HP PhotoSmart 735 Review
By Movable Type Admin
Priced in the mid-range of the consumer digicam market, the Hewlett Packard Photosmart 735's 3.2 megapixel imager, high-quality 3X Pentax optical zoom lens, movie mode with sound, and several scene modes offer alot for your money. This automatic point-n-shoot is simple enough for a novice to obtain good results, and offers enough creative control to please most intermediate users. In addition to automatic exposure shooting mode, the 735 offers settings for Exposure Compensation (+/-2EV), White Balance, ISO Speed (100, 200, or 400), and several scene modes including:
The Photosmart 735's controls are somewhat unusually-organized, although you'll quickly grow accustomed to them. The LCD on/off switch is located adjacent to a camera icon next to the LCD; this multi-purpose switch returns the camera to shooting mode from the review or menu modes as well. The 735 has two independent shutter release controls, one for still shots and the other for movies; this arrangement is actually easier to use than the standard rotary or slide Mode switch found on other cameras. The menu system is arranged logically, and even offers help text for each of its settings; think of it as a built-in camera operations guide that will help novice users improve their shooting skills!
The Photosmart 735's shooting performance is average. From power-on to the capture of your first image takes about six seconds. Shutter delay, the elapsed time between releasing the shutter and capturing the image, measured 3/10 second when pre-focused, or about 8/10 second including autofocus time. Shot-to-shot took about two seconds, and burst mode was able to capture seven images in two seconds. These times are based on 2048 x 1536 images without the flash on. The responsiveness of 735 should enable you to achieve some success with shooting sports or other unposed events, and is adequate for most other shooting situations.
Outdoors, the Photosmart 735 produces good results, both well-exposed and nicely saturated. The 3X Pentax optical zoom lens has enough range, 37-111mm in 35mm equivalence, to provide flexibility in composing your shots and is sharp enough to produce pleasing 8x10-inch prints. A 5X digital zoom is also included, although image quality suffers in proportion to the degree of digital zoom used. You'll be better-off not using it, instead cropping your photos in an image editor when necessary. The LCD viewfinders brightness can not be adjusted, although it has an anti-reflective coating which made it useful even in the bright Florida sun. The 735 is also equipped with a zoom-coupled optical viewfinder for use in the harshest of lighting conditions.
Because of the limited flash range and 37mm wide angle focal length, you'll realize the best indoor results when shooting portraits of individuals and small groups; capturing an image of a large banquet room is beyond the 735's capability. Although it is not equipped with a focus-assist lamp, the Photosmart 735 was surprisingly good at focusing in low ambient light, and did a great job of squelching its flash during macro-photography. The 735 would be a good choice for close-up shots of small objects for online auction listings. We found the LCD viewfinder quite usable in low light, although you'll observe ghosting during movement of the camera or the subject.
The 735's battery life was somewhat disappointing in our tests. Using a pair of AA NiMH 2000 mAh rechargeable batteries, we were able to capture only about 70 images with the LCD on before a low battery warning occurred. We always recommend using NiMH batteries when possible, and given the 735's rate of battery drain, you should have several charged pairs on hand. In addition, we recommend that you shoot with the LCD monitor off to extend battery life.
Hewlett Packard is offering a good value in the Photosmart 735. For a mid-range MSRP of under $300, the 735 is equipped with features that you'll enjoy having, including the sharp optical zoom lens, scene modes, and movie mode with sound. You'll appreciate its ability to achieve good focus in low-light, and the usefulness of its flash for macro-photography. The 735 will reward the beginner with good results, and provide an opportunity to develop his or her skills via its more advanced features and built-in help, while the intermediate user will enjoy the range of creative control it offers. If you are in the market for a mid-range point-n-shoot that will help you become a better photographer, be sure to include the HP Photosmart 735 on your short list.
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