The Fuji T400 is a 16MP budget compact that comes with an extended 10x optical zoom. This elevates it somewhat above the mass of 4x and 5x budget compacts that dominate the £80-100 budget end of the market. But does the T400's extended reach come at a price. Let's take a closer look and find out.
The T400 is built around a 1/1.2in CCD-type sensor that delivers 16MP of effective resolution. Whereas CCD sensors keep overall costs down on account of being cheaper to produce, they aren't generally as effective in low light as their backside-illuminated CMOS cousins. Consequently, the T400 offers a somewhat limited sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 1600, along with an extended setting of ISO 3200 at 4MP.
The Fujinon 10x optical zoom offers the 35mm focal range equivalent of 28-280mm. The maximum aperture at 28mm is f/3.4, which rises incrementally to f/5.6 at 280mm. In use the extended focal range that the 10x optical zoom of the T400 enjoys over its 4x and 5x budget compact rivals is really quite noticeable, enabling you to bring faraway objects much closer than you would otherwise. In addition, the T400 also features built in sensor-shift image stabilisation technology that helps to keep images sharp at extended focal settings and slower shutter speeds.
As might be expected shooting modes are all of the fully automatic point-and-shoot variety. The one that we suspect will get the most use is the automatic Scene Recognition mode. When used in this mode the camera analyses the scene before it and then automatically selects the most appropriate settings.
In addition, there's also a basic Automatic mode alongside a Program mode that gives you some control over a limited number of settings including ISO and White Balance. Last but not least are a selection of 17 Scene modes, which includes a useful and fun one-touch Panorama mode; simply sweep the camera in a predetermined direction with the shutter button held down and the camera will stitch the resultant images into a single, ultra-wideangle image.
While the T400 does have the ability to shoot High Definition movies at 30fps, maximum quality is pegged at 720p HD, rather than the higher quality 1080p Full HD. That's pretty much par for the course for a budget compact costing less than £100 though. Sound is recorded in mono via a microphone on the front of the body - or at least it should be. On our review sample we were unable to record any sound at all due to a faulty microphone.
One area where the T400 does show the limitations of a budget compact is in its 3in, 230k-dot rear LCD monitor. While 230k-dots is pretty standard fare for a sub-£100 compact, the quality of the display is nonetheless really rather poor. While it's functional enough for composing your images with, viewing images you've already shot in Playback mode is a pretty unrewarding experience as the displayed images lack any real detail or contrast. Indeed, some users might even be tempted to delete perfectly good images on account of the T400's rear LCD screen doing them such a disservice. Viewing angles are extremely limited too, with just a slight rotation of the camera resulting in a further loss of screen detail.
Overall build quality is perfectly adequate if a little uninspiring. The outer shell of the T400 is constructed almost entirely from plastic, save for a couple of metallic strips on the top and sides and a metallic shutter release button. Still, that's very much to be expected at this price.
The design is kept simple and (mostly) effective, with the T400's 10x optical zoom cleverly housed inside what is a relatively small body. While the lens isn't completely flush to the body it only protrudes by about 10mm, making the camera easily pocketable in a pair of jeans or shirt pocket. There's no finger grip on the front of the camera, which makes it a little slippery in the hand though. There aren't many buttons, but what is there is well spaced and easy to reach.