Cameras

GE E1410SW Digital Camera Review

It's got some quirks, and could use a paint-job, but budding action photographers may want to read on.

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Introduction

Wait...GE makes cameras?

That's what popped into our heads after spotting the E1410SW earlier this year at CES. While not traditionally known for its imaging products, a little research reveals that a few cameras have carried the General Electric brand since as early as 2007. Who knew?

On paper, the unpronounceable E1410SW is at least competitive, offering 10x zoom in a compact body for only $160. We still aren't expecting much from this one, but hey, we've been wrong before....

Front

Front Tour Image

Back

Back Tour Image

Sides

Sides Tour Image

Top

Top Tour Image

Bottom

Bottom Tour Image

In the Box

Box Photo

The package is missing A/V cables and the USB cord is pretty short.

• GE E1410SW digital camera

• USB cable

• USB wall socket adapter

• wrist strap

• software CD-ROM

• user manual

• warranty information

Lens & Sensor

The camera's black lens maxes out at 10x optical zoom, much better than average for this price range. Zoom action is quick, thanks to a powerful but loud motor, however control is imprecise, often making it difficult to achieve the exact framing you're looking for. The barrel itself seems to be of average build quality, allowing no more or less wiggle than your typical Canon or Nikon.

Display(s)

One of the E1410SW's chief cost-cutting efforts is the low quality LCD monitor. Although this is a 3-inch panel, resolution is only 230,000 pixels, making image rendition somewhat uglier than the competition. Viewing angle is narrow from any direction, but particularly bad from below. The backlighting also seems to be based around portrait-oriented viewing, so previewing shots vertically somehow strains the eyes. Brightness is adequate for indoors but ill-equipped for bright sunlight.

Flash

The flash emitter's distinguishing feature is that it just won't stay off. For some reason the interface always forgets your flash setting from the last time the camera was powered on and sets it to automatic instead. This even happens in Manual mode and is very annoying for people like us who rarely shoot with built-in flash.

Other than that, the flash is actually pretty powerful, with a maximum range of 5.2 meters at ISO 800. Sadly recycle time is quite slow.

Flash Photo

You'll be using this by accident all the time.

Connectivity

A microHDMI port resides underneath a plastic door on the right side of the body, useful for streaming content directly to an HDTV. It's adjacent to a USB port for PC connectivity or battery charging, however this is a proprietary terminal, so you'll be restricted to the short cable the camera ships with.

Related content

Battery

The E1410SW has some of the worst battery life we've seen all year. Performance is CIPA rated to only 150 shots, far less than average. We ran out of juice over and over again during our testing process.

Battery Photo

We had to charge this thing many times last week.

Image Quality

The average shot captured with the GE E1410SW is neither sharp nor free of noise. Dynamic range is narrow, color accuracy is worse than average, and chromatic aberration betrays a low quality lens. You don't have to be an expert to notice the camera's shortcomings.

Sharpness

While the E1410SW is sharp at the dead center of the frame, detail quickly drops off as we near the edges and corners. In our resolution lab test, detail levels fell below 1500 MTF50s most of the time, with more valleys than peaks across various zones. Generally speaking, the lens seems sharpest near the middle of the focal range, with detail falling off as zoom ratio increases, and even more detail loss at the widest focal length.

These conclusions are of course supported by the sample crops below. Notice that even after distracting edge enhancement is applied (those white halos against the black zones) sharpness is still unacceptable everywhere except the center of the frame. More on how we test sharpness.

Science Section 1 Images

Image Stabilization

This model is equipped with optical image stabilization, however we did not find this system to be effective for reducing motion blur. In fact, with image stabilization activated, sharpness actually decreased by 14.5%. Since this feature was also ineffective as an aid for framing shots at long zoom, we recommend leaving it turned off entirely.

Color

The E1410SW offers worse color accuracy than average, coming in at a minimum error value of 3.49 in our test. Flesh tones are particularly bad, and this could lend an unnatural quality to your portrait shots. Other problem areas include light blues and magentas. Saturation is adequate however, over by only 4.4% and within the acceptable range that we do not penalize for. More on how we test color.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

By far the most accurate camera in this segment of the market is Canon's A2400IS, which posted a better score than many SLRs, and oversaturated by only 3.3%. Behind that is the Samsung PL120, an old favorite from last year and a very cost-effective point-and-shoot.

Color Modes

Eight color modes are included in the camera, however only two of them—Normal and Vivid—are appropriate for traditional photography. We recommend sticking with Normal, Vivid will drastically worsen color accuracy. Other color modes include Retro, Negative, 70's Film, Pop Art, and a few more.

White Balance

The automatic white balance system is not very accurate. As is often the case, incandescent light was the biggest challenge, and produced images averaging 1500 degrees Kelvin warmer than they should've been. Fluorescent light averaged 700 K on the warm side, though daylight remained usable with an average error of 250 K too cool.

By swapping to custom white balance, you're able to achieve more accurate color temperature under all light sources. This time, incandescent was off by only 25 K, which is remarkable, while fluorescent and daylight were both off by around 100 - 130 K.

White Balance Options

White balance options are contained within the convenient Function menu, and five presets are available including two different fluorescent options. Manual white balance adjustment is surprisingly simple to use: just highlight the appropriate menu position, and click the shutter. The system reacts instantaneously and doesn't even close the menu, allowing an immediate retry if you miss the correct temperature. We wish all cameras did this.

Noise Reduction

The E1410SW has poor noise performance and should not be considered a viable option for low-light photography. Artifacting rates are never lower than 0.75% at ISO 100, and already approach 1.00% by ISO 200. Noise reduction software kicks into high gear at ISO 800, however the algorithm is too aggressive and causes pixelation and obscured details. Shots captured at the maximum ISO of 3200 are borderline-unusable. More on how we test noise.

Science Section 2 Images

ISO Options

The ISO ranges extends from 100 - 3200 with no reduced resolution extended options available. Pretty standard for this price range, even though ISO 3200 is a mess.

Science Section 2 Images_2

Noise Reduction

The E1410SW has poor noise performance and should not be considered a viable option for low-light photography. Artifacting rates are never lower than 0.75% at ISO 100, and already approach 1.00% by ISO 200. Noise reduction software kicks into high gear at ISO 800, however the algorithm is too aggressive and causes pixelation and obscured details. Shots captured at the maximum ISO of 3200 are borderline-unusable. More on how we test noise.

ISO Options

The ISO ranges extends from 100 - 3200 with no reduced resolution extended options available. Pretty standard for this price range, even though ISO 3200 is a mess.

Focus Performance

Video: Low Light Sensitivity

Despite ugly low light videos, the sensor is actually very sensitive for a compact camera. In order to gather 50 IRE of image data, the E1410SW requires only 8 lux of ambient illumination. Videos will surely look terrible by then, but it's an impressive—if impractical—ability.

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration made an appearance in every test shot we captured, however we must admit the problem is less noticeable in real world samples photos. This is generally indicative of a low quality lens, possibly made of plastic, but it's hard to be sure. Either way, clearly some cost-cutting has impacted the lens and this test is the tradeoff. Fringing is worst at minimum and maximum zoom ratios, so to lessen their impact we recommend zooming in about halfway.

Distortion

Barrel distortion is extremely severe while framing up your shot, especially at the widest focal length, however some onboard software quickly corrects for this before the final image is output. Even so, a fair bit of distortion still makes it to the final image. We recorded 1.24% barrel distortion at the widest focal length, 0.97% pincushion distortion at the middle of the focal range, and 0.74% pincushion distortion at maximum zoom.

Motion

There's no hint of trailing in videos captured with the E1410SW, however a combination of compression artifacts and frequency interference can be noticeable distractions. The footage also suffers from a general lack of smoothness, as shown in the juddering pinwheels of the clip below. We think the Full HD 30 frame per second maximum is partly to blame. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.

Video Sharpness

Under full studio illumination, the E1410SW is capable of resolving only 375 lw/ph horizontally, but 550 lw/ph vertically, pulling the average performance up and above most cameras in this class. Rarely to we see performance trend this way, so we're not sure how the gap in scores will effect your footage. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

When we reduce ambient light to only 60 lux, performance starts to seem more normal. This time the sensor resolves 400 lw/ph both vertically and horizontally, however image noise is a real problem under these conditions, so you'll want to avoid low light situations for shooting video content.

Low Light Sensitivity

Despite ugly low light videos, the sensor is actually very sensitive for a compact camera. In order to gather 50 IRE of image data, the E1410SW requires only 8 lux of ambient illumination. Videos will surely look terrible by then, but it's an impressive—if impractical—ability.

Usability

We were certainly blown away by the E1410SW's continuous shooting mode, which is a true continuous system, not burst. However the camera's interface is full of quirks and departures from the norm. Manual control is shunned, and the camera seems to think its consumer base is...well...rather bad at photography.

Automatic Features

Although the E1410SW does have separate Auto and Manual modes, they're both pretty automated. Most shooting variables (shutter, aperture, etc.) are not user definable, and Auto mode simply takes away even more user control, namely exposure compensation and ISO. The relatively complex Function menu is still available in Auto mode, and this could scare off some beginners.

Buttons & Dials

Button layout is extremely simple. There's a decent-sized directional pad with shortcut keys, but beyond that only three buttons exist on the rear panel: mode, function menu, and playback. The scheme actually works, thanks mostly to the convenient function menu, and the simplistic design is approachable for new photographers.

Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes

No less than 24 different scene modes are available, although we rarely took advantage of them. Options include Landscape, Sport, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Children, ID, Photo Frame, two Pet Modes, and more. There's also an automatic scene selector, which interprets your subject and tries to apply the proper scene mode on the fly.

The rather drab menu system is divided into two sections, the Function menu and the main menu. We strongly prefer the Function menu for its speed and convenience, allowing us to quickly change whatever setting we needed and then get back to the action. The main menu is accessed from within the Function menu, since it has no hardware button of its own, and this adds an extra step. The main menu is a slower, tab-based interface, but at least it's very simple, legible, and clear.

Instruction Manual

The E1410SW ships with a 30 page printed manual that lacks necessary detail, and features neither a table of contents nor an index. For newcomers we recommend downloading the full length manual from General Imaging's website or copying it from the included CD-ROM.

Handling

The E1410SW's smooth, small chassis is difficult to grip by nature. However the omission of rubberized ergonomic features earned the camera an even lower score. On the front panel, you should try to latch onto the raised GE logo on the right side. This adds some much needed texture, however the plastic circle is still smooth and only a minor aid to handling.

Handling Photo 1

We borrowed Andrew and his awkwardly-huge hands for this shot....

The designers have included a resting area for the thumb at the top right corner of the rear panel, and this is the camera's best ergonomic feature. However the area is little more than a few raised dots, made of the same material as the rest of the body. We relied on it, but still wished for a bit more.

Handling Photo 2

Never again.

Buttons & Dials

Button layout is extremely simple. There's a decent-sized directional pad with shortcut keys, but beyond that only three buttons exist on the rear panel: mode, function menu, and playback. The scheme actually works, thanks mostly to the convenient function menu, and the simplistic design is approachable for new photographers.

Buttons Photo 1

The shutter release is great, but the power and video buttons are twins.

The barebones rear panel pushes the video record button onto the top plate, a bad place for it, since this introduces some hand shake at the beginning of each clip. Plus, this and the power button look too similar and can be confused for one another. Thankfully the shutter release has excellent tactile feedback.

Buttons Photo 2

The deliberately-simplistic rear control panel.

Display(s)

One of the E1410SW's chief cost-cutting efforts is the low quality LCD monitor. Although this is a 3-inch panel, resolution is only 230,000 pixels, making image rendition somewhat uglier than the competition. Viewing angle is narrow from any direction, but particularly bad from below. The backlighting also seems to be based around portrait-oriented viewing, so previewing shots vertically somehow strains the eyes. Brightness is adequate for indoors but ill-equipped for bright sunlight.

Image Stabilization

This model is equipped with optical image stabilization, however we did not find this system to be effective for reducing motion blur. In fact, with image stabilization activated, sharpness actually decreased by 14.5%. Since this feature was also ineffective as an aid for framing shots at long zoom, we recommend leaving it turned off entirely.

Shooting Modes

No mode dial can be found on this tiny camera, but above the directional pad is a dedicated mode button. Using this, you'll be able to select between standard Auto and Manual modes, as well as others like Movie, Panorama, Scene, and Face Beautifier.

Focus

Recording Options

Most available resolutions conform to the 4:3 aspect ratio, five of them in various sizes have been included. Additionally, there is one 3:2 resolution available and two for 16:9. RAW shooting is never available on cameras of this price range, however JPEG compression quality may be set to Normal, Fine, or Best.

Speed and Timing

Continuous and burst mode photography is the E1410SW's best feature, with one caveat: all such modes cause a reduction in image quality, even if it's just a slight one. For some modes that's expected, high-speed burst limits resolution to four megapixels for example, a common sacrifice. However even the full resolution continuous modes lock compression quality to Fine. Not a huge deal, but something to be aware of.

Most of your action photography will be performed in the "Continuous Shot mode," which is the aforementioned full resolution setting. Remarkably, the storage buffer on this mode seems to be unlimited, or at least big enough to feel that way. It's therefore possible hold down the shutter ad infinitum, taking shots until—presumably—your battery or memory card runs out. The other settings are "Continuous Shot - Fast," which is limited to four megapixels, and "Continuous Shot - High Speed," which is only 640x480.

Maximum speed of the full resolution Continuous Shot mode is 10.9 frames per second, making this camera one of the fastest compacts around. Since this is true continuous shooting, not burst, we also recorded speeds separately after about 15 seconds into the series. At this point the camera drops to about 2.2 frames per second, still very impressive for such an affordable camera.

Self-timer countdowns are not customizable, but come in 2-second or 10-second varieties, plus an automatic smile-shutter option. An interval timer for time-lapse photography is included in the drive mode menu, and can be set to intervals of 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, or 10 minutes.

Features

A slew of scene modes help stave off boredom, especially for young photographers. Aside from that, the only diversion is video, and a relatively narrow array of options and features are available.

Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes

No less than 24 different scene modes are available, although we rarely took advantage of them. Options include Landscape, Sport, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Children, ID, Photo Frame, two Pet Modes, and more. There's also an automatic scene selector, which interprets your subject and tries to apply the proper scene mode on the fly.

Recording Options

Videos may be recorded in either 1080p or 720p, however 720p unlocks the additional 60 fps frame rate while 1080p is limited to 30. 480p and 240p are also available. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

Video Controls

Zoom

Optical zoom is unlocked while a recording is in progress, however the speed of the motor is slowed down to reduce mechanical noise. This is effective to a certain extent, however a fair bit of noise is still picked up by the mic. Digital zoom is also supported, but we don't recommend it.

Focus

Continuous autofocus may be manually turned on or off, but once turned on the feature is not entirely reliable. The camera is often slow to achieve focus while a recording is in progress, and sometimes just misses completely.

Exposure Controls

The camera handles exposure automatically according to your metering method, and it's possible to adjust exposure compensation out to +/- 3 stops just like still shooting. EV cannot be adjust while a recording is in progress however.

Audio Features

A small monaural microphone is responsible for all the sound recording and it does a predictably mediocre job. No audio options—even the commonplace wind-cut feature—are available.

Conclusion

If you're worried about investing in a company that isn't exactly known for its imaging products, rest assured the GE E1410SW is at least a serviceable point-and-shoot, and a legitimate contender in the open marketplace. Whether or not anyone will buy it is another story. Still, you should at least give this camera a glance, it's got a few quirks, some bad, but some really good—as if the young General Imaging department still has its naivety intact, unblemished by the norms of the industry at large.

Take continuous shooting for example. The E1410SW apparently has no data buffer, and is able to write sequential shots indefinitely. It does so at a pretty decent clip too: 10.9 frames per second is impressive for any camera, much less the sub-$200 category. Other strange departures include white balance adjustment, which is so simple and painless that we wondered why no one thought of it before.

Then again, some odd behaviors aren't so refreshing. The camera's insistence on resetting flash back to Auto after every power-up is a constant annoyance and maybe even a little insulting to the consumer base. We also appreciate the quick and responsive menu system, which is better than many of the big manufacturers', however the dry onscreen display seems underdeveloped.

But the E1410SW's true downfall is image quality, plain and simple. Shots are unsharp everywhere except the center, and noise can be a problem at any ISO level. Dynamic range is very limited, making for poor landscape shots, and color accuracy is a bit worse than average.

The best way to purchase the E1410SW is therefore with a discount. At $160 this camera is competitive in price, but not in performance. Should you stumble across a deal of some kind, something that involves buying the camera for, say, less than $100, that will be a good value. Otherwise there are just too many other options out there.

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