Review: GE Power Pro x500

I have been on the market for a great camera. I had my eyes on a Nikon S3100 a few months ago because I thought it would make a great hobby camera. I still think that, and if only my mom would take hers for a spin now and again, we all can find out for sure.

Anyway, I was still on the market until a few weeks ago when I settled on a beauty. I’ve been stalking its Amazon page almost everyday and when Amazon slashed the price last week, I immediately bought it.

GE Power Pro x500

The x500 is what they call a bridge camera. This means that it falls in between point-and-shoot cameras and DSLRs. So while this baby sports the rugged exterior and versatility of a high-end DSLR, it is as convenient and easy to use as a typical point-and-shoot.

The x500 when posted.

What’s to love:

The GE x500 packs a mean 16 MP. For its price range (which I will rave about later), that many image sensor elements is incredible. Most point-and-shoots in the price range of the x500 have between 10 MP to 14 MP, if that helps you gauge how crazy it is.

Good range of shooting modes and functions. Some of my favorite scene modes are:

Fish eye – as if you were shooting from a fish eye lens camera

Smile – Mostly I’ve seen this on Nikons and was pleased to see that GE added this feature on.

Glass – for when you are shooting items that are behind glass. Though not a selling point for me, I do think it is potentially useful.

Some favorite modes:

Auto scene – I played around with this and noticed that the sensors adjust to lighting conditions fairly quickly. So when in doubt, auto scene.

Aperture priority – A common complaint that people have about point-and-shoots (in consequence, about bridge cameras too) is their depth of field. While I won’t say that using aperture priority will get you photos with highly focused subjects and blurry (often distracting) backgrounds, using this mode is one way to compensate for the camera’s depth of field.

Shutter priority – Again, not a selling point for me, but I can understand why some people would find this mode important. In shutter priority, the user has the ability to take pictures of fast-moving subjects. Perfect for shooting sporting events, kids at play, and even fireworks.

The x500 has incredible zoom. It has a 15x optical zoom, and combined 90x zoom. It should be a given that once you cross into digital zoom, you give up some image quality.

When I took Ulysses for a spin, there wasn’t a lot of action in the park close to our house. Please thank our friend the squirrel for obliging us.

I love how the camera does not compromise the quality of the image when you push for greater optical zoom.

I'm not going to lie, this shot makes me feel like I'm an awesome photographer.

Another thing, I’ve used cameras where using zoom means that focusing on a subject is very difficult. Not the case with the x500. The squirrel wasn’t too cooperative, but the camera was. Both images were taken with just one shot (Really, how long do you think a squirrel will pose for a picture?).

The panorama function is easy to use. I don’t have a steady hand and I thought that shooting in panorama mode is going to be hell. It wasn’t.

Yes, I did a horrible job. It wasn’t all bad though.

For giggles, I set the image on 100% and cropped around the signs, just so you can appreciate the clarity of the image.

How many of the signs can you read?

The macro is to die for. For me, the true test of a great camera is the macro. Why? Because while the big picture can be breathtaking, some of life’s pleasures are on a very small scale.

Thank you, Nature, for the tiny presents you give us everyday.

I was a bit overzealous the previous night and tried it out on random things in my room. But let me use the next two images to say something about the flash.

Ever used a camera with an obnoxious flash? None of that in the x500. It does exactly what it’s supposed to and more. Compare this:

This is a macro shot without flash.

With this:

This is a macro shot with flash.

The plaid around my key ring are my jammies (Yes, I wear flannel in the summer.) The whites and pinks on the first picture are not as vibrant (the white is in fact looking yellowed) compared to the ones on the second. And that is what I think great flash should do – make colors look amazing in awful lighting conditions.

And for all of that, the x500 is only $150, at its most expensive. Honestly, I think that this camera gets the most bang-for-your-buck.

Now, I know you’re going to ask, “If it’s so great, why is it so cheap?” The answer is that GE is not a well-known camera company; they’re no Canon, no Olympus, no Sony. Having an expensive camera is not a good way to get trialists (like me) into potential loyalists. At $150, consumers won’t be too scared to go out of their brand-name comfort zone. The best part? GE makes sure they don’t regret having done so.

Some gripes:

The movie shooting mode is not in HD. Not a big deal for someone like me who owns a mini-HD camera, but quite annoying considering that most point-and-shoots in this price range offer an HD movie shooting.

I am not fan of the electronic viewfinder. It was one of the camera’s selling points to me, but now that I think about it, it’s okay. It’s not bad, just not fantastic.

Function selections are locked in autoscene mode. I understand why this is the case but I find it frustrating.

I consider this both an upside and a downside – the x500 runs on 4 AA batteries. It’s an upside because that means the user does not have to drag along a charger wherever he goes, lest he run out of battery in the middle of a shoot. If he runs to the nearest mini-mart, he is good to go again. It’s a downside because batteries can run pretty expensive. Rechargeable Li ion batteries are available now for a reason! (FYI, on a fresh set of batteries, the x500 takes about 300 pictures before it runs out.)

Final thoughts:

The GE Power Pro x500 is an excellent camera. Not only does it offer the best MP for its price range, it has a lot of shooting modes and scenes that will make it easy for even a novice to take high quality photos.

What camera do you own? What do you love most about it? What do you dislike most about it?

 

P.S. The images have been resized so that the page loads quickly. I also realize that pictures do not load properly – the pan shots are cropped, and so is the awesome macro shot of the flower (if you save the image to your computer, you should be able to view the image as I intended, btw). I am more than happy to share originals of the images via email at a reader’s request.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ozone air cleaners
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 04:39:02

    I had to refresh the page times to view this page for some reason, however, the information here was worth the wait.

    Reply

  2. Tayler Lawhorn
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 12:39:35

    How did you get the fish eye to work??

    Reply

    • sm1tt3nk1tt3n
      Jul 02, 2011 @ 18:56:40

      Hi Tayler. Well, when you select the fish eye option on the scene list, it is a matter of choosing an angle that best shows off the curve. I honestly just select fish eye and tilt the camera upwards or downwards until I get the curve I want. If you want a sample shot, I have one in the entry called “Done: Coney Island.”

      Hope this helps. :)

      Reply

  3. Lydia Murphey
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 11:57:28

    Hi. I so much appreciate your review. I need a new camera but can not afford to spend $500 so I am looking at this camera. My biggest concern with my current camera is the speed which it takes pictures. I have 2 kids and often miss the shot I want. How is the speed of taking pics with this camera?

    Reply

    • sm1tt3nk1tt3n
      Jul 20, 2011 @ 11:48:37

      Hi Lydia!

      There’s no quick way to answer your question so bear with me.

      If you’re asking whether there is a lag between the picture you take now and the next, then yes. The lag is about 2-3 seconds, which may make the difference if you’re taking pictures of children at play.

      If you’re asking about action shots, then the camera performs very well. There are scene modes that allow you to take pictures of subjects in motion with minimal to no blur.

      The camera also has pretty nifty manual and shutter priority modes, and they are easy to learn how to use if you are patient.

      One other thing, the camera takes about 3-4 seconds to boot. Even I find this annoying, although most point-and-shoots I’ve owned take just as long to boot.

      If you live near a Sears, I recommend taking a trip to the electronics section and give the camera a look.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply

  4. Fred Sevin
    Jul 27, 2011 @ 16:33:04

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply

  5. edward
    Sep 06, 2012 @ 07:19:08

    the aperture priority is not working,if you will try this while looking the lens closely,there is no diffrent at all inside the lens?

    Reply

    • Ron
      Dec 15, 2012 @ 14:16:38

      the camera uses a Neutral Density filter inside the lens for the smaller (larger numbered) f/stops; there is no real aperture.

      Reply

  6. Ron
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 14:20:50

    I have a question for everyone who has an X500: I have problems with Autofocus, only outdoors in bright light, only around mid-zoom. The camera will not focus at all. It will focus at any zoom setting in poor light, and near widest angle and near max tele. It will also not focus in pitch dark if the subject is beyond the reach of the Autofocus assist lamp. HAS ANYONE HAD OR RESOLVED THIS PROBLEM?

    Reply

  7. Mp3
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 21:35:04

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I
    think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and
    very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

    Reply

  8. Ron
    Nov 05, 2013 @ 16:10:52

    Update to my last post above: see captured images regarding this problemat:
    http://www.pbase.com/mentor_ron

    Reply

  9. arnie
    Dec 04, 2013 @ 13:04:36

    how to take picture w/ blurd background?

    Reply

  10. jose
    Dec 18, 2013 @ 11:41:16

    i recently bought this camera and am wondering if it has a stop motion feature. do you know if it does?

    Reply

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