In the crowded digital photography market, the still camera that stands out from the herd will have to combine stylish looks, good picture quality and a host of technical wizardry with a reasonable retail price.
Hewlett Packard has always had an eye for quality and with the Photosmart R707 the company is hoping to hit most of the targets above. For a start the brushed steel exterior is both classy and solid to the touch, yet the unit weighs a mere 180g without the battery.
The Photosmart R707 is not just a thing of beauty. It also has an impressive 5.1-megapixel resolution and offers 24x total zoom (3x optical and 8x digital). At its lowest resolution (VGA and ‘two star’ compression) you can fit 180 images on the 32MB internal memory and there’s an additional SD card slot. There are ten shooting modes ranging from action, landscape and sunset to beach and snow, panorama and aperture priority.
Talking of panorama, one of a series of HP Real Life Technologies features built into this camera is the world’s first in-camera panorama preview. Instead of having to guess where the parameters of your last shot were, you’re now provided with a ghost image of your last photo, thus enabling you to line up the subsequent section exactly. Like most moments of genius, you wonder why no-one has thought of such an easy solution before.
If that’s got you interested, there are two more programmes that will have you excited. The first tackles the photographer’s perpetual enemy – red-eye. In the past you had to transfer the images to a computer and then get to work with PhotoShop or Paint Shop Pro to mask out those devil eyes. Now red-eye removal can happen at source, in the camera, with a preview mode to make sure the wrong red source is not being corrected.
If you’re relatively new to photography and don’t know why some photos haven’t emerged at their best, then there’s HP Image Advice to analyse your images for 50 possible problems and then to suggest ways of improving your technique.
It doesn’t stop there, as another element of the package is HP Adaptive Lighting, which is a lighting contrast correction facility that will virtually eliminate those ‘dark foreground, light background’ type shots that you notably get on ski-slopes and beaches. If that wasn’t enough, how about Adaptive Demosaic (which fills in missing colours), Preferred Photographic Reproduction (for optimising images for printing) and a Noise Filter to cut down on that bumpy, grainy look on faces and landscapes?
Once your photos are taken, you transfer them to a PC or Mac with the relevant cables. Normally you would then decide where you want to allocate them – to folders, albums, e-mail, Web site, etc., which can be a lengthy task. To short-cut this, HP includes its Instant Share technology which allows you to pre-determine where each image should go before it’s transferred to the computer. Then it’s simply a case of plugging it in. You do have to spend time initially programming the menu but it’s definitely worth it in the long term.
The standard package comes with a rechargeable Li-Ion battery, computer and print cables, HP Image Zone software, wrist strap, manual and AC adapter, but it’s also worth thinking about buying an additional fast charger or the impressive R-series dock. The dock recharges both your current battery and the spare, downloads photos on to the computer, prints them or shares them by e-mail, and connects to your TV to present your photos as a slide show using the remote control.
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