The 4-megapixel HP Photosmart M22 offers helpful features for beginners and takes surprisingly good pictures for an inexpensive camera.
HP claims the all-metal body is weather-resistant, and the camera does have a sturdy feel (though the tripod mount is plastic). At a little over four ounces (without batteries), it should be a perfect pocket camera. Unfortunately, it’s next to impossible to slip it into a pants pocket without sliding the lens cover, which turns the camera off and on.
The 1.5-inch LCD is tiny and a tad dark. I had some trouble framing images while standing in bright sunlight, and there’s no optical viewfinder, which would have made things easier to see. But the menus are clear and easy to read and, like many of the newer HP cameras, the M22 includes help features that beginners should find reassuring. Help messages provide guidance on adjusting settings, and a Help menu offers shooting tips and other useful information. There’s even an Image Advice feature that analyzes your images after you take them and provides suggestions to improve your shooting, such as which mode to use, or when to use exposure compensation or the flash.
The M22 is a point-and-shoot camera. Besides Auto mode, you’ll find Action, Landscape, Portrait, Panorama, Beach, Snow, and Sunset scene modes. The only manual controls available are color (full color, black and white, or sepia), white balance (there’s no custom white balance), ISO, and exposure compensation. You adjust exposure compensation via a menu, which blocks much of the image, making your changes difficult to gauge.
If you like panoramas, you’ll love the M22’s panorama mode, which allows you to stitch as many as five images together. The camera provides a transparent overlay of the left third of your previous image to help you align it with the next shot, and the bundled Image Zone software does an impressive job of assembling the images on your computer.
I didn’t have a problem with red-eye, but there’s an in-camera red-eye fix if you need it. Adaptive Lighting technology brings out detail in your shadows (but apply it selectively; it can also lose detail in your highlights).
Startup time is a few seconds, shutter lag is noticeable, there’s no continuous shooting mode, and it sometimes takes several seconds to write an image to memory. The lens is fixed at 36.7mm (35mm equivalent), and macro mode only focuses to 8 inches, so this isn’t the camera for documenting your study of bee pollination.
The pictures I took with the M22 were better than I expected for such an inexpensive camera, with mostly accurate color. Detail was about average and, while ISO ranges from 100 to 400, noise is conspicuous above 100 ISO.
But the M22’s video is disappointing. Capture is limited to 320-by-240 pixels at 24 frames per second, and movies were dark and muddy, with weak audio.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you need a little handholding, the HP Photosmart M22 is an attractive package, especially if you have a penchant for panoramas. Extensive help features, respectable images, and a low price make the M22 a beginner-friendly bargain.
|Color Quality—Accuracy||Very Good|
Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable
|Zoom/Focal Length||Fixed focal length (36.7mm)|
|Size (wxhxd)||3.78 inches x 1.13 inches x 1.92 inches|
[ Robert Ellis is a photography enthusiast with a growing collection of digital cameras. He is a frequent contributor to Macworld and maintains the blog Futurosity.]HP Photosmart M22