With its rubberised black body and brushed-metal face plate, the 6.2-megapixel HP Photosmart R717 bears a marked family resemblance to its 5.1-megapixel predecessor, the R707. However, it upgrades many of its older sibling's features.
- Museum mode is handy, images are good quality, image advice is useful for newbies
- Awkward to handle
Extensive in-camera coaching and some convenient extra features make the easy-to-use HP Photosmart R717 a great choice for an ambitious beginner.
Price$ 368.00 (AUD)
The R717 allows photographers to select from several different scene modes. The usual suspects--including portrait, action and landscape, plus panorama and the user-configurable My Mode--are available. The R717 also has Museum mode, which takes flashless photos and silences the usual camera sounds.
The long, banana-shaped zoom-control button resides on the back. Because it sits in a shallow indentation--a trough it shares with the direction and Menu/OK buttons--we found it a bit awkward to use. Our most successful technique was to run the side of a thumb along it, a motion better suited to a dial than to this smooth and strangely shaped button.
The R717's easily navigated menus borrow many useful features from the R707. For example, you can set HP's Adaptive Lighting function at high or regular levels to even out images with very light and very dark areas. We found it useful for capturing objects in a bright greenhouse window and for reducing flash glare on glassware photographed in a dark room. The in-camera red-eye reduction is simple and effective as well.
The HP Instant Share feature allows you to set up profiles for printers and email addresses; by tagging photos for these destinations while the shots are still in the camera, you can subsequently send the images out within minutes of sitting down at a PC.
From the R717's Playback menu, you can request image advice on shots already taken. It displays text that explains which features and modes might be useful for improving focus, exposure, depth of field and so on. The separate Help menu provides basic definitions and instructions plus "Top Ten Tips" for the new owner who's itching to snap some shots. Although none of this replaces the manual, it's certainly helpful for getting up to speed.
The quality of the R717's photos impressed us, as it produced some of the sharpest images we've seen from a point-and-shoot. Colours looked attractive, though a bit more oversaturated than the actual hues. We also saw a little speckling--possibly the result of oversharpening--on our colour-distortion tests. These were minor weaknesses, however.
The Photosmart R717 runs on either a rechargeable lithium ion battery (included in the box) or a disposable Duracell CP1 battery--which is good to carry in your camera bag in case the rechargeable dies sooner than you expected. Tested with the rechargeable lithium ion battery, the R717 lasted for 227 shots, or a period of just over two hours.
The R717 ships with no media for its SD Card slot, but the 32MB of internal memory suffices for taking a few high-res test shots on your way to the electronics store to buy media. A USB cable is included in the box for connection to a PC or to a PictBridge-compatible printer, or you can purchase HP's optional Photosmart R-series cradle.
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