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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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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 03/14/2001

Executive Overview
Catering to the needs of consumers who are looking for a hassle-free, point-and-shoot digicam, the Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart 315 measures only 5.0 x 2.7 x 1.3 inches (128 x 86 x 33mm) -- an easy fit in a coat pocket or even into a shirt pocket. The accompanying wrist strap makes toting the camera's mere eight ounces (227 grams) a breeze. A step up from the PhotoSmart 215 model, the 315 is equipped with a 2.1-megapixel CCD, delivering up to 1,600 x 1,200-pixel resolution images at three JPEG compression levels. It also includes a JetSend infrared port for wireless communication between the camera and other JetSend devices, such as HP's line of photo printers. JetSend is a useful tool for quick photo printing without worrying about connecting cables or transferring memory cards.

The HP 315 features both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.8-inch color LCD monitor to aid in image composition. The LCD monitor has no information display, providing a complete view of the image area. The advantage of this is that all the camera settings are reported on the smaller status display panel on top of the camera, so you can efficiently operate the camera without relying on the LCD menu. This is further encouraged by the external controls, which allow you to change the camera's basic settings (image quality, flash mode, and self-timer mode) without activating the LCD menu. The LCD menu itself is a slightly updated version of the one offered on the PhotoSmart 215, with animated icons that move across the screen, and a faster refresh rate.

The camera's 5.8mm lens (equivalent to a 38mm lens on a 35mm camera) features six elements and an automatically controlled aperture (f/2.8-9.8). Though the lens itself doesn't have any filter threads, Tiffen Company makes a lens adapter kit that slides onto the camera and supports Tiffen's macro, wide-angle, and telephoto accessory lenses. Focus is also automatic, with a focal range from 11.8 inches (30cm) to infinity. A sliding lens cover protects both the lens and the optical viewfinder window when it is closed, and when opened, powers on the camera, placing it in Record mode. When the lens cover is closed, pressing the blue Display button next to the LCD engages the Playback mode. Instead of optical zoom, the PhotoSmart 315 offers 2.5x digital zoom, which will increase the size of the subject in the viewfinder, but reduces resolution and image quality, due to the digital enlargement.

Hewlett-Packard has eliminated all exposure worries with the PS 315, offering an uncomplicated user interface like the PS 215, but with several differences and/or improvements. For example, exposure is automatically controlled, but with a shutter speed range from 1/750 to two seconds (giving the 315 a slight edge over the 215 model in low-light shooting). White balance is automatic, as is the camera's light sensitivity, which is fixed at ISO 100. About the only exposure function the user controls is the flash mode, which offers the standard Auto, Auto with Red-Eye Reduction, On, and Off settings. A 10-second self-timer allows just enough time for the photographer to jump into the image, with a flashing red LED on the front of the camera counting down the seconds. The user also controls image quality settings, which include Super Fine (1,600 x 1,200 pixels, best quality JPEG), Fine (1,600 x 1,200 pixels, lower quality JPEG), and Basic (640 x 480 pixels).

Images are stored to any capacity CompactFlash (Type I) memory card, and an 8MB card is supplied with the camera. Through the Playback menu, images can be write-protected ("locked"), rotated, set up for printing on DPOF devices, or sent via the infrared port to another JetSend device. A USB cable and two software CDs also come with the camera, for high-speed connection to a PC or Macintosh computer. HP's PhotoSmart 315 software (Windows only) provides limited image downloading, viewing, editing, and printing capabilities, as well as an e-mail function and a Web sharing utility. The second CD holds ArcSoft's PhotoImpression and PhotoMontage applications (Windows and Macintosh). PhotoImpression provides utilities similar to the PhotoSmart software, though with slightly more extensive editing and organization capabilities, and PhotoMontage allows you to create a photo mosaic from hundreds of tiny digital images.

Four AA alkaline batteries are shipped with the PhotoSmart 315. In addition to alkaline, you can also use lithium-ion, NiCd, or NiMH rechargeable batteries to power the camera. An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory (which we recommend for image downloading and reviewing tasks). Hewlett-Packard also offers an optional lithium-ion battery pack, as well as a battery charger.

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