Fujifilm Finepix F40fd Review
With the Fuji Finepix F40fd, Fuji augmented the resolution of its very successful F-series of ultra-compact digital cameras. Without compromising too much, the F40 boasts a maximum ISO of 2000 at its full 8 megapixels resolution.
This ultra-compact camera is clearly aimed at beginners. It hash a minimal set of controls with exposure and focus being fully automatic at all times.
As a point-and-shot camera, the Fuji Finepix F40fd keeps everything just as simple as its feature-set. The main features are:
- 3X Optical zoom, equivalent to 36-108mm.
- Selectable ISO sensitivity: AutoAuto limit can be 400, 800, 1600 or 2000, in natural light mode., 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600.
- White balance: Auto, sunlightLabeled Fine, cloudyLabeled Shade, fluorescent3 Types, incandescent and custom.
- Exposure compensation: -2..+2 stops, 1/3 stop increments.
- Shutter speeds: 1/2000s-3s.
- Metering control: Evaluative, average or spot.
- Drive modes: First 2-frames, last 2-frames, long continuous or self-timer2 or 10 seconds.
- Focus modes: Center, multi-point, continuous.
- Focus distances: normal, high-speed, macro.
- Color modes: Standard, Chrome and Black & White.
- Unlimited 640x480 30 FPS Movie mode with sound.
- 2.5" LCD with 230K Pixels.
Suitability - What is it good for?
The Fuji F40 only provides point-and-shoot modes. Its shutter-speed range is fast enough for action but not enough for night photography. In the non-night modes, the minimum shutter-speeds is further limited to 1/4s. In the night modes, a maximum shutter-speed of 3s can be used, although it must be selected automatically at the ISO chosen by the camera. The zoom range, equivalent to 36-108mm, is good for portraits and close subjects. The F40fd's macro mode can focus as close as 7cm (2.6"). This is good enough for the average flower but not enough for tiny subjects.
The F40 has several exposure modes but they are all automatic, even though one of them is called Manual mode. In AUTO mode, even the ISO, the exposure compensation, the metering, the white-balance and the focus-mode cannot be set. The Manual mode must be used to change any of those settings, since all Scene-modes restrict settings. Thus, for low-light photography, the camera has complete control, not even exposure-compensation can be set.
With ISO sensitivities up to 2000, the Fuji Finepix F40 is well suited for indoor shots with moving subjects such as people. Additionally, Fuji's flash system called i-flash is designed to achieve correct exposure when insufficient light is available without overwhelming the foreground and still maintaining background details. In practice, it works well when the scene is missing one stop or less of light to achieve a shake-free exposure. Beyond that, it just behaves like most flash systems.
Among ultra-compact cameras, the F40 is reasonably well-suited for indoor photography, though it is not perfect in that area. As long as a tripod is not necessary, the F40 performs very well due to its high-ISO capabilities. When light is very low, the F40's lack of manual controls and long-shutter speeds get in the way.
The other notable feature of the F40 is its first-rate movie mode. Only a few other digital cameras offer 640x480 30 FPS movie mode with no time or file-size limits.
As for drive modes, they are not really useful. The fast modes shoot only at 1.3 FPS and saves up to 2 images. That is pretty pathetic. The slow mode, called long-period, is rather slow and not much faster than the F40's shot-to-shot speeds.
There is some value in providing such a limited feature set. It is for people who simply want to point and shoot and obtain the best possible automatically-controlled photograph. After all, there are people who wish their camera had only one button, the shutter-release. The F40 is not that simple, but it gets close and it does not get in the way due to its good image quality and speedy performance.
Unlike most recent digital cameras, the Fuji F40 does not automatically rotate images taken in portrait orientation. This missing feature is partly compensated by a very efficient system for rotating multiple images without exiting and re-entering the menu between each image.
Usability - How easy is it to use?
The Fuji F40 is mostly a point-and-shoot digital camera. As such, it is very easy to use. The menu system is simple and easy to navigate. There are a few obscure items though. Understanding them requires a reading the manual. The Power Management options for example are: Power Save, Quick AF and Clear Display. The other obscure setting is Illumination (On or Off). It is located just below the AF Illuminator option, so it is easy to know what it does not do!
There are two position on the mode-dial for scene modes, so the menu is used to select which one is active. The two positions are actually identical in behavior except that they each remember the last chosen scene mode separately.
Framing is done using a nice 2.5" LCD which can be brightened momentarily by pressing the up-arrow. This works exceptionally well, even in extremely bright conditions. In low light, the LCD gains up very well and remains steady. Otherwise, the LCD is very sharp and very fluid.
In continuous shooting modes, framing is more challenging since both the first-2 and last-2 modes show images only after they are taken, while the long-period mode shows images before they are taken. In both cases, there is a significant time-difference between what is shown on the LCD and what is pictured. Since there is no optical viewfinder, following a moving subject is very difficult.
After each picture is taken, the F40 displays it except in the long-period continuous mode. There is no way to turn this off. There are 3 display options: 1.5s, 3s and zoom. The zoom option shows the image completely zoomed for inspection of fine details. The 1.5s and 3s option each dismiss the image automatically after the specified time. In all cases, the display can be interrupted after about 1.5 seconds. This has the unfortunate consequence of making the F40's shot-to-shot time a longer than the top competing models. In long-period mode, the image is not displayed after each shot but the screen remains black for a about 2 seconds.
The shutter button has a nice feel. It, is not too small and has a distinct halfway point. The zoom controller is wrapped around the shutter button. The zoom controller has a nice feel too but provides too few zoom steps to be able to tightly frame a particular subject. The metallic F40 feels completely solid and has a refined appearance. Even the shutter-like lens cover is metallic which is more sturdy than most competing models.
A slight protrusion on the front of the camera serves as a grip. This grip, and the fact that one can firmly press on the camera's rear with the thumb, makes holding the Fuji Finepix F40fd feel quite secure. Furthermore, Fuji supplies a sturdy wrist-strap and we highly recommend people to use it. The strap also has a tightening element which can be used to securely attach the camera to your wrist.
The Fuji Finepix F40 has a limited number of external controls. The only 3 functions which can be used without entering some kind of menu are macro on/off, flash-modes and the self-timer. Other functions are reached either by the F button or the Menu buttonLocated in the center of the 4-way controller. The F button is a Fuji classic, it serves to enter a small menu of commonly used settings. In this menu, the F40 provides 4 settings: power management, ISO, image quality and color mode. Notice that ISO is the only truly common setting in this menu? We had the same complaint for the F10 and the F30, so Fuji did not learn this yet. In this menu, most users would expect to see at least white-balance, metering and exposure-compensation (plus ISO, of course). There is clearly room for adding these 3 settings without removing the rarely used ones. How often does one change the power-management mode?
The full menu of the Fuji F40 is called by the Menu button. It is organized as a single-level menu system with one of the options activating a 4-page setup menu. Several common settings such as exposure-compensation, white-balance and metering require the use of this menu.
There is a button to enter playback mode. Playback mode is generally speedy and well implemented. The only slow playback feature is scrolling around a zoomed image. Press the shutter-button halfway to rapidly exit playback mode.
Unlike its predecessors, the Fuji F40 comes with a charger for its battery. This is much better than in-camera charging which locks down the camera while a battery is being charged. The battery goes in using a plastic door that also covers the memory card slot. Fortunately the battery compartment does have a latch, so it will not fall out while changing memory cards.
Fujifilm F40fd Highlights
Sensor-Size: 8 x 6mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|8 Megapixels Ultra Compact||ISO 100-2000|
|3X Optical Zoom||Shutter 1/2000-3s|
|1.3 FPS Drive, 2 Images||Custom white-balance|
|640x480 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Spot-Metering|
|2.5" LCD 230K Pixels||Lithium-Ion Battery|
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