Fujifilm Finepix F40fd Review
Review Date: October 18th 2007
Author: Mark Goldstein
Exactly one year ago we reviewed the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd's predeccessor, the Finepix F20 model, which we called "one of the most successful marriages of price to performance seen in recent months". A year is a long time in the fast moving world of photography, so much so that the F40fd is now 6 months old itself. Fujifilm have bumped up the resolution from 6 to 8 megapixels, included the must-have feature of 2007, Face Detection, and added a shooting mode dial on the rear of the F40fd. It retains the same 3x optical zoom lens, 2.5 inch LCD screen, fastest ISO speed of 2000 at full resolution and stylish metal and plastic body that the older F20 offered. Compared to the newer and more expensive Finepix F50fd model (which we'll also be reviewing soon), the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd importantly loses the manual controls (aperture-priority and shutter-priority modes), making it better matched to the beginner who wants a purely point-and-shoot model. Does the Fujifilm F40fd offer enough new features to be able to retain the Highly Recommended award that we gave the F20? Read Mark Goldstein's review to find out...
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Ease of Use
The Fujifilm Finepix F40fd is a compact digital camera that easily fits into both the palm of your hand and a trouser pocket. With dimensions of 95.7(W)× 59.0(H)× 23.3(D) mm and weighing only 155g, this is a camera that you can slip into a pocket or small bag and not notice until you need to use it. Fujifilm have made a couple of subtle design changes to the F40fd when compared with the older F20. It's a lot more sculpted, with subtle curves on top and on the right of the camera body - quite a radical and stylish departure from the boxy look of the F20. The Fujifilm Finepix F40fd is pleasing on the eye, with a stylish two-tone silver/champagne colour scheme and a rounded, compact appearance. It retains the excellent overall finish of the Fujifilm Finepix F-series cameras, and generally looks and feels more expensive than it actually is.
The Fujifilm Finepix F40fd is fairly comfortable to hold, with a recessed shotoing mode dial on the back of the camera where your right thumb is naturally positioned, and a small lip that acts as a handgrip on the front. Your right forefinger is then free to operate the shutter button and the zoom lever, which surrounds the shutter button. The mode dial and push-pull zoom lever are the two biggest changes since the F20, both of which are definite improvements. The new mode dial allows easy access to the various shooting modes, and the zoom lever is more responsive than the old version. Despite the smooth all-plastic body, the camera is not too slippy when gripping it. The various buttons are well-made and easy to operate, and the camera feels well-balanced in your hands. There are no real innovative features here, but everything that the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd does, it does well. Overall the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd is well constructed and designed with no obvious signs of corners being cut.
The Fujifilm Finepix F40fd has relatively few external controls, just 10 in total, which is not too surprising considering that this camera is purely a point and shoot model. You can directly access the various flash, macro, self-timer and delete options by clicking on the four buttons around the navigation pad. As with most other Fujfilm digital cameras, the Fujifilm FinePix F40fd has a Menu button on the rear of the camera which, as you would expect, gives you access to the software menu system. This lets you set various parameters including auto-focus, white balance, continuous mode and so on. Annoyingly Fujifilm have also included the Exposure Compensation feature here, a commonly used option that I would have preferred to access via a dedicated button. There is also a small silver button with an F on it, which opens what Fujifilm call the Photo Mode menu. This allows you to control the power management, file quality, ISO speed and colour settings (B&W, Chrome or Standard). I'm not really sure why these 4 settings alone should fall under the heading of Photo Mode, and things like white balance are just part of the standard menu. And I'm undecided about whether it is a good idea or not. The F button does give quick access to certain features, but you do have to memorise what another button does.
|Rear Controls||Main Menu|
As mentioned previously, there is a dial on the back of the camera that you turn to select the various shooting modes (Auto, Natural Light & Flash, Manual, Movie, 2 Scene Positions, Natural Light and Picture Stabilisation). It's quite similar to the system used on many DSLRs and allows quick access to the various camera modes. All 10 external controls are clearly labeled using industry-standard symbols and terminology. Overall the camera body feels very well-designed and not at all cluttered, despite the presence of the large 2.5 inch LCD screen. Note that there is no optical viewfinder on the Finepix F40fd, leading to a few moments of frustration in very bright sunlight when it can be difficult to see the image on the monitor clearly. The F40fd's LCD monitor has a matt finish, compared to the glossy one on many compacts, and it is also slightly recessed, which should lead to fewer scratches. The resolution of 230,000 pixels and 100% scene coverage are also very welcome.
If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the comprehensive and fairly easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Thankfully Fujifilm have bucked the recent trend of not providing hard-copy manuals and supplied it in printed format. The main menu system on the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd is straight-forward to use and is accessed by pressing the Menu/OK button in the middle of the navigation pad. In Manual mode there is a single Shooting menu with 6 options. At the bottom is the Setup option - select this to access 4 more tabbed pages with 19 otpions that you will probably set once and then forget about. Due to the large LCD screen, the various options and icons are perfectly easy to read.
The F40fd has a few interesting features up its sleeve. The Picture Stabilisation mode forces the camera to select a fast shutter speed in order to freeze subject movement more effectively, whilst also setting a fast ISO speed and firing the flash (the Natural Light scene mode doesn't fire the flash). It's an effective automatic way of taking photos of children indoors, for example. Intelligent Flash is a little more exciting. This feature is actually a new scene mode called Natural Light and Flash (obviously the marketing department didn't talk to the engineers about the naming convention). When selected, the camera instantly takes 2 photos, one with flash, one without, giving you the option of which one to choose later (both are saved by the camera). The infra-red port allows you to send or receive images (but not movies) to another Fujifilm camera or device with high-speed IR capability. Transmission distance is 5-20cm within a 20 degree angle. Note that the camera will compress the image so that it doesn't take too long to transmit.
|Memory Card Slot||Battery Compartment|
The Face Detection function is a new feature accessed via a button underneath the navigation pad. This feature is a welcome one that works quite well in the right situations. It's best for posed group shots where your subject(s) is standing still at a moderate distance, as the system is fooled if the subject is too far away, is moving quickly or has their head turned sideways. The manual amusingly says that it will also fail if the subject is standing on their head! Fujifilm's new innovation is a lot faster than other face detection systems that I have used, although it shares similar limitations to its competitors.
The start-up time from turning the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd on to being ready to take a photo is very quick at around 0.75 second, and it takes about 1.5 seconds to zoom from the widest focal length to the longest, and back again. Focusing is very quick in good light and the camera achieves focus most of the time indoors or in low-light situations, helped by a powerful focus-assist lamp. The visibility and refresh rate of the 2.5 inch LCD screen are good, and the resolution is excellent. In the normal shooting mode it takes about 0.75 second to store an image, during which you can't take another picture. In Continuous mode the camera takes 1.3 frames per second at the highest image quality, not particularly quick, and it's limited to only 2 frames. There is a mode that allows you to take an unlimited number of frames, but only at 0.6 sec. intervals. All in all the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd is fairly quick in terms of operational speed.
Once you have captured a photo, the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd has a good range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails, zoom in and out, sort images by date, view slideshows with lots of different settings, delete, protect, trim and rotate an image. You can also add a sound clip to an image, set the print order and the transfer order. The Display button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and aperture/shutter speed. There is no histogram either in shooting or playback mode.
In summary the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd is a compact, well built and easy to use digital camera, with a number of subtle improvements on the older F20 model. It isn't quite as responsive though...
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.