HP Photosmart R707; Can In Camera Features Improve Your Images? Page 3

Evaluation: During extensive testing with the HP Photosmart R707, I found the redeye removal software extremely effective. In every instance, it targeted only the eyes, ignoring other red subjects. This feature can save a lot of work in image-editing software and it will be especially valuable for those who often print direct from their memory cards. I found only one drawback and it was visible in a few of my images. The redeye correction area (in one eye only) appears as a distinct rectangle; that's surprising since the actual redeye was circular. The effect is not apparent in 4x6" prints and is visible only under close scrutiny in 8.5x11" prints.

Making Seamless Panoramas
Several digicams include a panorama assist feature, useful for recording an extensive area of a landscape or a city scene. Shoot several individual frames and you can later "stitch" them together into a single long/narrow picture using the bundled software. This feature can work well, but for optimal results, you must work very carefully to avoid missing a part of the scene. After downloading the images to a computer, use the correction features provided in the software to make a panorama that's seamless without missing elements or poor connections.

In order to make this long/narrow image, I shot five individual frames, guided by the "ghost image" of the subject on the LCD monitor and then scrolled through the final image to confirm that it was satisfactory. After downloading the JPEGs to my PC, the HP and ArcSoft programs produced a seamless panoramic image in less than 20 seconds. (ISO 100; Auto white balance; +0.5 exposure compensation.)

With the HP R707, creating panoramic pictures is virtually foolproof. Select the Panorama mode with the Program selector button on top of the camera. Shoot the first frame, and a ghosted section of a portion of the image appears on the LCD monitor. Line that up with the appropriate subject element in the scene, and take the next shot. Continue doing so for up to five frames. The in camera software will then automatically align and merge the edges of each photo. Afterward, you can scroll through the entire panorama on the LCD monitor, a feature that's exclusive to HP. If there is a gap (missing section) you'll know immediately and you can re-shoot the scene to get it right.

After the images are downloaded to a computer, the HP Image Zone software automatically identifies all images made in Panorama program and activates Arcsoft Panorama Maker. The appropriate frames are then stitched and a panoramic picture is generated. Nothing could be simpler or more convenient. Although Panorama Maker 3 includes a "fine-tuning" tool for correcting poor seams between individual images, I never needed to take advantage of this feature.

Evaluation: Except in bright light, it's quite easy to see the ghosted area on the LCD monitor, using it as a guide to accurate framing for each subsequent shot. The camera produces good to very good exposure and white balance for the entire series. Finally, the intelligent Arcsoft program does a great job of stitching individual frames together and cropping any extraneous areas after making the necessary adjustments for user error.

Final Assessment
When compared to earlier HP models, the Photosmart R707 offers a faster LCD monitor refresh rate; it's still not quite a "live view" when you change a composition, but it's close. This camera also provides faster response with a more tolerable one second shutter lag, even more reliable autofocus, and moderately fast processing time in the highest JPEG quality level. I found only one issue worthy of a complaint. Some of my user-selected settings reverted to the default setting whenever the camera shut down to conserve battery power.

Image quality is about average for a 5-megapixel camera with a small (7.18x 5.32mm) sensor. Digital noise is low at ISO 100, noticeable at ISO 200, and obvious at ISO 400. Images made in the best JPEG quality capture, in the camera's default modes, exhibit slight underexposure, moderately high-resolution, pleasing white balance, and excessive sharpness. For even better results, it's worth selecting the low sharpening level. Color saturation is high, and very high in images made with flash on overcast days with the in camera Contrast level set to high for snappy contrast. I was able to make excellent 8.5x11" glossies and good 10x13" prints from the technically best images.

This handsome, pocketable 5-megapixel camera with classy lines and a stainless steel front panel is a great entry-level model but it includes enough advanced capabilities, plus the highly desirable Panorama feature, to attract some photo enthusiasts. The Adaptive Lighting and Redeye Removing capabilities make it suitable for anyone who wants technically superior images, particularly for printing direct from the camera or its memory card. The first HP model to combine valuable new technologies, the Photosmart R707 is also an indicator of even more technically sophisticated cameras that we can expect to see in the near future.

A long-time "eDigtalPhoto" and "Shutterbug" contributor, stock photographer Peter K. Burian is the author of "Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging." This 270-page book covers all aspects of the topic and provides a great deal of practical advice.

· Sensor: 1/1.8" CCD with 5.1 million recording pixels
· Lens: 39-114mm f/2.8-4.8 (35mm equivalent); up to 8x digital zoom additional
· Viewfinder And Monitor: Optical finder; 1.5" LCD monitor
· Focusing: Single Shot autofocus; macro, infinity and manual focus
· Sensitivity: ISO 100, 200 400 and Auto
· Storage: SD/MMC Card
· White Balance: Five options plus manual
· Flash: Built-in; Auto, anti redeye, slow sync, forced flash
· Shutter Speed Range: 16 to 1/2000 sec
· Connectivity: USB
· Power: Single use CP1 battery; proprietary lithium ion battery and charger/AC adapter, included
· Dimensions/Weight: 3.78x2.36x1.38"; 0.4 lb
· Software Included: HP Image Zone, ArcSoft Panorama Maker, Greeting Card Maker
· Minimum System Requirements: USB compatible Pentium III or Celeron PC with Windows 98 to XP, or Mac OS X 10.1.5, 10.2 or higher; 128MB RAM
· Street Price: $329

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