I just received a GE E850 digital camera to review and want to share a few first thoughts about the camera as a prelude to the full review that we'll finish in a few weeks. The GE (yes, as in General Electric) E850 is an 8 megapixel camera with 5x optical zoom and 3 inch LCD.
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One of the goals of General Imaging, the company that has the worldwide exclusive license to produce GE-branded digital cameras, was to provide a standard feature set across all of their cameras. The E850 has all of those features, which are basically the "standard" set of features that you'll see on most recent digital cameras. You'll find face detection, a panorama stitching mode, and electronic image stabilization. The camera can also shoot at a sensitivity up to ISO 1600, and it has a wide angle lens (28mm equivalent).
The unit that I'm reviewing has a glossy black finish that is very prone to fingerprints, but it still has classy look to it. I really like having a black border around the LCD since it always seems to make things look better. Build quality is good, with solid doors and a sturdy body. The controls also feel very solid, but I'm really not excited about the placement of the zoom control (on top of the camera right next to the shutter). With the zoom control where it is, your finger will actually touch the zoom control when you press the shutter. Or, your finger will find the zoom control when you actually want to press the shutter.
The 3 inch LCD is nice on a camera at this price point, but it doesn't always look good. There's plenty of resolution (230,400 pixels), but it seems like the camera compresses the images quite a bit for viewing. When reviewing images that you've taken, you'll see lots of "jaggies" and other compression artifacts.
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The menu system and the shooting settings are easy enough to get around, but I'm not sure why "expo metering" is a good abbreviation in the menu for "exposure metering" when you want to change the metering method.
The E850 is true point and shoot, with an auto mode, program auto mode, and a set of scene modes. Only in program auto mode can you change the white balance, ISO, etc. The movie mode on the E850 can shoot up to resolutions of 640x480 at 30 frames per second.
So far, camera performance (speed of operation) is pretty average, right about the middle of the pack. I haven't really dug into the image quality yet, so keep an eye out for the full review.
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