Pentax Optio E40 - Pentax Optio E40


The body is still plastic of course, but it is very strong with no creaks of flexing even when squeezed hard. It is a lot more attractive than the previous model, and looks more expensive than it is. It’s much slimmer than the E30, measuring approximately 28mm at the thickest point, which isn’t bad for a camera powered by AA batteries. The thicker right-hand end makes the camera very comfortable to hold, and the raised detail on the front panel works to some extent as a finger grip. The loose battery hatch problem from the E30 has been solved, and the new cover has a strong metal hinge and closes securely. All in all the design, build quality and handling are very impressive for a budget camera.

With the new sensor comes a higher maximum ISO setting, up from 400 to 1000, but some of the camera’s other features are identical to the E30. The monitor screen is still a bit of a weak point, and appears to be the same 110,000-pixel unit from the E30. It’s a bit dim and lacking in contrast by recent standards, and the refresh rate could be a bit quicker, but it does the job – just. Several other features are also unchanged from the E30, as a glance at the virtually identical controls will reveal, but then these are features that are common to most of Pentax’s compact cameras. It has the useful Auto Picture mode, which automatically selects the appropriate scene mode for the type of picture being taken, as well as manual selection of program exposure, night scene and ten other scene modes, including the inevitable frame composite mode, panorama stitching and a high-ISO anti-shake mode.

As well as this, the menu options include wide area, spot and continuous AF, exposure compensation, and adjustable sharpness, saturation and contrast. The D-pad buttons control a two- or ten-second self timer, continuous shooting, 16-shot burst mode, several focus modes including macro, landscape, pan focus and even manual focus, and the usual selection of flash modes. It’s not an extensive list of features, but it is more than most low-cost digital cameras offer.