Conclusion - Pros

  • Good color reproduction, slightly below average resolution
  • Superb automatic white balance, HP still have the lead in this area
  • Accurate metering, good choice of exposure / tone curve selection
  • Dynamic tone curves deliver consistent contrast and wide dynamic range
  • Low noise at ISO 100 and 200 (lower than most)
  • Good flash performance, good exposure, good contrast, no color cast
  • Easy to use interface (designed to be used with LCD off)
  • Clear full text message display ('FOCUS TOO CLOSE' / 'FOCUS TOO FAR' etc.)
  • Excellent help page for each setting (in-camera manual)
  • Control over image parameters (tone, color, sharpness)
  • Audio clip recording
  • One-button movie recording (just hit the button to start)
  • Vastly improved LCD monitor (over previous HP models)
  • Optional dock provides interesting additional functionality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good value for money

Conclusion - Cons

  • Some moiré color artifacts
  • Lens soft at corners
  • Very slow processing / file write times
  • Slow live view refresh rate, freezes when camera is busy
  • No AF assist lamp means moderate light is required to focus
  • Few controls for shutterbugs (only two apertures, no manual focus)
  • Poor "macro focus" performance
  • Only two image size options
  • Half stop exposure compensation can be limiting
  • No manual exposure mode, no specific night scene exposure mode

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the HP Photosmart 935: (5 megapixel compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8
Features 6
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 7
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8

The HP 935 is a camera designed to be easy to use, deliver good image quality and offer good value for money. On those measurements it certainly fills its design brief. Just like HP cameras before it the 935 is a camera which has numerous subtle innovations such as one button movie record and extensive in-camera help, it bucks the trend with the use of the LCD monitor preferring it to be switched off and giving feedback on control settings through LED's (you either love or hate this).

Image quality is certainly an improvement over previous HP models, with each iteration of cameras HP address issues raised and improves, the 935 has actually only a couple of image processing related issues (moiré color artifacts for one) which I'm sure we'll see solved in the next camera. HP don't tout a photographic background like some of the other manufacturers, instead they appear to be coming at it from a scientific point of view, and it's beginning to pay off. Their dynamic tone curve system works well and automatically 'lifts' dull images or maintains highlight / sky detail when you wouldn't expect to see it.

That said the 935 isn't without its faults. The lens isn't the best in the market, it can be soft in the corners and edges and there are some processing artifacts (color moiré as mentioned). There are two primary annoyance when using the camera. The first is the slow refresh rate of the LCD live view, and its tendency to freeze when the camera is busy or even when you half-press the shutter release. The second is the camera's processing power, it clearly struggles to process and write images after each shot, a high quality five megapixel JPEG image (around 2 MB) taking an eternal fourteen seconds to write, just not acceptable. Thus a camera which offers good value for money and that I otherwise like (and probably would have Recommended) is spoiled by a few faults which can't be ignored.

Above Average

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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