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Fujifilm FinePix F440 - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 25/06/05
Rating: Recommended*
Buy Now from Amazon: £188 | $247


Introduction: The Fujifilm FinePix F440, is available for around £188 | $247 - and is an ultra compact, stylish 4 megapixel digital camera, with a 3.4x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 38 - 130mm on a 35mm camera), and a large 2" TFT screen. The camera is enclosed in a silver metal body. It records 60 second 320 x 240 / 10fps videos with sound. The camera's size is: 74.5 (W) X 62.3 (H) X 21.3 (D) mm. (without protruding parts), and weighs 150g (without the battery and memory card)

Fuji have this to say about the camera:

"The FinePix F440 Zoom is both small and beautiful. It has a 4.1 million pixel CCD, a 3.4x optical zoom lens and a 2.0-inch LCD monitor. The ultra-compact body is small enough for any pocket and stylish enough for any occasion."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: It's very compact and slim and made out of stylish silver metal.
(Photos of the camera taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ3)


Front - Camera off.


Front - Camera on: on/off, flash, blue led, lens extended, optical viewfinder, microphone.


Back - the 2" TFT screen, status led, optical viewfinder, mode (play/video/photo), macro(left), zoom(up/down), flash(right), F button, Menu/OK, Display/Back.


Top - shutter.


Bottom, under the camera there is a plastic tripod mount, the battery/memory compartment, the dock port, and the speaker.


Left Side (from back) - DC in.


Strap hole.

Size Comparison: Compared to the Casio Exilim EX-S100.


Size comparison.


Size comparison next to the Casio Exilim EX-S100.

Specifications / Features:

  • 3.4x optical zoom
  • 4 megapixel CCD sensor
  • 2'' digital TFT colour LCD
  • 3.4x digital zoom
  • Movie mode (320x240 10fps) max 60seconds
  • 9cm Macro mode
  • Pictbridge compatible

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Hand Strap
  • USB Cable
  • AV Cable
  • Lithium-Ion battery
  • AC Adapter
  • Docking station
  • Digital Camera Software CD-Rom
  • 16mb XD memory card

Average-poor box contents - a large memory card and a small case would have been nice - the inclusion of the docking station shown below will make transferring pictures easier.


Docking Station

Battery usage: Battery life is quite decent considering the small size of the battery, which is rated at 565 mAh.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the back switch - this switches between play, video and photo mode.

Photo mode/menus: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:

Photo mode Photo Menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen is a decent resolution and updates smoothly - the colours appear fairly accurate. There is no live histogram available but the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. The screen doesn't 'gain up' in low-light, making it unusable at times. Optical Viewfinder: There is a small optical viewfinder.

Photo menu options are: Self-timer, shooting mode (manual, auto, portrait, landscape), exposure and white balance. Exposure and white balance are only availble in "Manual" mode.

Function menu Setup menu

Function menu options are: Image size, ISO setting, Colour mode (Black and White, Chrome (increased saturation/contrast), Standard).

Setup menu options: (shown on the right, above) Image display, power save, format, LCD, beep, shutter, date/time, time difference, frame number, usb mode, start-image, language, video system, reset.

Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:

Playback mode Playback Menu

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is fairly quick. The zoom is quick.

Playback menu options: Erase, protect, playback (slideshow), voice memo, trimming, set (volume, LCD).

Picture Size / Quality: There are the following choices regarding image size and compression: 4M Fine / Normal, 2M, 1M, VGA. You can fit a small number of images on the 16mb internal memory - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, but there is a limited choice regarding image compression.

A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb or 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Fujifilm FinePix F10:

128mb xD - £16.99, 256mb xD - £23.99, 512mb xD - £39.99, 1gb (1000mb) xD memory card - £56.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

Speed: The camera is quick to switch on and take photos - the camera is quite quick to focus although poor at focusing indoors (not as good as the Casio S100 for example). The screen updates are quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom quickly to view the detail. The camera shutter response seemed quicker than normal when pre-focused. Shot to shot time is quick, and there is no additional slow down when using the flash.

Ease of use: The camera is easy to use. The controls on the back of the camera are very easy to use. The camera is very compact - but easy to hold and use, although be careful not to drop the camera! The menus are very responsive, very easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a fully automatic mode as well as some scene modes for simple point and shoot operation.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be a limited amount of buttons - for example a delete button would be good, as would a self-timer button. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well - although some may find them a little bit small. I thought the camera felt good ergonomically, and was the correct weight - it seemed a decent weight and felt well built. The only issues I have are that there is no delete button, and other cameras with 4-way controllers seem easier to use in playback mode.

Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower Group photo

Inside: The camera has good colour, with high saturation. It coped fairly well with the group photo. The camera had a hard time focusing in low light, I couldn't get it to focus for the photo of Heather above. Red-eye wasn't too much of a problem. Noise was quite low.

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO80, 100, 200, and 400) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings.


Noise test photo - flash on

ISO80 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels

Noise levels appear low at ISO80 and ISO100. At ISO200 noise becomes more noticable and at ISO400 noise seems quite high, but acceptable in these test photos.

Outside:

Shops Wedding photo

Outside, the camera excelled with excellent and rich saturated colour, with good contrast and detail. Noise seemed low. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.

Zoom: This camera has a 3.4x optical zoom lens and a built in 3.4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom is only available when using the smaller image sizes. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of.

Wide-angle 3.4x Optical zoom

Lens noise and zoom: The lens noise is about average, not overly loud, but not especially quiet. The lens is fairly quick at going from wide to telephoto if you hold the zoom down, but if you change the zoom in steps - there are about 9 steps between wide and telephoto - this gives you very good control of how you frame your subject.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing seemed very low.

Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you switch to macro mode in the scene mode - this allows you to be 9cm away from the subject. You can use the flash in macro mode.

Macto Watch and Coins Actual Pixels (100%)

The macro mode is average - the camera does a good job of toning down the flash (as can be seen in the noise test above), colours and detail are quite good.

Movie: 320x240 - 10fps with sound - limited to a maximum length of 60 seconds.The movie is recorded as an AVI file. The quality of the movie(s) is good although the size, framerate and limited length is very poor.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality is very good: The images have excellent, rich saturated colour with good contrast - some people may find the saturation a bit high and unfortunately the only control to customise this is one which increases(!) saturation and contrast - so you will need to make sure you're happy with the camera's colour reproduction before buying. Images are a bit soft, but have good detail. Purple fringing was low. The camera did a good job focusing outside - but in low-light was very poor at focusing. There is a good range of image sizes but a poor choice of compression options. The macro mode is fairly average. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be good. The movie mode is very poor.

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is very compact and stylish being designed well with a tough metal body - despite the ultra small size the camera feels comfortable in my hands. The camera is very easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there is a decent layout of buttons and controls. There is a limited choice of features and options and the camera is best used as a point and shoot camera. The camera speed is good, with a good switch on time, good focusing time, and a good shutter response. The camera has good battery life despite it's small size.

Value for Money: Currently at £188 the Fuji FinePix F440 offers average value for money, as it is around the same price as the Canon Digital IXUS 40, and Sony Cybershot DSC-L1, however the Olympus Mju Mini Digital, Konica Minolta Dimage X50, Casio Exilim EX-S100, and Pentax Optio S5 are cheaper.

Alternative ultra compact digital cameras:

Casio Exilim EX-S500 (5mp version of the S100),
Casio Exilim EX-S100 (3mp, Highly Recommended)

Canon Digital IXUS 30 / 40 / 50 (3, 4 and 5 megapixel),
Canon Digital IXUS i / i5
(4 or 5 megapixel with no zoom),
Pentax Optio S5n
(5mp),
Konica Minolta Dimage X50 (5mp, 2" screen)
Sony Cybershot DSC-T7
(Ultra slim 5 megapixel),
Olympus Mju Mini Digital
(4 or 5 megapixel versions available in various colours),
Fuji Finepix F450
(5 megapixel),
Nikon Coolpix S1
(5mp),
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7
(5mp with image stabilisation).

Check amazon.co.uk / kelkoo.co.uk or amazon.com for the latest prices. See more suggestions sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Fujifilm FinePix F440 is a decent ultra compact digital camera, and will appeal to those who prefer saturated, colourful images with low noise. The camera is aimed squarely at the point and shoot market, and I think it does well in that respect, as there are very few controls that go beyond the basics. The large 2" screen, fast operation, good image quality and ultra compact body will definitely appeal, however the poor low-light focusing and high saturation may not be to everybody's tastes. The Fujifilm FinePix F440 is a good camera and would suit someone looking for rich saturated colours and a highly pocketable design - however there are quite a few limitations, such as poor video mode, limited controls, and a screen that is poor in low-light. Overall a mixed bag, but recommended for outdoor use.

Fujifilm FinePix F440 Rating: Recommended*
Buy Now from Amazon: £188 | $247

* Recommended for outdoor use, but definitely not recommended if you spend a lot of time taking photos indoors under low-light conditions - due to poor low-light performance. It's a good ultra compact camera, but there are definitely better ultra compact cameras out there, such as the Olympus Mju Digital, Sony Cybershot DSC-L1, Casio Exilim EX-S100, Canon Digital IXUS 30/40/50 etc.

What I like:

  • Excellent outdoor photo quality
  • Very good image quality generally
  • Slightly longer zoom than normal (3.4x, instead of the usual 3x)
  • Stylish compact metal body
  • Quick
  • Low noise

What I don't like:

  • Very poor low-light focusing
  • Manual mode forces you to set the ISO (you can't have manual mode and auto iso!)
  • Limited colour control - chrome setting increases saturation/contrast when saturation/contrast is already high.
  • Not enough buttons: zoom control limits playback mode (you can zoom in, then have to press another button to pan around) could be easier to use if it had a more traditional 4-way controller, an external self-timer button, etc.
  • No custom white balance
  • Screen doesn't 'gain up' in dark conditions making it very difficult to use
  • Very poor video mode (10fps, and limited to 60 seconds)

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.