Most helpful critical review
311 of 330 people found the following review helpful
Not bad...but not great, either
on June 11, 2011
I had purchased this specifically because I was doing a lot of hiking during an extended trip, and I wanted more than the 4x zoom on my cheap Nikon Coolpix S4000. Since at home my wife has a very nice DSLR with multiple lenses, I didn't want to buy a another DSLR or spend a lot of money on a nicer bridge camera. The previous version of this camera got good reviews, so bought this one just after it had came out.
Out of the box, the camera seems pretty solid, although the compact (but FAT) build is a little weird and takes some getting used to. I initially did a comparison to my $130 12MP Coolpix point-and-shoot, and immediately saw some issues with the photo quality. Like other reviews have stated, indoor pictures are not great, but actually not as bad as some. My Coolpix (like most point and shoot cameras) had some problems as well, but the quality was still noticeably better than the GE. When using the indoor program mode, the shots were acceptable. The outdoor shots were better, but not super great, either. Comparing the same shots with my Coolpix, the Nikon had consistently better pictures.
While for most this wouldn't be too much of a problem, when viewing the photos and zooming in past 100%, there is significant pixel noise on the GE. Again, comparing to my 12MP Coolpix, the same shot at the same zoom had significantly less noise on my Nikon than the GE. Overall, the biggest problem was the inconsistency of the photos. Even using the same settings only a few seconds apart, there were often differences in the exposure, balance, etc. My hundreds of outdoor shots were all over the place in terms of quality. The shots often had a washed-out appearance (which could be fixed in post-processing if necessary).
I took the GE on several hiking trips, and took hundreds of photos, using different program modes and settings, which improved the quality overall, but did not eliminate the inconsistency issue. The zoom was quick and the image stabilization worked very well. The battery life was excellent (although I did not use the flash too much). The focus is moderately quick compared to most point and shoot cameras, although slower than my Nikon. The video mode was poor, but that was expected. I also used the GE in a couple of museums, and using the Museum program mode, it took surprisingly good shots. I also toured an indoor wildlife museum, and using the flash it took some very fine pictures.
Unfortunately, after viewing all of the pictures, I decided to return the camera. I don't necessarily want to talk anyone out of buying this...for most casual users, this camera can take good shots, and the 15x zoom is awesome at this price. For still pictures, outdoor and lit indoor shots, the photo quality is fine (especially using the program modes or manual controls). To get this level of control and zoom, you're going to be paying over $200 for something else, and probably over $300 for anything really significantly better. However, as I often print my photos for framing, the inconsistent quality and extreme noise, even compared to my cheap Nikon, left me wanting a bit more.
- 15x zoom works very well
- Many different program modes and manual controls, which work well
- Great battery life and uses easy-to-get AA batteries
- Photo quality can be fairly good under right conditions, and most issues could be fixed with post-processing (i.e. Photoshop, etc.)
- Inexpensive for a good zoom and feature packed camera
- Lots of noise when zoomed in (pixel peeking)
- Inconsistent picture quality