Wednesday, February 14, 2007

GE enters digital camera market - analysis of the G1

"GE is changing the picture." GE announced that they will formally launch a new line of cameras at the PMA (Photo Marketing Association) show in March. The cameras are actually made by a new company called General Imaging, led by a former president of Olympus Imaging.

It seems GE will launch at least 2 digital cameras, an entry-level 7 megapixel camera with a 2.5" LCD, and a higher-end 12 megapixel camera with a 3" LCD, all with image stabilization, high ISO sensitivity and panoramic stitching.

The sample camera that came with the press release is a 7 megapixel sub compact similar to the Sony T50. It's simple but quite handsome. Click on above to see a full view. From the picture, it has a 3x optical zoom controlled by an unusual scroll wheel. The shutter bottom is a little far from the left edge, possibility designed for people with larger hands. There is a mysterious round thing in the middle that seems to be some kind of indicator light, and next to it is the microphone for movie mode. On the back we can see the dial for different available modes: auto, playback, night shooting, landscape, sports, SCN (other scene modes), shaking hand (CONFIRMED: image stabilization, which would imply a ISO boosting stabilization rather than optical stabilization) and video. The four-way round button shows the usual stuff, flash, exposure compensation (very convenient), macro and self time. I cannot guess what that smiley face button is for, possibly some kind of slide show mode? (UPDATE: it is face detection mode)

GE, household name for home appliances and medical equipment, is not a brand one would associate with digital cameras. I think GE is planning to ride its name targeting consumers new to digital cameras, and use its retail channels in department stores to increase exposure. GE will not be a threat to Canon or Nikon, but will pose big problems for Kodak and other small makers. Should be an interesting show.

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