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Pentax Optio A40 First Thoughts
by CalebSchmerge -  3/29/2008

I have to admit that as much as I love SLRs, the compact camera market captures a portion of my photography heart as well. There is something so novel about being able to slip a camera into most any pocket and get pictures anytime: try doing that with an SLR. The latest compact I have been playing with, the 12 megapixel Pentax Optio A40, is a fun little camera that works great as a back-up, but does it do enough to be an all-in-one picture taking device as well?

Pentax Optio A40
(view large image)

 

Admittedly, I have been surprised with the nice pictures that this camera is capable of. I expected to see more noise and less overall quality. In my initial shots, color has been accurate and vibrant – in short, the photos just look great. Could this really be a compact dream camera?

Pentax Optio A40
(view large image)
Pentax Optio A40
(view large image)

In an initial evaluation, I have two gripes, one of which is far from trivial. The lesser complaint is that the menus aren't always easy to use or clear, but the more serious problem with this camera is its auto focus system. Simply put, it's inconsistent at best: even taking pictures of still scenes, the camera isn't always capable of locking focusing without pre-focusing first, and many of the pictures I've snapped so far are unusable because of the absolutely abysmal focus. We're still exploring the issue to see if it might be a settings problem, but, sadly, this issue alone has the potential to ruin an otherwise excellent compact. As always, I'll withhold final judgment until all the test results are in.

Stay tuned for the final review to see how things turn out for the Optio!