Design and features
If there was an award for ugliest camera of the year, well ... the GE X5 wins hands down. In fact, you wouldn't even need to look at the competition to award the prize.
The X5 is a superzoom of sorts, from the newbie company in digital cameras. GE isn't a company normally associated with imaging, at least in Australia, and given the look and feel of the X5, it shows. A textured black grip flanks the outside of the camera, with a simple PASM mode dial, on/off slider switch and standard directional pad and menu buttons at the rear.
With a 2.7-inch LCD screen and a miniature electronic viewfinder, the X5 certainly feels like a bargain-basement AU$299 camera. The biggest calling card is the 15x optical zoom, which extends from the camera body with a reasonable, but not astounding maximum aperture of f/3-5.2.
The back of the X5 shows the spartan design. (Credit: GE)
Though there are manual controls on the camera dial, working out how to use them is harder than teaching an old dog new tricks. There's also no light meter available in manual mode on the screen, which makes it all but guesswork when it comes to altering your exposure. The X5 can also hit a maximum ISO of 3200 — but as we'll see later on, it's not particularly useful given the noise levels.
The X5 uses AA batteries to power its slow-moving lens. Some photographers love these batteries because of their flexibility and availability, others hate the weight and environmental issues caused by incorrect disposal. We're firmly in the latter camp.
Other features of note include a built-in panorama mode, the usual gamut of detection modes (face, smile, blink) and red-eye removal.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Time to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- GE Power Pro X126.96.36.199
Depending on your photo expectations, you'll either be satisfied or disappointed with the images the X5 produces. In our tests, the X5 produced inconsistent photos. Images taken at full 15x magnification were quite soft and at ISO 200 and above, noise started to creep in across the frame.
An image taken at the wide end of the lens (top) and 15x zoom (bottom). 100 per cent crops are inset. (Credit: CBSi)
Give the X5 a bright, sunny day though, and its images are certainly acceptable for casual photographs and for use at reduced magnification. Chromatic aberration was also quite prominent, and thanks to the small sensor, the X5 blew out highlights like there was no tomorrow. The lens also exhibited pretty bad barrel distortion at its widest end (27mm) and it's quite clear that the sensor has too many megapixels crammed on to it for the lens to be able to resolve with any clarity.
Click each image below for JPEGs straight from the X5. No post-processing has been done to alter these photos.
Exposure: 1/30, f/3, ISO 89
Exposure: 1/154, f/7, ISO 64
Exposure: 1/75, f/3, ISO 64
Exposure: 1/105, f/5.1, ISO 64, 15x zoom
The X5 is built to a price — a very cheap price at that. If you need an extensive zoom and can't afford to shell out for a more fully-featured superzoom, the X5 will be adequate enough, but its inconsistent image quality and slow performance won't endear it to anyone more than just a casual photographer.