The General Electric X500 looks a steal at a penny shy of £140 given its 15x optical zoom and range of features. But as the old adage ably puts it: ‘You get what you pay for’, so let’s see exactly what you get for your money with GE’s X500.
GE X500 review – Features and Design
The build quality is rather nice – the X500 feels tough and akin to small D-SLR in the hand, thanks to its deeply sculpted handgrip. The 15x zoom lens protrudes from the front with a small underpowered manually activated flash unit sitting on the top of the camera.
The camera’s 2.7in screen is rather good to use even in brighter conditions, better than some I’ve used from pricier cameras. The screen is complimented by a small but rather blurry electronic viewfinder that lacks any form of dioptre adjustment; something which might have helped this blurriness.
The X500 is relatively slim line and weighs just 445g with most of the weight coming from the four 4 AA batteries this camera uses for power. The camera’s top plate features the main shooting controls such as the nicely weighted large shutter button with its surrounding lens zoom trigger and a mode dial for quickly selecting shooting modes. A sliding Power button is joined by an image stabilisation shortcut button, a face AF shortcut button, and finally the aforementioned pop-up flash. The back of the camera houses more controls, including a five-way jog pad and a playback button.
The X500’s LCD screen performs okay, but critical focus assessment is hard to achieve with a tendency to display photos as darker than they actually are when viewed on your computer later on. Use of the EVF helped a bit here but it’s very soft so it’s even harder to assess focusing and had a tendency to display images with the opposite problem, being too bright. The EVF is a nice touch at this price though and lends the X500 an even more D-SLR-like feel, so it’s nice from a handling perspective.
The 15x zoom lens extends from 27mm-405mm (in 35mm film equivalency) and, while the aperture range of f/3 to f/5.2 looks good on paper, noise issues mean a faster aperture would be a bonus.
Actually using the X500 is however a simple affair – switching shooting modes via the mode dial is effortless, while changing common functions such as the flash, macro and self timer is all done from the jog button array along with playback, menu control and exposure compensation via the camera’s back and separate dedicated buttons therein.
The camera’s menu system is white text on a dark desktop image background (a flower) and the menu is actually easy to understand and scroll around: all main functions are easy to find. Less neat, however, is if you want to use any kind of manual or priority modes – changing the shutter speed or aperture requires long bouts of button tapping. A scroll wheel to change the shutter speed, for instance, would be far more efficient than clicking through on screen adjustment menus every time you want to adjust settings. Incidentally, in shutter and aperture priority modes, you must press the exposure compensation button to activate their respective adjustment menus.