As though the digital camera market wasn't overcrowded enough, early in 2007 American industrial giant General Electric launched a new brand of cameras, under the name General Imaging. The cameras are currently sold only in America primarily through the Radio Shack chain of electronics retailers, but a report on Pocket Lint gadget news site claims that the brand will be launched in the UK early in 2008.
General Imaging is headed by Hiroshi "Hugh" Komiya, former President of Olympus Imaging Corporation, and apprently includes on its staff Takeyoshi Kawano, a product designer who worked on the Sony Walkman and Olympus mju. It has a fairly small range of cameras at the moment, with a series of compacts ranging from seven to twelve megapixels and equipped with either 3x, 4x or 5x zoom lenses, and an 8MP 12x super-zoom flagship model.
Judging by the spec sheets on GI's website (linked below), it has to be said that the current range doesn't appear to be anything special, and the cameras appear rather bland in design and features. Most of them have small 1/2.5-inch sensors, and only the super-zoom model features mechanical image stabilisation. The rest rely on high ISO settings for blur-avoidance, and we know how well that usually works out. Rather worryingly, several of the product shots presented on the official website appear to be fairly crude 3D rendered models, rather than photos of actual products. Prices for the range are unknown at present, but Radio Shack in America sells the 8MP, 5x zoom E850 for $149.99, about the same cost as an Olympus FE-230, so I think we can expect some fairly budget prices.
With several well-known brand names already having pulled out of the fiercely competitive digital camera market (Kyocera/Contax, Konica-Minolta, Afga, Vivitar and Toshiba to name but a few) and several other major brands shedding staff amidst falling profits, one has to wonder about the wisdom of a completely new company trying to shoulder its way to the table, but if it has the huge resources of General Electric behind it then maybe it has a chance. Naturally I'll try and get one of the new cameras in for review if and when they appear in the UK.
Link: GE Cameras.