Overall performance is not too bad for a budget camera. It starts up in a little under three seconds, but only takes half as long to shut down again. In single shot mode it can manage on average one shot every 3.5 seconds, which a bit slow, although in continuous shooting mode using a fast SanDisk Ultra II SD card it could manage a shot every 1.7 seconds, with focusing between each shot, which isn’t too shabby for something in this class and price range. Focusing is reliable in good light and not too slow. In fact it focuses slightly faster than some big-brand compacts I could name. Low light focusing is a different story though. Above the lens is what I had assumed was an AF assist lamp, but in fact it appears not to be. This is a pity, because it could desperately do with one. In pub/club lighting the X725 frequently refused to focus at all, which is a bit daft since it’s clearly designed to be slipped into a pocket for a night out.
Unfortunately one area where the X725 falls down badly is picture quality. It suffers from a range of problems, including erratic exposure metering, poor colour rendition, very limited dynamic range, image noise problems at all but the lowest two settings, and the Pentax lens, being of an older design than used in that company’s latest models, suffers from heavy barrel distortion at wide angle, although both centre and edge sharpness are good. Also, despite the relatively large 3.5MB JPEG files, image compression artefacts are also a problem. I have occasionally seen worse picture quality from budget cameras, but the X725 suffers when compared to cameras from other manufacturers, and especially other ultra-slim models such as the Casio Exilim S770 or Canon IXUS 70. These cameras don’t cost that much more than the X725 (both are around £170), but are vastly better products.
The BenQ DC X725 gets off to a promising start, and there’s no disputing that it is a well-made and attractively designed camera with reasonable performance, but it is let down by a number of flaws, including poor low-light ability and inferior picture quality. If you have to have an ultra-skinny compact, save up another £40 and go for a Casio instead.