Test by Peter Bargh
I was fortunate enough to be one of the first people in the UK to get hold of the tiny Fuji 40i. It was a Japanese version so all the controls were in Japanese as were the menu items and I had no instructions! The first part of the test was more of a Krypton Factor challenge. What did each odd looking squiggle really mean? I had handled several other Fuji models with similar interfaces before, so most of the challenge was just a case of having a good memory - not something that's getting better in my case!
I mentioned tiny - launched back in August last year this camera is still one of the smallest available, and the fact it includes an MP3 player and can capture movie that's pretty remarkable.
It has a metal casing which makes it robust and cool looking. While I found the size manageable those with large hands may find it's too small to hold comfortably.
When I tested it for Digital PhotoFX magazine I had several people come up and say wow that's fantastic...how much is it? At around 500 the price seems high, especially considering the camera has a fixed 36mm lens. You have to weigh up the other inclusions - a good MP3 player costs about 100 and a basic camcorder 300 and a camera with a similar spec would set you back about 300 so overall it's not bad, providing you want the extra features.
Taking pictures with a Fuji camera is always easy - they bring their experience from making point and shoot compacts to the mix. A simple control dial offers three options - take a picture, view it or record a movie. Then you press the shutter button to record. The LCD monitor can be used to compose the picture and is fairly good in daylight. Buttons above the LCD are used to set various menu options.
The top plate has a flash on/off button, which gives you the option of using the camera for fill-in flash or turning it off for a sunset picture. Alternatively you can leave it to its own in auto mode.
There is a red-eye reduction mode too which does work quite effectively although any problems can be removed properly using simple image editing software so this feature is less important.
Like many of the latest Fuji cameras this model features the Super CCD - a new type of chip that records using octagonal sensors. This allows higher resolution from a smaller chip and the specification states it's a 2.47 million pixel CCD, but the output is 4.3 million pixels. Fuji use a technology that they prefer not to be known as interpolation, but in reality it is a form of interpolation. The proof is in the pictures and the results are impressive. They are sharp and resolve fine detail. The created 2400x1800 pixel file means you can happily print out at 10x8in and get a decent photo. There is a bit of noise (speckles) apparent in dark areas but that's a familiar with this sort of chip.
While Nikon and Ricoh lead the field with close focusing, you still can't complain at the 6cm offering from the 40i. It's good enough to fill the frame with flower heads and cropping using software later will ensure frame-filling pictures of even the smallest subject.
There is a digital zoom offering 3.75x but quality is reduced when using this so use with care.
Some cameras give you a multitude of exposure modes, the Fuji is restricted in this area with just program mode. It is not, therefore, the sort of camera that will appeal to the photography who wants to be creative using apertures and shutter speeds - you have no control. You can, however, select spot metering and control where the exposure is made. Most users of this camera will leave it set on the 64 segment meter and nine times out of ten it delivers a spot on exposure. When it doesn't a quick tweak using image editing software will bring the photo back to the mark.
The camera records images on to SmartMedia - Fuji are one of the few companies to stay committed to this type of memory card, which offers up to 64Mb of storage (a 128Mb version is now available, but won't work with this camera). The camera comes with an 8Mb card and allows up to 89 photos to be stored on one card. In high quality mode you can only hold four.
Pictures can be downloaded from the SmartMedia using a card reader or direct from the camera using a USB cable.
This camera is an excellent size to carry around at all times and delivers good quality images. It's too expensive when compared with other similar fixed lens models, unless you want an MP3 player and a movie option. If these extra features are appealing it's a great multifunction machine with lots to offer.