HP Photosmart R927 review:

HP Photosmart R927

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.

New to this year's line of Photosmarts is the Design Gallery menu, where you can add borders, rotate, remove red-eye from, or add "artistic" effects to your images. Each effect is explained in the menu and includes favorites, such as Solarize and Watercolor, as well as some newer twists, such as Slimming. This last option squeezes the middle of the image horizontally, so your subject appears slightly thinner if you center it in the frame.

Unfortunately, the HP Photosmart R927 is a sluggish performer under all but optimal conditions. It has an extremely short shutter lag of 0.2 second for brightly lit, high-contrast scenes; that jumps to 1.8 seconds when things aren't so bright. Time from power-on to the first shot was a middling 2.5 seconds, and the camera took 2.8 seconds between shots without flash thereafter. With flash, the shot-to-shot time rose to 3.4 seconds. Also, the burst mode was erratic, capturing anywhere from 1 to 3 images in a burst in our tests at a rate of 2.3fps regardless of image size. The LCD, which initially impressed with its size, is severely washed out in sunlight. Also, when magnifying images on the LCD, they were noticeably pixelated even when zoomed only slightly, though this probably was not the fault of the LCD.

Image quality is not what we'd expect for a camera in its price range. To its credit, the R927 makes excellent exposure decisions, and colors are warm and bright. The lens show little to no vignetting, but we see severe purple and green fringing around specular highlights as well as high-contrast edges such as white lettering on dark signs or just about anything with the bright sky in the background. Noise levels are not bad. At ISO 100, there is very little noise, aside from some discolored pixels in darker colors. At ISO 200 and ISO 400, noise is more noticeable but still acceptable, especially for a point-and-shoot model. We also noticed jaggies in some diagonal lines, while wide-angle shots exhibited significant barrel distortion, in which straight lines near the edges bend outward.

If, for some reason, you're not bothered by the Photosmart R927's image quality or performance issues, its ease of use, its extensive help menus, and its manual exposure controls make it a great camera with which to learn the basics of photography. But if you already know a thing or two and don't need such extensive help functions, you'd probably be better off with a camera with superior image quality, such as Casio's Exilim EX-Z850.

Shooting speed
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W50
HP Photosmart R927
Canon PowerShot SD630
Casio Exilim EX-Z850
Canon PowerShot A620
Note: Seconds

Typical continuous-shooting speed
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Note: Frames per second

What you'll pay

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