General Imaging Launches Eight Cameras

Last month, General Electric raised a few eyebrows by announcing it would be entering the digital camera market with newcomer General Imaging, which is headed up by former Olympus president Hiroshi Komiya. Today at the Photo Marketing Association conference, General Imaging put its camera models were its press releases are, unveiling eight camera models (PDF) designed to appeal to first-time digital camera buyers as well as experienced photographers.

First up, General Imaging’s A-series cameras, the A730 and A830, are intended to be the most affordable and budget-conscious of the offerings, appealing to first-time buyers or folks with straightforward need upgrading from an earlier-generation digital camera. Both run on two AA batteries, offer 3× optical zooms, and sport 2.5-inch LCD displays; the A720 touts a 7 megapixel resolution, while the A830 cranks out to 8 megapixels. Both models offer electronic image stabilization, face detection, and sensitivity up to ISO 1,600 for snapping clear photos even in low light conditions.

The intermediate E-series cameras encompas the E850, E1030, E1040, and E1240 all run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and and sport generously-sized LCD viewfinders (the E1030 goes with a 2.7-inch LCD, while all the other E-models out 3-inch displays). The E850 offers a 5× optical zoom, 8 megapixel resolution, and a 28mm equivalent wide-angle lens; the E1030 drops down to a 3× optical zoom but offers a 10 megapixel resolution. The E1040 and E1240 offer 4× optical zooms, but bump the resolution out to 10 and 12 megapixels, respectively. The entire E-series seems to offer sensitivity up to ISO 1,600, electronic image stabilization, and face-detection features.

Next up, GE goes after the doting grandparent and casual point-and-shoot market with the G1, offering a compact size (3.625 by 2.5 inches), 3× optical zoom, rechargeable lithium ion battery, a 2.5-inch LCD, and 7 megapixels of memory-cherishing resolution along with face detection and electronic image stabilization.

Finally, the X1 takes aim at serious and pro-sumer photographers, being the only General Imaging model to offer optical image stabilization. Also on board: a 2.5-inch LCD viewfinder, 8 megapixel resolution, sensitivity down to ISO 1,600, a substantial 12× optical zoom, and face-detection technology for group shots and portrait work. The X1 runs of four AA batteries.

Pricing for the cameras has not yet been finalized, but General Imaging says the models should range in price from $149 to $399, and should reach the North American market in May, with Europe and Asia seeing the units later in 2007.

General Imaging certainly seems to have its work cut out for it: the digital camera market is mature enough to have kicked its film-using ancestors to the curb, so the odds of a new company establishing itself might seem long. But General Imaging would seem to have the in-house expertise to pull it off, and the deep pockets of General Electric are a tremendous asset. And CEO Komiya is nothing if not confident: his five-year goal is to be among the world’s top three camera brands. “We believe digital cameras are still in a growth market,” he said in a statement. “With the replacement cycle now down to three years, many consumers are buying their second or third digital camera, while others have been waiting for just the right camera to come along to make their first purchase. With our excellent quality, advanced features, strong value proposition and the great GE name, we are in a position to lift the entire category.”