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GE Power Pro review: GE Power Pro

GE Power Pro

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
8 min read

Editors' note: Several of the design, features, and shooting options are identical between the GE Power Pro X500 and the Power Pro X5 we reviewed earlier, so readers of the earlier review may experience some déjàvu when reading the same sections below.


GE Power Pro

The Good

The <b>GE Power Pro X500</b><br/> offers a lot for its low price including a 15x wide-angle zoom lens and semimanual and manual controls.

The Bad

The X500's shooting performance is really slow and it's not good indoors without a flash and in low-light conditions.

The Bottom Line

The GE X500 megazoom is a very good value as long as you understand its photo and performance limitations.

GE took an if-ain't-broke approach with the Power Pro X500. Almost nothing changes from its predecessor, the X5. There's just a bump in resolution from 14 to 16 megapixels and some new scene modes. Otherwise, it retains all the same things that made the X5 a popular camera: a wide-angle lens with a 15x zoom; an electronic viewfinder (EVF); semimanual and manual shooting modes; and power from AA-size batteries--all for a very reasonable sub-$150 price.

It's that price and its feature set that helped earn the camera its above average rating. The X500 is capable of taking some nice photos, too, under the right circumstances. The increased resolution isn't all that useful, though, and it actually seems to slow down the camera's performance some. On the other hand, if you don't need fast performance and you rarely enlarge or heavily crop your photos, you might find the X500 to be a very satisfying camera.

Key specs GE X500
Price (MSRP) $149.99
Dimensions (WHD) 4 x 2.9 x 2.7 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 15.8 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/Electronic
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 15x, f3-5.2, 27-405mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/Motion JPEG (.MOV)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,608x4,56 pixels/ 640x480 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Mechanical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life AA (4, alkaline or NiMH rechargeables), 300 shots (alkaline)
Battery charged in camera No
Storage media SD/SDHC
Bundled software Arcsoft Photo Impression 6 (Windows)

The photo quality from the GE X500 is good as long you have plenty of light; and it's actually a bit better than expected given its price. However, its 16-megapixel resolution does nothing to improve this camera's photos, and any pixel peepers out there will not like what they see when photos are viewed onscreen at full size. Just because the camera looks similar to a digital SLR and has manual controls does not mean its photos are of that quality. The results are best suited for 8x10 prints or smaller and Web use, which for a lot of people is all that's needed.

At lower ISO sensitivities--ISO 200 and below--you'll get nice photos with good exposure and bright, vivid, and fairly accurate color. Viewed at full size you'll see noise, but its pretty unnoticeable at small sizes. Above ISO 200, though, you get more noise, softness, and off colors, making photos only suitable for small prints and Web use. Even still, you probably won't want to go above ISO 800. There are ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 settings at a reduced resolution of 4 megapixels, but I wouldn't use them, as their color is bad and details are completely smeared. Basically, this camera is fine for outdoor use in full sun to cloudy conditions. If you do a lot of indoor shooting in dim lighting and don't want to use the flash, I would not buy the X500.

There is some visible barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens and some very slight pincushioning when then lens is extended. Center sharpness is fairly good and the lens is consistent for the most part, softening slightly out at the edges and in the corners. I've seen far worse on more expensive cameras, though. Fringing around high-contrast subjects can be bad at times. However, in most of my photos it was faint enough where it didn't pose a problem and was only visible when photos were viewed at 100 percent on a computer screen.

Color was very good from the X500 at or below ISO 200. Above that, colors get washed out and dull looking. Again, though, when viewed at full size you will see some color noise even at ISO 80 (and a general lack of fine detail, too). White balance outside is solid, but indoors both the auto and presets were off. There is a manual option that's easy to set, and I recommend using that whenever possible under unnatural light.

Video quality is OK; good enough for nondiscriminating Web use, but really nothing else. Panning the camera will create judder and you'll see motion blur with fast-moving subjects; that's typical of the video from most compact cameras, though. The zoom lens does function while recording and it has continuous autofocus. The AF is a little slow to respond, but at least it and the lens movement are quiet, barely picked up by the mono microphone.

General shooting options GE X500
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Fluorescent CWF, Incandescent, Manual
Recording modes Auto, ASCN, Manual, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Movie, Scene, Portrait, Panorama
Focus modes Center AF, 13-point multi AF, Face Detection AF
Macro 2 inches (Wide); 6.6 feet (Tele)
Metering modes Multi, Center-weighted average, Spot
Color effects Black & White, Sepia, Vivid
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 3 photos

It's rare that you find a sub-$200 camera these days with aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual shooting modes, but the X500 has them. At the wide end, the apertures are: f3, f3.3, f3.8, f4.6, f5.8, and f7.3; in telephoto you have a choice of f5.2 or f6.6. Shutter speeds go from 1/2,000 second to 30 seconds. What's nice is that the X500 has graphics on the aperture and shutter speed onscreen controls, giving you an idea of what setting to use for a subject (e.g., fireworks at the 30-second shutter speed position). If you need manual focus, though, you're out of luck; the X500 has autofocus only. There is a Program Auto, too, if you want to set things like ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation, but leave shutter speed and aperture to the camera.

Of course, it does have a fully automatic mode as well as an automatic scene recognition mode that determines the appropriate settings based on the conditions of what you're shooting. The latter works OK, but the plain Auto mode turned out good results in most circumstances. Along with the increased resolution over the X5, the X500 has more scene modes to pick from, too. The new additions are: Beach, Panning shot, Photo frame, Party, ID, Fisheye, and Sketch.

For those that like to shoot close-ups, the X500, like a lot of megazooms, is very good for macro shots. It can focus as close as 2 inches from a subject and produces nice fine detail, assuming, again, you have a lot of light.

Lastly, the camera has a more advanced panorama shooting mode than I usually find at this price. You press the shutter release with the camera aimed where you'd like to start your panorama shot and it puts a circle and a target on the screen. Put the circle in the center of the target by moving the camera to the right and it'll take the next shot when it's centered. Do that once more and it'll take your three shots and stitch them together in-camera into a single photo. It takes some practice (I kept moving the camera too fast, for example), but once you get the hang of it, it works nicely.

Shooting performance is slow, which is typical for its class. From off to first-shot takes 3.6 seconds. Shot-to-shot times without a flash averaged 4.1 seconds, which is painful; turning on the flash extends that to 4.4 seconds. Shutter lag--how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed--is long, too, at 0.7 seconds in bright lighting and 1.2 seconds in dim conditions. Those times might be fine if your subject is inanimate, but for portraits or moving subjects like kids and pets, the X500 is just too slow. That's not to say you won't get action shots, but it'll be a matter of luck and practice and you still might not get the shot you wanted. The camera does have a continuous shooting setting for capturing photos at up to 1.4 frames per second for three shots.

On the other hand, if you don't mind the slow response, actually using the camera is a nice experience. You might expect a camera this inexpensive to feel cheap, but it doesn't. Part of that is the weight from the AA batteries, but the rest of the camera feels good, too. The battery/memory card compartment door can be tricky to close, but that's the case with most AA-battery cameras. It looks decent as well (it comes in black and white versions) with the exception of the big GE etched above the lens.

Its controls are fairly easy to master and they're well spaced and clearly labeled. There are two menu systems: one that's shooting-mode specific accessed by the Func/OK button and the main system menus reached by the Menu button. They aren't very attractive and might be difficult to read at times, but the menus themselves are easy to understand. The camera comes with a small printed manual with a full digital manual on the included CD.

As mentioned several times before, the X500 takes AA-size batteries--four of them--and can use alkaline, lithium, or NiMH rechargables. It's CIPA-rated for 300 shots on alkalines, but that really depends on usage. You're better off buying some NiMH batteries, which are rated for 500 shots and rechargeable.

If you want to connect the X500 to a computer there is a Micro-USB port on the right side of the camera. It can also be used as an AV out should you want to playback on a monitor or TV, but you'll need to buy a Micro-USB-to-AV cable; all that's included is a USB cable for transferring files to a computer. Speaking of file transfers, along with the JPEGs the camera captures you'll see a THM file for every photo. This is a thumbnail image presumably generated to make previewing photos on the X500 easier. The 16-megapixel photos are large and likely too much for the camera to handle efficiently.

The GE X500 is a competent budget megazoom camera. If you want a wide-angle lens with a 15x zoom, an electronic viewfinder, semimanual and manual shooting modes, and AA batteries for power for less than $150, this is your camera. Its performance is slow, so I wouldn't recommend it for regularly shooting active kids and pets. Nor would I recommend it for a lot of indoor/low-light photography without a flash. But, as long as you understand its limitations, the X500, like the X5, delivers a lot of value at an ultra-affordable price.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Nikon Coolpix L120
Fujifilm FinePix S2550HD
GE X500
Olympus SP-600UZ

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.


GE Power Pro

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 6Image quality 6