There are basically three ways that digital cameras are made. Some are made almost entirely by one manufacturer using a majority of its own components. Others are assembled by the brand manufacturer from components made by a variety of other manufacturers. The third and most common way is to go to a large Chinese electronics company, select a ready-made model from their extensive range, and put your own brand label on it.
This method is used by several well-known camera brands for some of their lower-end models, but is also used by companies with no camera manufacturing capability of their own who nonetheless want a piece of the lucrative digital camera market. There are three or four large Chinese digital camera manufacturers, and between them they make the majority of the camera models that we know by the common brand names under which they are sold.
This is by no means a bad thing. Not too long ago, Chinese imports were synonymous with sub-standard cameras with lousy performance, shoddy construction and poor picture quality. However over the past couple of years, no doubt spurred on by the demands of the brands that they supply, they have come on in leaps and bounds, and now offer models that can compete on equal terms with some of the best that the big-brand Japanese manufacturers can offer.
Take this BenQ DC C1000 for example. The BenQ brand is best known for its range of computing-related products such as scanners, DVD drives, laptops and particularly digital projectors, most of which are very good and are generally excellent value for money. It also sells a range of digital cameras made by one of those nameless Chinese exporters and sold under the BenQ brand name.
The DC C1000 is its latest model, and it’s quite a beast. In line with current market trends it has a 10.1-megapixel CCD, a 3x optical zoom lens, 2.5in LCD screen and a range of manual exposure options and programmed scene modes that will tempt any keen photographer. It is well made, attractively designed, and has a list price of just £189.99, which compares favourably with the likes of the Casio EX-Z1000 (£242).
I have to admit that I was initially surprised by just how good this camera is. Despite what I said earlier, I will admit that I still have lower expectations of Chinese export cameras. However the DC C1000 has a lot to recommend it.