Although the GE X2600 superzoom camera is a great bargain, its image quality drops as ISO increases and lacks an electronic viewfinder.
- Performance slow
- Low image quality with medium ISO settings
- There is no EVF.
- Rear LCD with low-resolution.
- Video limit to 720p
General Electric X2600 (169.99 USD direct) is yet another budget-priced model in their camera range. The camera boasts a 26x zoom lens that is sharp and the 16-megapixel sensor can produce sharp images in bright lighting. The ISO setting is too high and image quality suffers. Additionally, the low resolution LCD combined with the lack of an EVF makes shooting at 676mm focal length quite challenging. The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ200 (Amazon), our Editors Choice superzoom is comparable. However, this camera costs more and offers better value.
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Amazon's X2600 is a 3.1x4.6x2.9 inch (HWD), and just over a pound. The X2600 is available in black or blue and feels sturdy. It is made of hard plastic with a large handgrip that is covered in a texture leatherette. The X600 (at Amazon) is actually a little larger than the GE budget model.
The camera measures 3.1x4.1x2.9inches and is 12.5 oz. It has a 26x zoom range that starts at 26mm, and can go all the way up to 676mm. Its aperture is a decent f/3.2 on the wide end, but narrows to f/5.6 when zoomed all the way in—so you'll likely have to use a higher ISO setting to get a sharp shot when zoomed all the way in, even with the built-in optical stabilization system.
A few buttons can be found on top of the camera. The standard shutter release button and zoom rocker are located at the highest part of the grip. You will find buttons below to adjust the flash output and macro photography, as well as the drive mode.
The mode dial is missing the shutter priority and aperture priority settings that seasoned photographers know. You can only choose from automatic, program or manual modes, as well as a variety of scene modes.
The rear buttons are used for playback and menu navigation, with the exception of the movie record button. Although the LCD measures 3 inches in size, its resolution of 230k dots gives it an incredibly fuzzy, pixelated look. These screens are common on budget models. To enjoy the full benefits of the 920k dot LCD, you will need to upgrade to a higher-end camera such as the Fujifilm H50EXR (at Amazon).
An on-screen menu will allow you to change camera settings while you are shooting. This overlay is ribbon-shaped and occupies the upper strip of your LCD. You can use it to print photos and adjust the shutter speed or aperture when you are using manual mode. These settings can be seen in other modes but not overwritten.
If you're not shooting in automatic mode, there are other controls that can be used. The controls allow you to adjust the exposure compensation, flash compensation and white balance. You also have the ability to focus on the area and change the exposure. There are also a few settings that you can use to adjust the JPG output to best suit your photographic vision—the color mode, contrast, and sharpness can be tweaked to your liking.
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We found the X2600 to be one of our slowest cameras. The X2600 takes 2.2 seconds to turn on and then take a photograph. It has a shutter lag of 0.4 seconds and can take one photo every 1.2 seconds when in continuous drive mode. If you are trying to capture a high-quality photo in low lighting, the shutter lag will increase. In both of these cases it took around 1.8 seconds.
It is a similar budget superzoom. Although it takes 1.9 seconds to start, it is a little slower and can take shots at 1.3 seconds. However, its shutter lag of 0.2 seconds is very low and the SP620UZ can capture bursts at 4.6 and 14.9fps if needed.
Imatest was used to test the sharpness and clarity of the X2600 lens. This is one of its most refreshing features. It records 2,308 lines per image height. It is more than enough to make an image sharp. The X600 budget zoom from GE is a bit less sharp with 1,842 lines.
However, it delivers an acceptable level of performance. Click on the above image to view a larger version. It was taken at maximum focal length. On overcast days, the default settings for the X2600 were a 1/160 second shutter speed and ISO 80.
However, you will have to deal with image noise. At 64 ISO, the X2600 can record images that have 1.5 percent noise. The ISO 100 setting has the highest noise level, at 1.9%. ISO 400 is at 2.6%. Even worse is the fact that image detail begins to decrease at ISO 200, though it is still acceptable for printing, but becomes blurry at ISO 400, when seen on our NEC MultiSync PA271W ($999.00 Amazon).
You can shoot at ISO 800 if your goal is to simply share images on the internet. However, if the X2600 is what you want, ISO 1600 should be avoided. Higher ISOs can be used with long zoom cameras like these. You may be able to shoot at ISO 400 even in daylight, in order for a faster shutter speed when zoomed-in.
You'll have an edge at higher ISOs if you are able to stretch your budget and get a camera that uses a CMOS sensor instead of a CCD. The Canon PowerShot SX280HS ($299.69 on Amazon) offers a pocket-friendly model with a 20x lens, and low noise at ISO 1600. However it is twice the price.
The video is captured at 720p30 resolution in MP4 format. The footage looks sharp under our studio lights, and the camera can zoom in and out while recording—but the lens movement is quite audible on the soundtrack. After zooming in, the X2600 has trouble regaining focus.
It is noticeable that it wiggles back and forth between its targets before it locks into place. The camera has a micro HDMI and micro USB ports. Four AA batteries are required to charge the four standard SDHC, SDHC and SDXC memory card types.
General Electric X2600 delivers on its promises of a powerful zoom lens for a reasonable price. However, it isn't as versatile or performance-oriented as its higher priced competitors. We recommend the X600 GE camera if money is tight. It also has a 26x zoom but has a CMOS sensor which does a better job with higher ISOs.
Our Editor's Choice Panasonic Lumix FZ200 superzoom is the one you should consider if money is not an issue. Although the lens measures only 24x, it has a maximum aperture at f/2.8 across its entire range. It also comes with all of those bells and whistles you would expect in a camera costing $600.
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