If you’re a beginner to photography, the unique help features of the 6.2-megapixel HP Photosmart R717 will help you expand your comfort zone. And when you’re ready, a smattering of manual controls will let you expand your creative horizons.
The R717 is well constructed with a stainless-steel front, subtly sculpted for a comfortable grip. The 1.8-inch LCD is bright and clear and menus are easy to navigate. For the novice, help messages explain settings and a Help menu provides useful information, such as guides to camera buttons and shortcuts. An Image Advice feature analyses your images and offers suggestionsfor improvement, such as which mode to use, or whento use exposure compensation.
Scene modes include the typical Landscape and Portrait, along with less common ones, such as Document and Museum (which turns off the flash and mutes camera sounds for shooting in quiet places). Macro mode lets you focus to six inches. The manual controls are limited, but aperture priority mode lets you set aperture directly, and you can adjust exposure compensation, white balance and ISO. Exposure compensation is adjusted via a menu; unfortunately,this is one time when the help message is an intrusion and makes changes difficult to judge.
The R717 excels at taking panoramic images. In panorama mode, it provides a transparent overlay of the left third of the previous image to help you align it with the next shot. You can stitch up to five images together, and the included Image Zone software does a good job of assembling the images on your computer.
I had no problems with red-eye, but an in-camera feature will let you fix red-eye-ridden shots. Adaptive Lighting technology brings out detail in shadows, but it can also lose detail in highlights. Image colour was very good, as was the level of detail. The ISO ranges from50 to 400, but noise becomes noticeable at 200 ISO.
The R717’s start-up time is about three secondsand shutter lag is noticeable. After taking a few images
back to back, you’ll wait helplessly while the green processing light flashes. I took three shots in burst mode in under two seconds, a respectable continuous-shooting speed, then twiddled my thumbs for about 25 seconds while the camera wrote the images to memory.
Video capture is limited to a low-resolution of 320-x-240 pixels at 30 frames per second, and the movies are dark and grainy. The audio, however, is excellent and is useful for annotating images. If you continue holding down the shutter after taking a still image, audio recording begins automatically (you’ll need the Image Zone software to play your clips).
The R717 is a good choice for novices who want some hand-holding, but its manual controls are limited.