I spent a fair bit of time trying to decide what digital camera to buy and after seeing and playing with about 20 digital cameras all lined up, I decided to buy this one. I previously had a Fuji Finepix A204, back in the day when 2 megapixel was the limit and in many ways I was impressed with it, although the build quality left a lot to be desired. This HP camera however has a metal front half and a sturdy plastic rear half. It feels very well put together, is heavy enough to reassure you of its integrity yet not hernia-inducingly heavy. The function buttons have a satisfying action and don't feel like they are going to fall off. It is very easy to use and is equally at home as a point-and-shoot camera or an anorak's plaything, with several different flash options and picture options. One of the most impressive is Panorama mode, which lets you take up to 5 photos and join them all up - great if you are up a mountain and want to take in the whole view! In auto mode, the picture quality is very good, but better pictures can be obtained with a bit of fiddling with the options. The zoom takes a bit of getting used to though - I'd recommend using a tripod because at full zoom it picks up quite a bit of camera shake. Unlike a lot of cameras, the HP gives you a rechargeable battery (much like a mobile phone), so you don't have to spend a fortune on batteries and it is charged from inside the camera with the adaptor provided (it takes about 4 hours). The movie mode is pretty decent, probably no replacement for a dedicated camcorder but great for putting short clips on the internet. The software provided is pretty intuitive, although I've not yet fully explored it. Very highly recommended.
I have a fantastic 35mm camera which takes some stunning photos, landscapes etc but felt that I needed to know all about the digital camera revolution. Having researched what was available for what I wanted to pay I bought the HP R717 and am delighted I did! Compact, easy to use, lots of clever features and nice on the eye it ticks all the right boxes and is made by a company that has an excellent reputation. I have not stopped playing with it since it arrived and have discovered what digital photgraphy is all about. The accompanying software makes printing, storing, editing etc all very simple. Very impressive digital camera for the money.
I brought this camera because it has the rather rare feature of a wide range of shutter speeds on a digital camera at a reasonable price (16-1/2000 secs) as well as the promise of it delivering decent pictures. It's supposed to be aimed at the novice-amateur section of the market with reasonably limited manual control, but in fact this control is more than a lot of entry level cameras- it has manual focus, aperture priority and all the other in-camera settings you'd expect. Only shutter priority is missing, but with such a wide range of shutter speeds available, this isn't too bad at all. The quality of the pictures is what you would expect from a 6.2MP camera- perfectly viewable close up on A4 photo paper (why use normal lower quality plain paper?) I blew one of my best pictures up to A2 and it still looked fine from a normal viewing distance of about 6ft away (why really get closer?) Sometimes, I've found that inside photography with this camera can be a problem as it can produce false colours, but stop the exposure down slightly and this problem is cured. Outdoors photography produces much more realistic and accurate pictures, often it can produce some amazing shots in the right conditions. People have criticised this camera for its image quality, but if you take the time to adjust the fine tunings it will produce terrific pictures. The shooting modes also greatly help the emphasis of certain conditions. I've only been into photography for a few months and am new to the business, but I found this camera perfectly useable and excellent image-wise, although the noise at high ISO's is not very good compared to a lot of other cameras, but is nowhere near as bad as some cameras. The one bad point about this camera, and one which has been regularly mentioned, is the pedestrian speed at which it operates sometimes- It turns on and shoots in about 5 seconds with the flash off, longer with it on. It also takes a while to go through the menus when it's busy and takes a good few seconds sometimes to write the images to its buffer which can be very annoying. Shutter lag can be a rather poor few tenths of a second sometimes too. Also the battery life isn't great- you can use it all up using the flash and the rather small lcd screen constantly in around an hour, but if you turn the screen off and look through the viewfinder you can make it last a good while longer.
Overall, this is a very good camera as long as you can live with the often well below average speed.