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HP Photosmart 850 Review

February 2003 | By Phil Askey

Article based on a production Photosmart 850 (V05.26)

The Hewlett Packard Photosmart 850 marks HP's first entry into the prosumer digital camera market since the ill-fated 912. The 850 has a very distinctive design, the front dominated by the big F2.8 - F3.1 eight times optical zoom lens and soft rubber hand grip. The four megapixel market didn't have a big zoom digital camera, until now, the 850's lens provides reach into the 300 mm equiv. range which means you're going to be able to get very close with (hopefully) plenty of resolution. One item some people may note as missing is image stabilisation, with such a long zoom range it may be difficult to keep the camera still enough without a tripod.

In my opinion HP have been a little naughty with the megapixel label on this camera, because it's not produced in Japan it's exempt from the JCIA's advice on marking digital cameras with the effective pixel count instead of the sensor pixel count. All other current four megapixel digital cameras are marked 4.0 megapixels and produce the same size image as the 850 (2272 x 1712).

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this review (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2002 Phil Askey and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey.

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