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HP Photosmart R507 - Digital Camera Review
Introduction: The HP Photosmart R507 (known as the R607 in the US) is a compact 4 megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 35mm -105mm on a 35mm camera). It has a 1.5" Colour TFT screen. The camera comes with 32mb memory built into the camera, and can be upgraded with an additional SD card. The camera takes a proprietary Lithium-Ion battery. The camera also records unlimited 320x240 videos at 24fps with sound. The camera can be bought for £163 (UK) / $214 (US) from Amazon. The camera is compact with a size and weight as follows: Dimensions: 87 x 57 x 28 mm. Weight: 132g (without batteries or recording media).

The camera offers average value for money for a compact 4 megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom lens.

HP have this to say about the camera:

"Produce stunning prints and enlargements up to A3 size.Pentax precision zoom lens – capture the moment from near or far.Choose from 8 shooting modes or manual controls.High capacity, fast charging lithium-ion battery.

Use Adaptive Lighting to bring more detail out of the shadow.Get better flash photos with In-Camera Red-Eye Removal.Take the scenary. Accurate, multi-shot photos with In-Camera Panorama mode.Use Image Advice for tips on improving your pictures.

Enjoy easy photo sharing and printing with HP Instant Share™ – send photos to e-mail or print directly to selected HP or PictBridge printers.Get creative with your photos using HP Image Zone software.Choose from wide range of optional accessories."

You can find out more about the HP Photosmart R507 on HP's site, or for a demonstration of HP's Adaptive Lighting have a look at my review of the HP Photosmart R707.

The Camera: It's compact and made out of shiny silver metal at the front and black plastic at the back.
(All of these pictures were taken with the Minolta Dimage F200)


Front - Camera off. Flash, optical viewfinder, led, microphone.


Front - Camera on, lens extended.


Back - the 1.5" TFT screen, optical viewfinder, flash/mode, self-timer, email/print, photo mode / playback mode, on/off, HP zoom control, 4-way controller and menu/ok button.


Top - mode / macro, shutter release, video button.


Bottom - battery and memory compartment, tripod mount, and HP dock.


Left Side (from back) - DC in, USB connection.


On this side is the strap holder.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic, this camera is smaller than the Pentax.


The HP style handgrip is on the left, as seen on the R707.


Size comparison next to the 3 megapixel Pentax Optio S30.


Size comparison.

Specifications / Features:

  • 21x total zoom (3x optical zoom, 7x digital zoom)
  • 4.2 MP total resolution
  • 32 MB internal memory
  • Secure Digital(SD)/MultiMedia (MMC) memory card slot
  • High capacity, fast charging HP Photosmart R07 lithium-ion battery
  • 3.8 cm (1.5 in) outdoor viewable colour LCD
  • Direct printing capability, PictBridge compatibility
  • HP Real Life technologies™: HP Adaptive Lighting, HP In-Camera Panorama Preview with in-camera assist, HP In-Camera Red Eye removal, HP Image Advice
  • HP Instant Share

Full Specifications can be found on HP's site.

Box Contents:

  • HP Photosmart R507 digital camera with HP Instant Share
  • Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
  • USB cable for connecting camera to PC
  • USB cable for connecting camera to printer
  • User's manual
  • Quick Start Poster
  • CD with HP Image Zone software for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh
  • AC Adapter
  • Wrist strap

Average box contents - due to the proprietary nature of the lithium-ion battery - it would be wise to invest in a second battery for the camera.

The HP Photosmart R507/R607 is also available as a camera and docking station bundle - the bundle includes the digital camera, plus an HP Photosmart R-series dock (the dock acts as an additional battery charger as well as providing an easy way to connect the camera to the PC etc), a remote control for the dock, battery for the remote control, 2 HP Photosmart R507 rechargeable batteries, AC Adapter, USB cable for connecting the camera to a printer, USB cable for connecting dock to PC, cable for connecting dock to TV, dock insert for the R507, plus user's manual and wrist strap. The bundle is available for £216 (UK) $299 (US) from Amazon.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the buttons on the back - the photo / playback buttons go between the two modes, and there is also an instant video button on the top of the camera that takes you straight into recording a video.

The modes selected using the mode button are: Auto, Action, Landscape, Portrait, Beach and Snow, Sunset, AV priority, Panorama. There is a seperate button to enter the Super and Super Macro modes.

Photo mode: The capture menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:

The options are: Exposure compensation, Image Quality, White Balance (inc manual), ISO Speed, AE Metering, Adaptive lighting, Colour (Full, Black and White, Sepia), Saturation, Sharpness, Date and Time imprint.

Setup menu options are: Camera sounds, Live View setup, Date and Time, USB, TV, Language, Move images to card (from internal memory), Reset Settings.

Video mode: The video mode doesn't have a menu.

Playback (Review) mode: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:

In playback mode the options are: Delete, Remove red-eye, Image advice, Image info, Record Audio, Rotate, Preview panorama.

HP Instant Share menu: The options here are: Share all images, E-mail / Instant Share Setup options.

Help menu: The HP Photosmart R507 also has a built in Help menu as shown below.

The items are: Top Ten Tips, Camera Accessories, Camera buttons, using shooting mode, recording audio clips, recording video clips, reviewing images and video, deleting images, sharing images, transferring images, printing images, managing batteries, getting assistance, camera shortcuts.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the built in 32mb of memory:

Size / Quality: Number of Photos Stored (Average file size)

4mp *** (2304 x 1728)

11 (2.4mb)
4mp ** (2304 x 1728) 22 (1.2mb)
2mp ** (1600 x 1200) 45 (600kb)
VGA ** (640 x 480) 265 (100kb)
Video (320x240 15fps) 1 minutes 56 seconds

You can fit an average number of images on the provided 32mb memory card - although a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower quality settings. There is an okay choice of image sizes, and there is a good choice regarding image compression.

A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at least a 128mb or 256mb memory, or larger especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the HP Photosmart R507/R607:

128mb SD memory card - £11.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
256mb SD memory card - £19.00 from Amazon.co.uk.
512mb SD memory card - £33.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
1gb (1000mb) SD memory card - £59.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

Speed, ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, fairly quick to switch on and to take photos, the controls on the back of the camera are easy to use. The screen updates are fairly quick and smooth. The camera speed in use, seems fairly quick when taking a photo, and shot to shot time is okay. The camera is compact, and easily fits into pockets. The menus are easy to pick up and use - I especially like how the menus are different colours, and the built in help menu is very helpful and would be very good for newcomers to digital cameras. The modes are easy to access (due to the photo/play buttons), and the menus seem quick. Playback mode could be a bit quicker, as there are pauses while the image is displayed, and there are pauses when you first press the zoom button. In addition if you switch to playback mode as soon as you have taken a picture the camera will display 'Processing...' meaning you have to wait for the picture to be displayed.


One of the major problems / design flaws with the camera - depending whether you have long fingernails or not - is that the battery/memory compartment (shown above) is very difficult to open - if you have short fingernails like me then you will need to use something else in order to open the compartment. I asked some of my friends to try, and they also found it very difficult to open this compartment.

Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel good, and are labelled well. I like the way the Photo / Play buttons are very clearly labelled.

Battery usage: Battery life seems average - a backup battery is definitely recommended - luckily a second battery is provided when you buy the camera and dock kit.

LCD Display (Photo mode / Playback mode):


LCD display in photo mode: Mode (macro), Battery life, Picture size / quality, remaining pictures, Adaptive Lighting setting (bottom), the aperture and shutter speed is displayed when you half press the shutter.

LCD display in photo mode: The screen is a decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear fairly accurate. The screen shows how many remaining photos you can take with the available memory, as well as current picture size, it also shows the battery life. The camera shows aperture / shutter speed when the shutter is half pressed. There is no live histogram.

Playback mode: The camera displays very little information as shown above - simply the battery life, where the image is stored (on the SD card), and photo number (5 of 5). Scrolling through the photos is fairly quick - although there is a delay whilst the camera zooms in. However, the zoom is fairly quick and easy to use. Playback menu options are discussed above.

Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Full size (and medium size) versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!

Nb. All photos were taken with Adaptive lighting on (unless otherwise specified).

Inside:

Heather and Flower Ian and Jo

Inside: The camera has an okay flash, and copes fairly well with group photos - HP's Adaptive Lighting is recommended here, as this brightens up the darker areas of the image. Red eye was noticable on some photos of people - this can be removed in camera using HP's red-eye reduction. Some of the images looked a bit soft, especially to the left of the image, and had fairly low contrast. The camera did okay focusing in low light - but did fail on some occasions. Skin colour was quite good.

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, as well as ISO settings: 100, 200 and 400. To demonstrate the effect of the different ISO levels on this camera I have taken these pictures, and cropped an area of the image to show you at 100% what the noise lookes like.

Test photo. (flash on) ISO100 - 100%
ISO200 - 100% ISO400 - 100%

Noise levels at ISO100 are quite low - which means you get quite smooth images. ISO200 still displays fairly acceptable noise levels. It is probably best avoiding ISO400 where possible, due to the noise - although results may depend on the amount of light available. Using Adaptive Lighting can add more noise to images regardless of the ISO setting used, as it lightens up dark areas of the image - Adaptive Lighting was off for the noise test photos.

Outside:

Unisys Building Sefton Palm House at Sunset

Outside, the camera had decent colour and fairly low contrast - although I did notice some softness, mainly to the left of the photos, in some of the photos (for example the wide angle clock tower photo below). I didn't notice jpeg artifacts in the images. The Unisys building photo was taken at the same time as the Unisys building photo in the upcoming Kodak Easy DX7440 review.

Zoom: This camera has a 3x Optical zoom and a built in 7x Digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and crops it using software. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image - in the case of this camera the image is simply cropped so that it only shows you the area you want. I think this is a better way of doing digital zoom because generally digital zoom simply degrades image quality, whereas the digital zoom on this camera doesn't degrade image quality. I've included examples below simply to show what these features do.

Wide-angle 3x Optical zoom Full 3x Optical + 7x Digital

The digital zoom is shown with a box that covers the area of the zoom, whilst showing you the rest of the image outside the box - it shows "Digital Zoom" over the image when you first start using it, and shows you the Megapixel size of the image that you will get when you take the photo using that amount of zoom (as previously explained in the HP Photosmart R707 review).

Lens noise: When using the optical zoom, it's not very quiet, but it is fairly quick, it has about 7 steps between wide and telephoto. The amount of optical zoom isn't displayed on screen numerically, the amount is only displayed when you start using the digital zoom. The digital zoom can't be switched off as far as I'm aware.

Other Image Quality issues: There was quite noticable softness on the left side of images both indoor and outdoor. Chromatic Aberrations / Purple Fringing was noticable in some photos - although not very often.

Macro: When this camera is in normal macro mode, the lens is set to wide angle, and you can zoom in but you must move further away from the object, you can also use the digital zoom - and you can use the flash. This camera can focus down to roughly 10cm in normal macro mode. The camera also has a super macro mode - this allows you to focus as close as 6cm away from the object - the lens is set at telephoto when using super macro.

Normal Macro Actual Pixels (100%)
Super Macro - Timex Watch Actual Pixels (100%)

The normal macro mode is okay - you can't get very close, however, the super macro mode is very good as this allows you to get very close to the subject. The camera does a good job of toning down the flash.

Movie: 320x240 / 24fps with sound - you can't use the digital zoom whilst recording a video or before, but you can zoom in using the optical zoom before you start recording. The movie is recorded as an .MPG file. Length is limited only by the size of the memory card.


Elmo our kitten - Download 320x240/24fps movie
Click here. (right click, save target as, 1.25mb MPG) (saved as Zip file)

The quality of the movie(s) is okay, in that colour and focus are okay, although they can be a bit noisy in low light - 320 x 240/24fps with sound is slightly better than average.

Conclusion

Image Quality: The images have fairly good colour although fairly low contrast. Images can suffer from noise even on sunny days. Detail can be quite good, although there tended to be quite a lot of image softness on the left side of images. Purple fringing wasn't a huge problem. There is an okay range of image sizes and compression options. The normal macro mode is average, the super macro mode is very good however. The flash didn't cause problems when the subject was close. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be okay. The movie mode is better than average, at 24fps with sound. When inside, the camera does an okay job of focusing, the flash is fairly decent, but images do suffer from noise, and image softness. HP's Adaptive Lighting does a good job of keeping shadow detail (although adds noise), and is also useful for indoor photographs taken using the flash.

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The design is okay, the size is okay, the camera is quite compact and pocketable, the camera is fairly stylish depending on your tastes. The fairly small 1.5" screen updates smoothly and has fairly accurate colour. The camera is very easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and the help system is very good. There is a fairly good amount of options and features available (such as the scene modes, quick video button, and the impressive HP's Adaptive Lighting and red-eye reduction features). The 3x optical zoom lens seems to be good generally apart from the softness. Camera handling, and button layout are quite good. The camera speed is good in use and has a quick zoom, and shot to shot time is okay.

Alternative 3mp/4mp digital cameras: Kodak Easyshare CX7330 (£99 - read my review), Kodak Easyshare DX7440 (4mp, 4x optical, £129), Canon Powershot A400 (110 - read my review), Canon Powershot A75 (144), Canon Powershot A85 (4mp, £171), Pentax Optio S30 (99), Pentax Optio S40 (4mp, £149), Fuji Finepix A330 (123), Fuji FinePix A340 (4mp, 155), Sony Cybershot P73 (4mp, 153), Olympus C-310 (100), C-360 (130), Olympus C-470 (4mp, 149), Nikon Coolpix 3200 (125), Nikon Coolpix 4100 (4mp, £149) / 4200 (4mp, £182), Konica Minolta Dimage X31 (117 - read my review). Check amazon.co.uk / kelkoo.co.uk or amazon.com for the latest prices.

Summary: The HP Photosmart R507 is a compact 4 megapixel, 3x optical zoom digital camera with a small 1.5" colour screen. The camera records unlimited length videos with sound. The camera is easy to use and has a useful help system, with average image quality due to image softness. The camera has HP's "Real Life Technologies" which brings out shadow detail quite well and makes it easy to remove red-eye from images. For £163 (UK) / $214 (US) from Amazon this camera offers average value for money. If you want a very easy to use digital camera that can remove red-eye, and you like the look of HP's Adaptive Lighting then this camera is worth considering, but due to the image softness you may be better looking at the alternatives, especially as alternative 4mp digital cameras can be bought for much less than the HP, and the 5mp R707 can be bought for just a bit more money.

HP Photosmart R507 / R607 rating: Above Average
Buy now from Amazon for £163 (UK) / $214 (US)

If the HP Adaptive lighting, and red-eye reduction appeals to you but you would like more megapixels, then have a look at the 5 megapixel HP Photosmart R707 which I reviewed here - available for £163 from Amazon.co.uk.

If you like the look of this camera, and especially like the look of the HP Help system, then take a look at the 3 megapixel HP Photosmart M307 which I reviewed here - available for £80 from Amazon.co.uk, or the 4 megapixel HP Photosmart M407 - available from around £109.

What I like:

  • HP's Adaptive Lighting
  • HP's built in red-eye reduction
  • Very easy to use
  • Good menu system
  • Good help system
  • 24fps movie mode
  • Photos have fairly good colour

What I don't like:

  • Small 1.5" screen
  • Very difficult to open the battery/memory compartment
  • Sometimes struggles to focus
  • Image softness in areas (on left side of image and top left corner)

Remember to have a look at the full size (and medium size) versions of these photos in the new gallery.