GE X5 Review
Review Date : Thu, 5 Aug 2010
Author : Matt Tuffin
A superzoom with an impressively low price
|Pros:||Shots can be sharp and well exposed, very cheap|
|Cons:||Stabilization is ineffective, white balance unpredictable|
GE's history in the digital camera market is mostly aimed toward the low to mid end of compacts, making the new X5 something of a departure. With a 15x optical zoom and bulkier body, the new model will challenge the more established names in the superzoom end of spectrum.
GE X5 Review - Features
Having a 14MP sensor on camera with such a large optical zoom is something of a double edged sword, as the top end of the magnification will restrict the amount of light capable of hitting the sensor. This will increase visible noise, especially when there's a whole host of pixels fighting for the scraps of light. The focus is aided by an optical stabilizer, which makes the top end of the magnification easier to handle.
There's also a Panoramic mode, which doesn't quite ape Sony's sweep version but offers a guide to keeping the image consistent. The movie mode is 640 x 480, which is a fair step off of HD quality, and the main power source is four AAs, which affect both the balance and weight of the camera significantly. All the manual controls are present, and available on a large dial on top of the camera, as well blink and smile detection.
GE X5 Review - Design
The body isn't overtly chunky for a superzoom, with the right hand grip sitting just as proud as the lens when retracted. There's plenty of camera to hang onto, and the controls are well placed enough not to accidentally press any while holding on. Annoyingly the camera does have a tendency to freeze up if a card is inserted while the X5 is switched on, as the card port is by the batteries.
Most models will automatically switch off, and then power themselves on again once the flap is closed, but the X5 seemed unable to do this. A firmware update could probably solve this, as it turned into a minor inconvenience at the most. The screen was annoyingly low res and made it difficult to pick out detail across the frame, which made some of the menu text tricky to read.
GE X5 Review - Image Quality
Image quality had a few issues, mostly with focus and colour quality. The dual image stabilization seemed flawed on a number of occasions, not quite helping the focus out to enough of a degree, even on brighter days. When the stabilization does work in tandem with the focus the results are reasonably sharp, but annoyingly those occasions were few and far between.
White balance seemed to be edging toward far too much saturation more often than not, as colours took on a warm tint. This meant there was some loss of tone in a number of shots, especially those featuring the sky. The dynamic range favours the darker tones, losing detail in the lighter areas, but not to the extent that all detail is completely lost.
In fact those photos in which the stabilization worked were sharp, but the unpredictable nature of the exposure and white balance made it difficult to get consistent results. In low light noise was present throughout the ISO range, and once again the focal difficulties made framing shots a chore as constant adjustments were needed to attain sharpness.
The price and occassional impressive performance don't paper over the cracks of an ineffective stabilisation and unpredictable white balance