I was surprised by the price of the F40fd. It has the feel of an expensive quality product, but in fact it currently retails at only around £180. This compares well with other high-end seven and eight megapixel compacts such as the Canon PowerShot A570 IS (£180), Olympus FE-250 (£190), Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W90 (£220), Pentax Optio T30 (£220), Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX30 (£230) and Ricoh Caplio R6 (£230).
The design and layout of the camera is of a very high standard. Handling is very comfortable, with the slightly concave main mode dial doubling as a thumb grip, while the detailing on the front of the body provides a raised finger grip. The controls are solidly mounted, and overall build quality is superb. My only real problem with the control system is the ‘F’ button, which is usually reserved for frequently used shooting options such as ISO setting, exposure compensation and the like. However on the F40fd for some reason the top item on the F menu is power management, something which would be more sensibly located on the last page of the set-up menu.
Overall performance is unfortunately not as good as I’d initially hoped. Start-up time is over three seconds, which is slow for a camera in this class. Shot-to-shot time in single-shot mode is also slow at a round three seconds, while in long-period continuous mode it can only manage a shot every two seconds. It has two additional ‘burst’ modes, if you can call saving two pictures a burst. The movie mode is adequate, with VGA resolution at 30fps, and battery life is good too, with a big 1150mAh Li-ion rechargeable providing over 300 shots per charge.
Fortunately it has other features which go some way to compensating for the slow performance. The autofocus system is nice and fast, and operates quickly and reliably even in very low light. It has an AF assist lamp with a range of several meters, so it’s a good choice for social photography. There are a couple of special shooting modes that will come in handy in this role too. The most obvious is the face detection mode, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, automatically detects any human face in the frame, focuses on it and adjusts exposure to capture it properly. Fuji’s system is one of the better ones, but like all face detection systems it isn’t infallible, so it’s as well to check it’s focused on the right thing before taking the shot.