The 6Mp HP Photosmart M537 is a basic point-and-shoot camera with a 3X zoom, a 2.5in LCD, and a very low cost - around £95.

On the surface, the HP Photosmart M537 offers an adequate number of features for the price, such as in-camera red-eye removal, a maximum sensitivity of ISO 800, and image stabilisation.

However, in our lab tests, the HP Photosmart M537 didn't produce great image quality - indeed, the HP was the lowest of any recently tested digital camera. The HP Photosmart M537 also earned some of the lowest recent scores for both colour and exposure accuracy, and its images, which didn't look very sharp, suffered from more distortion than those of other models.

In informal use, we found that the HP Photosmart M537 could take attractive outdoor shots in afternoon daylight, but it proved less capable in low light.

The HP Photosmart M537 offers a maximum of ISO 800 for shooting in low light - but you'll have to rely on the camera to pick the ISO for you because you can't select it yourself in the menus. This was something we wished we could have been able to do when taking landscape photos around sunset; some of these photos otherwise might not have come out blurry. One sunset photo that did look sharp turned out quite grainy; surprisingly, the EXIF data says that the camera chose ISO 100 despite the low light.

The HP Photosmart M537's plastic case doesn't feel very rugged. However, it does fit well in the hand, and the L-shaped zoom control falls conveniently under your thumb. There are dedicated buttons along the top of the LCD for deleting photos and turning the flash on or off; a selector switch makes it easy to change from still photography to movie mode.

This camera lacks some common features we've come to take for granted, even in simple cameras. For example, the HP Photosmart M537 doesn't have an exposure compensation setting, nor does it even offer white-balance presets - much less a custom white-balance setting.

See also Fujifilm FinePix S700 D-SLR camera

That's not to say the HP Photosmart M537 does not come with some worthy features. The image stabilisation that's available in its steady-photo mode improved the sharpness of indoor photos we shot in very dim lighting.

The Photosmart software suite on the bundled CD is generous, offering features for sharing photos, creating greeting cards, and printing in various layouts. Editing functions include cropping, red-eye removal, and an adaptive lighting feature that shows you nine subtle variations on your photo.

In our battery tests, the HP Photosmart M537 excelled, taking 345 shots before depleting a pair of AA cells.

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HP Photosmart M537: Specs

  • 6Mp
  • 3x optical, 6x digital zoom
  • anti-shake feature
  • 2.5in display
  • HP in-camera red-eye removal, HP Design Gallery
  • USB
  • manual controls: colour, EV compensation, fast mode, image quality, ISO speed, white balance
  • 94x27x61mm
  • 0.2kg
  • 6Mp
  • 3x optical, 6x digital zoom
  • anti-shake feature
  • 2.5in display
  • HP in-camera red-eye removal, HP Design Gallery
  • USB
  • manual controls: colour, EV compensation, fast mode, image quality, ISO speed, white balance
  • 94x27x61mm
  • 0.2kg

OUR VERDICT

Despite a generous software bundle and long battery life, low image quality makes the HP Photosmart M537 a less attractive option than some other comparably priced cameras.

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