General Electric G1 review: General Electric G1

The G1 provides the typical set of features for a budget point-and-shoot. It uses folded optics for a nonprotruding f/3.5-4.3 38mm-114mm 3x zoom lens. Shooting options include exposure compensation, a handful of scene modes, panorama guides, three metering options, and support for sensitivities up to ISO 1600. There are 5-shot and Last 5-shot continuous shooting modes, but they don't operate at 7-megapixel/best quality mode. The face detection quickly and accurately locates and tracks faces that are facing forward and relatively large in the frame.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the important stuff, performance and photo quality, the G1 doesn't fare very well. Its shooting speed matches that of comparable cameras--from 3 years ago. It takes 3.2 seconds from power on to first shot, likely the necessity of sliding its whopping 13 lens elements into place (the highest we've heard of for this focal range has been the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T20 with 11 elements). Its shutter lag--0.7 second under best conditions and 1.7 seconds in low-contrast lighting--are slightly below average at best. However, the camera's 3.4-second interval between shots, which rises to 4 seconds with flash, is unacceptably long. In practice, I was unable to shoot kids, dogs or people on the move, staples of snapshot photography. CNET Labs' test methodology requires timing continuous-shooting at best quality, which the G1 doesn't support, so we have no burst comparison numbers. Given its five-shot limitation, it won't be very useful anyway. Furthermore, the G1 has a coarse, narrow-viewing-angle LCD that washes out in sunlight. Though not uncommon for its price range, you can still do better.

Sample photos from the General Electric G1

The G1 can, on occasion, deliver decent quality shots. As long as there's nothing too dark or too bright in the scene, exposures look fine. And the automatic white balance works pretty well. However, the camera more often produces photos with soft edges and smeared details; at settings of ISO 400 and above they're just a big mess for anything but e-mail. Its MPEG-4 movie capture is similarly inconsistent. Despite setting the camera to capture at 640x480 30fps (frames per second), and despite the relatively high recorded data rate (994K/sec versus the more typical 696K/sec), one of my clips recorded at 16.8fps with dead stops at regular intervals throughout the video stream.

Most inexpensive digital cameras fill their basic function: they point, they shoot, they produce photos. From that standpoint, the General Electric G1 succeeds. But any product on our list of top budget cameras--and even some that didn't make the cut--succeeds far better.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Casio Exilim EX-S770
Fujifilm FinePix F40fd
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W55
Olympus FE-190
General Electric G1

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