DCRP Review: Casio QV-R40
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: January 4, 2004
Last Updated: January 31, 2004

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The Casio QV-R40 ($299) is an updated version of the ultra-compact QV-R4, which was introduced in 2002. Both models feature a 3X optical zoom lens and a 4 Megapixel CCD. The biggest new features on the R40 include faster performance and the use of AA batteries.

What puzzles me, though, is that in some areas the QV-R40 is a downgrade from its predecessor. Gone are the AF-assist lamp and diopter correction features -- both very useful things found on the QV-R4. The manual isn't even printed anymore -- it's on CD! Sometimes I just can't figure out camera manufacturers!

Is the QV-R40 a nice, take-anywhere camera? Find out in our review!

What's in the Box?

The QV-R40 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 4.0 effective Megapixel QV-R40 camera
  • Two AA NIMH rechargeable batteries
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring PhotoLoader, PhotoHands, and drivers
  • 13 page basic manual (printed) + full manual on CD

Casio does not include a memory card with the QV-R40. Rather, you get 10MB of on-board memory (the QV-R4 had 11MB), plus a slot for a Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMedia (MMC) card that you can buy separately. I recommend picking one up right away, as 10MB doesn't hold many 4 Megapixel photos. I think a 128MB SD card would be a good starting point. Note that SD cards are faster than MMC cards. They're also available in higher capacities (up to 512MB).

One nice change on the QV-R40 is the use of AA batteries, instead of the expensive, proprietary lithium-ion battery used on the QV-R4. Even better, Casio throws two 2100 mAh NIMH rechargeables right in the box, so you're set to go (I recommend buying more, though). These batteries have around 5.0 Wh of energy, and that translates into about 220 photos (110 minutes) in record mode, or 230 minutes in playback mode, according to Casio.

When it's time to recharge the battery, just pop them into the included charger. It takes around four hours to fully recharge the two batteries. This is my favorite kind of charger, too -- just plug it right into the wall (no cables needed).

The QV-R40 has a built-in lens cover, so there is no lens cap to worry about. As you can see, this is one small camera.

Tiny cameras like this don't have a lot of accessories. The only ones I could dig up include an AC adapter ($30) and carrying case ($20).

The R40 includes Casio's PhotoLoader and Photohands software. PhotoLoader is used to download and view stills and movies from your camera. It's not Mac OS X native, but works in Classic mode. Photohands is for Windows only, and is used for retouching and printing images.

I've been giving Olympus a bad time for years about putting the camera manual only on CD-ROM, but now Casio is doing it too. They already have a printed "basic manual" in the box, so why not just print the whole thing? Once you actually load up the manual, expect its quality to be about average.

Look and Feel

The QV-R40 is an ultra-compact camera made almost completely of metal. It feels well-constructed for the most part, but watch out -- these metal cameras scratch easily. The R40's small size lets you slip it into your pocket with ease. The important controls are easy to reach.

The QV-R40's dimensions are 88.0 x 60.5 x 32.7 mm / 3.5 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs a measly 160 grams / 5.6 ounces empty. The numbers for the old QV-R4 were 3.5 x 2.3 x 1.2 inches and 200 grams, respectively -- so the R40 is larger, but lighter, than its predecessor. A lot of folks will be comparing this camera to the Canon S400, so here are its numbers: 3.4 x 2.2 x 1.1 inches, 195 grams.

Let's begin our tour of the QV-R40 now, beginning with the front.

While I'm not 100% sure, I'm fairly confident that the QV-R40 uses a different lens than the one on the QV-R4 (which was made by Pentax). The lens here is an F2.8 - F4.9, 3X optical zoom -- slightly slower than the old lens. The focal range is 8 - 24 mm, which is equivalent to 39 - 117 mm (the R40's lens started at 37 mm). The lens is not threaded.

To the upper-left of the lens is the R40's built-in flash. The flash has a relatively small working range of 0.4 - 2.9 m at wide-angle, and 0.4 - 1.7 m at telephoto. You cannot attach an external flash to this camera (not surprisingly).

Just below the flash is the self-timer lamp.

As I indicated at the beginning of the review, the QV-R40 no longer has an AF-assist lamp, even though the QV-R4 had one. This is a very useful feature, and I'm puzzled as to why Casio removed it.

The QV-R40 has a 1.6" LCD display, as did the R4. The resolution isn't terribly high, with just 84,960 pixels. Even so, I found the sharpness to be acceptable. Motion is very fluid as well. You cannot adjust the screen brightness, as far as I know.

Directly above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is average-sized. One of the other puzzling changes on the R40 is the removal of the diopter correction knob, which is used to focus what you're looking at. Something else to note: at wide-angle, you can see part of the lens barrel. It's not as bad as on the Canon G3/G5, though.

To the right of the optical viewfinder are two buttons, used to switch between playback and record mode. Either of those buttons can also be used to turn the camera on and off.

Below those are two buttons, plus the four-way controller. The buttons are menu and display (toggles LCD and what is shown on it on and off). The four-way controller is used for menu navigation, and also for:

  • Up - Focus (Auto, macro, infinity, manual) {record mode} / Album (described later) {playback mode}
  • Down - Flash (Auto, flash off, flash on, redeye reduction) {record} / Delete photo {playback}
  • Left/right - Custom function; choose what these do in the menu

Manual focus

A quick note about the manual focus feature. With this turned on, you use the four-way controller to focus. The center of the image is enlarged so you can make sure the subject is sharp. A guide is shown on the LCD showing the (very approximate) focus distance.

On top of the R40, you'll find the power button as well as the shutter release button, which has the zoom controller around it. The zoom controller moves the lens very quickly -- the full trip from wide-angle to telephoto takes a little over one second. The controller isn't terribly precise, so making small adjustments to the focal length can be difficult.

Over on this side of the camera, you will find the USB (1.1) port, which is kept under a rubber cover.

Over here is the DC-in port, for the optional AC adapter. I believe there's supposed to be a cover here as well -- must've fallen off on mine.

Last, but not least, here's the bottom of the QV-R40. You can see the SD/MMC card slot (card not included), the battery compartment, and the metal tripod mount. The door covering all this seems like it could bust off if forced. Also note that you cannot remove the memory card (or the batteries for that matter) while the camera is on a tripod).

The R40 uses two AA-size batteries.

Using the Casio QV-R40

Record Mode

One of the major selling points of the QV-R40 is its fast startup speed. Casio isn't lying: it took about 1.3 seconds for the lens to extend and the camera to "boot up" before you can start shooting.

Focusing speeds were about average. A half-press of the shutter release button resulted in locked focus in about 1/2 second at wide-angle, and one second at telephoto. Low light focusing was not great, due in part to the R40's missing AF-assist lamp. I also found the LCD display to be unusable in dim lighting.

Casio has done an excellent job at eliminating the annoying shutter lag you experience after you fully press the shutter release button. Even at slower shutter speeds, there's no major delay.

A live histogram is shown in record mode

Shot-to-shot speed is also good, with a wait of under two seconds before you can take another picture (assuming you've turned off the post-shot review feature).

There's no way to delete a photo immediately after it is taken. You must use playback mode.

Now, let's take a look at the image size/quality choices on the QV-R40:

Quality Resolution Approx. File Size # images on 10MB built-in memory
Fine 2304 x 1712 1.8 MB 4
2240 x 1680 1.8 MB 4
1600 x 1200 1.1 MB 8
1280 x 960 680 KB 13
640 x 480 190 KB 46
Normal 2304 x 1712 1.4 MB 6
2240 x 1680 1.4 MB 6
1600 x 1200 710 KB 12
1280 x 960 460 KB 20
640 x 480 140 KB 61
Economy 2304 x 1712 1.0 MB 8
2240 x 1680 1.0 MB 8
1600 x 1200 370 KB 24
1280 x 960 250 KB 35
640 x 480 90 KB 98

See why I recommended getting a larger memory card?

There's no TIFF or RAW mode on the QV-R40. The file numbering is simple: CIMG####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. File numbering is maintained as you switch and erase memory cards.

Let's take a look at the menus now.

Like all of Casio's cameras, the QV-R40 has an attractive and easy-to-use menu system (it looks better in person than it does in my screen shots). Here's what you'll find in the record menu:

  • REC mode (Snapshot, best shot, movie)
  • Self-timer (Off, 10 sec, 2 sec, x3)
  • Size (see chart)
  • Quality (see chart)
  • EV Shift [exposure compensation] (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
  • White balance (Auto, sunlight, shade, light bulb, fluorescent, manual)
  • ISO (Auto, 80, 160, 320)
  • AF area (Spot, multi)
  • Metering (Multi, center-weighted, spot)
  • Filter (Off, black & white, sepia, red, green, blue, yellow, pink, purple) - see below
  • Sharpness (Soft, normal, hard)
  • Saturation (Low, normal, high)
  • Contrast (Low, normal, high)
  • Flash intensity (Weak, normal, strong)
  • Grid (on/off) - displays a "rule of thirds" grid on the LCD
  • Digital zoom (on/off)
  • Review (on/off) - whether picture is shown on LCD after it is taken
  • L/R key (REC mode, EV shift, white balance, ISO, off) - define what left/right on the four-way controller does

The QV-R40 has the same "Best Shot" modes that have been on Casio cameras for years. Here's how it works: you select a scenario on the LCD, and the camera picks the best settings for it! The choices are:

  • Portrait
  • Scenery
  • Portrait w/scenery
  • Coupling shot - combine two shots into one
  • Pre-shot - Shoot the background first, then have someone shoot you in front of it
  • Children
  • Candlelight portrait
  • Party
  • Pet
  • Flower
  • Natural green
  • Sundown
  • Night scene
  • Night scene portrait
  • Fireworks
  • Food
  • Text
  • Collection - a bizarre one: macro mode + displays a "composition outline" (basically a fancy grid)
  • Monochrome
  • Retro - low contrast + sepia filter
  • Twilight - high contrast + magenta filter
  • Register favorites - create your own Best Shot using a photo you've taken

I should mention that the only way to get long exposures on the QV-R40 is to either use the night scene or fireworks mode. In normal mode, the camera will not go any slower than 1/8 sec. Night scene will shoot as slow as 1 sec, while fireworks will do 2 secs.

Recent Casio cameras have a unique "x3" self-timer feature. The camera takes three shots in a row, with a 10 second delay for the first shot, and a 1 second delay for each subsequent shot.

As you can see, the QV-R40 has manual white balance. You can shoot a white or gray card to get perfect color in any lighting.

The filter feature is one that you don't see very often. It lets you do some creative things with your photos, though you could do the same things in Photoshop. This is also where you'll find the black & white mode.

The memory tab in the menu lets you choose what settings are stored when the camera is turned off.

There is also the standard-issue setup menu for setting the date and all that fun stuff. The items found here include:

  • Beep (on/off)
  • Startup screen (on/off) - you can select your own image if you want
  • File no. (continue, reset) - file numbering
  • World time - choose your home city and another one abroad
  • Date style (YY/MM/DD, DD/MM/YY, MM/DD/YY)
  • Date set
  • Language (Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, plus 3 Asian languages that I can't read)
  • Sleep (Off, 30 sec, 1, 2 min)
  • Auto power off (2, 5 mins)
  • Card format
  • Reset - go back to default settings

Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.

The QV-R40 took a sharp, albeit noisy shot of our macro subject. The colors and exposure are both very good. The noise in the image (which is an issue with this camera) gives the subject a fuzzy, "video capture" appearance.

The focal range in macro mode is 10 - 70 cm. Do note that the optical zoom range is limited to 1.0X - 1.2X while in macro mode.

The night test shot is alright, but could be a lot better. The main issue is that the camera's shutter speed range is limited to 2 seconds max, which just isn't long enough for this shot. In normal shooting mode, the slowest it'll go is 1/8 sec, so you'll want to use either the night scene or fireworks Best Shot modes instead.

I did notice a few hot pixels in this shot as well.

Wow, full-on demon eyes! Compact cameras usually have a lot of trouble with redeye, and the R40 is no exception. You can usually remove redeye in software with good results. Also note the amount of noise in this ISO 80 shot.

The distortion test shots moderate barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of the lens.

The QV-R40 takes sharp images with accurate color and exposure. Purple fringing was not a major issue.

The biggest gripe I have with the photo quality is the noise level -- it's higher than average. The place where the noise is most obvious is in the sky, and on flat things like walls. It really eats away at the detail in your shots. Have a look:

Normal sharpness, ISO 80
View original image

Low sharpness, ISO 80
View original image

Lowering the sharpness helps a little, but there's still a lot of junk in the photo that shouldn't be there. The noise won't affect your 4 x 6 inch prints, or if you downsize your images quite a bit. But the bottom line is that other cameras deliver better picture quality for around the same price.

As always, don't just take my word for it -- have a look at the photo gallery and judge the quality for yourself!

Movie Mode

The QV-R40 has a rather outdated movie mode. You can record up to 30 seconds of 320 x 240 video, without sound.

Since the camera does not record sound, you can use the zoom lens during filming. (Updated 2/1/04)

Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.

Here is a sample movie for you to check out. The quality is nothing to write home about.

Click to play movie (1.2MB, AVI format)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

The R40 has a pretty full-featured playback mode. The basic features like slide shows, DPOF print marking, zoom and scroll, and image protection are all here.

The zoom and scroll feature lets you zoom up to 4X into your photo and then move around in it. This feature was surprisingly sluggish on an otherwise super-fast camera.

You can also rotate images, or resize them to 1280 x 960 or 640 x 480.

But there's more -- the R40 has three very unique playback features.

The first is favorites, which lets you "tag" your best photos for easy retrieval later (kind of like bookmarks in your web browser).

Cool feature number two is the "create album" item, which will make an HTML photo gallery automatically! You can then copy over the album folder to your website, and that's it! You can choose from 10 different album layouts, or make your own. This is a useful feature that is (surprisingly) still unique to Casio cameras.

The last interesting playback feature is the calendar. This shows a calendar of the current month, with a tiny thumbnail picture shown on the day it was taken. This is a nice (and different) way to jump through your photos by date!

By pressing the display button, the QV-R40 can display exposure information for your photos, including a histogram. The camera moves through photos instantly -- very nice.

How Does it Compare?

The Casio QV-R40 is a compact camera whose biggest selling points are its size, performance (especially startup speed), and ease-of-use. In terms of size, the R40 about as large as Canon's popular PowerShot S400, and it feels nice in your hand. Performance is excellent: the camera starts up very quickly, and shutter lag is minimal. This point-and-shoot camera is also easy to use, thanks to the Best Shot modes. The playback mode has three useful (and rare) features: favorites, albums, and the calendar. The R40's sub-$300 price tag and use of AA batteries adds to its appeal.

As much as there is to like about the R40, there were many things that I did not care for. First and foremost are the high noise levels I found in my photos -- even at ISO 80. Casio bills the R40 as a point-and-shoot camera, so I don't expect to see full manual controls (they did include white balance and focus). However, the slowest shutter speed is just two seconds, and that's in fireworks mode. While the old QV-R4 had an AF-assist lamp, Casio mysteriously got rid of this useful feature on the R4. Same goes for the diopter correction knob for the optical viewfinder. The R40's movie mode could use an upgrade as well. And finally, in the bundle department, I would've liked to see a memory card (or more than 10MB of internal memory) included. And please, Casio, print out the full manual so the customer doesn't have to.

The QV-R40 is a decent camera, but there are better choices out there.

What I liked:

  • Compact, mostly-metal body
  • Robust performance, especially startup speed
  • Manual white balance, focus
  • Lots of useful "best shot" (scene) modes
  • Cool calendar, favorites, album features in playback mode
  • Uses AA batteries; nice rechargeables included
  • Good value

What I didn't care for:

  • Images are too noisy
  • No AF illuminator (the camera the R40 replaces had one)
  • Needs slower shutter speeds
  • Redeye
  • Outdated movie mode
  • Sluggish zoom and scroll feature in playback mode
  • 10MB of onboard memory isn't much
  • No video out port
  • Bundled software not Mac OS X native
  • Manual on CD

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the QV-R40 before you buy!

Other cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot S400, Casio Exilim EX-Z4, Minolta DiMAGE G400, Nikon Coolpix 4300, Olympus Stylus 400, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC43, Pentax Optio 450 and S4, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P92.

Photo Gallery

So how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos in our photo gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Get another view of the QV-R40 over at Steve's Digicams.

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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