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Appeared on: Tuesday, September 14, 2004
BenQ DC C-50

1. Introduction

BenQ DC C-50 Review, Dimitrios Tolios, September 2004

Review based on a production BenQ DC C-50 model

S/N: 0509E34302172, firmware version 0.21


BenQ - formerly Acer Communications & Multimedia Group - was known in the digital imaging world as a digital display and flatbed scanner producer. Recently, they introduced a wide range of digital cameras in an attempt to stay current, releasing new models on a regular basis.

The DC C50 is the current line's flagship, featuring a 5MP class sensor, 3x optical zoom, Li-Ion battery and an extensive range of exposure control settings. Along with very competitive pricing, the DC C50 seems to be a good choice when stacked up against comparable models from Canon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony in the same class. But can actual performance and image quality catch up with the high specifications?

2. Specifications





Model name

DC C50

Serial number


Used Camera Firmware


Camera format


Body Color


Retail Price ($ - €)


Street price ($ - €)

US $356 / EU €244

Price Update Date

9 - 2004

Date Available

Already available

Weight (gr.)

180 gr

Weight with Batteries (gr.)


Dimensions (W x H x D) (mm)

98 x 63 x 35

Operating Temperatures (°C)


Operating Humidity (%)


Remote Control


Remote Control Type


Tripod mount

Yes, Metal

Operating System


Warranty in Months

24 Months Manufacturer warranty, 6 Months for Battery


Image Resolutions

  • 2560 x 1920
  • 2048 x 1536
  • 1280 x 960
  • 640 x 480

Image Ratio (w/h)


Effective Pixels (Mega pixels)

5 MP

Sensor photo detectors (Mega pixels)

5.04 MP

Sensor Size

1/1.8 " - (7.2 x 5.3 mm )

Sensor Type


Sensor Manufacturer


Color filter type


Focal Length Multiplier


Movie Clips


Movie Resolution (pix ‐ fps)

  • 320 x 240 - 15 fps
  • 160 x 120 - 15 fps

Movie Audio

Yes, PCM 8bit 64kbps

Sound Recording

Yes, Up to 10 sec comment for each image


Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)

37.5 - 112.5 mm

Actual Focal Length

7.2 - 21.6 mm

Zoom Ratio


Optical Zoom Steps


Digital Zoom


Digital Zoom Value


Auto Focus


Auto Focus Type


Auto Focus Steps


Auto Focus Assist Light


Auto Focus Minimum Illumination


Manual Focus


Manual Focus Steps

  • 1m
  • 3m
  • Infinity

Macro Focus


Macro Focus Steps


Normal Focus Range

80 cm to Infinity

Macro Focus Range

8 cm to Infinity: Wide

30 cm to Infinity: Tele

Min Macro Area


Max Aperture

  • Wide: F2.8
  • Tele: F4.7

Min Aperture

  • Wide: F6.7
  • Tele: F11

Aperture range

  • Wide: F2.8 - F6.7
  • Tele: F4.7 - F11

Aperture Steps

• Wide: F2.8, F3.5, F4.0, F4.8, F5.6, F6.7
• Tele: F4.7, F5.6, F6.7, F8, F9.5, F11

Lens Thread


Lens thread Type



ISO Settings

  • Auto
  • ISO 100
  • ISO 200
  • ISO 400

ISO Rating Min


ISO Rating Max


Manual White Balance


White Balance Settings

  • Auto
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent 1 - Reddish
  • light
  • Fluorescent 2 - Bluish light
  • Day Light
  • Cloudy
  • Manual

Longest Shutter time

8 sec

Shortest Shutter Time

1/1500 sec

Shutter Type

Mechanical and Electrical Shutter

Shutter Steps (sec)

8, 6, 5, 4, 3.2, 2.5, 2, 1.6, 1.3, 1, 0.8, 0.6, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, 1/10, 1/13, 1/15, 1/20, 1/25, 1/30, 1/40, 1/50, 1/60, 1/80, 1/100, 1/125, 1/160, 1/200, 1/250, 1/320, 1/400, 1/500, 1/640, 1/800, 1/1000, 1/1250, 1/1500

Exposure Adjust Range

+/- 2 EV

Exposure Adjust Step Size

1/3 EV

Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)

Yes, 3 frames

Metering Modes

  • Spot
  • Average Weighted TTL

Spot Metering


Aperture Priority


Shutter Priority


Full Manual Exposure


Self Timer Shooting

Yes, Selectable 2 or 10 sec delay

Continuous Shooting

Yes, Up to 0.5 fps for 3 frames

Interval Shooting

Yes, Up to 99 shots with 1, 3, 10 or 60 min intervals




Viewfinder Type

Optical, Real Image

Viewfinder Accuracy


LCD Monitor


LCD Monitor Accuracy

Nearly 100%

LCD Monitor size

1.5" TFT

LCD Monitor resolution


LCD Monitor Rotation


Max Playback Zoom



Built - in flash


Flash Modes

  • Auto
  • Red Eye Reduction
  • Forced Flash
  • No Flash

Flash Guide Number (meters)


Flash Range

0.5 ~ 3 m

Flash Exposure Compensation


Flash Exposure Compensation Steps


External Flash


External Flash Connection



Usable Memory Types

SD/MMC, up to 512MB

Memory Included (MB)

32MB SD Memory Card (Panasonic)


Uncompressed Format


CCD RAW Format


Compressed Format


Compression Quality Levels

  • Fine (1/4)
  • Standard (1/8)
  • Economy (1/16)

Movie File Format

AVI, with PCM audio


Video Out


Video Mode Switchable



Yes, USB 1.1

Firewire (IEEE 1394)




Other Connection


DC Power Input


OS Compatibility



Battery Type

Li - Ion 3.7 V - 1035 mAh

Batteries Included


Battery Charger Included


External Power Supply



Camera Driver

PC Driver (Windows 98/ 98SE/ 2000/ ME/ XP)

Software Applications

BenQ Q-Link (smart photo management software)
Arcsoft PhotoBase
Arcsoft PhotoImpression
Arcsoft VideoImpression
Arcsoft PhotoPrinter
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Microsoft DirectX
Electronic User's Manual


Photo Samples URL

Page 8

Device Forum URL


Manufacturer URL

http://www.benq.com , http://www.benq-eu.com

3. Design


The DC C50's simple but elegant design is up to my liking with its rectangular, round edged silver body and nickel-plated details. The company used aluminium sheet and plastic to shape the outer body, which feels rather sturdy and solid in your hand. Overall, BenQ convinces you that this is a good quality camera, although it cannot reach the feel of magnesium bodies many prosumer level cameras use.

Side by side

Here you can see the DC C50 next to an average sized 3MP compact camera, the Canon Powershot A70 which also uses a 3x zoom lens of similar brightness. Due to the lack of a hand grip and its slimmer design, the DC C50 is noticably smaller. It will fit into a pocket much easier.

In your hand

Without a defined handgrip, the camera sits in your hand rather nicely, though people with big hands could find it difficult to hold it comfortably. The camera's controls are located to the right, thus making it easy to both shoot and preview pictures single-handed, provided that you are right handed that is.

Body Elements

LCD Monitor
The average sized 1.5" LCD monitor, given that many models utilize 2" displays nowadays, is rather bright and sharp. Though its brightness can be increased (or decreased), viewing under strong sunlight is poor. Nothing different from most cameras in this department.
Nothing fancy about the lens. A typical 3x optical zoom ( 37.5 - 112.5 mm equiv.) of average brightness. Maximum aperture ranges from F2.8 to F4.7 (wide to telephoto zoom end), which is rather slow compared to most current 5MP cameras. A lens thread for mounting filters is not included, and any kind of adapter for them was not predicted. So expandability of the current optical system is out of the question.
Memory and Battery Compartment

The memory and the battery share the same compartment, accessible through a plastic door located at the bottom right of the camera. The metal, spring loaded hinge seems sturdy and its slide-lock operation is positive, though I believe it could be better.

Optical Viewfinder

The optical viewfinder is a typical - real image - tunnel type design. It is equipped with diopter adjustment and is quite accurate. The possibility of using the optical viewfinder for your average shot is slim, though it could help in occasions of intense sunlight, which can make the images in the LCD monitor too hard to see. You could also be using it to save on battery power. The Viewfinder AF and activity LED serves as a status indicator in shooting mode, when charging the battery and when the camera is connected to a PC.

Flash and AF assist lamp
The built in flash has a given range of 0.5 to 3 meters at Auto ISO, an average but not disappointing value for DC C50's class. Though it is not located far from the lens' optical center, red-eye reduction appears to be working with consistency in our tests. Nonetheless, you cannot control flash exposure compensation and items closer than 1-1,5m tend to come out overexposed or even burned because of the strong flashes. Fill in performance is adequate.

The built in assist lamp is rather effective and helps the camera to achieve focus even in complete darkness, as long as your subject is located within 5 meters or so. Many prosumer digital cameras would like to have its performance.

Camera base and Tripod Mount
The metal tripod mount is nicely placed where it seams to be aligned with the lens' center - a nice feature when taking panoramas using a non-specialized tripod. The rest of the camera's base is quite simple in design, as is the rest of the camera.
On the left side of the camera are its sole two connection sockets: a 5V DC-IN socket and the combined USB 1.1 and AV terminal. The designers haven't utilized any kind of protection over the terminals. Thus caution should be taken in order to protect them from dirt, fine sand or even light rain, which could cause malfunction or even damage the device.
Battery, Charger and AC Adapter
BenQ includes a 3.7 V - 1035 mAh Li-Ion battery to power the DC C50. The included charger also doubles as an AC adapter for using the camera indoors without the need to worry about battery duration, which is rather good by the way. Nicely done in the power department.
Camera Pouch
BenQ also includes a nice camera pouch made out of leather and synthetic fabric. The camera fits tightly into the pouch, which also utilizes a safety tie for the hand strap, a strap for mounting the pouch on your belt and even a small cleaning tissue for the camera and lens! Inside the pouch you can find a small pocket containing the cleaning tissue, which could also be used for storing a couple of SD memory cards. The pouch uses a magnet to hold its cover closed. Such a stylish accessory should cost a lot of money to buy, so thanks BenQ for showing the way.
Box contents
  • DC C50 Digital Camera
  • Lithium-ion Battery
  • SD Memory Card
  • AC power adapter - Output 5.0 V ~ 2.0 A
  • Camera Pouch
  • Hand Strap
  • AV Cable
  • USB Cable
  • User's manual
  • DC C50 Software CD-ROM

4. Operation and Controls
Operation and Controls

Operation and Controls

Despite the manual shooting modes and advanced settings available, the BenQ DC C-50 is rather easy to control, sporting proven controls layout found on many digital compacts.

Rear camera controls
Most of the control buttons are located on the camera's back as on most models. Though the multiple options and icons may intimidate the novice, actual operation is pretty simple. Even advanced settings have dedicated buttons and are easy to access in both record and play modes, with the cross oriented buttons and the center "SET" button. The latter, when pressed brings up an instant view of the last shot recorded. The control dial at the upper right acts also as a selection button when pushed, so controlling multiple exposure settings is relatively easy and quick when mastered. A major drawback however is its small size, which is suitable only for people with small hands. The zoom control button is easy to access and has a positive feel.
Top camera controls
On the top of the camera are located its power button, which is recessed to prevent accidental power ons and offs. The large mode dial on the right of the camera and of course the shutter release button, which has a very good feel, making it easy to distinguish between half and full presses.

Display and Menus

Record Mode
This is a typical Record Mode scene with the camera displaying information on almost any setting available for the current shooting mode. Most of these information icons can be switched off.
By half pressing the shutter button, the camera calculates exposure and focuses on the center of the frame. When focus is achieved, the center rectangle changes to blue. Additional information disappears from the screen.
In case AF could not be achieved, the center rectangle changes to yellow. Notice that the camera informs you of the possibility of camera shake in low shutter speeds relative to the focal length currently selected.
Controlling flash and focus modes is easy, and all changes apply instantly by pressing the dedicated camera back buttons. Choosing flash mode, or switching between macro, or manual focus presets is as simple as pressing a button.
Pressing the MENU button in record mode brings out this screen and browsing between the available settings is a no-brainer. All the aspects of the image taken, besides exposure, can be adjusted here. The exposure compensation is also easy to select, just by pressing the dedicated "left" control button in the camera's back and rolling the control dial to adjust.
Play Mode
The typical play mode screen displays nothing but the serial number of the image. Pressing the LCD button brings out information on the exposure settings and the file size of the current image.
By pressing the zoom in button in the upper right corner, the image viewed can be magnified up to 4 times. Scrolling through the image's areas is possible with the directional cross oriented buttons. Pressing the DELETE button symbolized by the trash can brings out this menu which allows you to delete the current image, select multiple images to delete at once or erase all of them instantly.
By pressing the zoom-out button while in play mode, the screen displays a 3 by 3 thumbnail view. Browsing through all of the images is possible with the directional keys, and the SET or zoom-in button brings the highlighted image to full view. Choosing SET on the main mode dial brings up these screens for adjusting time and date, auto power off interval, menu language, changing between PAL or NTSC etc.

5. Timings and Sizes
Timings and Sizes

Timings and Sizes

The DC C-50 surely isn't a fast operating camera. You could say that its speed in most operations is average, but take note that at this price and with big, 5MP images, anything faster would be a big surprise. However, focus and image recording times surely won't disappoint the average snapper, nor will the average shutter lag which is pretty much standard in this category.

Test Notes:

All times are calculated as an average of three operations. All operations are based on a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels, fine quality JPEG image. The media used for these tests was a 256MB Transcend 45x SD card.

Time (seconds)
Power : Off to Record  
4 sec
Power : Off to Play Image Displayed
5,1 sec
Power : Record to Off Lens retracted and all activity ceased
1 sec
Power : Play to Off When Buffer is empty

Record Preview Image displayed
2 sec
Mode: Record to Play  
2 sec
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended
1 sec
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended
<2 sec

Play: Magnify To full magnification (4x)
1 sec
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image
2 sec
Play: Image to Thumbnail Time to change to thumbnail view
1 sec
Play: Thumbnail View Time to browse through thumnail displays
2 sec

Time (seconds)
Zoom from wide to tele  
1 sec
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide zoom end
1~3 sec
Half-press Lag (0->S2) Telephoto zoom end
2~3 sec
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD Live view
Very fast
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) ViewfindedLCD switched off
Very fast
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle
2 sec
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view, wide angle
7 sec
Shot to Shot Flash off
5 sec
Shot to Shot Flas on
8 sec

Lag Timing Definitions

Half-press Lag (0->S1)

Most of the modern cameras auto-focus and calculate the exposure needed for each shot when the user half-presses the shutter release button. Half-press Lag is the time needed between half-pressing the shutter release and the camera indicating that focus was achieved and exposure was estimated on the LCD monitor and/or the viewfinder.

Half to Full-press lag (S1->S2)

The time needed to take a shot by Full-pressing the shutter release, assuming the camera had already focused and evaluated the exposure settings.

Full-press Lag (0->S2)

The time needed for the camera to take a shot when the shutter release button is fully pressed, without having pre-focused by half-pressing.

File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the times needed for the camera to process and store the image to the storage card. The timer is started as soon as the shutter release is pressed and stopped when the activity indicator goes out. The media used for these tests was a 256MB Transcend 45x SD card.

Image Mode
Time to store (secs)
Time to display (secs)
File Size (approx.)
Images on a 256MB card
2560 x 1920 JPEG Fine
4 sec
1 sec
2.1 MB
2560 x 1920 JPEG Standard
2 sec
1 sec
1.3 MB

6. Tests - Page 1
Photographic Tests

White Balance

The DC C50 has all the white balance settings you would expect from a modern digital compact. In addition to the standard auto WB mode, the C50 has five white balance presets (daylight, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent 1 & 2), along with a useful manual setting. Though it could be much simpler to set the WB manually, the settings work quite well after you familiarize yourself with the menus, and the setting is held in the cameras settings even after you switch the camera off. The Auto WB mode works fine in daylight, cloudy weather or when using the flash. But when we tested the camera shooting indoors under incandescent or bluish fluorescent light, the Auto setting couldn’t always give an accurate estimation- though the results could be compared with much more expensive compact digitals. Thus, as with most compact digitals, it is recommended using the preset WB settings when you are sure of the type of lightning. Notice that all three pictures are under-exposed, but this is common o scenes containing large white areas and + EV compensation is always required. Nevertheless, these shots had no manual input as we wanted to see how the camera's automatic program would react by changing the light source.

Daylight - Auto WB
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Incandescent - Auto WB

Flash Performance

The flash unit used by the DC C50 provides an average shooting range of 0,5 to 3m (at the wide end of zoom). Flash performance is adequate, though it could be better: the lack of the ability to reduce the flash’s power output leads to over-exposures when shot in ranges closer than 1m, thus it should be avoided.

Auto WB

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

As with most zoom lenses in this camera class, there is some Barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom, while it’s not significant and won’t affect the average user. In the middle and telephoto end of the zoom though, there is no noticeable distortion, either barrel or pincushion.

Distortion - Wide end
Distortion - Tele end

Macro Performance

Nothing great about the macro performance, but it should cover the average flower or insect shooting session. As you can see you can get closer and get a greater magnification using the wide end of the zoom, while on the other end you'll enjoy much less distortion along with more usable working distances.

Wide zoom macro 89 x 68 mm coverage ~ 89 pixels/mm

Tele zoom macro - 106 x 79 mm coverage ~ 24 pixels/mm

Purple fringing/blooming

Pretty-much standard performance in this field too. Purple fingering can be found in high-contrast edges, especially when shooting against a strong light source. However its presence isn't too noticeable in most cases. What is noticeable and creates a bad impression is the below than average bokeh ? the rendition of out-of-focus points of light. Part of this is due to the oversimplified 3-blade design of the diaphragm iris, and off course the spherical aberration which is very difficult to control in such small zoom lenses.

A good rule of thumb is shooting with the sun behind you as photographers were taught for generations.

100% Crop

ISO 100, F4, 1/400sec Full image

100% Crop

ISO 100, F4, 1/400sec Full image

Night Shots / Long time exposures

The DC C50 specs with 8 sec maximum shutter speeds makes you believe that night photography was not left out of the game by BenQ. But as a matter of fact, prolonged exposure could be this camera's weakest point. Noise is intolerable, despite the noise reduction procedure the camera automatically uses before storing the image - and thus slowing considerably the time between exposures longer than 1.5 sec. You could say that every 3 sec + exposed photo will contain beautiful RGB snowflakes, but this isn't something you would wish for.

ISO 100, F6.7, 2sec
ISO 100, F11 , 8sec

7. Tests - Page 2

Head to head comparison

Below you can find a studio comparison between the BenQ DC C50 and the Olympus C-5060 WZ. We have included samples for the lowest and higher ISO settings for each camera. The lens was zoomed to the middle of the range while both cameras were in Aperture priority mode and F5.6. Distanse from the subject was 115cm (+/- 1%). Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and the shutter was released by the in-camera timer.

Low ISO performance

BenQ DC C-50
Olumpus C-5060 WZ
ISO 100, F5.6, 1/25sec
ISO 80, F5.6, 1/25sec

It's clear from the crops that the two cameras don't belong to the same category. The C-5060 is clearly superior when it comes to both image sharpness and colour accuracy. The C-50 lags behind in sharpness and contrast as well, so users should consider experimenting with the camera's Sharpness and Contrast adjustments to improve the overall impression.

The C-5060 has the clear advantage as it utilizes both a bigger (in physical dimensions) sensor and a sharper, bigger lens. Moreover, a key to high quality images is the number of diaphragm blades: the Olympus has a well rounded 7-blade iris, while the BenQ engineers where happy with a 3-blade iris. It's easy to imagine that a 3-blade iris cannot form an opening close to a perfect circle and render accurately the details across the image. This could also explain why C-50's seem to be lacking in depth of field, capturing less detail.

Olympus' high sharpness also exaggerates noise. As you can see in the colour patches, the C-50 produces much smoother - and blured - results. This could be explained by the heavy JPEG-compression applied by the camera, which leads to smaller files than the Olympus. In any case, the C-5060's grain-like-noise surely isn't pleasing, considering this camera's price.*

Though colour isn't as accurate as the C-5060's, the C-50s colour reproduction should please the average snapper. Saturation is high, and though it could be reduced by the camera's menu, the overall impression is pleasing. Landscape photographers will be pleased. Also worth mentioning is that the cameras Auto WB setting, estimated the WB point under our 3200K Tungsten lamps much more accurately than the Olympus! That's peculiar considering the huge price gap between these models.

*Some of the grainy-noise is "flattened" because of the recompression of the cropped images. Download the original images for a more objective examination.

8. Tests - Page 3
Head to head...

Head to head comparisson

Below you can find a studio comparison between the BenQ DC C50 and the Olympus C-5060 WZ at ISO 400. The lens was zoomed to the middle of the range while both cameras were in Aperture priority mode and F5.6. Distanse from the subject was 115cm (+/- 1%). Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and the shutter was released by the in-camera timer.

High ISO performance

BenQ DC C-50
Olumpus C-5060 WZ
ISO 400, F5.6, 1/100 sec
ISO 400, F5.6, 1/125sec

At ISO 400, the Olympus C-5060 remains sharper and clearly captures more detail than the C-50. Colour Saturation drops noticeably for both cameras, while the colour accuracy gap is narrowed. The image quality rendered by the C-50 is colour dependant and though you could say it surpasses the C-5060 in some areas, you can't ignore a slight blue colour cast. Almost all of the noise produced by C-50's sensor is in the blue channel. The C-5060 continues to produce noisy images, but with a ?grainy? feel very different than the average ?colour-noisy? compact, like the C50. Overall, ISO 400 performance for both cameras isn't disappointing compared to the competition from other brands.

9. Sample Gallery

BenQ DC C-50 Sample Gallery

Here you can find a small selection of shots taken with the camera. The images were not manipulated other than renaming in some cases. Some pictures need to be rotated to be viewed correctly, but we didn't want JPEG to recompress the rotated file. This is up to the viewer to do, if he wishes so.

10. Conclusion

Conclusion - Pros

Conclusion - Cons

Overall Conclusion

The camera is a nice addition to the "stylus digital compact" market, providing a pretty design, good value for money and satisfying image quality, though it cannot match the top 5MP in terms of resolving power and detail. It should more than satisfy the average user upgrading from a basic 2 or 3MP digicam which had no manual settings, by letting him explore more advanced photographic techniques. The overall responsiveness is good. AF speed and shutter lag is also satisfying considering the camera's pricing, a feature clearly lacking in this type of prosumer level compacts. At least the AF assist lamp does a pretty good job and it's far more effective than the one on a Canon G5, The lens isn't bright, though on par with similarly sized compacts, so no complaints here.

Small prints should come out nice, with brightly saturated colours, but the 5MP sensor cannot be utilized fully without any post processing, so time to shine your unsharp mask skills!

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