White Balance

If you look below you will see the best set of white balance results I've seen from any digital camera. I have no idea how HP have managed to pull out such an impressive lead on this issue but they really should ensure they've got their trade secret well protected! Automatic white balance preformance was hugely impressive, well better than we've seen from the 'better known brands', with the pre-programmed white balance modes only really required in a mixed light situation. Kudos to HP for having the best white balance we've seen so far.

Outdoors, Auto Outdoors, Shade (or Sunny) Outdoors, Manual
Incandescent, Auto Incandescent, Incandescent Incandescent, Manual
Fluorescent, Auto Fluorescent, Fluorescent Fluorescent, Manual

Macro Focus

The HP 850 has relatively good macro performance, especially for a digital camera with such a wide zoom range. The best macro performance is available at approximately a third zoom (and thus avoids distortion), this was measured as an optimum frame coverage of 6 cm (2.4 in).

Flash Performance

The HP 850's pop-up flash unit is opened by sliding a small lever towards the back. The flash itself has a quoted range of 3.4 m (11.2 ft) at wide angle and 2.5 m (8.2 ft) at telephoto. Overall results were very good, power seemed good and was white balance with no hint of any color cast or odd tint.

Skin tone - Good exposure, no color cast, natural skin color Color patches - Good color balance, good flash power, good exposure

Night exposures

The HP 850 seems to be more than capable of taking some fairly nice long exposures. The only caveat appears to be some artificial blooming effects around very bright light sources. That said it was quite impressive that the camera managed to maintain the blue color of the overexposed light in the first crop below. It's a shame the 850 doesn't have a manual exposure or dedicate night exposure mode.

Manual exposure: ISO 100, 12 sec, F6.8 Manual exposure: ISO 100, 3 sec, F5.7

Low Light Focus

This test measures the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.

Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).

This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), you should consider the results below the best you could expect to achieve.

Lens position Aperture Lowest light focus
Wide angle (35 mm) F2.8 Complete darkness
Telephoto (140 mm) F3.1 Complete darkness

Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)

As we had hoped the HP 850's AF assist lamp produced good results even in complete darkness and at full telephoto.