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Fuji FinePix 40i

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

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 11/03/2000

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.

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