DPInterface HP Photosmart 635 Review
Brad Soo - June 25th, 2005 (Updated January 2nd, 2006)

The HP Photosmart 635, the perfect digital camera for beginners, has 2 megapixels and 3x optical zoom. Targeting photography newbies and analog-to-digital first-timers, the HP Photosmart 635 faces a lot of competition against many other cameras of its class

Open up the Box

Let's open up that box now ... And in that box, you'll find:

  • 2 AA alkaline batteries
  • Neck strap
  • Lens cap with strap
  • USB cable
  • User's manual
  • CD-ROM

The HP Photosmart 635 does not have a built-in lens barrier so you'll have to attach use a lens cap instead. Personally, I don't like shooting with a lens cap dangling around but what can I do?

Storage and Power

You'd probably notice that the HP 635 does not come with any memory card. That's because it has 16 MB of internal memory. And since this is a 2 megapixel digital camera, 16 MB can hold a lot of photos! In addition to internal memory, you can store more photos using a Secure Digital or Multi Media Card.

My recommendation would be to get a 64 MB Multi Media Card since they're cheaper and the HP Photosmart 635 takes no advantage of high-speed cards. Don't forget to get yourself some AA NiMH rechargeable batteries - You'll never know when they'll come in handy.

Extras

There seem to be no other accessories for the HP Photosmart 635 except a dock.

Camera Tour

The HP Photosmart 635 has a 38-114 mm (35 mm equivalent) aperture F2.9 - F4.9 3x optical zoom lens which is bright at wide-angle but slow at telephoto. Shutter speeds (1 to 1/1000 second) are non-selectable on the HP Photosmart 635, which is normal for a beginner's camera. It is also quite obvious that the lens isn't threaded.

On the front is the HP Photosmart 635's built-in flash, viewfinder, self-timer lamp and microphone. No auto-focus assist beam is available on the HP 635. The flash range is about average based on my usage.

There are several buttons on the back of the HP Photosmart 635 and they are:

  • Flash - Selects the flash mode
  • Shooting - Puts the HP 635 into shooting mode and also turns on/off the LCD
  • Print - Print out photos
  • E-mail - Send photos to family and friends

The 5 way controller lets you select and customize options while the zoom controller zooms in and out in shooting mode. You can quickly put the HP 635 into shooting mode by pressing the zoom controller anytime during playback (Except when zooming in/out of photos taken).

A small 1.6 inch LCD located on the bottom left is not that that big but common on entry-level cameras. There is also an optical viewfinder with 2 LEDs. The top LED lights red when a movie is being recorded and the one underneath shows auto focus status.

The last thing to note on the back of the HP Photosmart 635 is a small dot under the 5 way controller, which is the power/processing status LED.

On the top, you'll find a power switch - Slide it to turn the camera on. One thing I like about the HP Photosmart 635 is its dedicated movie button (Dark gray). Press it to start/stop recording. The shiny button nearer to the front is the shutter button. By pressing it halfway down, you can quit playback mode and go straight into shooting mode.

The battery/SD card compartment is located at the bottom and is protected by a sturdy cover. Also there is a reset button. The tripod mount is the hole between the two screws.

Shooting


The HP Photosmart 635's LCD in shooting mode

There are not many manual controls on the HP Photosmart 635 though the essentials are there:

  • Exposure compensation
  • White balance (Presets only, no custom option)
  • Photo effects
  • ISO (100, 200, 400)
  • Photo modes (Macro, landscape, portrait and action)
  • Sharpness and color

No continuous shooting option is available on the HP Photosmart 635.

Recording

The HP Photosmart 635 can record 320 x 240 movies with sound up to the memory card capacity. It has automatic exposure adjustment when recording.

Movies were mostly noisy and audio quality was average.

Performance

The lens extends in 3 seconds when the camera is turned on and zooms from wide-angle to telephoto in 2.5 seconds. Auto focusing takes under two seconds and the camera is unable to focus in low-light. Shot-to-shot speed was way below average (the slowest I've seen), taking about 5 seconds between photos (longer if the flash is used). Flash recharge time was slow; taking just 11 seconds.

The HP Photosmart 635 has relatively small buffer and it takes quite a while to write each photo. There was also a "power down lag" and the lens retracted only after 3 seconds.

Image Quality

Sad to say, I am disgusted by the macro mode of this camera. All the subjects that I have tried to take are either too near or too far and when I'm able to focus, the photo turns out soft and out of focus. Photos produced by the HP Photosmart 635 are not that sharp (By default) but okay for small prints and web photos. You can increase the sharpness of photos via the menu. Chromatic aberration (Color fringing) is not much of a problem though noise is a major issue. It is also not unusual to see lots of red-eye in your photos.

Playback

In playback mode, a low-resolution preview is shown before a high-resolution one appears 2.3 seconds later. The HP 635 moves from one photo to another in a rather disappointing 2 seconds. Sound is not played back with movies as there is no speaker.

Conclusion

Overall, the HP Photosmart 635 is a great beginner's camera but lacks some functions that cameras of this class have. Image quality issues (Especially macro mode), no continuous shooting, slow playback and tremendous shutter lag leave a lot to be desired. The good things about the HP Photosmart 635 is the unlimited movie mode where exposure is automatically adjusted and excellent infinity focusing. Released in August 2003, the HP Photosmart 635 is currently out of production. Hopefully, the HP Photosmart 635 will be replaced with a better version.

What's hot:

  • Unlimited QVGA movie mode with auto exposure
  • Excellent infinity focusing

What's not:

  • No built-in lens barrier
  • Slow (Both playback and shooting)
  • Macro almost unusable (Constantly out of focus)
  • Movie mode resolution only at QVGA, noisy movies
  • Redeye, soft macro photos and color fringing
  • Inaccurate battery indicator

Recommended Accessories

~Set of 4 rechargeable AA NiMH batteries
~64 MB MultiMedia Card

Content ©2005 - 2006 Digital Photography Interface. All rights reserved.
All trademarks and images are property of their respective owners.
No part of this website may be copied, posted or used anywhere
without the written permission of the website owner.

.