HP Photosmart R837 review

£130
Price when reviewed

Once we learned not to smear our fingerprint over the lens as we turned it on, the R837 soon won us over with its simplicity. It’s aimed at beginners, providing help screens with each option and keeping adjustments to a minimum.

On the rear are only four buttons and a navigation pad. The 3in TFT is a huge help for framing shots, and in playback mode you can zoom to around 20x to check focus.

In addition, the R837 goes further than other cameras for editing and organising images. The Design Gallery lets you crop, rotate, correct red eye, give subjects some slimming treatment, modify colours and apply effects, as you would in Photoshop. You can also stitch panoramas in-camera (the results are more than acceptable), tag images with keywords, mark them for printing directly, or even buy prints online automatically when you connect the camera to a PC.

Shooting controls extend to average or spot metering, exposure compensation and ISO speed, and there’s exposure bracketing too. It’s a shame the continuous mode is limited to three frames at 1.1fps, though.

A camera is only worth buying if it takes great photos, and the HP didn’t disappoint. The internal Fujinon 3x optical zoom and 7.2-megapixel CCD delivered sharp, well-exposed images. Outdoors, colours were well saturated and realistic, while indoors the auto white balance proved effective. Macro ability was above average, and VGA movies had smooth frame rates and a decent level of detail. The flash offered good coverage, but with no level adjustment it was too powerful for close-up shots.

A shot-to-shot time of 2.6 seconds means you shouldn’t miss opportunities, and it’s good to see the self-timer offers a two-shot mode. The HP also has an advantage over the Sony in that is uses cheaper SD cards.

It’s a shame there’s no video cable included in the box – the only way to view photos on a TV is to buy the Premium Camera Dock for around £30 – but overall, the R837 is a fine camera that produces great images. It doesn’t beat the Sony for value, but it’s a sensible alternative if you want good results from something that’s simple to use.

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