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HP Photosmart M22 - Digital Camera Quick Review
Review Date: 01/08/05
Rating: Average
Buy now: £85 | $135

Introduction: The HP Photosmart M22, is available from around £85 | $135 - and is a compact 4 megapixel digital camera, with no optical zoom lens and a 1.5" TFT screen. The camera is enclosed in a compact weatherproof metal body. The HP optical lens is equivelant to 36.7mm lens in 35mm format. It records unlimited 320x240 / 25fps videos with sound. The camera's size is: 32.7 x 96 x 49 millimeters, and the camera weighs 120g (without batteries).

HP have this to say about the camera:

"This tough but good looking all-metal camera combines ease-of-use and weather-resistance with a range of HP Real Life technologies first seen on HP’s award-winning R-series cameras. Just point and shoot for great results wherever you go."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: It's very compact and made out of shiney silver metal.
(Photos of the camera taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ3)

Front - Camera off - metal lens cover.

Front - Camera on, lens cover open, flash, led, sliding cover acts as the on/off switch, microphone. The lens looks identical to the lens used in the Olympus C-180.

Back - 1.5" TFT, photo/play button, flash, mode, self-timer, menu/ok, 4-way controller.

Top - shutter, video button.

Bottom, under the camera there is a tripod mount, and the docking port (and cover).

Left Side (from back) USB out, DC in.

Battery and memory compartment.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm Camera (PC-550).

Size comparison.

Size comparison.

Compared to the HP Photosmart R717.

Specifications / Features:

  • 4 milion pixels
  • Autofocus lens (no optical zoom - equivalent to 36.7mm lens in 35mm format)
  • 6x digital zoom (7x digital zoom on M23)
  • 1.5" / 3.8cm LCD
  • Movie recording function (320x240 / 25fps with sound)
  • Internal memory of 16 MB plus SD memory card slot
  • Uses two AA-size batteries or one CRV-3 cell
  • Pictbridge Compatible
  • 20cm Macro mode

Box Contents:

  • HP Photosmart M22 Digital Camera with HP Instant Share,
  • 2 AA batteries,
  • wrist strap,
  • USB cable (camera to PC),
  • 1 yr warranty and regulatory brochure,
  • user's manual,
  • CD-ROM(s) with software

Average box contents - a large memory card, and a case would have been nice.

The Camera in Use:

Battery usage: Battery life seemed average - rechargable high-powered Ni-Mh batteries and a charger are highly recommended and should provide much better battery life.

Speed: The camera speed is average when being turned on and average when taking photos. The screen updates are a bit sluggish. The playback mode is fairly quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom extremely closely - enlarging the pictures pixels. Shot to shot time seemed about average. The camera shutter response seemed about average, and sluggish in low light. Focusing was quite good, but slow in low-light.

Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, the built in help explains the modes when you select them. The controls on the back of the camera are very easy to use - with the clear photo / play button. The camera is compact but not overly small. The menus are responsive, easy to use, and the options are easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a fully automatic mode as well as various scene modes for simple point and shoot operation (there's very little control beyond point and shoot operation).

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are very easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons - although a seperate delete button would be nice. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled well. I thought the camera felt good ergonomically. The buttons are a good size. Build quality seems good.

Screen / Viewfinder: The 1.5" screen, although small, is fairly clear with good colours. There is no optical viewfinder.

Image Quality:

Image quality generally: Outside image quality was average, colour was quite rich and saturated, and noise seemed fairly low, the pictures had good contrast, although images were soft and as a result detail was average. Indoors - image quality was below average, images were soft and often fuzzy looking and lacked detail - focusing was occassionally a problem and red eye was quite noticable (although the built in red-eye reduction does help assuming you're not wearing glasses). Images were generally fairly soft, and may benefit from sharpening. The maco mode was fairly poor as the closest you can get to the subject is around 20cm away.

Image quality issues: There was very minor purple fringing.

Zoom: The camera has no optical zoom lens, meaning you will either need to walk closer to the subject in order to frame the subject correctly, or alternatively use the digital zoom - which will degrade image quality drastically.

Movie: The movie mode offers 320x240 / 25fps. The video mode is good and works well, however the lack of sound-playback on camera does limit it's usefullness.

Size + Compression options: The choices are 4mp Best, 4mp, 2mp and VGA. There's a limited choice here although it should keep the intended market happy - it would be nice to see a 3:2 aspect ratio available (especially for those wanting to print traditional 6x4" photos).

Flash Performance: The flash performed quite well in the photos I took and performed better when the subject was closer to the camera - however I wouldn't expect the camera to light up large rooms.

Value for Money: Currently at £85 the HP Photosmart M22 is good value for money as one of the cheapest weatherproof digital cameras available, however the lack of optical zoom and below average image quality limit it's appeal. I would much rather have a 3 or 4 megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom lens, rather than a 4 megapixel camera with no optical zoom lens.

Alternative compact digital cameras:
Canon Powershot A400, (4mp, 2x optical zoom)
Canon Powershot A520, (4mp, 4x optical zoom)
Kodak Easyshare DX7440, (4mp, 4x optical zoom)
Sony Cybershot DSC-S60/S80, (4mp, 3x optical zoom)
Panasonic Lumix LS1, (4mp, 3x optical zoom, image stabilisation)
Olympus Camedia C-500, (5mp, 3x optical zoom)
Olympus Camedia C-470, (4mp, 3x optical zoom)
Nikon Coolpix 4600, (4mp, 3x optical zoom)

See more suggestions sorted by megapixels here.

Conclusion: The HP Photosmart M22 scores very highly on ease of use, but unfortunately falls short on image quality, with soft images, and poor indoor photo quality. The lack of optical zoom is a real shame as well - you may be better off buying a camera with an optical zoom lens. Images do have okay colour outdoors and this camera may suit those looking for an extremely easy to use weatherproof point and shoot camera on a budget.

HP Photosmart M22 Rating: Average
Buy now: £85 | $135

What I like:

  • Very easy to use
  • Built in help / describes the mode selected
  • Takes AA batteries
  • Weatherproof metal body
  • Good value for money

What I don't like:

  • No optical zoom
  • Poor macro mode
  • No built-in speaker for video playback
  • Below average image quality

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.