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DCRP Review: Fuji
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: August 22, 2004
Last Updated: April 6, 2008
The Fuji FinePix F440 ($399) is a compact 4.1 Megapixel camera that packs just a bit more zoom than other cameras in its class: 3.4X. The F440 has a traditional CCD sensor, rather than the SuperCCD that Fuji has been putting in their cameras over the last few years. The 3.4X zoom lens isn't the only larger-than-average item on the camera: there's also the 2.0" LCD display.
The F440 has an "older brother" known as the F450 which has a 5 Megapixel CCD and costs $100 more.
Learn more about the F440 now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The FinePix F440 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Fuji includes a 16MB xD card with the camera, which holds a grand total of seven high resolution pictures. So consider a larger card "a must". xD cards are currently available as large as 512MB, and I think 128MB is a good starter size for most people. Be warned that xD cards tend to be more expensive than CompactFlash and SD cards.
The F440 uses a compact lithium-ion battery known as the NP-30 to power the camera. The battery isn't exactly what I'd call powerful, with just 2.1 Wh of energy. That translates to 150 photos per charge, using the new CIPA battery life standard (which I'll be using from now on, when possible).
While it would be nicer if the F440 used AA batteries, it's really not possible given its size. Do note that an extra battery (highly recommended) will set you back $50.
When it's time to charge the battery you can do one of two things. The easiest option is to plug the included AC adapter into the side of the camera. The other option is to use the...
On the front of the dock there's a USB/video out switch as well as the power button
On the back are DC-in and A/V+USB ports
... included camera dock (or Picture Cradle in Fuji-speak). In either case it takes two hours to charge the battery. So what can the dock do for you? Nothing that you couldn't do without it. The dock can charge your battery, or connect to your PC or television, and you can do all this without it by plugging the appropriate cable directly into the camera.
The F440 has a built-in lens cover so there's no lens cap to worry about. As you can see, this is a pretty small camera. (And the band-aid is because I almost sliced off my thumb while cutting watermelon.)
There are just two accessories of note for the F440: a soft carrying case ($30) and an underwater case ($199). The underwater case lets you take the camera up to 40 m underwater. The F440 doesn't support conversion lenses or an external flash -- not surprisingly.
FinePixViewer 4.2 for Mac
Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the F440. The version numbers are 4.2 for Windows and 3.3 Mac OS 9 and OS X. Even with the differing version numbers, the software acts about the same on each platform. FinePixViewer is for basic image organizing and editing, and is no substitute for something like Photoshop Elements. Fuji also includes a RAW File Converter (not needed for this camera), and ImageMixer VCD (for making video CDs, Windows only) on the CD.
One other software note: Windows XP users can also use the F440 as a webcam for videoconferencing.
The F440's manual is typical of those included with most digital cameras. It's complete, but finding what you're looking for may be difficult. There's lots of small print as well.
Look and Feel
The F440 is an ultra-compact, all-metal camera that can go just about anywhere. Construction is quite good, especially compared to some of Fuji's cheaper cameras. Controls are generally well-placed, although the micro buttons on the four-way controller are a bit too small for my taste. One thing to watch out for on metal cameras like this: they tend to scratch easily.
The official dimensions of the F440 are 74.5 x 62.3 x 21.3 mm / 2.9 x 2.5 x 0.8 inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs 150 grams / 5.2 ounces empty. Compare that with the Canon PowerShot S410, whose numbers are 3.4 x 2.2 x 1.1 and 185 grams, respectively.
With that out of the way, we can begin our tour of the F440!
I shot this at a different angle than usual to get rid of the reflection of my camera on that metal piece on the left!
The F440 has an F2.8-5.5, 3.4X optical zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is 6.3 - 21.6 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 130 mm. The lens is not threaded.
To the upper-left of the lens is the built-in flash. This flash has a relatively short working range of 0.6 - 3.6 m at wide-angle, and 0.6 - 2.0 m at telephoto. The camera does not support an external flash.
To the lower-right of the flash (next to "4.1 Megapixels") is the self-timer lamp. The metal thing on the far left is the camera's power switch. Slide it away from the lens to turn the camera on, and vice versa.
There's no AF-assist lamp on the F440.
The F440 has an unusually large LCD display for being such a small camera -- and that's a good thing. Even better, Fuji did not sacrifice the optical viewfinder (which I'll cover in a moment). Anyhow, the screen here is 2.0" in size and it has a nice resolution of 154,000 pixels. The screen is very sharp and bright. If the default brightness doesn't do it for you, you can adjust it in the menu. The LCD shows 97% of the frame. In low light, the screen doesn't "gain up", making it nearly impossible to see your subject.
Above the LCD is the aforementioned optical viewfinder, which is fairly small (better than not having one at all!). The viewfinder shows 78% of the frame. There is no diopter correction feature which is used to focus what you're looking at.
To the lower-right of the optical viewfinder is the mode switch, which moves the camera between playback, movie, and still recording mode. Continuing to the right we find the four-way controller, which i used for operating the zoom, navigating menus, and adjusting the following:
As I touched on before, I'm not a big fan of this four-way switch. The up/down buttons don't have a lot of play and the left/right buttons are just too small. Since the up/down buttons operate the zoom, I should mention that the controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1.4 seconds. I counted ten steps in the zoom range.
Photo mode menu
The three buttons to the right of the LCD are for:
In case you're wondering, "chrome" means high contrast and saturation.
The only thing worth mentioning on the top of the F440 is the shutter release button.
On this side of the camera you'll find the DC-in port. This is where you'll plug in the included AC adapter.
Nothing to see on this side!
On the bottom of the F440 you'll find the speaker, dock connector, xD card slot, and battery compartment. Those last two are protected by a fairly sturdy plastic door. The tripod mount is plastic, and due to its location, don't expect to swap batteries or xD cards while the camera is on a tripod. The dock connector is also where you can plug in the USB and video out cables if you don't want to use the dock.
The included battery and xD card are shown at right.
Using the Fuji FinePix F440
It takes a little just two seconds for the F440 to extend its lens and "warm up" before you can start taking pictures.
No histograms to be found here
Autofocus speeds on the F440 were average. Halfway-pressing the shutter release button resulted in focus lock in 0.6 - 0.8 seconds in most cases. Focusing in low light wasn't great -- here's where an AF-assist lamp would've helped. In addition, the LCD becomes virtually useless in dim light.
Shutter lag wasn't an issue at fast shutter speeds but it was quite noticeable at slower ones (e.g. 1/2 second). Then again, you shouldn't be handholding the camera at that shutter speed anyhow.
Shot-to-shot speed was good, with a 1.7 second delay between photos, assuming you've turned the post-shot review feature off.
The F440 lacks the ability to let you delete a photo immediately after it is taken (you must enter playback mode).
Now, let's take a look at the resolution and quality choices available on this camera.
It's nice to see Fuji finally offering a fine quality (low compression) option for the highest resolution setting. There's no TIFF or RAW mode on the F440.
The camera names files as DSCF####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The camera maintains the numbering even if you erase the memory card.
The FinePix F440 has a nice looking, very basic menu. The camera has an auto mode, where many of the menu options are locked up. If you want full access to the menu, you need to switch into "manual" mode. Here's a look at the menu now, with the manual mode-only options in bold:
Not much worth mentioning here. As you can see, the F440 is 100% point-and-shoot. There's not even a continuous shooting mode. The way to do long exposures is to use the Night shooting mode -- it allows for shutter speeds as slow as 2 seconds.
As you can see, it's a simple, brief menu! In addition to that one, there's also a setup menu, with the following options:
Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
The F440 did a decent job with the macro test, and it would've been better if the camera had a custom white balance option (at least in this situation). That's because the incandescent WB setting didn't do a perfect job with my 600W quartz studio lamps, hence the brownish cast in the image. A quick trip through the "auto color" function in Photoshop CS fixed things up pretty well. The lack of custom white balance only matters if you're shooting in unusual lighting, like I did here.
As for the subject itself, Mickey looks sharp and detailed.
Don't expect to get too close to your subject on the F440. At wide-angle the minimum distance to the subject is 9 cm, while it's 39 cm at telephoto.
The night shot could have been better, mainly because of the not-long-enough 2 second shutter speed. The only way to get it to 2 seconds is to use the Night shooting mode -- otherwise the limit is 1/2 second. The camera needed to take in another second or two of light to make this scene look better. The detail on the buildings is pretty good, though.
Not surprisingly, there's a fair amount of redeye in our flash test shot. Compact cameras almost always have a bad case of redeye, and the F440 is no exception. You can remove it pretty well in software.
The distortion test shows mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens. I see no evidence of vignetting (dark corners) in this test, though I saw a bit of it in my real world photos.
Overall the image quality on the F440 was very good, based on the photos that I took. Color and exposure were generally good, and purple fringing levels were low. Images did seem a bit soft at times, but nothing horrible. Noise levels were low, a big change from what I'm used to seeing from Fuji cameras (in my opinion, leaving the SuperCCD on cameras like this was a good thing). The F440's 4 Megapixel resolution will let you print very nice 8 x 10 inch prints (and larger too, if you don't mind giving up some cropping flexibility).
The best way to judge photo quality is with your own eyes, so have a look at the photo gallery and see if the quality meets your expectations!
The F440's movie mode is a bit dated. You can record up to 60 seconds of 320 x 240 video, with sound, at a sluggish 10 frames/second. If you want to take a longer movie, you'll have to use the 160 x 120 resolution which lets you record for 3 minutes (the frame rate is the same).
You cannot use the zoom lens during filming.
Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
Here's an exciting sample movie for you:
Click to play movie (1.7MB, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
Playback mode on the F440 is typical of those on other cameras. Basic features are here, including slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, voice annotations (30 seconds worth), and zoom and scroll. The camera is PictBridge-enabled for direct printing to a compatible photo printer.
The zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge your image by up to 14.4X, depending on the resolution of the photo, and then move around in the zoomed-in area. This feature is a little on the slow side. Once you're zoomed in, you can use the trim feature to crop your images right on the camera.
If you want to see more information about your photos, you're out of luck with this camera. What you see above is all that the camera tells you.
It takes the F440 a little over a second to move from one image to the next in playback mode.
How Does it Compare?
The Fuji FinePix F440 is a fun and compact point-and-shoot camera that has some features that set it apart from the pack -- in both good and bad ways. First, the good ways. Despite its compact size, the F440 has a 3.4X optical zoom -- a nice change from the usual 3X. That's not a lot of extra zoom, but more zoom is always appreciated by most folks. The second nice feature is the larger-than-normal 2 inch LCD display, which also happens to be bright, sharp, and fluid. The camera starts up quickly, but once there, it's pretty average in terms of performance. Picture quality is very good, and I for one am glad that Fuji is using traditional CCDs again on these lower-end cameras.
There are a few things not to like about the F440, though. Due to its lack of an AF-assist lamp, an LCD that's nearly useless in low light, and a fairly weak flash, I don't think this is a great camera if you're doing a lot of indoor shots at dinner parties and the like. I wish the camera had some manual controls -- at least white balance or focus, please. And while I'm at it, let's allow for slower shutter speeds than 2 seconds. The F440's movie mode also leaves much to be desired -- 60 second video clips were cool two years ago, but not in 2004. Lastly, as with all compact cameras, you can expect some serious redeye in your flash photos on the F440.
Despite these flaws I do like the F440 for its stylish design, large LCD, ease-of-use, and 3.4X optical zoom lens. I think it's best suited for outdoor shooting, though. I think you'll be disappointed with your F440 photo-taking experience if you spend a lot of time in dim light conditions. But for a no-nonsense camera for trips to the beach or the mountains, I do think that the F440 is worth a look.
If you need more resolution, check out the FinePix F450, which is the same camera, but with a 5 Megapixel CCD.
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
Some other compact 4 and 5 Megapixel cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot S410, Casio Exilim EX-Z40, HP Photosmart R707, Kodak EasyShare LS743, Konica Minolta DiMAGE X50, Nikon Coolpix 4100 and 4200, Olympus Stylus 410, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC70 and DMC-FX7, Pentax Optio S4i, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T1 and DSC-W1.
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the FinePix F440 and it's competitors before you buy!
Want to see some pictures? Check out the photo gallery!
Want another opinion?
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.
To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.
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