Most digital cameras come with the assumption that the user has at least some knowledge of photography--but not HP's Photosmart R927. Sure, it's the 8-megapixel flagship of the company's camera line, but with a menu and help system that's every bit as slick at its sculpted, brushed-aluminum casing, the Photosmart R927 doesn't require you to know anything to get started with this camera. As in the past with some HP cameras, we were less than satisfied with its image quality. Still, very casual snapshooters will likely be pleased with the R927, especially if they're just getting into photography, but discerning users will be disappointed with the final output.
As a camera maker, HP is unusual. Even at its most ambitious, the Photosmart line of cameras doesn't try to reach beyond snapshooters and amateurs. The Photosmart R927, sporting a big 3-inch LCD screen as well as help menus that are more useful than many printed manuals, aids its user to not only understand its operation but to take better pictures, too. Unfortunately, even when you heed the camera's good advice, you'll still contend with its mediocre image quality and its sluggish performance.
With a 3X, f/2.8-to-f/5, 35mm-to-105mm zoom lens (35mm equivalent) and a compact, silver-metal body, the attractive R927 looks like standard fare for today's digital point-and-shoot market. But as much as we like its sleek curves, some of its buttons are awkwardly placed. For example, the flash and macro controls are on top of the camera, making one-handed shooting more difficult.
Its big LCD reveals a unique menu system with plain-language explanations for every setting along with a function that critiques photos you've taken. The Image Advice feature can identify problems with exposure, focus, motion blur, and noise due to high ISO or camera temperature. The camera then explains the problem and offers tips on how to improve the image. It also displays tutorials on using its features; Top Ten Tips that are specific to the camera but also include general photography pointers. Of course, there's also a list of accessories with copy from the HP marketing department; "Protect and transport your camera in style with HP's new Signature Collection Cases," one part implores.
Like most digital cameras, the R927 includes a bevy of shooting modes, with in-camera explanations of each. Earning its place at the top of HP's line, this Photosmart includes advanced exposure modes such as aperture priority, shutter priority, and full manual.