The GE G2 is designed for happy snappers who want a pretty camera to take out on nights out or on holiday.
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GE G2: Specification
- Resolution: 8.0Mp
- Sensor type: CCD
- Lens focal length: 38-152mm
- Aperture: f/3.5-f/5.15
- Lens construction: 14 elements in 11 groups
- Optical zoom: 4x
- Minimum focusing range: 60cm (6cm macro)
- Image stabilisation: Electronic
- Image compression: JPEG (Best/Fine/Normal)
- Detection features: Face, Smile and Blink
- Red-eye removal: Yes
- GPS support: No
- Monitor: 2.7in LCD LTPS TFT Self-regulation brightness in the sun
- Sensitivity: ISO80-1600
- Metering: centre-weighted average/spot/
- Exposure control: ProgramAE (AE-lock available)
- Exposure compensation: ± 2 EV in 1/3 Step increments
- Shutter speed: 4sec 1/2000 second (Manual 30s)
- Continuous shooting Approx: 1.8 fps
- Storage: 26Mb internal memory/SD/SDHC (Max 4Gb)
- Connectivity: USB2.0 / AV-OUT (Integrated Proprietary Connector)
- Power: Lithium-ion battery GB-20
- Body material: Metal
- Dimensions: 91×59.8×20mm
- Weight: Approx. 95g
Looking around internet search engines and the price of the G2 comes in at around £100 and you get 8Mp on your CCD, 4x optical zoom and a 2.7in screen. For £5 less, the Fujifilm FinePix J10 has the same resolution, a slightly larger 5x optical zoom to bring objects closer to you and smaller 2.5in LCD screen.
Also, the Samsung NV8 is the same price and offers 8Mp, 3x optical zoom and a 2.5in LCD screen. Both alternatives are bigger in dimensions and are slightly older.
GE G2: Modes and features
General Electric are one of the largest companies in the world and were founded by Thomas Edison in 1878. Over the decades they've invented many familiar gadgets that we take for granted such as the electric lamp, fan and toaster as well as founding RCA and NBC.
Probably the best looking of GE's range of digital compacts, the G2's styling is reminiscent of the old Minolta Dimage X1 , Sony T200 and the more recent Nikon Coolpix S52c. A slim body has the lens perched in the top corner and GE are very proud of the all glass aspherical lens. So much so that they have written it on the front of the body. They also have a lovely shiny GE badge with the trademark fancy font. Interestingly, they've also written GE in capitals next to the badge as though they're helping us in case we can't read the name. ePHOTOzine spoke to General Imaging and they confirmed that this is to avoid confusion as the original monogram is from the company's roots and dates back as far as 1900 changing little since then.
To work the 4x optical zoom in such a slim body, this design usually involves an angled periscope type mirror and the zoom elements move up and down or left and right along the body. The sensor will then be on the bottom or side of the camera.
The top of the camera houses the power button, shutter release and zoom rocker which is a roller switch that hasn't been used in so long it's become novel again and I like it. These buttons sit on the metal frame of the camera.
The rest of the frame is used in the same way a car chassis is used to tow it away. It's the strongest part of the body so things such as the tripod bush, microphone, battery bay and strap loop are set into it.
The back of the camera boasts a 2.7in LCD screen which takes over the entire left side and middle of the area. Down the right side is a mode dial for access to features such as auto, manual, playback, video, image stabiliser, scene modes, portrait and in camera panoramic stitching. Two buttons sit just below them for face detection and the menu with the navigation pad below them. This pad is for navigating around the menu systems and also doubles up to access the exposure compensation, flash modes, macro and self timer. A delete button to erase the photographs you don't want sits on its own at the very bottom of the camera.
Switching the camera on and a harp plays as the screen bursts into life. This can be deleted or amended in the menu system.
Annoyingly, the camera starts up in Japanese despite the company being American and I feel it's only really because I have a background in photographic retail that I knew where the language selection was. It's written in English as well as Japanese but a choice of language should be given at the initial start up.
Moving the mode dial will bring up a display on the screen of the action you're performing. Much the same as all modern digital compacts these days. The menu is a simple affair with only two tabs for recording options and the setup. The navigation pad will move you around and pressing the OK button in its centre will confirm any actions.
When you're not in the menu, the OK button also doubles up as a function menu for access to all the modes you'll frequently use. The G2 has white balance, ISO, resolution, image quality and image colour. The image colour option will allow you to boost the colours, convert to mono or change to sepia for that old photograph effect.
GE G2: Build and handling
The skeleton of the G2 is covered in two plates of metal that serve as the front and back of the camera with the top, bottom and sides being part of the chassis.
The buttons are responsive enough although the camera refuses to focus while the flash is charging. The zoom is a little jerky which is unfortunate and the screen suffers from purple banding when moving it over bright areas. The battery door is solid enough but don't try to flex it too much and moving along the bottom of the camera, the tripod bush is plastic.
Noticeably, there isn't a thumb pad on the rear of the camera and I wondered if this would cause a problem with ergonomics but I don't think it will. The only time a thumb pad is used is when you're taking pictures. Because of the design of the G2, you'll naturally rest your thumb on the bottom of the camera as though you're pinching it so eliminates the need for a thumb pad.
Audibly, this camera is loud. The welcome sound gets progressively louder and the beeps when pressing a button are loud as well. Even the clicks of the mode dial are louder than average. I'm not a fan of loud noises from cameras and I'm not aware of anyone else who would be.
GE G2: Flash options
The slim flash on the front has a range of 0.3-3m at wide-angle and 0.3-2.7m at telephoto with the camera set to ISO400.
Hitting left on the navigation pad accesses the flash functions and you have a choice of auto (default), red-eye reduction, slow sync, forced on with red-eye, forced off and forced on.
GE G2: Performance
In the shutter lag test, I tried the camera more than I normally would because I couldn't believe that a camera could have a delay of 0.20sec in this day and age. The majority of digital compacts have a reaction time of around the 0.08sec mark which sets a standard for all other cameras.
Start up time from pressing the button to the screen coming on is around the two second mark, but by the time the harp has finished chiming and the camera is ready to go, three seconds have passed.
Looking at the colourchart and the blue and red are most saturated with green coming in a close third. The yellow is really bright too and this will help with portraits and landscapes. The mono tones are nicely balanced but I think the skin tone is washed out. The earthy colours look ok, so it looks like the G2 is set up for landscapes primarily then portraits which is pretty typical of compact cameras these days.
The colourchart image shows boosting in all primaries and an even mono tone scale. The skin tone is a little bland though.
The landscape image has fringing on the white bars and a shallow depth of field has most of the shot with little detail.
In the landscape shot, purple fringing is visible on the contrasty areas of the white bars leading into the lock. According to the EXIF data, the shot was taken at f/4.1 and it shows with the foreground and background showing minimal detail.
The portrait image.
The portrait shot shows a balanced skin tone with some decent detail in the shadow areas. The camera has opted for an f/3.6 aperture which is slightly wider than I would've selected. The flash has lit up the shadowed areas from before and paled out the skin tone although not to intolerable standards.
The GE G2 also offers face detection for taking pictures of people and this is enabled by pressing the button on the back of the camera below the mode dial.
Using the system on an off centre subject works fine.
The portrait image with flash.
The portrait image with face detection.
The GE G2 has a built in panoramic feature and is enabled by switching to the rectangle icon on the mode dial. The camera will display that the camera needs to be moved right to left over three photographs. By pressing left or right on the navigation pad, you can toggle between this option or left to right. Only three images can be used and when the first shot is taken, a ghost image of a small percentage of the previous image will appear at the side of the frame for you to align the images.
The panoramic shot works by taking three separate images and stitching them together in camera.
Once the images are taken, the camera will stitch them together and save to the memory card. The only problem is that you'll mainly do this without the aid of a tripod, so takes some aligning. Looking at the right third of the image, it appears that the sun came out after that first shot because of the solid line of exposure.
GE G2: Noise test
The lowest sensitivity setting of ISO64 has a really nice reproduction with plenty of detail and smooth gradation. This quality quickly drops off as noise starts to appear from ISO200 as purple and green specks in the grey area and the solid line of grey square edge starts to break up slightly.
The noise in the grey area gets worse as the ISO is cranked up and ISO800 starts to lose detail in the petals. Interestingly, the coloured parts of noise present in the lower ISO settings have disappeared and noise that's more similar to grain with its monotone appearance is present.
The ISO64 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
GE G2: Verdict
The GE G2 isn't designed to make people swoon in excitement or camp out at their local camera shop for their very own unit. What it's designed to do is take pictures and look pretty. Something it does quite well. My only problem in the performance is the wrong aperture in landscape mode (something that all cameras seem to be doing these days) and noise showing at quite low ISO ratings.
If you don't take landscapes and use a flash in the dark, then you won't be adversely affected by these issues.
GE G2: Plus points
Small and compact
Good detail at low ISO
Face detection works quickly
Easy to use
GE G2: Minus points
Slow start up time
Beeps and tunes are too loud
Not defaulted to English
Slow focusing and shutter lag
The GE G2 costs around £99 and is available from popular online stockists. Take a look at the GE website here for more details.