HP Photosmart R707
HP’s Photosmart R707 is a keenly-priced, compact, entry-level camera with some interesting functions that will help novice photographers to capture a higher percentage of good, usable shots. Its solidly-built body feels comfortable in the hand and is small enough to slip in a jacket pocket. . . [more]
Quality rating (out of 10) Build: 9.0Ease of use: 9.0Image quality: 8.5Value for money: 8.5
HP’s Photosmart R707 is a keenly-priced, compact, entry-level camera with some interesting functions that will help novice photographers capture a higher percentage of good, usable shots. Its solidly-built body feels comfortable in the hand and is small enough to slip in a jacket pocket.
Most button controls are located on the rear panel, where they share space with a rather small (though bright and easy to view) LCD monitor, plus a fairly small and tight optical viewfinder. Frequently-used settings are, in the main, easily accessible, thanks to a well-designed control layout and functional menu system. The top panel carries the shutter button, a dedicated button for starting and stopping video capture and the mode button, which lets you toggle from auto through nine pre-sets. Among these are an aperture-priority AE mode (although there are only two aperture settings), a Text mode for shooting printed documents and signs and a My Mode setting for customising frequently-used settings.
One notable feature of the R707 is the amount of in-camera assistance it provides. As well as in-camera red-eye removal, there’s a neat Adaptive Lighting setting, which balances the exposure levels between bright and dark areas and is handy when photographing contrasty or backlit subjects. You can use Adaptive Lighting with or without flash but it can’t be used for panoramas or video clips and it significantly extends the image processing time.
The R707 also has a dedicated Help menu, where users can find text messages explaining how various recording and playback functions work, plus a ‘Top Ten Tips’ section with handy hints for picture-taking. There’s also a Panorama shooting mode that lets you take a sequence of up to five shots and stitch them together, either in-camera or on your PC. You can even view a low-res image of the stitched panorama via the Preview Panorama Menu setting in the playback menu.
Dark-frame subtraction noise reduction is applied automatically for all exposures longer than about one second. This causes the display to remain dark for roughly double the actual exposure time while the camera records the second noise-reduction frame. Burst capture (which is neither fast nor long) is seriously affected by this system. In fact, sequential shooting is generally hampered by a small buffer memory and relatively slow processing. The camera locks after two or three quick shots and it takes roughly half a minute to clear.
The test camera’s overall camera responsiveness was average. It took almost four seconds to ‘wake’ the camera and extend the lens, although roughly half that time to shut down – unless the buffer memory was full. We measured an average capture lag of 0.7 seconds, which reduced to 0.35 seconds with pre-focusing. The burst mode captured four high-resolution shots at half-second intervals.
The test camera produced pictures with natural-looking colours, well-controlled saturation and no discernible processing or sharpening artefacts. Noise was visible at ISO 400, especially in long exposures, but at a low enough level to be unnoticeable in normal-sized prints. The auto white balance control gave an above-average performance, while the manual pre-sets and custom measurement controls delivered very good colour accuracy. The flash was just powerful enough to illuminate an average-sized room at ISO 100 but required ISO 400 for a well-balanced exposure. Recharging time was just over five seconds. The Adaptive Lighting function lifted shadow detail effectively in backlit shots, albeit with a slight increase in image noise.
The in-camera red-eye removal function was effective – although not immune to false detections (it made some small red buttons black). Movie capture was above average. Even though the top resolution was only 320 x 240 pixels, the ability to record at 30fps ensured very smooth video clips. Battery consumption was conservative, permitting over 150 shots on a single charge.
Unfortunately, JPEG compression is rather heavy, even at the highest resolution, where we found the average file size to be 2MB (5:1). VGA files were also smaller than claimed, averaging 130 KB. Imatest revealed a fall-off in image quality towards the edges of images and a low level of lateral chromatic aberration. The camera also became quite warm with usage, especially when a series of shots were taken. This could increase image noise in warm conditions.
Ease-of-use, and the addition of assistance that helps novices to learn how to take better pictures, make the R707 an excellent choice for beginning digital photographers. 
Image sensor: 7.18 x 5.32mm CCD with 5.36 million photosites (5.14 megapixels effective)
Lens: 8-24mm f2.8-4.8 zoom (39-117mm i n35mm format)
Zoom ratio: 3x optical, up to 8x digital
Dimensions (wxhxd): 98.5 x 60 x 35.3mm
Weight: 180 grams (without battery and card)
Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies – MPEG1 (QVGA at 30fps with sound)
Shutter speed range: 16-1/2000 second
Focus system/range: 50 cm to infinity; macro 14 cm to 90cm
Exposure metering/control: Program AE plus 9 scene modes
White balance: Auto, sun. shade, tungsten, fluorescent, manual.
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, off, red-eye reduction, flash on, night.
ISO range: Auto, 100, 200, 400
Sequence shooting: 4 shots at 0.5 second intervals
Storage Media: 32MB internal plus SD/MMC slot; internal memory holds 10 high-resolution images or up to 175 VGA shots.
Viewfinder: Optical real image zoom
LCD monitor: 1.5-inch colour active matrix TFT LCD (119,548 pixels)
Power supply: L1812A rechargeable lithium-ion battery
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