The 8.3-megapixel Fujifilm F40fd is one of the first FinePix cameras to feature dual memory card compatibility, as well as a face detection function. With a high ISO rating promising good pictures in low light, is it worth its £150 price tag?
One of the best things about this camera is its dual memory card format capability. The F40fd holds both Fujfilm's own xD cards and the cheaper Secure Digital (SD) format, which we applaud. But quick card changes while mounted on a tripod are out of the question as you can't get to the battery easily.
The F40fd feels solidly weighty, and the gunmetal version certainly looks good compared to the anonymous overall styling of rest of the FinePix range. It's great for straight-out-of-the-box shooting, with a clear control layout and easily navigable menus.
Large pop-up captions, like semi-transparent speech bubbles, explain each function on the bright LCD screen. Unfortunately these can't be turned off, which becomes irritating when you are used to the camera settings, but while you're finding your way about the easily readable text is extremely helpful -- it even makes sense of buttons with multiple uses by spelling out what is available in your current mode. In image stabilisation mode, for example, there are reduced flash options and the ISO is fixed to auto, but all this is explained on the screen.
This friendly interface more than outweighs the minor gripes we have with the design, such as the fact that some of the buttons -- particularly the playback button -- don't do what you'd expect them to. We found the mode dial slightly flat and tricky to rotate, too.
Face detection may be the headline feature, but it isn't perfect. You toggle it on and off with a discrete button and it automatically focuses on up to ten faces. Disappointingly, face detection struggled when there was more than one face in the frame -- it tended to hunt around picking up random objects, such as, on one occasion, another camera.
The F40fd can work out whether pictures should be rotated to portrait or landscape by the orientation of the faces in them, however sometimes this feature doesn't work. When several faces appear in the image, the camera is clever enough to be able to tell a printer to cough up one print per person. We're not sure why you'd want this feature, but it's there.
Unfortunately, the image stabilisation mode isn't on all the time. When you select it, the F40fd simply sets a low shutter speed and locks most of the other settings accordingly. This copes well with even low-light conditions, but does limit your manual control in this mode.