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A few years ago when digital cameras were much more expensive, it was possible for Chinese label brands to undercut the market with cheap mass-produced cameras of questionable quality. However it is now possible to get a very good compact camera from a leading brand for under £150, so the smaller and traditionally cheaper brands have to work hard to keep up. The C1050 has to compete with well-priced 10MP models such as the excellent Casio EX-Z1050 (£140) and the Pentax Optio S10 (£150), as well as other budget models such as the Nikon L-series, some of the lower-end Olympus FE models and Fujifilm's A-series, particularly the new 9-megapixel A920 (review coming soon) priced at a very competitive £95.
So apart from a sub-£100 price tag and 10MP resolution, what else does the C1050 have to offer? Sadly, the answer is "not much". It has a 3x zoom, f/2.8-5.1 lens with a focal length equivalent to approximately 35-105mm, a rather low resolution 112k pixel 2.5-inch LCD monitor, and a maximum ISO setting of 1030. The C1050 has auto exposure, 12 basic scene modes and unusually for a budget camera it also has a limited manual exposure capability, with aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual exposure. The aperture control is limited to minimum and maximum aperture only, but shutter speeds from eight seconds to 1/2000th of a second can be selected.
Virtually all the camera's functions are controlled via the main menu, including exposure compensation, which is relegated to the second page. It has three metering modes (multi-zone, centre-weighted and spot), the usual selection of white balance options, and some colour effects, including monochrome, sepia, negative and three colour filters. Drive modes include 2-second, 10-second and 10+2-second self timers and a burst mode. It has a VGA 30fps video mode, which is pretty much the standard these days, and the zoom lens can be used while shooting video, however to get around the sound of the zoom motor being recorded on the soundtrack, it simply disables sound recording while the lens is moving.