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.
Performance, Image Quality and Verdict
GE X500 review – Performance and Image Quality
The X500’s specification list gives the impression this camera could easily compete with far more expensive super zooms, and indeed when you look at the sweep panorama, Face AF, image stabilisation, auto scene mode selection and the 20 subject programs modes it’s a fair impression. Of course, where the price compromises do start to show more is within the X500’s performance.
As soon as you start shooting you cannot fail to notice that it’s slow – slow to focus, slow to meter and sluggish when it comes to shutter button response. The camera takes just under four-seconds to turn on and capture a photo, but more worrying is it needs further four-seconds to recycle between shots. Turn on the flash and it’s much worse, around six-seconds.
The performance is actually worse then many cheaper snappers out there so it’s real shame. The most serious performance issue, however, is the one-second of shutter lag which means quite simply that you miss lots of potential moments you’d otherwise like to snap. And don’t even try to shoot fleeting action because the camera’s AF system won’t get that right either and, combined with the shutter lag, makes the camera very had to use for anything other than landscapes or static subjects.
The X500’s metering system is also hit and miss. Be it spot, centre-weighted or the camera’s AiAE auto set up, anything bright will make the picture underexpose. Spot metering provided the best accuracy (as you’d expect) but even landscapes, with bright skies, shot using the AiAE metering, would confuse the metering and through the ground into shadow. It’s possible the metering is configured poorly or the selection on the menu are picking the opposite to that indicated, but it’s a very frustrating mystery overall.
Image sharpness is okay, slightly soft but in most situations viewing or printing images at normal sizes (say 6x4in) it’ll be fine. Try blowing images up to anything larger and the smeared detail becomes quickly obvious. I get the feeling the lens is better than the results as it seems the noise processing might be over eager even at ISO 80.
The noise performance, while not brilliant, is not too bad at lower ISO settings but go above ISO 200 and again the X500 falls short. In the brightest conditions, or if using the flash on closer subjects, then things look good. Go into low light indoors or if you bump the ISO to gain faster shutter speeds, say, in shutter priority mode and noise will mar the shots.
GE X500 review – Verdict
And so who should buy the GE X500? If you want a long zoom camera but your budget does not stretch to the (typically) three hundred odd quid you’d normally pay, then it’ll fit the bill. And if you’re aware of the camera’s limitations you can adjust your shooting style to cope, although there’s little you can do with the poor AF and metering performance, nor the image noise issues.
It’s not a surprise then that this is not a premium camera, but try and find a (new) equivalent bit of kit for less money and you will be hard pressed to match the lens if nothing else.
if a long zoom is what you need on a very tight budget, then there’s practically nothing else on the market to match it