Review: GE X5 Digicam

Sections: Consumer Electronics

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Perhaps you’re not quite ready for a DSLR – uninterested in the idea of changing lenses and the typical DSLR is simply too much camera to handle. You’d like to test out one of these super zooms you’ve read about but the $300-plus price tag is a little rich. What to do?

Well, you’re in luck as General Imaging (the digital imaging arm of General Electric) recently released the X5, a slick little digicam that features a 15x optical zoom and 14 megapixel resolution. There’s a lot to like about the X5 along with a  few things we weren’t so crazy about that we’ll also make you aware of.
The first two things you’ll be struck by with the X5 are the price tag ($140) as well as the camera’s compact size, as many of the super zooms currently on the market are significantly larger and heavier.

For those on a budget and looking for some additional flexibility with their picture-taking, the X5’s 15x optical zoom is very attractive. Those shots of your kids’ soccer games are suddenly well within reach from your sideline vantage point and the sports mode works well for those action shots that every proud parent is looking to capture.

   In well-lit conditions the X5 performs quite admirably as image quality is solid and colors reproduce crisply. The zoom operates smoothly with no lag, but keep those hands steady as at the full 15x capacity shaky handling obviously causes a bit of blur.

Now, keep in mind that a 15x zoom camera for $140 isn’t going to land you the next cover of Sports Illustrated as the X5 does have its limitations. We found our results in low light settings without the flash a bit compromised as the detail and crispness we spoke of earlier were more difficult to come by. Some annoying shutter lag is present as well, though not exactly a deal-killer.

The inclusion of an electronic viewfinder was a nice addition in such a low priced model and was a solid option when utilizing the zoom. The pop-up flash also works well but doesn’t pop-up automatically – that’s entirely your call with the X5.

However, our results with flash were fine when we stayed within the prescribed range – approximately 22 feet when the zoom lens is not extended and about 14 feet when the zoom is extended.

Regarding batteries, there are those that will complain the fact the X5 runs on four AAs increases the camera’s overall weight but we think not having to worry about charging a Lion is a great feature. The camera is always ready to shoot and is just a battery purchase away from that state whenever you grab it.

Bottom line here – the X5 is an ideal solution for those looking for a lift to their picture-taking experiences but locked in to a tight budget. A fun and flexible zoom length, no accessory lenses to change, and just about as compact as the point-and-shoot you’re already using. Just be prepared to deal with some inconsistent results from time to time based on the conditions you choose to use it in. EG

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