- Review Price: £99.99
Not a name you would normally associate with digital cameras, General Electric announced its entry into the market at the PMA trade show in 2007 with eight models, including the slim line G1. The successor, the G2 was announced at this years PMA, and a UK launch of the GE range followed shortly afterwards. The company is less well known in the UK than the US, and the more established dedicated camera companies are going to be tough competition to crack.
The camera, which reminds me of the old Konica Minolta Dimage X range, has an 8million pixel sensor, and a periscope type 4x lens offering a 3mm equivalent focal length of 38-152mm. The lens in non-extending using a prism system to bounce the light down through 90degrees and through a vertical array of zoom elements so maintaining a slim pocket friendly form.
The camera is available in five colours – white, silver, blue, red and black , so offering a choice for everyone. Colour is not the only selling point though. The camera has a host of the latest must have features, such as face detection, allowing the autofocus to lock onto faces in the frame and then optimising exposure for skin tones.
This is backed up with smile detection, which once the shutter release button is pressed the camera waits until the subjects smile is at it’s peak the camera releases the shutter to take the picture. Another complementary technology is blink detection, in which the camera alerts the user when the subject has blinked in a picture so a second (or third or fourth picture, depending on the subjects anticipation reactions) can be taken. All of these technologies are dependent on sophisticated algorithms that recognise certain preset shapes, colours such as the curvature and shape of a mouth and teeth for example.
Another feature of the camera includes electronic image stabilisation, basically upping the ISO speed to compensate for slow shutter speeds. GE has also included a top ISO speed of ISO 1600, which is a comparable speed to most other cameras currently on the market.
GE has provided a reasonably large 2.7inch LCD, with 230,400 dots and no viewfinder, again pretty standard in this day and age.
Metering options include Artificial Intelligence Auto Exposure, along with centre weighted and centre spot options. The AI AE system is, from what I can gather, basically multi area AF coupled with scene recognition. Shooting modes include manual (essentially program with some override options), auto and a collection of the usual scene modes such as portrait, landscape, snow, museum and so forth. There’s also a panorama mode allowing three images to be taken, using a superimposed overlap guide on the LCD, and then stitched together in camera.
The G2 is surprisingly well designed and thought out. The body is metal and feels comfortable, though the gloss finish is a little slippery when held. The LCD takes up most of the back but a mode dial on the back is easy to operate, though the engravings are small and tricky to see in low light. A small but adequate four way controller lets you navigate the menu and playback images, and include quick functions at each compass point for flash, exposure compensation and so on. Pressing the central OK button also brings up a fast function menu with White Balance, ISO, colour and quality settings.
The top pate features a long and narrow shutter release button, the small and slightly too recessed power button and a small rocker switch to operate the zoom. Overall the handling is pretty good, though the LCD could be brighter, especially in sunlight. The menus too are easy enough to read and feature added options such as an on screen histogram to help with exposure evalution and a nice slow shutter feature allowing you to set a speed from 30 to 2 seconds.
Images from the G2 are well exposed, if sometimes a little on the bright side. This leads to over exposed skies, but plenty of detail in midrange and shadow areas – such is the nature of small CCDs and their limited dynamic range.
Colours are bold and punchy and the camera does a good job of keeping sharp edges. There’s a little bit of aggressive processing and JPEG compression, which can lead to some increase in artefacts at times, but nothing too sinister and a common problem with compacts. Fringing is evident in areas of high contrast but again this is often to be expected, especially at this price point and the G2 generally maintains good control of this.
Images at high ISO are remarkably noise free and clear. I take this to be down to an effective noise reduction system as lower ISO images are marginally grittier. However if this is the case then full marks for a very good performance in this contentious and tricky area. Incidentally, there is no NR option in the menu, hence the theory of noise reduction taking place automatically.
Having approached this camera with a healthy scepticism, I’ve come away pleasantly surprised. The camera has a pleasant enough build, is small and easy to use and produces pretty reasonable results, especially considering the price and target audience.
While there’s some issues surrounding the image quality, for the most part it is good enough for an entry level user to take pictures that they will be more than happy with.
”A range of test shots are shown over the next few pages. Here, the full size images at the minimum and maximum ISO settings have been reduced for bandwidth purposes to let you see the full image, and a series of crops taken from original full resolution images at a range of ISO settings have been included in order for you to gain an appreciation of the overall quality.”
This is the full frame image at ISO64
This is a 100%crop of the image at ISO 64 which shows good noise control
At ISO 100 detail is still maintained and noise free
ISO 200 still has good noise control
Noise is visible at ISO 400 but it’s not bad
By ISO 800 automatic noise reduction appears to occur with some smoothing apparent
At ISO 1600 the image is noise free without obvious noise reduction to overly blur the image
This is the full frame image at ISO 1600
”A range of general test shots are shown over the next two pages. In some cases, the full size image has been reduced for bandwidth purposes, and a crop taken from the original full resolution image has been placed below it to show the overall image quality. Some other pictures may be clicked to view the original full-size image.”
The wide angle settings displays some barrel distortion
The macro setting is sharp
At 100% sharpness is generally good but notice the artefacts.
”Here are some general test shots to help evaluate the camera’s overall image quality, including the zoom range of the lens.”
This is telephoto shot
This is a wide angle shot
Exposure is generally good, if a little light
Another exposure example, with blown out sky
Colours are rendered well with plenty of saturation
|Camera type||Digital Compact|
|Megapixels (Megapixel)||8 Megapixel|
|Optical Zoom (Times)||4x|
|LCD Monitor||2.7 in|
|Flash modes||Auto Flash, Flash ON, Flash OFF, Red-eye Reduction|
|Video (max res/format)||640 x 480|
|Memory card slot||Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card|
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