HP Photosmart R707 Review
The R707 features five white balance presets (auto, sun, shade, tungsten and fluorescent), plus a 'manual' setting. Select this and you are prompted you to aim the camera at a white object and press the shutter button. The new white balance setting is then saved. Although the camera reverts to 'auto' white balance when you switch it off, the last manual white balance setting created is remembered and can be re selected. As the charts below show, the auto white balance system does an admirable job of maintaining neutral colors. In real life practical use we found that in very low indoor light (tungsten) the R707 occasionally struggled to remove the orange cast entirely when used in auto WB mode.
|Outdoor - Auto WB
Red 0.0%, Blue 0.8%
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 0.2%, Blue -1.4%
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 0.0%, Blue 0.5%
The R707's small flash unit has a specified range of 2.7-6m at wide angle (ISO100/400) and 1.5-3.25m at telephoto. In use we found it to meter fairly well (perhaps slightly over exposed) with good color response and no color cast (good white balance). In practical use - photographing people indoors at night - the R707 was a little hit and miss, often burning out the subject whilst leaving the background entirely dark (something helped by turning on the adaptive lighting function).
|Skin tone - good exposure and accurate color||Color chart - good exposure, no color cast|
As is usually the case with cameras such as this, the R707 produced its best macro frame coverage at full wide angle, however of course this led to fairly obvious barrel distortion as well as corner softness. At telephoto coverage is less good (156mm across the frame), but there is very little distortion or edge softness. We did find, however, that the R707 repeatedly struggled to achieve accurate focus when used in macro mode at the telephoto setting.
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
For a small, inexpensive point and shoot camera the R707 manages to keep distortion pretty well controlled at all but the widest zoom setting. In real life the barrel distortion at the 39mm equivalent wide end of the zoom is not sufficient to mar scenic shots, but can give anyone at the very edge of a group shot a touch of the 'banana head'. Strangely, the very small amount of distortion at the telephoto end is also barrel (not the usual pincushion), but it is minimal - certainly not enough to mar your photos.
|Barrel distortion - Wide - 1.6% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 39 mm
|Barrel distortion - Tele - 0.5% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 117 mm
Specific image quality issues
Overall image quality was very good for an inexpensive point and shoot compact. The general lack of noise is admirable, though this is obviously achieved in no small part by heavy noise reduction processing, which has a slight overall softening effect on images, meaning some sharpening is required if you want to produce larger prints. Some blue channel noise is evident in large skies, but only if you zoom in to beyond 100% (actual pixels).
The R707 produces a surprisingly small amount of purple fringing, and even then only when an area of gross overexposure meets a very dark area (suggesting this is not a lens problem, but a result of CCD blooming). In fact in the 1,000-odd shots we took when testing the camera we only saw any significant purple fringing on two images... very impressive.
|100% crop||39 mm equiv., F2.8|
Adaptive Lighting and noise
The Adaptive Lighting feature is designed to lighten shadows without affecting the rest of the tonal range (a sort of digital 'fill flash') and it works incredibly well. The only downside is a slight increase in noise when the shadows are particularly dark, though this not surprising and should not be considered a failing on the part of the camera.
|L-R: Adaptive off, Medium setting, strong setting.|
From a picture quality point of view the R707's main failing is a tendency to 'miss' focus - even with a perfectly centered subject - when used at the telephoto end of the zoom. This problem is most apparent when shooting in low light, but can also occur in bright daylight, especially with shorter subject distances.
|39 mm equiv., F4.4|