On the negative side the budget pricing has meant you get a plastic body and no SD card supplied, while power comes courtesy of those two bog-standard AAs -- but you get what you pay for, and with the Optio E40 you ain't paying much.
Image colours are naturalistic and there's a reasonable amount of shadow detail captured, with the camera underexposing to preserve this. Though this means certain shots benefit from an application of Levels in Photoshop, there's also a range of in-camera editing effects for novices.
Unsurprisingly there's pixel fringing evident between areas of high contrast, but it's no better or worse an offender than many. Similarly, while images at ISO 1,000 are grainy, noise is reasonably well controlled and doesn't render shots throwaway. All in all, this is a respectable performance for the price.
The E40 looks and feels like a budget model, but that's exactly what it is, at around £100. Having said that, its performance is on a par with, or betters, some 8-megapixel models costing twice as much.
So if you can live with the plastic and those AAs -- or indeed consider the latter an advantage -- and aren't bothered about two many bells and whistles, then the E40 is the very definition of a best buy for the undemanding user or digital virgin.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire