GE has successfully entered into serious camera business when they introduced GE X5 back in 2010. It has all the bells and whistles you could wish for a bridge camera that competes with the likes of Canon SX and G series. This camera was hugely successful since they introduced this at a VERY reasonable price. They brought high level functionality into a small SLR-like body at a very affordable price range. And this was the reason I sold my Canon 1000D (Rebel) and bought this one, and this has been my companion during my out of town/country trips. And GE never turned back!
In fact, in 2011, they released GE X500. The look and feel is the same with GE X5 but GE X500 had incremental upgrades on the Zoom and Megapixel counts. They also added a more Scenes and made the menu system more intuitive. And they released this even at a cheaper than the X5.
During the last quarter of 2011, GE also released a model lower than the GE X500 - The GE G100. It has a slimmer body that gives it a point-and-shoot feel, but inherited the almost all the same functionality of GE X500 and X500 making it a "bridge" of a "bridge camera" and a "point-and-shoot camera". This is now a whole new category called "Prosumer" cameras. This now directly competes with Canon's SX130. Of course, I have to see how this unit performs and provide a user review and feedback. Again, just like my GE X5 and X500 reviews, I will avoid photography terminologies and focus as an end user.
First, let's look at the spec sheet and see what this camera is capable of on paper:
14-megapixel CMOS image sensor
Aptina A-Pix CMOS pixel technology
28mm Wide Angel lens
15x optical zoom
3.0" LCD screen (slightly larger than GE X5 and X500)
high-speed photos (10 frames per second) - G100 uses CMOS sensor as opposed to GE X5 and X500's CCD sensor)
1080p HD video recording - (which is higher than GE X5 and X500, since they only capture VGA)
Built-in HDMI port
Optical Image Stabilization
30 Shooting Modes
GE G100 comes in three colors: Black, White and Red. Our test unit came in red and it looked really good. The retail package in the Philippines would normally include a 4GB memory card, camera case and gorilla tripod. But again, this may vary from shop to shop. The overall look and feel is really neat and feels like a premium device. The front houses GE's Aspheric All-Glass Lens. The bottom houses the lithium battery, memory card compartments and the tripod screw. The top of the camera has the shutter button, power button, mode selection, pop-up flash. The rear of the camera is where you will find the 3" viewfinder, video-toggle button, directional button, functional menu, preview button and display menu. It fits right in the palm when held and the point and shoot camera size fits almost all camera cases.
GE G100 Box
GE G100 Unit (Red)
Comparing this with X5 and X500, GE G100 uses a lithium battery. While this provides a more reliable and longer batter life, you will have to go to a GE service center to purchase a lithium battery after a couple of years of use. But looking at 2015 when your battery is no good anymore, will GE still supply spare batteries for this unit at that time? So there are some advantages of lithium over regular AA but there are some cons as well. Also, the GE G100 does not have an electronic viewer, this creates a debate among camera enthusiasts if this unit can be considered a bridge camera without this vital feature. But IMO, as long as there are manual controls, you have the freedom to change your exposure levels, ISO, shutter speed and aperture - it's good enough to consider this unit a bridge camera. But the best thing about this camera over its 2 elder brothers, is that it uses a CMOS sensor while the latter uses CCD. If you want to know about these two sensors, here's a reference site you can read: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/cameras-photography/digital/question362.htm
Now let's go over some photos. I went to the mall to take some photos using artificial sunlight. I was fortunate to catch an animal roadshow in the activity area of SM Sucat. The animals were a perfect subject for my test photos, so here we go.
Auto (Macro), F5.10, 1/86, 800 ISO
Auto (Macro), F5.10, 1/119, Auto ISO
Auto (Macro), F5.10, 1/85, 800 ISO
Auto (Macro), F5.0, 1/59, AutoISO
Auto (macro on), F5.10, 1/59, 800 ISO
Notice how vivid the colors were with the parrot, and how detailed the skin patters were with the turtle. I should say that for natural indoor light conditions such as a mall, the GE G100 was able to handle it very well on it's automatic settings. By the way the photo of the parrot was zoomed in from 2 meters away.
The unit performs exceptionally good for macro. Here is a shot of a plant at high noon. Great detail and color composition. :)
Auto (Macro), F9.30, 1/61, Auto ISO
As a point of comparison, here is a similar photo I have taken before using GE X5. Now I am using GE G100 and the result is quite better! :) This is on low light condition. The other photo with the turtle also shows how the camera handles low light conditions.
Auto (Macro), F3.9, 1/9, 400 ISO
Auto, F5.10, 1/503, 100 ISO
To show how the camera handles manual control, I have two sample photos wherein I have set-up the aperture and shutter speed to have a 0.0 EV and then the other one with a -2.0 EV. See how the 2nd photo darkened. The same manual control can let you take creative shots.
Now let's take a look at some night shots. Overall GE G100 had average performance on night shots. I think, just based on the output, X500 still handles night shots fairly better than GE G100. You still have the same freedom to adjust your exposure levels though.
These are photos taken using a tripod:
Night Scene (Auto) - F3.9, 1/2, 100 ISO
Manual F9.30, 7.9 sec, 800 ISO
Manual, F9.3, 7.9 secs, 400 ISO
Manual, F3.9, 7.9 sec, 200 ISO
The next set of night photos were taken without using a tripod
Manual, F3.9, 1/4, 400 ISO
Manual, F3.9, 2.0 sec, AutoISO
Manual, F3.9, 3 sec, 100 ISO
GE G100 also captured great videos with 1080p HD Resolution. Here are some sample videos I took. The zoom of course is one of my pet peeves it zooms in or out to fast. But overall quality is really good with great stereo sound.
With a similarly armed features of it's older brothers at a very competitive price point, this camera will surely create it's own fans. A very capable CMOS senser and a great zoom lens inside a body that looks more like a point and shoot camera, can be very handy - especially if you are more of an outdoors person. But if you are still choosing between GE X500 and GE G100 consider the following:
Similar price point
X500 has an electronic view finder over G100
G100 is more handy than X500 (but hey, comparing X500 with other bridge cameras, GE X500 is also a handy camera)
Lithium Battery over AA Batteries
CMOS sensor on G100 (the sensor used by DSLRs) over X500's CCD sensor (mostly used on regular digicams and mobile phones)
Again, it all boils down to how you would use the camera. But overall, GE G100 is also worth looking at.
For more details about this camera, you can check out the website of the official distributor of GE cameras in the Philippines: