DCRP Review: GE G1
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The G1 ($150 street price) is one of the first digital cameras from GE, a company more famous for light bulbs and jet engines than digital cameras. GE isn't actually designing or producing these cameras -- rather, they've licensed their brand to General Imaging, a new company founded by a former Olympus executive.
The G1 is an ultra-compact camera featuring a 3X optical zoom lens, 2.5" LCD display, point-and-shoot operation, in-camera panorama stitching, and more. It finds itself in one of the most competitive arenas in digital photography, so the G1 has its work cut out for it.
How does the G1 perform? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The G1 has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
Like most cameras these days, the G1 has built-in memory in lieu of a bundled memory card. The G1 has 26MB of onboard memory, which holds just six photos at the highest quality setting. Thus, you'll want to get a memory card right away, unless you have one laying around. The G1 accepts SD, SDHC, and MMC memory cards, and I'd suggest a 1GB card as a good starter size. A high speed card is recommended, especially if you'll be using the continuous shooting mode a lot.
The G1 uses the GB-20 rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power. This compact battery packs just 2.8 Wh of energy, which is about as low as you'll find these days. Here's how that translates into battery life:
Thanks to strong numbers from Fuji, Kodak, Panasonic, and especially Sony, the GE G1's battery life falls below the group average of 240. Therefore, picking up an extra battery is probably not a bad idea.
Speaking of extra batteries, I should remind you about my two usual complaints about the proprietary batteries used by the G1 and cameras like it. They're typically very expensive, and I can't find the GB-20 for sale anywhere. Second, when the rechargeable battery dies, you can't replace it with something "off-the-shelf, as you could on an AA-based camera. That said, you'd be hard-pressed to find a camera this small that uses anything else.
When it's time to charge the camera's battery, simply insert it into the included external charger. It takes a whopping four hours for the battery to be fully charged, which is amazing, considering how weak the battery is. Do note that this isn't one of those "plug it right into the wall" kind of chargers -- you must use a power cord.
As is the case with all ultra-compact cameras, there's a built-in lens cover on the G1, so there's no lens cap to worry about.
With the exception of extra batteries (which I cannot find for sale anywhere), there aren't any accessories available for the GE G1. Not even an AC adapter!
PhotoImpression 5 for Mac
PhotoImpression 6 for Windows
GE includes ArcSoft's PhotoImpression software with the G1. The Windows version is several years ahead of the Mac version, which I believe ArcSoft has stopped developing. Thus, the Windows version is a little more capable, though the Mac version is no slouch either (though it's interface is awkward).
The software can import photos from the camera, and then organize, edit, print, and e-mail them. You can view the photos either one at a time or in a thumbnail view, with the Windows version adding a calendar view.
Editing in PhotoImpression for Mac
The Easy-Fix Wizard in PhotoImpression 6 for Windows
PhotoImpression has a full set of editing tools. You can enhance photos, resize and crop them, remove redeye, adjust contrast/exposure/color/sharpness, and more. The Windows version has a handy Easy-Fix Wizard which lets you do everything in one shot (no pun intended).
The documentation included with the G1 is good, but not great. You get a "quick start guide" to get you up and running, plus a full manual that covers everything else. The manual is well-written, with a large typeface, useful diagrams, and a minimum of small print. It doesn't go in-depth at all when describing camera features, though.
Look and Feel
The GE G1 is an ultra-compact camera made of a mix of metal and plastic. Despite having a lot of metal on it (which includes, I'm told, the front panel), the G1 feels somewhat "cheap" in your hands. The camera be be operated with one hand, though your thumb sits on the mode dial, and the zoom controller is very awkward and uncomfortable.
This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise -- the G1 comes in two colors, silver and black. I've seen evidence of a blue model as well, but I can't find it for sale anywhere.
Now, let's take a look at how the G1 compares to other cameras in its class in terms of size and weight: