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CASIO QV-R40 Digital Camera Review

Introduction: The Casio QV-R40 is a small fast 4MP digital camera with a 3x Optical zoom lens (F=8-24, 1:2.8-4.9). The camera boast a 1 second startup time (you may need to turn off the startup animation!) and is housed in a small aluminium alloy body. The camera has a 5-point auto-focus system. It has 10mb built into the camera and takes SD/MMC expansion cards. The camera takes 2 AA batteries, and even comes with 2 high power 2100Ni-MH rechargable batteries! Check Latest Price at Amazon.co.uk

As well as this, the camera has a 10cm macro mode, on-screen live histogram, manual focus mode, a 320/240/15fps movie mode (without sound unfortunately), a 1.6" 84,940 pixels TFT, plus several scene modes (21 built in). The camera is very small 88(W) x 60.5(H) x 32.7(D) mm (excluding projections), and weight is approximately 160g (excluding battery and accessories).

This camera has now been superceded (replaced) by the CASIO QV-R41, which is the same as this camera, except the R41 has a 2" TFT screen. The reason why I am reviewing the QV-R40 is because dixons.co.uk have recently been selling refurbished QV-R40's for £99 - which is about £73 less that you can currently buy the R40 new, and about £100 less than you can buy the R41 new!

More information visit: CASIO QV-R40 Manufacturers page.

The Camera: It's pretty small!


Front Off - Flash, optical viewfinder, red light (for self timer), auto-focus 3x optical lens (closed, with built in cover).


Front On - lens extended.


Back, top left: Optical viewfinder, next to that is the play button, and the record button to quickly switch between both modesl. Menu brings up the menu system. Then there is the 4 way control, with SET in the middle. Display turns the display on/off and changes the amount of information displayed when on.


Bottom, flap open, with 2 AA batteries, SD/MMC memory card slot and under the lens is the metal tripod mount.


Side - under the cover the Power AC in which doesn't stick out, and camera strap loop.


Underneath the plastic / rubber cover on the side you'll find: the USB socket. The rubber cover is decently attached - it doesn't feel like it's going to fall off, but when closed it does stick out of the camera.


Battery and charger are included with the casio. (Macro photo taken by Casio - too close with the flash and you get a shadow bottom left)

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic

The optical viewfinder is quite small, but still usable, and zooms in when you use the optical zoom on the camera.


On the top of the Casio is the two-step shutter release button, plus the zoom control, as well as the small on/off switch.

Specifications:

  • 4 million pixels Picture Resolution
  • 3 x Optical Zoom
  • 1.6 inches LCD Screen
  • 3.2 x Digital Zoom
  • Motion picture recording (320/240/15fps no sound)
  • Continous shooting mode
  • USB Connection
  • 21 Scene modes
  • ISO range ISO 80/160/320 automatic or manual
  • Shutter Speed: 1/8 to 1/2000 sec.
  • Aperture: F/2,8 - 4,9
  • Flash (built-in) Automatic, manual On/Off, red eye reduction
  • 5-point multi auto-focus

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • USB cable
  • Camera Strap
  • Software on CD
  • A 12page 'Basic Reference'
  • 2 x AA rechargable 2100 Ni-MH Batteries + Charger

Features:

Can't be used as a webcam (as far as i'm aware), it doesn't have video out so you can't view your pictures on your TV. The camera takes 2 AA batteries, and includes a tripod mount thread.

Includes "scene" / "best shot" modes such as: Portrait, Scenery, Portrait with Scenery, Coupling Shot (lets you combine 2 shots), Pre-Shot, Children, Candlelight portrait, Party, Pet, Flower, Natural Green, Sundown, Night Scene (slow shutter speed - 1 second slowest), Night Scene Portrait, Fireworks (slow shutter speed - 2 seconds slowest), Food, Text, Collection, Monochrome, Retro (low contrast, sepia), Twighlight. More on this "best shot" mode here.

As well as these you can also use the following "filters": B&W, Sepia, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Purple. Settings: Auto White Balance, Sun, Cloudy, Indoor lighting, Flouresent, plus a Manual white setting. +/- EV up to +2.0 and down to -2.0, in 0.3 steps.

The camera takes the following size pictures / and the following number of images will fit in the 10mb built in memory: (an extra memory card is recommended if you intend to go on holiday or are going to be away from a computer for more than an hour!) The camera has a strange picture size of 2240x1680 - I'm not really sure why - as it doesn't change the shape to fit 6x4 etc, nor does it significantly reduce file size.

Setting: Number of pictures stored in memory:
4mp 2304x1712 Fine 5 (av. size: 1806kb)
4mp 2304x1712 Normal 7 (av. size: 1312kb)
4mp 2304x1712 Economy 10 (av. size: 954kb)
3.7mp 2240x1680 Fine 5 (av. size: 1812kb)
3.7mp 2240x1680 Normal 7 (av. size: 1311kb)
3.7mp 2240x1680 Economy 10 (av. size: 949kb)
2mp 1600x1200 Fine 9 (av. size: 1043kb)
2mp 1600x1200 Normal 14 (av. size: 641kb)
2mp 1600x1200 Economy 27 (av. size: 354kb)
1280x960 Fine 14 (av. size: 660kb)
1280x960 Normal 22 (av. size: 419kb)
1280x960 Economy - (av. size: 244kb)
640x480 Fine 50 (av. size: 177kb)
640x480 Normal - (av. size: 128kb)
640x480 Economy - (av. size: 87kb)

Speed, ease of use: The camera is very fast to start-up, taking around a second before you can use the camera. The camera has "an industry leading 0.01-second release time lag", which means there is practically no delay once the camera has focused. Focusing is also very quick - the camera defaults to centre-focus - the camera also features 5-point focus. The camera is very quick at scrolling from photo to photo - but when zooming into the photo in playback mode, the camera is quite slow. The camera is very easy to use, and can simply be used in a point and shoot fashion - there are more options available in the menu system, which is easy to navigate and change settings. The Play / Record buttons on the back make it especially easy to choose between the two modes. You can just pick up the camera and start taking photos, without needing to refer to a manual.

Battery usage is: Average-poor, luckily the camera is supplied with high power rechargable batteries and a charger. In my opinion ALL digital cameras should come with high power rechargable batteries, due to the high power requirements of digital cameras. Alkaline batteries simply do not cut it when it comes to digital cameras.

LCD display in photo mode:

One of the neat things I like about this camera is that when you are taking a photo, and half press the shutter, on the right it displays the F setting (aperture) and shutter speed. The screen is decent enough, and updates very smoothly / quickly. When you have the histogram displayed this also updates very quickly.

In playback mode you can zoom into the image to have a closer look (x4 - in 4 steps) and pan around the image to see the part you are interested in. Compared to the rest of the camera, zooming and panning does seem a bit slow. Changing from photo to photo is fast.

Image Quality: Larger versions of these images can be viewed in the gallery album called "Random CASIO QV-R40 Photos". All photos taken with sharpness / saturation / contrast set to normal unless otherwise stated.

Inside:

No noticable red-eye on this photo - Very cute little kitten picture taken at ISO320 / no flash.

Noise: Using ISO80 produces the image with the least amount of noise, the image looks quite smooth, at ISO160 pictures appear to have more noise, and ISO320 images tend to have the most noise - using the higher ISOs do sometimes let you use a faster shutter speed which is useful when taking pictures of moving objects. In the thumbs below you can't really see the noise, but in the full size versions it's more noticable.

ISO80 / Flash on ISO160 / Flash on ISO320 / Flash on

Outside:

Decent colour, sharpness, etc, no majorly noticable image problems - although quite noisy despite these photos being taken at ISO80.

Actual pixels comparison: (from middle photo above, windows top left)

Casio QV-R40 - ISO80 Actual Pixels Minolta F200 - ISO100 Actual Pixels

When compared to the same photo(s) taken by the Minolta F200 (a 4mp digital camera with 3x Optical zoom lens), the pictures seem more yellowy, more noisy, plus less sharp generally as well as less sharp on the left side of the image.

Zoom: The camera has a built in 3x Digital zoom, as well as a 3x optical zoom lens - the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software to blur the image so that it does not look pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using this, and simply crop the image later on your computer. I've included an example below simply to show what this feature does - and whilst it looks acceptable at the size shown (the last photo), if you printed the images out or viewed the full size versions in the gallery you would easily notice the negative effect it has on image quality. Luckily the Casio's digital zoom can be turned off in the menu, plus there is a red bar when using the zoom that shows you when you are using the digital zoom, as well as this, a magnifying glass icon will appear as well.

No zoom (again no red-eye) 3x Optical zoom 3x Optical + 3x Digital zoom

The optical zoom on this camera has 7 definite steps from wide-angle to telephoto and moves very quickly between the two extremes.

Macro: Flash can be used in macro mode, although too close and there'll be a shadow from the lens, as shown in the second picture below. The macro mode lets you focus as closely as 10cm, the lens is set at wide-angle, and the macro mode can be further enhanced as the camera allows you to zoom in a small amount.

Really good macro performance, easily accessible by pressing up when in photo mode. You can also use manual focus in macro mode.

Movie: The movie mode lets you record up to 30 seconds at a time at around 15fps without sound. The camera lets you use optical and digital zoom when recording. Image quality is good even in fairly low light - the videos have an average frame rate as far as video modes on digital cameras go. It's a shame there's no sound.

Click the image above to view the video clip - 3Mb. (saved as Zip file)

Conclusion

It's main selling points are the small size and very fast start up time. The camera is also fast in operation - it's quick to focus, and quick to take the picture. This is very much a good thing, and has been one of the major drawbacks of using a digital camera, compared to using a film camera. The size of the camera is also very good, it will easily fit into a pocket, and therefore is more likely to be used, meaning you're more likely to catch the moment.

The camera is easy to use, but also has some more advanced features such as manual focus, ISO settings, sharpness, saturation, contrast etc. The "Best Mode" options make it much easier for the novice or beginner to get better shots. The control layout is easy to use, I especially like the Play / Record buttons on the back which make it very easy to switch between the two modes - the only downside to this is that there are a lot of additional options which can only be accessed through the menu system.

It's image quality is good but not spectacular - the images are slightly noisy even on the lowest ISO setting. It's macro mode is very good, but again not spectacular. It's video mode is average, without sound it is severely limited - although this may not concern you if you do not wish to record videos. The zoom is also very quick at going from wide-angle to telephoto. The amount of included memory is shockingly bad - 10mb is nowhere near enough!

The camera is available for £99 refurbished from dixons.co.uk, or alternatively £173 from pixmania.com - this camera has now been superceded by the QV-R41 which is around £200, and adds a 2" TFT sceen. At £99 for a 4MP / 3x Optical zoom metal bodied small digital camera this represents EXCELLENT value for money and is highly recommended, but at £173, I can't help but feel that an alternate digital camera would probably produce better images - alternatives worth considering are the: Fuji A340 (around £160), Kodak EasyShare DX6440 (from £160), Canon A80 (around £200), Minolta Dimage G400 (from £187), Olympus CAMEDIA C460 (around £176), Olympus MJU 400/410 (around £182/£200), Pentax Optio S4 (around £200) etc - Prices from Kelkoo.co.uk 25/05/04

Summary: An extremely quick, small and stylish camera, available for an exceptional price refurbished - recommended if you can get it for £99! The camera produces good images and is very easy to use - however the camera is let down slightly by noise levels, lack of memory, and lack of sound with videos. Check Latest Price at Amazon.co.uk

What I like:

  • Play / Record buttons.
  • Fast start-up time and operation
  • Small size
  • Metal body
  • Takes 'AA' batteries - rechargables provided!

What I don't like:

  • Flash too weak? (see "41 flash" in gallery)
  • Generally noisy images, also a bit soft.
  • No case supplied.
  • Slow playback mode (especially when zooming in and panning around)
  • No sound with videos
  • only 10mb ram provided!

Other Reviews: Steves-Digicams, DCResource, Megepixel.net.