This page has been formatted to facilitate printout of the review.

Use your browser's "Back" button to return to the previous page, or the links at the top and bottom of this page to navigate to related information. If you have difficulty fitting the text on this page onto your printer output, simply resize your browser window to a narrower width and print again.




Remember us when it's time to buy!

Dave here: Have our reviews been helpful to you? (Is this article you're reading right now useful?) Preparing this level of information on as many products as we do is incredibly hard work, not to mention expensive. Things on the Internet may look like they're free, but they're not. (As a lot of big dot.com companies are finding out these days.) Somewhere, somebody has to pay to produce worthwhile content. YOU can help us though, by remembering us when it comes time to make your purchase. Would you consider coming back to our site and clicking-through to one of our advertisers to make your purchase? Every dollar you spend with one of our advertisers helps us directly (in affiliate fees) or indirectly (the advertiser will keep renewing their ad contract with us). To make it easy for you to support us, here's a URL you can visit, to see all our current advertisers, with links to click on that will register your visit to them as having come from our site. It's up to you where you buy, but Mike, Mike, Kim, Yazmin, Marti and I would be really grateful if you'd help us out by choosing one of our advertisers to purchase from.

Thank you for your support!
Dave Etchells, Founder & Publisher


Visit our "Buy Now" Page:
http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm





Back to Full Fuji FinePix 40i Review
Go to Fuji FinePix 40i Data Sheet
Go to Fuji FinePix 40i Pictures Page
Up to Imaging Resource Cameras Page


Fuji FinePix 40i

Look! There in your pocket! It's a camera! It's an MP3 player! It's... The Fujifilm Finepix 40i!

Review First Posted: 11/03/2000




MSRP $699 US

 

*
2.4 megapixel "SuperCCD" creates images up to 2400x1800 pixels
*
40mm equivalent lens, with up to 3.75x "digital zoom"
*
Seven-mode white balance, EV compensation for exposure flexibility
*
Built-in MP3 player function for portable music


Manufacturer Overview
Fujifilm has become one of the major players in the digital camera field, and this year in particular (2000) has had a number of major product announcements. Perhaps their most unusual device to date is the FinePix 40i, the subject of this review. Combining an MP3 player with a high-resolution SuperCCD-based digital camera, the 40i's sleek styling helps define a new category of "multimedia fashion accessory." The combination of music and pictures is a natural for the teen set, but the 40i seems aimed at a higher market, both through its price ($699 at release), and through its higher picture quality (a full 2.4 megapixel sensor, interpolated to create 4.3 megapixel files. We're not sure if its price point will fly with consumers, and we have a few quibbles on the user interface, but there's no question it's a neat toy, and we've always been strong advocates of the position that any camera you actually have with you takes more pictures than one sitting at home in a drawer. Given the added lure of portable music, the 40i is a good candidate to become a constant companion, and its good color and high resolution mean the pictures you snap are likely to be "keepers."


High Points



Executive Overview
Digital imaging and music are two of the hottest technological trends these days, with throngs of consumers taking advantage of advances in these new media. Fuji Photo Film USA combined the best of both worlds by pairing a compact digital camera with a portable MP3 player - the Fujifilm FinePix 40i. Measuring a mere 3.4 x 2.8 x 1.1 inches, the F40i slips easily into just about any pocket, and the clip-on remote control and inconspicuous mini earphones make it a very convenient vehicle for listening to MP3s on-the-go.

The 40I's imaging capabilities include a 2.4 megapixel Super CCD, which produces images as large as 2,400 x 1,800-pixels. Its built-in, 8.3mm, fixed-focal-length lens (equivalent to a 36mm lens on a 35mm camera) has a fixed aperture of f/2.8, and is protected by a sliding silver disk that retracts into the camera body when the power is switched to Record mode. We're always grateful for this design element, because it eliminates the problem of keeping up with a lens cap. Since there is no optical zoom on the 40i, Fujifilm included a 3.75X digital zoom. (An optical zoom feature, even a small one, is preferable since digital telephoto compromises image quality by decreasing resolution.) The eyelevel, real-image optical viewfinder provides a very tiny glass eyepiece, with an autofocus target in the center of the field of view, and an external LED light that reports camera status. A 1.8-inch color LCD monitor is provided for image composition, and an informative information display reports exposure settings (shutter speed and aperture) when the shutter release button is depressed halfway. (Though you don't actually have control over these settings, it's nice to know what the camera has selected.)

Exposure is automatically controlled at all times, despite the somewhat mislabeled "Manual" mode setting. Auto mode gives the camera complete control over all camera functions, with the exception of flash mode, digital telephoto, and the file size and quality settings. Switching to Manual mode merely provides the ability to change the white balance setting and exposure compensation; the camera continues to control shutter speed and aperture. White balance settings include Auto, Outdoors (sunny), Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent. Although there is no option for setting the white balance manually, the 40I's extensive range of white-balance settings does a good job of matching most light sources you may encounter. Exposure compensation is also adjustable in Manual mode from -1.5 to +1.5 EV in 0.3-step increments. The F40i's built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, and Slow Sync modes.

The F40i's light sensitivity is equivalent to ISO 200, which may account for the moderate noise level visible even in bright images. The shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1/4 second, meaning that the camera isn't designed for shooting in very low light situations, although we were able to obtain images in light as dim as one foot candle, or 11 lux. (About what you'd find in a typical nighttime city street scene.) The F40i also features a movie recording mode, which records up to 80 seconds of movies with sound, at approximately 10 frames per second. Movie images are automatically recorded at 320 x 240-pixel resolution, and provide a more limited 1.88X digital telephoto function.

The camera's MP3 player capabilities are activated by sliding the power switch to the Audio position, and connecting the wired remote control. The remote features a small clip for attaching to clothing, and its control buttons double for use with the MP3 player as well as certain camera functions. Using the remote control, you can start and stop MP3 playback, skip forward or backward to specific songs, adjust the volume, control the playing mode, and adjust the bass level. The MP3 playback modes allow you to play each song once, or select from several repeat options.

The F40i stores images on a SmartMedia card (a 16MB card is included with the camera), and SmartMedia "ID" cards (each one assigned a unique identification number) are required for MP3 playback. The accompanying Audio Downloading Software package converts MP3 files to .SQV encrypted files before downloading them to the SmartMedia card. When the files are downloaded, the software associates the downloaded MP3s with the SmartMedia card's ID number, presumably to prevent any further copying of the files to a friend's card. A USB cable is supplied with the camera, as well as a software CD that includes Fujifilm's utilities for downloading and organizing images, performing minor corrections, preparing images for printing, and playing back movie files. Also included are two applications (Mac and Windows) for creating MP3 files from audio CDs.

US and Japanese models are supplied with an NTSC cable for connection to a television set (European models come with the appropriate PAL cable and signal timing). The A/V cable, combined with the versatile remote control, makes the F40i a rather interesting presentation tool as well. Two Ni-MH rechargeable batteries (Ni-Cd can also be used) and a charger are supplied with the camera, and an AC adapter can be purchased as an accessory.

Overall, the F40i is a fun little camera, meant for on-the-go shooting. Its dual function as a camera and MP3 player make it very versatile, and its compact, portable shape ensures that it won't be left behind. Even with auto exposure limitations, the F40i does a great job in most normal shooting situations, producing nice image quality and color. The multi-purpose remote control is efficient and easy to use (as is everything other aspect of this camera), and the MP3 functionality is of high quality. We give it our nod of approval, as it's a unique device that should suit many active consumers.


Design
Fujifilm's new FinePix 40i is a "cute," pocket-friendly, point-and-shoot digicam, with understated but sophisticated design features. Its silver aluminum-magnesium body (a blue version is also available) is sturdy and lightweight, making the F40i reasonably durable, even for heavy travel. Measuring only 3.4 x 2.8 x 1.1 inches (85.5 x 71.0 x 28.5mm), and weighing a mere 5.5 ounces (155 grams), the F40i is about the size of a small audio cassette or mini-disc player (which may be what the camera's designers had in mind). While there's no question that the F40i's most unique feature is its MP3 player capabilities, we shouldn't overlook the Fujifilm Super CCD sensor, delivering 2.4 megapixels, with a primary color filter and an interwoven pixel pattern. Throw in a set of accompanying earphones and you have a very high-tech digital camera that just happens to record movies and play audio, too.



The front of the camera is sleek and fashionably functional, with a retractable Super Fujinon 8.3mm lens that is covered by a mechanical, brushed-aluminum lens cap when not in use. Once the Record or Movie modes are engaged, the lens cap slides out-of-view into the camera body and the lens telescopes out. Reminiscent of past FinePix models, this lens design eliminates any worry about losing the lens cap - always a bonus on such a portable camera. More subtle features include an optical viewfinder window, flash control sensor, self-timer lamp, built-in flash, and miniature microphone.



The side of the camera furthest from the lens holds an eyelet for attaching the wrist strap. The opposite side of the camera includes a speaker, A/V Out jack, USB connector, Remote connector, and DC-In jack - all of which are open and exposed. Presumably, Fujifilm left off a protective cover so that the jacks would be more accessible, without obtrusive rubber flaps or hinged doors.



The camera's top panel holds the shutter release button, Power/Audio switch, and the Flash mode button. All of the controls are smooth to the touch, with the exception of the Power/Audio switch, which is ridged for a secure finger grip.



The remaining exposure controls are on the camera's back panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and LCD monitor. There are six different controls: a ridged dial for selecting Photography (Record), Playback, and Movie mode; a digital zoom that doubles as the navigational arrow controls; a Display button for activating the LCD monitor; a Back button, and a Menu/OK button. The back panel layout is simple and easy to navigate - even the zoom and arrow controls take up less space than the round rocker buttons typically found on other digicams. A slight indentation on the right side of the back panel serves as a thumb grip, while a counter groove on the front side provides a place for your finger. Together, they provide a reasonably secure grip on the camera, although we suggest using the wrist strap, because of the camera's slippery body surface.



A metal tripod mount is provided on the camera's bottom panel, centered beneath the lens. Also accessible from the bottom panel is the memory card/battery compartment. The compartment door slides out and open to reveal the battery chambers and SmartMedia slot. While the compartment is too close to the tripod mount to allow for quick changes when the tripod is in use, this shouldn't be an issue for most consumers, who will be more likely to use the 40i for on-the-go shooting.



A wired remote control accompanies the camera, providing the only means of control over its MP3 playback capabilities. On the bottom of the remote is a small clip for attaching to clothing or pockets, the Bass and Mode buttons, and a Hold sliding switch which locks the remote's buttons to prevent accidental triggering. On top are the volume controls, skip buttons, and a Start/Stop playback button, along with a small display panel that reports MP3 information like the track number and battery power. Aside from its MP3 capabilities, the remote can also be used to control various image capture and playback functions.


Viewfinder/Monitor
For composing images, the F40i features an eye-level optical viewfinder and a 1.8-inch LCD monitor with a total pixel count of 110,000. The eyepiece for the optical viewfinder is located in the top left corner of the camera's back panel. It's small, but sharp, and includes a circular autofocus target in the center for setting exposure or focus lock. An LED lamp to the right of the viewfinder indicates the status of various camera functions. For example, a steady green light means the camera is ready to shoot, or if blinking, indicates that either autofocus or autoexposure is in progress (it can also signal a camera shake warning). A steady orange light means the image is being recorded to disk, or if blinking, the flash unit is charging. A red light indicates some kind of problem with the SmartMedia card, battery charger, or lens operation. Details of these red-light warnings are displayed on the LCD monitor.

The 1.8-inch, D-TFT, color LCD monitor is controlled by the Display button just over its top left corner. In Record mode, the Display button cycles through the LCD monitor's image and information displays. The first press activates the monitor image and shooting information (Auto/Manual mode, frame count, and pixel resolution); the second press brings up a framing grid to help you line up your shots; the third press turns off the grid and information display, leaving just the image; and the fourth press turns the LCD monitor off entirely. When the framing lines are displayed on the LCD monitor, you can use the right and left arrow buttons to scroll through three different guideline setups: Scenes (grid pattern), Group Shots (single frame), and Portrait (three vertical frames for close-up, head-and-shoulders, and half-body shots). When shooting in Manual mode, the LCD information screen changes, and the framing guideline is no longer available. The LCD monitor is never disabled in Manual mode. Instead, the image display disappears, but the exposure information remains on the monitor. Top of the screen readings include: Manual mode, frame count, and pixel resolution. Bottom readings include: Macro on/off, Timed Exposure on/off, Exposure Compensation EV setting, White Balance setting, and Exposure mode.

We found the F40i's optical viewfinder to be pretty tight, showing approximately 81.8 percent of the final image area at all three image sizes. We also noticed that images framed with the optical viewfinder shift toward the upper right corner of the image, and slant slightly toward the lower left corner. The LCD monitor was much more accurate, showing about 95.3 percent of the final image area, also at all three image sizes. Based on these tests, the F40i LCD monitor came pretty close to our ideal standard of 100 percent frame accuracy. We also noticed that images framed with the LCD monitor were slightly centered toward the lower left corner, with a very slight slant toward the lower right corner. When we recorded an image with the camera's 3.75X digital telephoto setting, we were unable to judge the final image area with much accuracy. The digital telephoto setting seemed to blur the image in the LCD display, making it difficult to precisely frame our target image. We also noticed increased noise and softer resolution with the digital zoom.

In Playback mode, the LCD monitor can display one full-size image at a time, or up to nine indexed thumbnail images on the screen. When the Playback mode is first initiated, the LCD automatically displays the last image captured, along with the operating mode, frame count, and date and time the image was taken. Press the Display button once and the exposure information disappears, leaving only the image capture; press it again, and the monitor switches to Index mode. While in full-frame image display, you can hold down the right arrow button to initiate a "Fast Forward" action. This function allows you to fast-forward through a stream of thumbnail images along the bottom of the screen, viewing them in sets of three. While in this mode, the last selected image is displayed full-size in the background. As you scroll through the images with the arrow keys, you can stop at a new selection, discontinue the fast forward function, and whatever image you have highlighted will be the new full-frame image display. You can zoom in on a playback image by using the zoom toggle switch in the upper right corner of the back panel. A Zoom bar on the left side of the monitor indicates the degree of zoom. Press the right and left arrow keys to scroll to different parts of your enlarged image.


Optics
The FinePix F40i features an 8.3mm, fixed-focal-length, Fujinon EBC lens (equivalent to a 36mm wide-angle lens on a 35mm SLR). It has a fixed aperture of f/2.8, which is large by normal lens standards, but should provide adequate depth of field for such a short focal length lens. The focal range is 1.6 feet (50cm) to infinity in normal shooting mode and 2.3 inches to 1.6 feet (6 to 50cm) in Macro mode. (Note: The Macro feature is accessible through the Record menu by using the right arrow button to scroll to the Focus Menu option, toggling the Zoom switch up or down to select On or Off, and then pressing the OK button.) The F40i features Autofocus capability, which means that it automatically focuses on the object in the center of the viewfinder or monitor. You can lock the camera's focus (AF lock) on an off-center subject by reframing the image so that your target subject is in the center of the viewfinder, then holding down the shutter button halfway, returning to your original composition, and firing the shutter. The Autoexposure (AE) lock function works in the same manner.

Although the F40i does not feature an optical zoom lens, it does provide a digital zoom function in two of the camera's three file sizes: 1,280 x 960 or 640 x 480 pixels. The maximum zoom capability varies with file size - 1.88X for 1,280 x 960 pixels and 3.75X for 640 x 480 pixels - and is controlled by the Zoom toggle switch in the upper right corner of the camera's back panel. A Zoom bar on the left side of the LCD monitor indicates the degree of zoom as you toggle. But remember, while the Digital Zoom function does "zoom-in" on your subject, the effect is created by enlarging the center of the CCD image, not by increasing the focal length of the lens. Therefore, it will degrade the quality of your image to some degree, depending on the amount of zoom. Image degradation usually appears in the form of increased noise and/or softer resolution. (We would prefer to see a minimal amount of an optical zoom provide, rather than just straight digital enlargement.)

Optical distortion on the F40i is moderately high, as we observed approximately 0.43 percent barrel distortion in our testing. Chromatic aberration, on the other hand, is low, with only about 0.5 pixels of coloration on each side of the black target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight color fringe around objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)


Exposure
The F40i offers very limited exposure control, operating in either Automatic or Manual modes. Don't let the nomenclature fool you. In Automatic mode, the camera controls everything except Flash mode, File Size/Quality, and Digital Zoom. In Manual mode, the camera continues to control the aperture and shutter speed settings, adding only Exposure Compensation and White Balance to the menu of adjustable options. You can access Menu items while the camera is in Record mode by using the right and left arrow keys to scroll through options on the LCD monitor. Flash settings are the only functions controlled outside the Record menu, by depressing a button on top of the camera.

Light sensitivity on the F40i is fixed at an ISO 200 equivalency and aperture is fixed at f/2.8. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1/4 second, limiting the camera's low-light shooting capabilities. (We were able to get images as low as one foot candle in our testing, which equates to a typical city night scene). Exposure compensation, which is available in Manual exposure mode only, is adjustable from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure values (EV) in 0.3-step increments, but it is automatically disabled when shooting with the flash in Auto or Red-Eye Reduction modes, and in Forced Flash mode when shooting a very dark scene.

The F40i's White Balance adjustment (available in Manual exposure mode only) is controlled within the Record menu. Options include: Auto, Outdoors (sunny), Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent. Like the Exposure Compensation mode, the White Balance setting is automatically disabled when you use the flash. Another option selected from within the Record menu, the camera's 10-second Self-Timer can then be activated by fully depressing the shutter button to trigger the 10-second countdown. The 10-second countdown can be visibly tracked with the countdown bar on the LCD monitor, or a small self-timer lamp next to the lens on the camera's front panel (the light is solid for the first five seconds and blinks for the last five seconds).

The camera's wired remote control (included as standard equipment with the camera) not only activates the camera's MP3 and image playback functions, but also allows you to remotely capture images - a useful feature when using the camera's Self-Timer mode.


Flash
The F40i's built-in flash features five operating modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, and Slow Synchro. The Auto mode puts the camera in control of when to fire the flash, based on existing light levels and exposure readings. Red-Eye Reduction mode fires a small pre-flash before the real flash to reduce the red-eye effect; Forced Flash triggers the flash with every exposure; and Suppressed Flash completely disables the flash function. The Slow Synchro setting combines normal flash with a slow shutter speed, which allows more ambient light exposure in night scenes, and helps to balance the subject's flash exposure with its darker surroundings.

Fujifilm estimates that the F40i's flash is effective from 1.3 to 8.2 feet (0.4 to 2.5 meters), which is consistent with our findings. In our Flash Range test, we noticed that the brightest flash exposure was achieved at eight feet from the target, with flash intensity decreasing with each additional 12 inches, all the way out to 14 feet.


Movie Mode
A Movie mode with sound recording can be accessed through the mode dial on the back of the camera (marked by the red movie camera symbol). The F40i allows you to record up to 80 seconds of moving images at a time, at approximately 10 frames per second. The resolution is automatically fixed at 320 x 240 pixels in Movie mode. Digital Zoom is available in this mode, but at a more limited, 1.88X enlargement value (approximately 36 to 68mm equivalent). Remember that digital zoom can affect image quality by increasing noise levels and softening the image, although in the already-reduced resolution of Movie mode makes the point somewhat moot. Movie recording starts and stops with a full press of the shutter release button, and a recording time bar display on the camera's LCD monitor, enables you to track the remaining time. Exposure compensation and white balance are both unavailable in Movie mode.


MP3 Playback
Probably the most interesting function on the F40i is its MP3 playback capability. The camera comes with a set of mini earphones and a wired remote control that can clip onto a shirt or pants pocket. The Power/Audio switch on top of the camera puts the F40i into MP3 playback mode by sliding the switch to the Audio position (left). The wired remote must be inserted into the Remote jack on the left side of the camera to control Playback, Pause, Volume, Rewind, Fast Forward, and Skip functions. The back of the remote features the Bass and Mode buttons, as well as a Hold switch. The Hold switch locks the buttons and prevents them from being accidentally pressed. The remote also features a small display panel that reports battery power, bass level, playback indicator, mode display, track number, volume, and the Audio mode icon.

Several MP3 playback modes are available: Normal, Repeat All Tracks, and Repeat Track. The Normal mode plays all of the tracks on the SmartMedia card, then stops at the end. Repeat All Tracks plays each of the tracks and then repeats them, until you signal the playback to stop. Repeat Track continuously repeats the same track, until it is stopped. The Bass button also offers three modes: Normal, Bass 1, and Bass 2. Normal keeps the bass at a normal level, while Bass 1 and Bass 2 incrementally increase the bass sound. The F40i comes with MP3 downloading software and requires SmartMedia with ID cards for playback, both of which are discussed later in this review.

We feel the 40i's MP3 capabilities were somewhat of a mixed blessing, but at the same time, don't think it entirely deserves some of the knocks it's taken from other reviewers in this area. One major peeve we have with it probably isn't Fuji's fault at all, but is more an issue to lay at the feet of the RIAA and others in the music industry seeking to impose technological solutions to copyright-infringement problems: We were quite surprised to discover that we couldn't simply drag-copy MP3 files to the memory card using a card reader, but rather had to go through a somewhat laborious process of "encoding" them onto the card using Fuji's provided software. This ties the files to a specific memory card, reducing the potential for copyright infringement, through users copying files between each other's cards. Frankly, this is an absurd limitation, given that MP3 files currently float freely all over the internet with no such restrictions. - And since you're likely already starting out with an MP3 file anyway (one that's not encrypted or tied to a specific card) what's the point? We're not sure who's idea this was, or who's enforcing the need for it, but it strikes us as one of more pointless attempts at copyright protection we've seen yet. (For the record, we're actually strong proponents of artists being paid for their work, and are generally in the anti-Napster camp, but this really struck us as bordering on the absurd.)

The second major beef we had with the 40i's MP3 capability is that it's very awkward to manage memory card space between MP3 files and camera images. We can envision setting out with a card full of music, and subsequently deleting songs as we took more pictures, to make room for the photos. The F40i doesn't allow this, as the camera only gives you the option of deleting all audio files, or none: There's no way to selectively toss out one or two of the files from your card. In our minds, this is a glaring user-interface omission that we'd like to see corrected in future models. (One workaround though, would be to simply carry a second card for your images, and swap them in and out as needed. A bit cumbersome, but the SmartMedia cards are so tiny, you can easily carry one in your wallet without noticeable bulk.)

Our third gripe has more to do with the realities of product pricing and the memory demands of MP3 files than it does any inherent limitation: The 16 MB SmartMedia card included with the camera is just too small to be useful for audio uses. You really need to plan on buying a 32 or better yet 64 MB card to be able to effectively mix audio and pictures, and that represents a hefty additional investment.

Having roundly criticized the 40i, we'll now come to its defense: Some reviewers have given the 40i bad marks for its audio capabilities, because it only supports a maximum bit rate of 128 Kbps: The feeling is that true "CD quality" requires at least 160 or more likely 192 Kbps. (Kbps stands for kilobits per second, a measure of how much data is used to construct each second of live audio. Higher numbers mean higher sound quality.) While we personally tend to digitize our own CDs to 160 Kbps for listening on our computers, we don't think the 40i deserves any special criticism for the 128K limitation: Many "high end" products (we're thinking of a particular "MP3 Jukebox" used in high-end car-audio installations) share the same limitation. We don't intend here to engage in a full-fledged debate over the merits of various bit rates, but merely want to point out that 128K is a limitation found in many products, many of which cost more than the 40i. For a portable device, we find 128 Kbits/second quite acceptable.


Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you depress the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and it can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is rarely reported by the manufacturer or other review sources, and because it can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure shutter lag using an Imaging Resource proprietary electronic test setup.

G1 Timings
Operation
Time (secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
1.56
Time to first shot (Quite fast.)
Shutdown
0.61
Time until lens retracts and camera shuts down. (No processing pending.) (Quite fast)
Play to Record, first shot
1.27
Pretty fast
Record to play (max/min res)
1.66/0.75
Faster than average
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.70
A bit faster than average
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.21
Faster than average
Cycle time, max/min res
1.98/1.33
Faster than average

In our testing of the FinePix 40i, it proved surprisingly fast in all aspects of its operation. It started up very quickly, switched modes fast, showed an excellent cycle time between shots, and slightly better than average shutter lag. For a "hybrid" device, it showed very good speed in all its camera functions.


Operation and User Interface
The F40i's user interface is uncomplicated and easy to learn. We barely needed the manual to perform the camera's basic functions. There are only a few exposure adjustments available, and these are controlled through the LCD menu. Flash and LCD display Off/On are controlled via external buttons, as are the Digital Zoom, Menu/OK, and Back controls (used to exit the Menu selection mode). While we normally like to see less reliance on the LCD menu system, we also understand Fujifilm's need to maintain minimal external elements with this compact model. The LCD menus themselves are also very simple, and are navigable via the arrow buttons on the back panel. The tiny, wired remote is also very straightforward, and we enjoyed its remote image capture and playback utilities, in addition to the MP3 control.


Control Enumeration


Shutter Button: Located on the very right side of the camera's top panel, this button sets exposure and focus when depressed halfway, and fires the shutter when fully depressed. In Movie mode, pressing this button starts and stops the movie and sound recording functions. When operating in Self-Timer mode, a full press of the shutter button triggers a 10-second countdown.


Power/Audio Switch: Located to the left of the shutter button, this switch powers on the camera when pushed to the right, or activates the MP3 playback mode when pushed to the left. When you activate the camera's power, the lens cover retracts and the lens extends slightly into its operating position (these actions are reversed when the camera is powered off). Sliding the switch into the Audio position activates the MP3 player capability.


Flash Button: The smallest control on the camera's top panel, this button is marked with a traditional flash symbol. By pressing it sequentially, you cycle through the following modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, and Slow Synchro.


Mode Dial: located to the right of the optical eye-level viewfinder on the camera's back panel, this ribbed dial controls the camera's operating mode. It has three positions, each marked with standard record, playback, and movie icons:



Left and Right Arrow Buttons: Located in the top right corner of the back panel, these two buttons serve multiple functions. In any Record mode menu, they navigate through available options, and the Zoom control (below) is used to scroll through the settings within option windows. In Playback mode, these two buttons scroll through captured images and index displays.


Digital Zoom Control: Centered between the left and right arrow buttons, this toggle switch controls the digital zoom (up to 3.75X in Photography Record mode and up to 1.88X in Movie Record mode). In any Record menu, this toggle switch acts as the up and down arrows when selecting menu options. In Playback mode, it controls the movie playback function. When viewing captured still images, this toggle controls the Playback zoom feature, which allows you to enlarge an image to examine fine details. Once the captured image is enlarged, all four arrow buttons allow you to scroll within the image to view different areas


Display Button: Located above the top left corner of the LCD monitor, this button controls the LCD display. In Record mode, the Display button cycles through the LCD monitor's image and information displays. When in Auto Exposure mode, the first press activates the monitor image and shooting information; the second press brings up a framing grid to help you line up your shots; the third press turns off the grid and information display, leaving just the image; and the fourth press turns the LCD monitor off entirely. In Manual mode, the information display is automatically activated when the camera turns on. Pressing the Display button once brings up the image and center target, the second press removes all information, leaving the image alone, and the third press returns to the information display. In Playback mode, the button cycles through the normal image display, information display, and index display.


Back Button: To the right of the Display button, the Back button backs out of menu changes and menu screens.


Menu/OK Button: The far right button above the LCD monitor is the Menu/OK control. It activates the option menus in Still and Playback camera modes. Once activated, the right and left arrow keys are used to scroll from one menu to the next, and the zoom control is used to select different options within the menus. One the menu option is selected, the OK button is used to set or confirm the selection.


Remote Control Enumeration

Record/Play Button: Located on the right side of the display panel, the Record/Play button serves in multiple capacities. In Photography Record mode, it doubles as a remote control shutter release and a playback button. In Audio mode, it serves as the Play/Pause/Stop button for listening to MP3 files.

Volume Buttons: The Volume control buttons are used to adjust the output of the MP3 player.

Left and Right Arrow Buttons: In Photography mode the arrow buttons (located just below the volume controls) are used to zoom in and out of an image with the Digital Zoom. In Playback mode, the arrow buttons are used to scroll through displayed images. In Audio mode, the arrows operate like comparable music players, skipping backward and forward through available MP3 tracks.

Bass Button: Located on the bottom of the remote control, this button adjusts the bass level of the MP3 player. Normal mode keeps the bass at normal levels, while Bass 1 and Bass 2 incrementally increase the amount of bass.

Mode Button: Directly beside the Bass button, the Mode button controls the MP3 playback mode. Normal mode plays all of the tracks in sequence, then stops at the end. Repeat All Tracks mode plays each of the tracks and then repeats them, until you discontinue the playback. Repeat Track continuously repeats the same track, until you stop it.

Hold Switch: Opposite the Mode and Bass buttons, this sliding switch locks and unlocks the controls on the Remote control. This prevents settings from being accidentally changed while the remote is being handled.


Camera Modes and Menus

Photography Record Mode: This mode is accessed when the camera is powered on and the mode dial is set to the red camera symbol. Two exposure modes are available: Automatic and Manual. The Auto mode controls all camera functions except Flash mode, File Size/Quality, and Digital Zoom. Manual mode allows you to also adjust White Balance and Exposure Compensation. The following settings menu is available in Photography Record mode, with some options accessible only in Manual exposure mode:


Playback Mode: The traditional green playback symbol marks this mode on the mode dial. You can scroll through captured images, or delete, protect, enlarge, or resize them. You can also set them up for printing, and view them in a slide show or index display. The settings menu offers the following choices:


Movie Mode: Marked with a red movie camera symbol on the Mode dial, Movie mode allows you to record up to 80 seconds of moving images and sound at a time, at approximately 10 frames per second. Resolution is automatically set to 320 x 240 pixels, and no settings menu is available. Digital zoom is available up to 1.88X.

MP3 Playback Mode: This mode is accessed by sliding the Power/Audio switch toward the Audio position, and by attaching the wired remote control to the camera. The mini-earphones must also be inserted, in order to hear the audio playback. The wired remote controls the playback, volume, and skip functions. The back of the remote features the Bass and Mode buttons, as well as a Hold switch. The Hold switch locks the buttons and prevents them from being accidentally pressed. The remote also features a small display panel that reports battery power, bass level, playback mode, track number, and volume. Several playback modes are available: Normal, Repeat All Tracks, and Repeat Track. The Normal mode plays all of the tracks on the SmartMedia card, then stops at the end. Repeat All Tracks plays each of the tracks and then repeats them, until you signal the playback to stop. Repeat Track continuously repeats the same track, until stopped. The Bass button also offers three modes: Normal, Bass 1, and Bass 2. Normal keeps the bass at a normal level, while Bass 1 and Bass 2 incrementally increase the bass sound.



Image Storage and Interface
The F40i uses SmartMedia cards (3.3v) for image storage, and a 16MB card is supplied with the camera (upgrades are available up to 64MB). You'll have to use ID coded SmartMedia cards to take advantage of the F40i's MP3 player function, as the MP3 uploading software associates the transferred MP3 files with the SmartMedia card ID, to prevent you from copying MP3s to another card. Through the accompanying software, MP3 files are converted into an encrypted .SQV file, and then uploaded to the DSAM directory on the SmartMedia card. Approximately 20 minutes of MP3 audio can be recorded on a 16MB card. The F40i only supports MP3s with bit rates of up to 128 kbps, slightly lower quality than 160 or 190 kbps. Still, the 128 kbps means smaller file sizes, and is considered close enough to CD quality by most consumers.

The entire SmartMedia card can be write-protected by placing a small sticker on the indicated area of the card. Write-protection stickers can only be used once, as they must be clean to be effective. Individual images can be protected through the Playback menu, which prevents them from being accidentally deleted (except through card formatting).

The F40i offers three resolution sizes for still images: 2,400 x 1,800, 1,280 x 960, or 640 x 480 pixels, with Fine, Normal, and Basic JPEG compression levels. The 2,400 x 1,800 pixel file size can be saved in Fine (7:1), Normal (15:1), or Basic (38:1) compression ratios. The 1,280 x 960 file size can be saved in Fine or Normal compression ratios, and the 640 x 480 files can be saved in Normal compression ratio only. Movie files are saved in Motion JPEG format, at 320 x 240-pixel resolution. In addition to write-protection, deletion, and print setup, the F40i's Playback menu also provides a resizing utility, to resize high-resolution images to smaller sizes.

A USB cable and interface software are supplied with the camera, for high-speed connection to a PC or Macintosh.

Following are the approximate number of storable images and compression ratios for a 16MB card:

 

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
Fine
Normal
Basic
2,400 x 1,800 Images 9 19 47
Approx.
Compression
7:1 15:1 38:1
1,280 x
960
Images 25 49 N/A
Approx.
Compression
6:1 11:1 N/A
640
x
480
Images N/A 165 N/A
Approx.
Compression
N/A 9:1 N/A

 


Video Out
US and Japanese versions of the F40i come with an NTSC video cable for connection to a television set (European models come with the appropriate PAL cable and signal timing). Images can be reviewed on the television screen or recorded to video tape. You can also use the television as an enlarged version of the LCD display for composing and capturing images. The output cable is a true A/V cable, as it fans out into two RCA jacks, one for video, and one for audio. Plugged into any video monitor (or TV with direct video and audio inputs), the audio capabilities of the F40i, and the remote control, make for an unusually effective portable presentation device.



Power
The F40i uses two AA Ni-MH or Ni-Cd batteries for power. The camera comes with two Ni-MH batteries and a charger, and an AC adapter which can be purchased as an optional accessory. Fujifilm estimates that two Ni-MH batteries should provide about 80 minutes of operating time with the LCD monitor on, and about 230 minutes with it off. Alkaline batteries can be used if necessary, but they do not provide enough power to run the camera with the LCD monitor. An automatic shutoff function, controlled through the Setup portion of the Record menu, signals the camera to shut itself off after a certain period of inactivity.

 

Operating Mode
Power Drain
Capture Mode, w/LCD
980 mA
Capture Mode, no LCD
350 mA
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
990 mA
Half-pressed w/o LCD
670 mA
Memory Write (transient)
1160 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
1230 mA
Image Playback
620 mA

 

Because it only packs two AA cells, power consumption and battery life is really the FinePix 40i's Achilles' heel: Because the cell voltage is lower, the camera's circuitry must draw much higher currents to obtain the same power than as if it were working from a four-cell pack. The net of this is that battery life in the 40i is rather short. (We need to do some explicit battery-life testing, but based on our power drain measurements above and past experience, we'd say that Fuji's claim of 80 minutes of run time with the LCD display on is rather optimistic: We'd be very surprised to find a set of fresh batteries lasting more than 60 minutes.


Included Software
A Utilities software CD accompanies the F40i and is compatible with Windows (98 or 2000) and Macintosh (OS 8.5.1 to 9.0) operating systems. Included on the CD are a USB driver, Exif Viewer, DP Editor, Audio Downloading Software, Real Jukebox Plus (for Windows), MacMP3 Limited Edition (for Macintosh), Exif Launcher (Windows only, to launch the Exif Viewer software), and Adobe ActiveShare (Windows only, for sharing images over the Web).

The Exif Viewer software allows you to index images on the digital camera, as well as view and print images on the SmartMedia card. Exif Viewer also provides limited image correction tools. DP Editor is a print ordering application that allows you to set up images for printing on any DPOF compatible device. The Audio Downloading Software application provides utilities for downloading MP3 files stored on your computer to the SmartMedia card (with ID), for playing on the F40i. Real Jukebox Plus and MacMP3 Limited Edition allow you to create MP3 files from audio CDs. Audio Downloading Software converts MP3 files to an encrypted .SQV format before uploading them to the DSAM directory of the SmartMedia card. The software associates the transferred MP3 file with the SmartMedia card ID, to prevent any further copying of files.


Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, the following comments are condensed to summarize our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Fujifilm FinePix 40i's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Overall, the F40i performed better than we initially expected, given its lack of exposure features. Color balance looked great throughout most of our testing, although the camera's white balance system had some trouble with the incandescent lighting used for our indoor portraits. We typically set the white balance on automatic, which handled most of our light sources with ease. The F40i did a fairly good job with the Davebox test target, reproducing the large color blocks with near accuracy, and distinguishing the tonal variations of the Q60 target up to the "B" range. Color in our outdoor portrait and exterior house images were pretty accurate as well. Overall, the F40i does a nice job with color, which has typically been a Fujifilm strong point.

Resolution on the F40i also looked great, with a resolution value that we determined to fall between 900 and 1,000 lines per picture height in both the horizontal and vertical directions....?

The F40i operates in automatic exposure control at all times, with the Manual mode providing control of white balance and exposure compensation, in addition to the flash mode. The F40i performed as we expected it would in low-light tests, providing bright, useable images only as low as one foot candle (11 lux). Since this corresponds to a typical city night scene, we think the F40i should handle a reasonable amount of city night shooting. Noise was moderately high at the lower light levels, but not too bad overall. (We direct readers to Mike Chaney's excellent Qimage Pro program, for a tool with an amazing ability to remove image noise without significantly affecting detail.)

The F40i's optical viewfinder is pretty tight, showing approximately 81.8 percent of the final image area at all three image sizes. We noted that images framed with the optical viewfinder shift toward the upper right corner of the image, and slant slightly toward the lower left corner. The LCD monitor was much more accurate, showing about 95.3 percent of the final image area, also at all three image sizes. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the F40i did a pretty good job in that category. Images framed with the LCD monitor were slightly centered toward the lower left corner, with a very slight slant toward the lower right corner. We were unable to judge the frame accuracy of the camera at the 3.75X digital telephoto setting, because the digital telephoto setting blurs the image in the LCD display, making it hard to precisely frame the target. We also noticed increased noise and a softer image quality with the digital zoom.

The F40i does an excellent job in the macro category, capturing an impressive minimum area of just 2.26 x 1.69 inches (57.35 x 43.02mm). Color balance is slightly green, but detail and resolution are both very nice (although the brooch appears a little softer than the rest of the image). The F40i's built-in flash does a pretty good job of throttling down for the macro shot, but we detected uneven distribution and a rather dark shadow in the top right corner.

Though the F40i doesn't offer much exposure control, it still did a nice job with most of our tests. Given its limitations, we think it performed very well, capturing great color and image quality. Its macro capabilities are definitely worth mentioning, as is the F40i's great resolution.


Conclusion
Fujifilm's combination digital camera and MP3 player definitely caught our attention. Initially, we didn't expect much from the FinePix F40i, because of its very limited exposure controls, however we were pleasantly surprised at its test performances. The camera does a wonderful job in average shooting situations, with great image quality and color. Combined with its very portable design and fun MP3 player capabilities, the F40i should be a popular new arrival on the digicam scene.


<<FinePix 40i Sample Images | Additional Resources and Other Links>>

Reader Comments!
Questions, comments or controversy on this product? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about the Fuji FinePix 40i, or add comments of your own!



Site Map | About Us | | Advertising | Privacy Policy | Usage Policy | Home

Imaging Resource © 1998 - 2014. Material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted or otherwise used without the prior written consent of .