DigitalCameraReview.com
Fujifilm Finepix F40fd Review
by J. Keenan -  8/7/2007

Teddy Roosevelt is credited with saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick". For the Fujifilm Finepix F40fd, an otherwise relatively unassuming mix of features is augmented by the "big stick" of Fujifilm’s "F" series cameras: a reputation for class-leading ISO performance attributed, at least in part, to their Super CCD sensors.

Fujifilm finepix f40fd
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The F40fd could easily get lost in the standard zoom, compact point & shoot camera field: a 3x optical zoom provides a 36 to 108mm focal length (35mm film equivalent), 25MB of internal memory, ISO sensitivity to 1600, Face Detection focus technology, 8.3 megapixel sensor and a 2.5 inch LCD monitor. There are any number of similarly-equipped competitors in the market, but when the discussion turns to noise performance, the Fujifilm brings out the heavy lumber.  The shots below show you the focal range of the lens.

fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
36mm equivalent (view medium image) (view large image)
fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
108mm equivalent (view medium image) (view large image)

A CLOSER LOOK 

Lacking the manual controls of its F31fd sibling, the F40fd will appeal primarily to those folks who wish to set the camera on "auto" or any of the 15 available scene shooting modes. The camera permits some user input to affect color and image quality, ISO, white balance and exposure metering method, but no one should mistake the F40fd as anything other than a principally automatic camera.

Fujifilm provides a lithium-ion battery and charger, hand strap, USB and A/V cables, CD-ROM software and an owner’s manual with each camera. The owner’s manual lacks an index and can be frustrating to use. For example, card formatting: there is no mention of how to format in the "contents" section of the manual, and no reference in the area dealing with installing the card in the camera. If you happen to check the "warning displays" section of the manual, a page reference on how to format the card can be found under the "write error" display. Not very intuitive, particularly for an unfortunate soul who happens to make the Fujifilm their first digital camera acquisition.

The F40fd will accept either the xD-Picture Card or SD memory card. The SD card compatibility is a relatively recent development and much welcomed by people who didn't want to have to buy another memory card format.

Camera dimensions are 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 inches, with a shooting weight (battery and memory card installed) of about 6 ounces.

JPEG still images may be captured in five pixel sizes: 8M (3296 x 2472 at either fine or normal quality); 3:2 (3504 x 2386); 4M (2304 x 1728); 2M (1600 x 1200); .3M (640 x 480).

Movies are captured in AVI format at 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 resolution, each at 30 frames per second. The camera’s lens cannot be zoomed during movie capture.

CAMERA FEATURES AND LAYOUT 

The F40fd comes packaged in a stylish matte silver and chrome metal and composite body, a color scheme that permeates the compact digital field at present. Build quality and fit/finish appear first-rate; the camera has a solid feel to it.

Fujifilm finepix f40fd
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Fujifilm finepix f40fd
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Fujifilm finepix f40fd
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Fujifilm finepix f40fd
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Fujifilm finepix f40fd
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Fujifilm finepix f40fd
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SHOOTING WITH THE F40fd 

Auto Mode 

The F40fd comes with a default settings of 8M and normal quality image size, auto ISO, and multi-pattern metering for auto shooting.  I bumped the quality level up to "fine" for the shots taken by the F40fd to illustrate this review.

There is little to choose from quality wise at the "normal" and "fine" settings for images that are displayed on the web, or in small print form. 100% enlargements on the computer showed the "fine" images to be a bit sharper, as would be expected, but unless you’re going to make really big enlargements, "normal" quality will probably suffice for most folks.

fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
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fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
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fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
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fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
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Shooting Modes 

There are fifteen specific scene shooting modes in addition to "auto": natural light, natural light/flash (the camera takes two shots, the second with flash), portrait, landscape, sport, night, fireworks, sunset, snow, beach, underwater (for use with the camera in a housing), museum, party, flower and text.

The camera also has a "picture stabilization mode" which causes the camera to ramp up the ISO as high as 2000 to maintain a fast shutter speed as a means to provide a sharp picture, a method less desirable than true stabilization techniques using a shift of lens optics or the camera sensor.

Finally, the F40fd also has a "manual" mode that is really more properly termed a "programmed auto" mode – the user can select some inputs such as ISO, metering method, exposure compensation and white balance, but the camera still establishes the aperture and shutter speed.

Exposure Compensation 

+/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV increments, in "M" mode only.

Light Metering 

Multi pattern, spot, or average methods, in "M" mode only. Multi pattern metering worked well for average subjects and scenes that were evenly lit. In high contrast situations the camera had a tendency to lose highlights while bringing out a little more detail in the dark areas – it might be a good idea to go to "M" mode with some exposure compensation to save the bright areas. 

Focus/Macro Focus 

Normal focus range at wide angle is 1.5 feet to infinity; telephoto is 2 feet to infinity.

Macro focus is 2.8 inches to 2.6 feet at wide angle; 1 foot to 2.6 feet at telephoto.

The F40fd acquires focus fairly quickly in good lighting conditions and with subjects of sufficient contrast. There is a AF assist illuminator to help with low light conditions, but focus acquisition times can lengthen significantly in dim light, although in this regard the F40fd is really no different than many other cameras in this class.

fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
Macro (view medium image) (view large image)
fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
Macro (view medium image) (view large image)

Monitor 

The 2.5 inch LCD monitor on the F40fd has a 230,000 dot composition and is adjustable for one step of brightness. No matter the brightness setting, the monitor can be difficult to use in bright, direct light and particularly with subjects of little contrast. In good lighting conditions the monitor is fine for picture composition or editing. There is no viewfinder on the camera. 

Flash 

The F40fd has five flash modes - six if you count Fujifilm’s "suppressed flash", which means the flash doesn’t fire under any conditions. The five modes in which light is present are "auto", "red eye reduction", "forced flash", "slow synchro" and "red eye and slow". The red eye reduction mode fires a pre-flash to constrict pupils, and between that and the AF illuminator light in dim conditions, inducing red eye was impossible for review purposes.

Fujifilm lists an effective range out to 21+ feet at wide angle, and 11.5 feet at telephoto, and the flash was in the ballpark on these figures. I found myself pretty consistently partially blocking the flash with fingers on the left hand when shooting vertical composition flash shots. It took a conscious effort and shifting of the left hand to avoid the problem with my grip. Color reproduction and fidelity were good with the flash.

fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)
fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)

Color 

The F40fd produced generally accurate color in the daylight and flash conditions of this review. In addition to the standard color that was used for the review images, the F40fd permits the use of "chrome" color, which features "increased saturation and contrast" over standard, and a black and white mode. The difference between standard and "chrome" color was not readily apparent.

ISO 

In addition to auto ISO, the F40fd permits the selection of auto ISO within ranges: auto to 400, auto to 800, or auto to 1600, in "M" mode only. Settings of 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 may also be selected in "M". 

ISO performance, more than any other feature, is what sets the F40fd apart from the rest of the non-Fujifilm compact crowd. 

Compared to other P&S cameras I’ve reviewed, the ISO performance of the F40fd is the best of the bunch, no question. On the blue sky ISO shots, 100 through 400 looked pretty good and were hard to tell apart; every other camera has been OK to 200, but generally was falling off at 400. The Fuji’s 800 isn’t bad, and 1600 may not be as bad as the competitors, but it would be the ISO of choice only if all else failed. The camera can make use of up to 2000 ISO in "picture stabilization mode", but its performance would certainly be no better than 1600.

This Fujifilm performance is probably the sum of a number of things. Fujifilm claims the octagonal pixels of different sizes that compose its proprietary Super CCD offer better noise performance than the typical rectangular pixel. Then there are the methods and aggressiveness of in-camera noise reduction, and finally, the F40fd makes use of a 1/1.6" sensor that is somewhat physically larger than the 1/1.7, 1/1.8 and 1/2.5" sensors found in most of the competition. However they do it, Fujifilm has set the bar pretty high with the current crop of "F" series cameras. The three sunflower shots are 100, 800 and 1600 ISO, respectively.


ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600
 

 

fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
ISO 100 (view medium image) (view large image)
fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
ISO 800 (view medium image) (view large image)
fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
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White Balance 

Auto white balance worked well for my outdoor and indoor flash shooting sessions. In "M" mode only, the F40fd also offers a custom setting, as well as settings for daylight, shade, three types of fluorescent lamps and  incandescent light sources.

Battery Performance 

Fujifilm rates the F40fd for approximately 300 shots per charge. My shooting sessions didn’t allow me to run the battery dry, but I did get over 100 shots on the battery with no indication of power drain on the "fuel gauge".

Shutter Performance 

The shutter on the F40fd ranges from 3 seconds to 1/2000th of a second. More importantly, shutter lag once focus is acquired is negligible, unless the camera is firing flash with red eye reduction. The camera powers up in about one second. Continuous shooting performance was disappointing. The F40fd features three continuous modes, but the two modes that shoot somewhat reasonably fast will only save two of the images, while the mode that does shoot continuously causes the monitor to go black for a good portion of a second before the next image is captured.

Lens Performance 

The F40fd lens showed some soft edges and perhaps a hint of vignetting in the corners at wide angle. There was some barrel distortion (lines bow out from center of image) present, and a sharp-eyed review of certain photos could reveal a "bent" line or two. This condition seemed no more pronounced than most of the other P&S cameras I’ve reviewed. The telephoto end of the lens seemed quite good – sharper at the edges. Images with high contrast boundary areas showed some purple fringing under 100% enlargement,  but this feature would be hard to discern in typical image sizes. Overall lens performance was good, and typical for cameras in this class.

MISCELLANEOUS 

The F40fd is PictBridge compliant, and features Fujifilm’s IRSimple high speed infrared transmission capability for images. This feature allows you to send or receive images to/from other Fujifilm cameras with IR capability, as well as devices with a high speed IR transmission capability or mobile devices with the IRSimple function. The usefulness of this IR capability is unclear, since it appears that the devices need be in close proximity for the IR transmission to succeed. There is also an in-camera trimming feature to facilitate cropping images.

fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)
fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)
fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)
fujifilm finepix f40fd sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)

CONCLUSION 

The F40fd is a capable compact automatic digital camera whose overall performance is in keeping with that of its main competitors in the class. The one significant advantage enjoyed by the F40fd is superior high ISO noise performance, but in a field where more and more of the competition are becoming equipped with image stabilization systems worth up to three stops, that advantage can be largely negated by permitting the stabilized units to shoot at lower ISO settings. An F40fd against an unstabilized competitor is no contest in a high ISO shootout – against a stabilized camera the outcome is much less certain as to image quality.

This questionable outcome may have been part of the reason Fujifilm has included optical stabilization along with their familiar "picture stabilization" in the new F50fd camera set to appear in September. Fuji’s specs for the F50fd indicate it will pack 12 megapixels onto the same 1/1.6" size sensor as the 8.3 mega pixel F40fd, so it will be interesting what sort of noise performance is delivered by the latest generation camera. Someone considering an F40fd right now might want to wait and see what the new kid on the block brings to the table, but if excellent high ISO noise performance is your primary concern, the F40fd has an established track record already.

PROS 

CONS