Sometimes, when a new camera is launched onto the market, it is the result of a long period of research and product development, with teams of talented designers and engineers working with the latest exciting technologies, combining to produce a new camera that will astound and delight potential new owners. Other times though, they just slap a new sensor into last year's model and call it the Pentax Optio M40.
OK, that was a bit harsh and I apologise unreservedly, after all Pentax did all the R&D stuff when it launched the Optio M30 7-megapixel ultra-compact in January this year, and launching an 8-megapixel version six months later is really just a way of recouping the cost of that investment, but the fact remains that the Optio M40 is virtually identical to the M30 in every respect other than sensor resolution. It is also competing with virtually the same cameras at the same price point. The M40 is available for around £130, while the M30 has dropped in price to around £100. I wonder if I could get away with copying my review of the M30 and just updating the features table? No, I thought not.
I might as well have done though, because there's very little to say about the M40 that I haven't already said about the previous model. It has exactly the same aluminium body, with only a slight tweak to the finish of the front panel to distinguish between the two models. It has exactly the same control layout, and the same 6.3mm-18.9mm f/3.1-5.9 3x zoom flush-folding lens. The LCD monitor is still 2.5 inches, but is slightly upgraded to 150k pixels from 115k, although that is still relatively low resolution by recent standards. I was fairly complimentary about the M30's design, build quality and handling, and that opinion hasn't changed. The flared shape makes it easy to hold, and the control interface is nice and simple. The M40 is also 18mm thick and weighing 115g is actually 5g lighter than the M30, making it one of the slimmest and lightest cameras on the market. You can slip it into a shirt pocket and hardly know you're carrying it.