I don’t know anything about cameras. It’s true. I don’t know about the importance of shutter speeds or zoom lengths and the closest thing I understand to an Aperture involves a phychotic a-moral artificial intelligence named GLaDOS (don’t worry photography experts, that’s a video game reference) so it seems a little strange that I find myself with one of BenQ’s newest digital camera, the GH700 to give you, our Gadget Corner audience, an honest opinion on.
Maybe this is all some cunning plan by BenQ to generate an honest review from an ‘everyman’ somebody who would not know all the internal cogs and dials of a camera. Someone who would take the camera at face value and see if it is approachable to non-photography experts. We can only hope.
From the moment you open the GH700 box you realise one thing, this is a very well built camera. Like I said, I’ve not got a huge amount of experience with cameras other than taking photos at concerts/festivals/press events and the occasional couples portrait with my girlfriend but I have seen some cameras which, whilst sporting an expensive price tag, feel very flimsy and weak, this is not true with the GH700, this is a strong camera and surprisingly easy to use. The main features touted on the box include 21x Zoom, Handheld Night Shoot, HDR II, Continuous Shooting, Full HD Recording and Picture in video. Now a good number of these mean nothing to me but there is enough here to whet my appetite for technology. Just the Full HD recording and the Night Shoot alone piqued my interest.
With its chunky design, the GH700 does sport a couple of drawbacks unfortunately, the grip is fairly large as it needs to house the cameras 4 x AA batteries but this means that people with slightly smaller hands than my own may have difficulty holding the camera with one hand comfortably. Other than this the camera is easily useable and fairly straight forward. With its ‘point-and-shoot’ design you can easily take photos without having to fiddle around with lots of individual settings – though they are there if you wish to pursue them.
Speaking of the settings, some of the different modes on the GH700 offer some lovely variation – with the built in flash and also the small orange range finder light, the GH700 ‘feels’ like an SLR camera – though it’s versatile enough not to come with the Â£700+ price tag.
My personal opinion with the GH700 – having not had much use with different styles of digital cameras is that it could definately benefit from a built in ion-battery to prevent it chewing through household AA’s and whilst the zoom is impressive, distant objects appear reasonably blurry when fully zoomed in – as you can see from the below picture of a neighbours dog at full zoom. Which slightly defeats the point. (photo can be clicked on to see full image)
Starting the GH700 up from scratch, the camera takes a fraction over four seconds to switch itself on and be ready to shoot, which is fairly standard. Autofocus speed is plenty fast enough outdoors in good light, but does take a pretty big hit indoors under less than ideal artificial light, or outdoors in twilight conditions or at night.
Continuous shooting clocks in at a maximum 10fps at 16MP up to a maximum of 10 consecutive images, which is quite impressive. Lowering the resolution down to 8MP or 5MP doesn’t improve on this though with 10fps for 10 consecutive images remaining the fastest the GH700 will go.
Processing times are a bit on the slow side however when the GH700 is set to Single-shot mode it takes around two seconds for the camera to process the image and whilst in continuous mode 10 full resolution JPEGs take just under ten seconds to process. In both Single-shot and Continuous modes you are unable to shoot any more images while the buffer is clearing.
As you can see, overall the wide angle photos offer the best results, even at a lower resolution whereas distance or closeup photos can sometimes look a bit wobbily. The HD recording feature is a very nice touch and one which I found yeilded the best results, as depicted below.
I would recommend the GH700 if you are willing to invest in a good quality tripod for the camera to sit on.