offers good value for money, and is quite unique in having a touch screen that could be quite fun, but the camera could definitely be much better. Check Latest Prices on Amazon.co.uk
If you like the look of the BenQ DC E40, but you would like a bigger screen, then have a look at the big brother, the BenQ DC E41, with a larger 2" screen.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.