If anyone thinks this camera looks a little bit familiar, then they win ten points for keen observation, although minus several million for being an obsessive camera nerd. That’s my job, so you can just go and find your own gig. However you’d be quite correct. The BenQ DC X600 is in fact a licensed version of the Pentax Optio S6, which I reviewed here just a few weeks ago.
A licensing deal like this makes a lot of sense for both Pentax and BenQ. It gives the latter a handy gateway into the lucrative digital camera market and saves them a fortune on product development, while Pentax is able to make a tidy profit from the licensing rights to an existing product and help keep itself in business. Pentax must have seen the demise of long-established brands such as Minolta, Contax and Bronica with some trepidation. Despite making some outstandingly good and innovative cameras, it has always played in the second division behind market leaders Canon, Sony and Olympus, and I know from personal sources that things have been a bit tight in the Pentax camp this past year.
Of course Pentax is no stranger to licensing. Its popular PK-bayonet SLR lens mount has been the standard for the cheaper end of the hobby SLR market for decades, as the huge number of Pentax-fitting lenses in the second-hand window of your local camera shop will attest. By licensing models such as the X600 and the newly-announced Samsung GX-1S digital SLR (actually, a version of the *ist DS), Pentax is able to stay in the market and develop new models such as its forthcoming 10 megapixel DSLR and especially the exciting 18 megapixel medium-format DSLR announced at this year’s PMA camera show. You can rest assured that I’ll be reviewing those cameras when they’re launched later this year.
In the meantime though, the BenQ DC X600 awaits our attention, so let’s take a look at it. Not surprisingly, from the outside it looks very similar to the S6, although the design of the front fascia is slightly different, as are a couple of the trim details. It has the same strong all-metal body, the same compact external dimensions (just 19mm thick) and the same 2.5-inch high resolution 232k pixel LCD monitor. The 3x optical zoom lens is identical…in fact, why don’t you go and read my review of the Optio S6, and then come back when you’re done? Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you. I’ll have a cup of tea while you’re gone.