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HP PhotoSmart 215

HP's entry-level model offers ease of use for beginning shooters.

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 3/10/2001

1.3 megapixel CCD delivers up to 1,280 x 960-pixel photos. (Good for up to 4 x 6-inch prints.)
43.4mm equivalent lens provides good scene coverage for snapshots.
2x digital zoom gets you closer, albeit with lower resolution.
Ultra-simple operation is ideal for entry-level users.


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Manufacturer Overview

Hewlett Packard (HP) is one of the true giants of the information age. Their products range from scientific instruments to personal computers, to the most popular line of laser printers in existence. Along the way, they've developed a popular line of digital cameras, inkjet printers, and scanners intended to make digital imaging accessible to the home and small-office user. They've apparently succeeded well in this, as their PhotoSmart 315 camera was the biggest-selling camera in the US in the 2000 Christmas season. In an earlier review, we were very impressed with their PhotoSmart S20 print/film scanner, which produced very high-quality images with virtually no tweaking or adjustment.

The subject of this review is HP's PhotoSmart 215 digital camera, a 1.3-megapixel unit designed for the ultimate in operating simplicity. As such, it lacks the controls for exposure and white balance adjustment we're accustomed to seeing on the more advanced cameras we commonly test. Even lacking such controls though, it proved surprisingly adept at producing usable images under a wide variety of shooting conditions. For those images requiring post-capture tweaking and adjustment, we found its software to be both friendly and functional. While other cameras may boast higher resolution or more advanced exposure controls, the PhotoSmart 215 offers an easy entry to the world of digital photography at a very affordable price: If you're mainly interested in emailing images or prints 4x6 inches or smaller, the PhotoSmart 215 could be a good choice.

High Points

  • 1.3-megapixel CCD delivering up to 1,280 x 960-pixel resolution images.
  • 1.8-inch color LCD monitor with 61,600 pixels.
  • 6.68mm lens, equivalent to a 43.4mm lens on a 35mm camera.
  • 2x digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure and focus control.
  • Apertures ranging from f/2.8 to f/8.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/750 to 1/3 second.
  • Sensitivity equivalent to ISO 100.
  • Built-in flash with four operating modes.
  • Images saved as JPEGs on Type I CompactFlash memory cards (4MB card included).
  • USB cable for quick connection to a PC.
  • Software CD containing ArcSoft PhotoImpression, PhotoMontage, and camera drivers (for Windows only).
  • Power by four AA alkaline batteries (or optional AC adapter).

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