Adjusting the lens from macro to infinity and back again would be a much simpler affair if the lens barrel was textured or knurled. Unfortunately it’s completely smooth and likely to be an annoyance to those with sweaty digits.
For those looking for protection and portability, HP throw in a nicely stitched leather case with a magnetic flap and belt loop. It’s well-made and padded out with what looks like closed cell foam to protect the SD interface.
Installing the software for the camera proved to be fairly painless. With the drivers installed, activating the user interface was as simple as plugging the camera into the SDIO sot. The interface itself is very simple with large buttons that look slightly preschool, presumably created this way to allow the various functions to be operated with your finger rather than the stylus – which incidentally is blocked on my iPAQ 4150 when the camera is in place.
The image viewfinder part of the screen features a letterbox style pair of “( )” brackets which in SLRs is usually used to signify the auto-focus area. However, as mentioned earlier the focus is fixed, so it must be either a compositional aid or a centre-weighted metering area indicator.
The only camera controls on the capture screen are the large shutter release button, digital zoom in and out buttons allowing you to select normal, 2x digital zoom or 4x digital zoom, and a pair of small circular buttons, one of which takes you into the supplied copy of iPAQ Image Zone, while the other opens the camera’s settings menu. Within this menu are adjustments for white balance, (“Auto”, “Sun”, “Tungsten”, “Fluorescent” and “None”), and colour, which can be set to “Full Colour”, “Black and White” or “Negative”.
The level of compression can also be set to three settings, “Best”, “Better” and “Good”, and the capture resolution for still images is selectable at 1,280 x 1,024, 1,280 x 960, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240. For video, the resolution can be set to 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 in MJPEG format, with or without audio. Finally, there are two metering modes, centre-weighted average or whole scene average.
While these seem to be fairly comprehensive settings you can’t help but wonder how much more could have been achieved with a little thought. For example, there’s no sensitivity (ISO) setting, and white balance can’t be set to custom levels. There’s also no ability to set any form of advanced matrix metering or to manually increase or decrease exposure levels (exposure compensation) for tricky lighting situations such as backlit subjects or unusually bright and reflective snowy/sandy scenes.
Nor can any manual shutter speeds be set which rules out any kind of night or low-light photography. And speaking of low-light photography, this is perhaps the biggest weakness of all. I’m at a loss to explain why a digital cameral with a seemingly good sized lens aperture and a relatively low pixel density should have such poor low-light sensitivity.