Review: HP Photosmart 935
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: July 7, 2003
July 7, 2003
935 ($449) is HP's first 5 Megapixel camera. While at first
glance, it may look like just another compact 5 Megapixel camera,
the 935 has two features that really make it sound out. For
one, the HP Instant Share system allows you to "tag" photos
for printing [at home or online], e-mailing, and sharing online.
The second feature is one I've never seen before: an in-camera
help system. More on both of these later.
does the 935 compare with other 5MP compact cameras? Find out
in our review!
in the Box?
Photosmart 935 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll
5.1 (effective) Mpixel Photosmart 935 camera
Secure Digital card
AA Lithium batteries (non-rechargeable)
cables (one for computers, one for printers)
featuring HP Photo & Imaging software and drivers
page camera manual (printed)
Photosmart 935's bundle isn't wondrous, except for the included
software, which I really like.
includes a 32MB Secure Digital (SD) card with the camera. That's
enough to get started with, but you'll want something larger
right away. The 935 supports both SD and MMC cards; SD cards
come as large as 512MB as of this writing.
on your own when it comes to batteries. HP includes two throwaway
(or should I say, recyclable) AAs with the camera. Since the
camera uses only two batteries, picking up a four pack of NiMH
rechargeables plus a faster charger seems like a wise idea to
me. HP does not publish any data about expected battery life.
From my usage, it seems to drink batteries... either that or
my batteries don't hold much of a charge anymore.
935 supports HP's new Photosmart 8886 camera dock ($79). This
is probably the nicest camera dock out there.
you buy the camera dock, you'll get two NiMH rechargeable batteries,
plus everything you see above. The camera dock has three functions:
photos and videos (when connected to your computer)
batteries (NiMH only)
control photo viewing on your TV
dock has two buttons on it: save/print and TV. The ports on it
include video out, USB 2.0 high speed, and DC-in. Note that the only way
you're going to view photos on the TV is by purchasing the dock.
The camera itself does not have video output.
have more on the sharing features of the camera a bit later.
camera accessories include an AC adapter ($49), plus two accessory
kits. Accessory kit Y1789B ($49) includes a camera case, battery
charger, and 4 NiMH batteries. Accessory kit C8889A ($79) includes
all of that plus a car power adapter and 32MB SD card. (I just love
Photosmart 935 has a built-in lens cover. As you can see, this
is a pretty small camera.
area where HP's Photosmart cameras really shine is in the software
department. HP's Photo & Imaging Software is for Mac OS 8/9,
Mac OS X, and Windows. Combined with the Instant Share system
on the camera (more on that later), HP has created a system that
lets you easily share photos in a number of ways.
is the main part of the software, known as HP Gallery, where
you can view and edit photos. The software can do basic photo
editing like adjusting contrast, sharpening/blurring, and removing
redeye. You can crop and rotate photos as well.
most impressive parts of the software package are the photo sharing
tools. You can share photos via prints, websites, e-mail, or
even CDs, all using the HP software.
a few photos are clicking on the E-Mail button brings up this
screen. The software will downsize the photos for you and send
them to your e-mail program.
photos is very easy as well, as the screen shot above details.
you've got a CD-R/RW drive, one of the coolest features it he
ability to create a CD with your photos.
the HP Memories Disc Creator Software, you can make a Video CD
containing your photos. They are presented as a slide show, and
you can even pick a song from your MP3 collection to use as background
music. The whole process takes just a few minutes, and then you've
got a CD you can share with friends and family. The catch is
that you need a fairly modern DVD player to read these discs
(most computers can see them), and the Video CD quality isn't
the greatest. Still, it's a nice product to include with the
of this software is Mac OS X native, by the way. You will need
to change the USB mode to "Disk Drive" using the setup
menu, in order for your Mac to see the camera.
camera manual is well laid-out and easy to read, with lots of detail.
It's not overly technical (they don't tell you what changing the
aperture does, nor what the available values are, for example) but
it's still better than average.
Photosmart 935 is a compact, plastic camera that easily fits
in your hand. Despite its plastic construction, the camera feels
solid. Controls are well-placed and you can operate the 935 with
ease with just one hand.
official dimensions of the camera are 3.8 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs 225 grams empty.
start our tour of the Photosmart 935 now, beginning with the
Photosmart 935 uses an F2.6, 3X optical zoom lens, made by Pentax.
The lens has a focal range of 7.6 - 22.8 mm, which is equivalent
to 37 - 111 mm. The camera does not support add-on lenses.
the upper-right of the lens is the built-in flash. The working
range of the flash varies: it ranges from 1.3 - 2.5 m at wide-angle
and 2.5 - 5.1 m at telephoto (both depending on the ISO setting).
The 935 does not support an external flash -- not surprising
for a compact camera.
the upper-left of the lens is the self-timer lamp, with the microphone
just left of that. I was disappointed to see that HP left out
an AF-assist lamp on this camera, after having one on the Photosmart
935 has an average-sized (for a compact camera) 1.5" LCD
display. The LCD is high resolution and images are nice and sharp.
The brightness can be adjusted in the setup menu.
above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is fairly large
for a small camera. There is no diopter correction feature, though.
To the upper-right of that is the power button.
to the right, we find the zoom controller, which moves the lens
from wide-angle to telephoto in under two seconds.
the right of the LCD are three buttons: record (turns LCD on/off),
playback, and Instant Share.
is Instant Share? It's a system, similar to Kodak's EasyShare
system, that lets you "tag" photos for e-mail and printing.
Press the button, and you'll be presented with this screen:
can choose to print a photo (to select HP printers), or mark
it for e-mailing. After setting up your e-mail contacts in the
software on your computer, they'll be on the list in the menu.
Just choose the recipient, and next time you connect to your
Mac or PC, it'll be sent. You can add individual addresses, or
set up a group distribution list.
to our tour now. To the right of those three buttons is the four-way
switch, with the "ok" button in the middle. The four-way
switch is used for menu navigation as well as adjusting the exposure
compensation (-3.0EV to +3.0EV in 1/2EV increments).
the right of the four-way switch you can see the plastic door
that covers the memory card slot, along with a card access light.
on top of the Photosmart 935, we find the mode wheel, focus,
flash, movie, and shutter release buttons, and the speaker.
mode wheel has five choices:
aperture priority mode will let you select an aperture manually,
and the camera will choose an appropriate shutter speed. By changing
the aperture you can adjust the depth-of-field. I wish the 935
had shutter speed control as well, since most of the competition
does. Also, the aperture choices are very limited; you'll get
just two values (high and low) to choose from.
focus button will allow you to set the focus to macro or infinity.
The flash button moves between off, fill flash, and slow sync.
Redeye reduction is turned on in the record menu. Press either
of these and the LCD shows you the current camera settings and
movie button (bottom right) is a little strange. As you can see,
there's no movie option on the mode wheel. So you just press
the movie button to start recording, and press it again when
you're done. If the memory card fills up first, the movie will
this side of the camera, you'll find the I/O ports, which are
protected by a rubber cover. The ports include USB 2.0 (high
speed) and DC-in (for optional AC adapter). If you thought the
Photosmart 850 was bad, with HP making the video out cable optional,
the 935 is even worse. The camera doesn't even have a video out
port, and if you want to hook into a TV, you need to buy the
$80 camera dock.
on the other side, behind a plastic door, is the SD/MMC card
can also see the 32MB SD card that is included with the camera.
here's the bottom of the Photosmart 935. The battery compartment
is on the left, and it holds just two AA batteries. Just to the
right of that is where the dock connector is. A rubber cover
protects it from dirt and dust.
the right of that is the plastic tripod mount, which is neither
centered, nor inline with the lens.
the HP Photosmart 935
Photosmart 935 takes over 4.5 seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start shooting. The camera does not turn
on the LCD by default -- you must hit the "record" button
to turn it on.
speeds are about average. It takes 1/2 sec for the camera to
focus in good lighting, and longer if it has to "hunt".
I was a bit disappointed with its performance under indoor lighting.
The 935 couldn't focus on my computer setup a few feet away under
a pretty bright light. In dim light, locking the focus was a
the shutter release fully and the picture is taken after a slight
935's shot-to-shot speed is good: it's about 2 seconds before
you can take another shot. One thing to keep in mind is that
there is always a post-shot review on this camera -- there's
no way to turn it off. You can half-press the shutter release
to go back to taking pictures while the last one is shown on
a picture is taken, you can press the OK button to delete it,
before it is saved to the memory card. If you want to record
up to 60 seconds of audio along with your image, keep the shutter
release button held down when you take a picture.
Photosmart 935 is one of those cameras that is always ready to
shoot. Whether you're in playback mode or the menus, you can
still operate the zoom and quickly get back to shooting with
just a half press of the shutter release button.
here's a look at the image size and quality choices available
on the 935. HP uses a "star system" to represent compression.
Here are the available choices:
shots on 32MB card
2608 x 1952
1296 x 976
no TIFF or RAW mode available on this camera. The camera names
files as HPIMyyyy.JPG, where y = 0001 - 9999. The camera maintains
the numbering even if you erase the memory card.
Photosmart 935 has a very attractive, intuitive menu system.
It's the first menu system I've used with a built-in help system,
a great thing to have for beginners. One thing I've learned is
that the average person has no idea what ISO sensitivity, metering,
and resolution is. Each menu option has its own help option which
describes what the various options do. Kudos to HP for this feature.
annoyance to note: the camera does not store the current settings
when you turn off the camera. However, you can get back to them
easily by holding down the "OK" button when you turn
on the camera. Note to HP: make this a menu option in the future.
here's a look at the menus:
(Off, on, on w/2 shots) - the 2 shots option takes one photo,
then another 3 seconds later. Weird.
balance (Auto, sunlight, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, manual)
metering (Average, center-weighted, spot)
speed (Auto, 100, 200, 400)
(Full color, black & white, sepia)
(2608 x 1952, 1296 x 976)
(Best, better, good)
(Low, medium, high)
(Low, medium, high)
(Low, medium, high)
you can see, the PS 935 has manual white balance control. Use
it to get perfect white balance in any lighting. I was disappointed
that the 935 lacks the full manual controls of the PS 850.
addition to that menu, there's also a setup menu, with these
sounds (High, low, off)
- Date & Time
configuration (Digital camera [PTP], disk drive [Mass Storage])
- If you're using a Mac, you need to use Disk Drive mode.
configuration (NTSC, PAL)
(English, Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano)
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
935 did a decent job with this shot. The colors aren't perfect,
but they're close enough. One thing that I noticed in the full-size
image are some "jaggies" on the edges. You should be
able to spot them too. The focal range in macro mode is 14 -
70 cm at wide-angle, and 40 - 70 cm at telephoto, which isn't
spectacular. The camera will flash a warning message on the LCD
if you are too close to the subject.
was fogged in at the usual locations, so it was back to City
Hall for the first time in months. "Decent" is also
the word that I'd use to describe this shot. Purple fringing
is fairly low, but noise levels are higher than I would've liked
(especially for a 1/2 sec exposure at ISO 100). I was a little
frustrated with the 935 on an earlier night photo outing to Treasure
Island. The camera picked a shutter speed that was way too long
(8 seconds, when it really needed half of that), which did not
give good results. I wish the camera had real shutter speed control.
camera + redeye = not surprising. The flash is very close to
the lens, which is often a cause of nasty redeye like this. You
can fix it pretty well in software.
distortion test shows minor barrel distortion and just a slight
hint of softness in the corners.
the Photosmart 935's photo quality was quite good, with nice
color, exposure, and sharpness. The only real issues I could
find were slightly higher-than-average noise levels and occasionally
softness in the corners. Purple fringing was not a common problem.
Have a look at the photo gallery to
see for yourself.
Photosmart 935 lets you record movies, with sound, for up to
are saved in MPEG format, at the rather unusual (and small) resolution
of 288 x 208 @ 15 frames/sec.
with the Photosmart 850, HP has disabled the zoom during filming
on the 935. That's a good thing, believe it or not.
a sample movie for you:
to play movie (2.4MB, MPEG format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
935 has a pretty basic playback mode, aside from the Instant
Share stuff I described earlier. Three pretty standard features
not found here include image protection, slide shows, and thumbnail
mode. The camera does have DPOF print marking, audio recording
(up to 60 secs), and zoom and scroll.
magnification feature lets you blow up the picture to 4.5X (and
nothing in between), and then scroll around in the zoomed-in
area. Enlarging the image takes a long time (esp. compared to
other cameras I've used recently), but after that, it's smooth
935 also allows you to rotate pictures on the camera -- a feature
not found on the 850.
nice feature is the picture info option, which is in the menu.
It shows you exposure info for the selected photo.
935 moves through images very quickly, especially considering
that they are 5.1 Megapixel.
Does it Compare?
not a great camera for enthusiasts like yours truly, beginners
will appreciate all the effort HP put into making the Photosmart
935 a very easy-to-use camera. Despite having a few manual controls,
the 935 is a point-and-shoot at heart. Where the camera really
shines is with the HP Instant Share system, which lets you mark
photos for printing and e-mail. It doesn't get any easier than
that. With the optional camera dock and remote control, you can
share your photos from the comfort of the couch. The unique in-camera
help system is a nice bonus. Photo quality on the 935 is very
good, though certainly not class-leading. Downsides for this
camera include the lack of an AF-assist lamp (and subpar AF performance),
the low resolution movie mode, the lack of a video out port on
the camera (HP wants you to buy the camera dock). I also have
to knock HP for not storing camera settings automatically (you
have to hold down the OK button to recall them). One other thing
I noticed: battery life didn't seem that great.
good photo quality
Instant Share system + software bundle
help system is a nice touch
white balance + limited aperture control
camera dock great for showing off photos
I didn't care for:
performance could be better
mode resolution is lower than average
noise, jaggies, softness in corners of images
doesn't store settings by default
life seems worse than average
video out port on camera
compact 5 Megapixel cameras to consider include the Canon
PowerShot S50, Casio
Finecam S5, Minolta
DiMAGE F300, Olympus
Optio 550, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P92, DSC-P10,
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try
out the Photosmart 935 and it's competitors before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our photo
a review of the Photosmart 935 at Steve's
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due
to my limited resources, please do not send me requests for
personal camera recommendations.