BenQ DC5330

SAN FRANCISCO (10/06/2003) - WHAT'S HOT: The BenQ Corp. DC5330's best feature is its US$299 price tag--low for a 3-megapixel camera. Other noteworthy items include a rechargeable battery, an external charger, and a cute little belt case. The DC5330 also has an infrared emitter to help it focus in dim settings. With this camera, you can capture movies, record audio notes, and generate in-camera slide shows.

WHAT'S NOT: In our output judging, the DC5330 scored near the bottom among all cameras we've tested to date. On our least-challenging shots, the camera performed adequately, but its performance dropped off dramatically in more difficult settings. An indoor flash shot made our model look chalky-white; an outdoor shot looked too dark. Our still-life shot acquired a brownish cast, and large portions of it looked fuzzy. The cropped and magnified version of that shot lacked the fine details we see in corresponding pictures from most other 3-megapixel cameras. The DC5330 combines two flash modes--full automatic and red-eye reduction--in a single mode. According to the manual, the camera will enable red-eye reduction mode when necessary. In reality, the camera sometimes fired the flash three times in full automatic mode, regardless of whether people were within the frame. If you use the full on mode, the flash fires twice--as happens with some other digital cameras--once to measure exposure and a second time to illuminate the shot; but the DC5330 does the job very slowly. The audio captured with movies was loud, but heavily distorted, both when played from the camera and when played from a PC. The camera uses a square that turns green in the center of the LCD and a green LED to signal that it has focused successfully, but it often gives you the green light even when the image is way out of focus. We found the camera's grainy menus hard to read; and because the camera doesn't have a quick-review function, you must change to playback mode to view or delete images. The English portion of BenQ's short manual is badly translated.

WHAT ELSE: A true point-and-shoot camera, the DC5330 has no manual settings, though it does have five basic scene modes. It comes with a small, nicely designed charger for the lithium-ion battery. Unfortunately, the charger's 5-foot-long AC power cord takes up almost as much space in your bag as the charger itself. In our battery tests, the DC5330 lasted for 329 shots almost 2 hours), about average for the cameras we've tested.

UPSHOT: With below-average image quality and few refinements, the DC5330 doesn't compare well with similarly priced basic cameras.

BenQ DC5330

3.2 megapixels, 2048 by 1536 maximum resolution, 35mm to 104mm focal range (35mm equivalent), f2.8 to f8 aperture range, shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/1000 second, optical and LCD viewfinders, video recording with audio, 16MB internal memory and Secure Digital media card slot, rechargeable lithium ion battery, 7.7 ounces with batteries; ArcSoft PhotoBase, PhotoImpression, VideoImpression, and PhotoPrinterPro software. One-year parts and labor warranty, 12-hour weekday toll-call support.



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