HP PhotoSmart 215

The other day an interesting box containing a PhotoSmart 215 digital camera arrived from Hewlett Packard.
The camera comes with decent instructions and I had no difficulty loading the CompactFlash memory card and batteries and taking my first picture which happened to be of Mr. Jim, the cat.
Connecting the 215 to your PC is a matter of installing its software off of CD-ROM, plugging in the USB cord which is supplied with it, and downloading your pictures for use in whichever way you see fit.
For the record, the camera is a fully automatic point-and-shoot capable of achieving a picture resolution of 1,3 mega-pixels. It has a 2x digital zoom, flash, a 4,5cm LCD picture preview screen and a 4Mb CompactFlash removable memory card for storing pictures.
I was reasonably happy with quality of pictures it produces and found that the most I ever had to do with the included software was make minor adjustments to the colour balance, brightness and contrast.
The camera can take pictures in low, medium and high resolution and you can take as many as will fit on the camera’s CompactFlash card. You can store about 30 low resolution or 10 medium resolution pictures on the 4Mb card you get with it but you can buy more and bigger CompactFlash cards and store as many pictures as you want.
One snag for me with the 215 is that I only took about 20 medium resolution pictures and managed to totally flatten a set of expensive alkaline batteries. I reckon you’d need to carry several sets if you were going to be shooting a lot.
I always like to check what others think of products I’m reviewing so I went to www.cnet.com and found that the majority of users gave the camera a favourable rating but that nearly all commented on how fast it chews batteries.
I welcome the advent of the PhotoSmart 215 which, at around R2500, provides a reasonable point of entry into the world of digital photography. For just a bit more you can get a nice conventional SLR film camera but, for a digital, it’s quite cheap.
Its picture quality won’t be good enough for keen photo-hobbyists but it is just over a quarter of the price of a good digital and, as the man said, you generally get what you pay for.
I reckon the 215 would be ideal for people like estate agents or anyone else who takes lots of pictures and doesn’t need really high quality results. At the price of film and processing these days, it could pay for itself fairly quickly.

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