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HP Photosmart 315 Digital Camera Review

HP Photosmart 315 Digital Camera Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: With the ever growing popularity of digital cameras it's no surprise that this market has not only attracted traditional photography giants such as Kodak or Olympus, but also has brought forth competition in the form of devices from such consumer electronics manufacturers such as Sony and Toshiba.
 95% Rating:   
Filed under: Digital Cameras Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: HP Mar 17 2001   D. Deveaux  
Home > Reviews > Digital Cameras > HP Photosmart 315

Camera Layout



HP definitely had the end user in mind when designing the camera. Everything from its soft rubber grip for your right hand to rest while holding the unit, to its well thought out button layout help make the Photosmart 315 extremely easy to use. On the front of the camera, is the sliding lens cover (which also doubles as a power on switch), the flash, IR port, and aforementioned grip.


The top of the camera houses a small monochrome LCD that shows vital information such as resolution, battery status, number of images left on the storage card, and flash settings. In addition, two buttons located under this LCD control the flash (Auto, Always On, Always Off, Red Eye Reduction), resolution (1600x1200 Superfine, 1600x1200 Fine, and 640x480 Normal), or the self timer (press both the flash and resolution buttons at the same time). Finally, the shutter release button is found on the top right hand side of the camera, and is easily reached when gripping the camera with one hand.

The right hand side features the Compact flash memory card slot, and a space for the included wrist strap. The door for the CF card is fairly tight, but ensures the card is protected from dust and dirt. Removing/inserting the CF card is as easy as installing an ordinary PC Card into a notebook PC (virtually foolproof).


On the bottom of the unit is the hinged battery cover, and the tripod socket mount. As with the Compact flash slot cover, the battery door appears to be very durable, and shouldn't break under normal wear and tear. Inside the door is a small diagram illustrating proper orientation of the 4 AA batteries).

The back of the camera is where most of the action takes place, as this is where the viewfinder, preview LCD, and navigation buttons are located. To the right of the LCD, the blue button is used to power on/off the display when the lens cover is open, and also enters picture review mode when the lens cover is closed. A minor flaw with this setup is that the button can be accidentally pressed while the camera is in a backpack, which can drain the batteries unnecessarily (luckily the camera shuts off after a brief period of inactivity). The Menu button is pretty self explanatory, as it brings up the menus which are used to configure the camera (set date & time, magnify images on the LCD, etc.).

Finally, the 5 position rocker switch (Up, Down, Left, Right, and Center) is used to navigate through the menus, cycle among the shots already on the memory card, and activate the digital zoom. Overall, all these buttons are presented in a clean and efficient way, which helps to lessen the need to consult the manual.

Installation

Installation of the Photosmart 315 was performed under Windows Millennium Edition. As with a few other USB based devices HP manufactures, the camera software should be loaded before connecting the unit to the computer, or errors will occur. Luckily, this information is noted in the setup instructions, so there shouldn't be any problems here. Other than this, installation proved very uneventful, as is to be expected with a USB peripheral. An important note to this however, is that Windows Millennium Edition users do require a patch for the camera to work properly. This patch can be found at http://www.hp.com/cposupport/swindexes/hpphotosma22062_swen.html.

Downloading Images

An interesting thing occurs under Windows Me once the proper drivers are installed. When the camera is connected to the computer, the HP software doesn't actually pop up automatically as it does in other versions of Windows. Instead, a wizard appears to walk you through selecting pictures to download from the camera. This is due to a new feature in Windows Me called Windows Image Acquisition (WIA), which is designed to provide a common, easy to use interface for working with digital cameras. After working with the wizard literally dozens of times, I can honestly say this is an improvement over some other file transfer methods I've seen utilized on digital cameras. True, WIA isn't perfect (the best you can do in terms of photo manipulation is rotating an image), but it gets the job done quickly and easily. One nice touch of the WIA interface, is that it can automatically erase the images from the camera when they are downloaded to the PC if you prefer.

If you want a bit more features, the bundled HP imaging software can be used. This utility not only offers the ability to download images from the camera, but also links to a few other bundled applications for viewing the downloaded images (ACDSee), print the images (HP Photo Printing), sharing images over the web (Share to Web), and e mail pictures (HP Email Portal). ACDSee is a powerful image viewer that can display thumbnails of your images for easy reference, which can be very useful when organizing dozens of photos.

The HP Photo printing software allows for arranging photos on a printout, similar to how studio proofs are done (for example, you could have a 5x7" version of an image, followed by a few wallet size prints on a single sheet of paper).The Share to Web applet provides a way to quickly upload images to a few sites geared towards photo sharing such as HP Cartoga, Myfamily.com, or Zing. Finally, the HP Email Portal applet can send pictures directly through e mail, with the ability to send a small, medium, or full size version of the image (the small setting is recommended for dial up users).

No matter whether the WIA interface or the bundled HP software is being used, downloading images is quick and painless via the USB connection. With a full 8MB card, 10 high resolution images would download in about 45 seconds. This proves that HP made a very wise choice in using the USB interface. Performing such a file transfer via serial cable would take significantly longer, and at least with USB, the camera can be auto detected by Windows immediately upon connection.

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Contents of Article: HP Photosmart 315
 Pg 1.  HP Photosmart 315 Digital Camera Review
 Pg 2.  — Camera Layout
 Pg 3.  Performance & Image Quality

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