I make it a point to let readers know that I am by no means a professional photographer (though with all these camera reviews I’m getting closer), but I do know what I like in a camera as a consumer. One thing that I’ve always liked are “bridge cameras” – so called because they bridge the gap between simple point and shoot models, and more advanced SLR models. Bridge cameras have a very small image sensor that allows their single lens to take on a multitude of functions (from macro to zoom), and while the GE Power Pro X500 might just be the most inexpensive bridge camera I’ve ever seen, its lens doesn’t skimp at all.
For starters, the Power Pro X500 sports a very impressive 16 megapixel sensor. The normal range for entry level cameras of this type is a 10-14 MP sensor, so that right there gives it a leg up on the competition. The camera’s lens can also hit a nice 15x optical zoom – it also has an additional 6x digital zoom, but I’ve gone over my dislike for digital zooms enough in the past. Most bridge cameras fall into the category of “super zoom” though, so that’s a fairly average zoom length.
In order to keep the cost down for the consumer (and while we’ll get to the price later, I’ll say that this camera is cheap) GE decided to forgo a rechargeable battery of any kind and make this camera run on four AA batteries. This is a bit of a double edged sword however, as the four batteries add a lot of weight (but it does seem to balance out the weight of the lens nicely), and you can only get about 300 pictures with standard AA batteries (supposedly you can get up to 500 with NiMH AA batteries though). While this won’t be an issue to the casual camera user, someone that takes a lot of pictures will find their operating costs to rise pretty quickly.
One thing that the Power Pro X500 has that most bridge cameras does not, is an optical view finder, for those times when you’re trying to take pictures on a bright day. It’s a great addition, and honestly it’s almost needed when dealing with the LCD screen on the back. It’s a 2.7 inch LCD, but it’s not the best quality at all – there were plenty of times I looked at a picture on the screen and thought I ruined a shot, only to see it look great on my PC monitor. To be fair, for such a low cost camera, I’m sure some concessions had to be made; the batteries were one, and the screen quality is definitely another.
Along with a nice lens and a good image sensor, the Power Pro X500 is packed with some other nice features. One is the “on the fly” HRD (High Dynamic Range) adjustment. After you take a picture, you can go into the the menu and hit the HDR adjust option, and it will adjust the colors, making it brighter and more vivid. Another nice little feature is the face and smile detection mode, where the camera won’t take a picture until it sees a smile. It might be kinda cheesy, but it’s fun with the family. The X500 can also take movies, but like most cameras that take movies, you won’t be using that feature all that much. While it’s not that the movies look bad (although for HD movies, they don’t look very HD), there are better things you could be using this camera for.
The last feature I want to hit on is the “Panorama Mode”, which was one of my favorite things to mess with. Basically you turn the mode on, and take a picture at the farthest left edge of what you cant to capture. After that first picture is taken, you keep moving slightly to the right while lining up cross hairs and snapping pictures as you do. The camera’s on-board software then splices the individual pictures together making one seamless photo. Be careful not to get any “moving” areas with this though – the one I did had a ghost car because I wasn’t paying attention, but it looked cool none the less.
At the end of the day, the GE Power Pro X500 is a solid camera that packs amazing performance for the price. It’s obviously not going to compete with $1000 SLR cameras, but that’s not what it’s meant to do. While it does have a few failings, for the money it really can’t be beat. As I said earlier though, you do need to figure the cost of batteries in to the mix, but if you’re not taking hundreds of pictures a day it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
I give the GE Power Pro X500 a final score of four and a half stars out of five.
- 6 MP for the low price is an extremely good deal
- The lens works great for zooms, wide angles, and even macro images
- The panorama mode works really great (as long as you do it right)
- Uses four AA batteries instead of a rechargeable battery
- The clarity of the LCD screen leaves a lot to be desired
- I’m sure this is just a draw-back of using AA batteries, but there’s no hot shoe.
You can get your own GE Power Pro X500 from Amazon for $128.00
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