Conclusion - Pros

  • Good resolution, clean images with few processing artifacts and no over-sharpening
  • Vivid yet natural colors
  • Efficient noise reduction - even at high ISO and with long exposures
  • Excellent auto white balance in all but the most extreme situations
  • Fast startup, fast zoom and very responsive in general
  • Excellent build quality, design and materials
  • Superb user interface that guides the novice photographer by the hand
  • Adaptive lighting function works very well at lifting shadow detail
  • Easy to use and nice handling
  • Nice bright and snappy LCD preview monitor that works well in bright light
  • In-camera red-eye removal that really works
  • In-camera panorama stitching preview
  • Very good movie mode
  • Excellent battery life
  • Well priced

Conclusion - Cons

  • Only two aperture settings
  • An ISO 50 setting would have been nice to cut down the need for noise reduction
  • Even the best quality setting uses quite heavy JPEG compression
  • Some fall-off of sharpness in the corners, especially at widest aperture
  • Occasional focus problems in low light at tele setting
  • Steel part of body prone to scratches, entire camera shows fingerprints
  • Camera locks up after 3 or 4 sequential exposures - very slow to clear buffer
  • Gets hot in use, which causes increased noise
  • Poor flash performance - not powerful enough to reach distant subjects, burns out highlights if the subject is closer than about 0.6M
  • Flash can take up to 6 seconds to recharge
  • Position of zoom buttons makes single-handed operation difficult
  • Shutter release not very responsive

Overall conclusion

First impressions of the R707 are overwhelmingly positive - it is beautifully built, feels 'right' in the hand and is responsive enough for most every day photography. HP's new 'Real Life Technologies' - from the extensive in-camera help to the red-eye removal and image advisor - offer a real benefit to the novice snapper without getting in the way of more experienced users. Shooting outdoors in good light the results are excellent; sharp, relatively free of processing artifacts and colorful without being over vivid. Noise is well controlled (though the Adaptive lighting function inevitably increases noise in shadow areas) and overall - for a point and shoot compact - there is little here to cause complaint. Photographing indoors in low light (such as at social occasions) is a little more hit and miss, with flash exposures a little unreliable and the relatively slow (F4.9) maximum aperture at the tele end means flash range is limited and hand-held non-flash exposures are prone to camera shake.

Aside from the less than perfect flash performance the biggest cause of complaint is the inordinate amount of time taken to clear the buffer memory, meaning if you regularly take sequences of more than 3 or 4 shots in rapid succession you are going to see the camera locking up for at least 10 seconds before you can take another picture. Given the overall speediness of the R707 in general use, this single bottleneck comes as a real disappointment.

So then, a camera capable of great results, a camera that will actually teach you how to improve your pictures, and a camera that looks, feels and performs like a more expensive model. It's HP's best point-and-shoot model yet, and represents a significant and welcome leap forward for a company that has previously failed to offer anything to match the design and performance of its Japanese competitors. The R707 is far from perfect, but unless you shoot a lot of action or in a lot of dim bars I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as an ideal pocket camera, especially if you are new to digital photography.

Highly Recommended

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