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HP PhotoSmart 315

HP's "entry-level+" model offers 2.1 megapixels and ease of use at a bargain price.

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PhotoSmart 315 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 03/14/2001

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)


Outdoor portrait: (724k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart 315 had a little trouble with the high contrast, and the lack of exposure adjustment resulted in a somewhat dim image. The camera's automatic white balance did a good job, however, producing an accurate white value and color balance. The blues of the flowers and model's pants look quite accurate, though just a little dark. (These blues are hard for many digicams to reproduce correctly, and the 315 does a better job than average with them.) As noted, the image is a little dark, given that the 315 does not feature an exposure compensation adjustment, but we can still distinguish detail in the shadow areas. Overall resolution is reasonably high, although some parts of the image are softer than others (the collar on the model's shirt is soft, but her hair and some of the flowers are quite sharp. A moderate amount of noise is present throughout the image however, and is stronger in the shadow areas. We also noticed a faint, vertical stripe pattern in the noise grain of the shadows, most visible in the lower left corner of the image. Other than the dark exposure, the color and tonal rendition is pretty good.


 
Closer portrait: (702k)
The 315's 5.8mm lens produces some distortion in this closer, portrait shot. (Shorter focal length lenses tend to distort facial features in close-up shots like this and the availability of longer focal lengths is a key feature if you're going to be shooting close-up people shots.) White balance still looks good, though the skin tones may be a tad bluish (possibly from the underexposure). Resolution looks better with this shot, with more fine details visible throughout the face and hair. Details also appear crisper. Noise is moderate throughout the image, again with the faint, vertical stripe pattern in the darkest shadow areas.


 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (616k)
The 315's built-in flash appears a pretty weak in this indoor portrait, producing faint, bluish tints in the highlights. The camera's automatic white balance system produces a very strong orange color cast in response to the background incandescent lighting. Though the red tones appear oversaturated, color saturation elsewhere looks pretty good. We detected a pixelated effect around the middle bright red flower, particularly along the outside lines of the petals which line the blue flowers. Noise is moderately high throughout the image, but with a reasonably tight grain. Overall, a somewhat disappointing performance.


 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (617 k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the 315's automatically controlled white balance system does a pretty good job. Color balance appears somewhat magenta, but isn't too bad overall, especially considering the camera's limited exposure control. Not having an exposure compensation adjustment, the 315 produces a very dark image in this shot. The ability to lighten the exposure may have lessened the magenta color cast. Noise level remains moderately high, as with the other indoor portrait. Overall, the 315 doesn't do too well indoors, but we found that the images cleaned up fairly well with simple adjustments in image editing software. This shot (374 k) shows the results of a very basic brightness/contrast adjustment, functions that are available in most any image manipulation program. More sophisticated programs like Adobe's Photoshop(tm) have histogram-based "levels" adjustments, which produced this (414 k) nicely-balanced (although somewhat noisy) shot with two clicks (auto levels plus a tweak on the midtone slider).


 
House shot: (693k)
NOTE that this is the "new" house shot, a much higher-resolution poster than we first used in our tests. To compare the image of the 315 with previously tested cameras, here's a shot of the original (763k) house poster.

The 315's automatic white balance does a nice job with this shot, producing an accurate white value and good color overall. Detail and resolution look good, and reasonably sharp. The camera seems to have some trouble with the color gradation in the shrubbery and trees, showing abrupt contrasts between light and dark tones with no visible blending. This pattern also occurs in the brick outline and gives the image an illustration effect. We also picked up a fair amount of corner softness in all four corners. The roof shingles and shadows show a moderate amount of noise, and the in-camera sharpening shows up as about two or three pixels of the tiny halo around the light and dark edges of the white trim along the roof line. The odd tonal breaks in the foliage and bricks are unfortunate, since the color and tonal rendition is otherwise so good. The table below shows our standard range of resolution and quality settings.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
1/ 45
F/ 2.8
(693 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 45
F/ 2.8
(382 k)

Small/Normal
1/ 45
F/ 2.8
(106 k)



 
 
Far-Field Test (607k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

The 315's automatic white balance does a nice job with this shot, producing an accurate white value and good color balance. This shot is a strong test of detail, given the practically infinite range of fine detail in a natural scene like this, viewed from a distance. Resolution is good, as we can see the details of the wooden fence behind the house as well as those in the tree branches and shrubbery. Details are reasonably crisp, though the very strong highlights in the white trim result in lens flare that makes them look blurry. We also judge a camera's dynamic range in this shot, comparing how well the camera holds detail in both the shadow and highlight areas. The 315 picks up the strongest details in the bright, white paint of the bay window area, and shows a moderate amount of detail in the shadow area of the porch. Though we can't see the brick pattern in the porch area, we can see the subtle details of the door front. Tonal range could be a bit better, but overall isn't bad. (The biggest problem is the lens flare from the strong highlight.) Noise is moderate in the roof shingles and shadow areas of the house. The table below shows the full resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
1/ 222
F/ 9.8
(607 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 222
F/ 9.8
(349 k)

Small/Normal
1/ 278
F/ 9.8
(125 k)



 
 
Lens Zoom Range
We've received a number of requests from readers to show the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Though the 315 doesn't feature an optical zoom, we can show you the view at wide angle and with the 2.5x digital zoom enabled. The 315's wide angle view shows some barrel distortion, particularly along the curb of the street, but the field of view is nice and wide. The 2.5x digital telephoto softens the image details a fair amount and loses resolution as well. Noise also appears to increase slightly.

Wide Angle
Shutter: 1/ 222
Aperture: F9.8
(607k)
2.5x Digital Telephoto
Shutter: 1/ 256
Aperture: F9.8
(463k)



 
 
Musicians Poster (615k)
The large amount of blue in this image often tricks digicams into overcompensating, but the 315's automatic white balance system produces a nice color balance. Skin tones look pretty good, though maybe a touch warm, and the blue of the Oriental model's robe looks nearly accurate. Resolution looks nice, with a lot of detail visible on the bird wings and silver threads of the blue robe. Details also appear reasonably sharp throughout. As we noticed in the House poster, the 315 has trouble with color gradations between dark and light tones, producing abrupt color changes. We see this effect here in the strands of each model's hair, as well as in the highlights of their lips and in the flower garland of the blonde model. The violin strings show a slight moire pattern, which is typical of many digicams. Noise is moderately high throughout the image, with a brighter grain pattern than in the other test images. Overall, we would have rated the 315 quite highly for it's handling of this shot, but the tonal breaks drop its performance considerably. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(615 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(349 k)

Small/Normal
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(128 k)



 
Macro Shot (662k)
The 315's minimum focal distance of 11.8 inches (30cm) limits its macro capabilities a great deal. Even at the closest focal distance, the 315 captures a very large minimum area of 11.1 x 8.3 inches (283 x 212mm). Details appear very soft and we noticed the same splotchy color gradation in the high contrast areas. Color balance looks pretty good, and noise is moderately high in the gray background. The 315's built-in flash (774k) does a pretty good job with this macro area, though the intensity falls off around the corners and edges. Interestingly, the image details sharpen with the flash exposure, possibly due to the slightly higher contrast of the image, or to the use of a smaller lens aperture.


"Davebox" Test Target (599k)
The 315's automatic white balance system does a great job with this shot, producing a nice white value on the mini-resolution target. We did pick up a few slight magenta tints throughout the image, but overall color balance looks pretty good. The large color blocks are a little weak (undersaturated), but not too far off the mark. We noticed a small halo around the outer edges of some of the brighter blocks, which seems to be a typical digicam response to the contrasting colors, and a more pixelated effect around the large red color block. The 315 just barely picks up the subtle difference between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart (a common problem area for many digicams), and in fact seems to blur the entire area surrounding it. The 315 also captures the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 chart all the way up to the "B" range (another area that's often a problem area for digicams). The tonal gradations of the smaller, vertical gray scales also look good, though the darkest two blocks appear as a single tone. The shadow area of the briquettes shows good detail, with moderately high noise, and the white gauze area shows a lot of detail as well. Moderate noise is also visible throughout the image. Details appear reasonably crisp in some areas, yet the mini-resolution target is very soft, as is the lower left corner of the Davebox, which we mentioned earlier. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
1/ 56
F/ 2.8
(599 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 56
F/ 2.8
(325 k)

Small/Normal
1/ 56
F/ 2.8
(76 k)



 
Low-Light Tests
The 315 performs reasonably well in the low-light category, thanks to its maximum shutter speed of two seconds. We obtained reasonably bright, clear images as low as one foot-candle (11 lux). Images were dim but still usable as low as 1/4 of a foot-candle (2.7 lux), but became progressively darker with the lower light levels (though the target remained visible at the 1/16 of a foot-candle (0.67 lux) light level). Noise remained moderately low at the higher light levels, but increased slightly as the light level decreased. To put the 315's low-light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, so the camera should handle most such scenes well. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

8fc
10EV
88lux
4fc
9EV
44lux
2fc
8EV
22lux
1fc
7EV
11lux
1/2fc
6EV
5.5lux
1/4fc
5EV
2.7lux
1/8fc
4EV
1.3lux
1/16fc
3EV
0.67lx
Click to see P31L00.JPG
662 KB
1/2
F2.8
Click to see P31L01.JPG
691 KB
1/1
F2.8
Click to see P31L02.JPG
718 KB
1.2
F2.8
Click to see P31L03.JPG
736 KB
1.6
F2.8
Click to see P31L04.JPG
703 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see P31L05.JPG
675 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see P31L06.JPG
642 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see P31L07.JPG
645 KB
2
F2.8



 
Flash Range Test
Hewlett-Packard estimates the 315's flash as effective up to 9.8 feet (3m). In our testing, we found the 315's flash maintained the same intensity level as far as 10 feet from the target. Brightness decreased with each foot of distance, but the flash was still reasonably effective at the 14 foot mark. Overall, we'd conclude that the stated flash range of 9.8 feet is about right. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(475 k)
9 ft
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(444 k)
10 ft
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(441 k)
11 ft
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(380 k)
12 ft
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(378 k)
13 ft
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(386 k)
14 ft
1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(400 k)



 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (607k)
In our laboratory resolution test, we found nothing that would explain the odd tonal breaks we saw in our "natural image" tests, but the PS315 came up a little short on the resolution front. The image was quite soft overall, and the visual resolution tested out at between 450 and 500 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions, toward the bottom end of the scale among two megapixel cameras we've tested.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Large/Fine
1/ 64
F/ 2.8
(607 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 64
F/ 2.8
(338 k)

Small/Normal
1/ 64
F/ 2.8
(87 k)


Resolution Series, 2.5x Digital Telephoto
Large/Fine
1/ 74
F/ 2.8
(404 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 74
F/ 2.8
(222 k)

Small/Normal
1/ 74
F/ 2.8
(83 k)



 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
We found the 315's optical viewfinder to be a little tight, showing approximately 83.7 percent frame accuracy at both 1600 x 1200 (335 k)and 640 x 480 (74 k)resolution sizes. We also noticed that these images are shifted up and towards the left, with a slight slant toward the lower left corner. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 94.16 percent accuracy at both 1600 x 1200 (328 k)and 640 x 480 (72 k)resolution sizes. We generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, so the 315 does a nice job in that respect. (Though there's a very slight slant toward the lower left corner in the LCD shots as well.) Flash distribution looks pretty good, with light falloff along the outer edges and in the corners.

Optical distortion on the 315 is moderate, as we measured an approximate 0.6 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is low, showing about two or three pixels of coloration on each side of the black target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

 

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