Hands on: HP Photosmart 945



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1 April 2005 | 0

The HP Photosmart 945 is an SLR-styled digital camera with a classic black plastic and molten rubber finish. With 5.3m actual pixels and an 8x optical zoom built-in, it’s a powerful camera. The zoom can be increased to 15x, but this involves the addition of a 7x digital zoom, so the process is artificially enhanced and as such it is not a true 15x zoom. The true 8x optical zoom is equivalent to that with which you would get with a 37-300mm lens setting on a traditional film camera. On the exterior of the camera, there are a whole range of buttons and controls, from a turn dial on the top right to control portrait, sports and landscape shots, to switching the settings for MPEG video, TV and AV output. There is also a manual switch to turn on the flash on the camera. The zoom can be controlled from a button on the back of the camera. A portable SD card can also be inserted on the lower right side of the camera and this allows you to transfer photos and video from the camera to a PC (with card reader), notebook or SD-compatible printer for direct printing.

On the left side, you will find the USB, TV out and power connections. The camera is powered by four rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, but you must buy an optional power adapter to charge them. Otherwise, you’ll have to rush out and buy four AAA batteries on a frequent basis. Other interesting exterior features on the camera include a 3.5in image display and a view finder with a microdisplay. There’s also the ability to print directly from the camera by pressing one button and the ability to log on directly to HP’s Instant Share online service to send low resolution photos to relatives over the Internet from the camera.

A multi-direction arrow scroller allows you to search through the camera’s options, which cover all the features you would expect from a camera of this specification and price point. These include white balance for correct lighting with the option for manually setting it yourself; spot metering; flash and colour controls; and also the ability to control the sharpness, contrast and colour saturation of the photo you take.

There is also the option to reduce the resolution of the photos you take from the highest quality 2608 x 1952 dots per inch (dpi) to 1296 x 976dpi, or the image quality you would achieve with an entry level one million pixel camera. The advantage of putting it on the low quality setting is that you can store five times the number of images on the storage card. The drawback: You loose out on image quality which is the primary reason you would purchase a high-end camera such as the Photosmart 945 in the first place.
The software that comes with the camera is very easy to use and offers limited editing functions such as the ability to remove red eye. But I do think that in most cases, the kind of user who would invest in a high end camera like this would be the kind of user who would already own a copy of the industry-standard Photoshop. As for the quality of the photos produced at the highest setting, they will be excellent once you understand how to take a good photo in the first place. To improve in this department, I suggest you look at Irish photo developer, Spectra’s website (www.spectraphoto.ie) for a good selection of tips.

PC Live! Verdict ****

A good quality high-end camera with a very affordable price tag, especially considering the similarly-specified Canon Powershot G5 will set you back EUR950. Photo enthusiasts may shy away from buying the Photosmart 945 because it is manufactured by a tech company rather than a traditional camera one, but I say the 945 is still worth taking a very close look at.




Cost: EUR699
www.hp.com/ie * HP 1800-200277


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