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Pentax Optio M40 Compact Camera

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Pentax Optio M40 Compact Camera

    TechHive Rating

The Pentax Optio M40 comes with an affordable price of $200; it has little, though, to distinguish itself from other 3X-zoom, 8-megapixel point-and-shoot cameras (but perhaps we're getting a bit jaded). Its compact metal body feels solid and reliable. The brushed aluminum finish is available only in silver, which looks a bit dated now that cameras come in so many different colors.

On the back is a 2.5-inch LCD screen with a relatively low 150,000-pixel resolution. The clearly labeled controls to the screen's right are of good size and are evenly spaced, making them easy to operate with your thumb. You have to scroll through the menus a bit to reach all the options, but they're easy to understand because they're labeled with icons and words to describe their use.

A green button works to delete images in playback mode or while the instant review appears on screen after taking a shot, but you can program it to work at other times as a shortcut to various menu functions. I liked setting it to the exposure compensation mode, which let me quickly adjust the brightness using the left and right buttons of the five-way controller.

The M40 offers 11 scene modes for shooting subjects such as kids, flowers, and food. In the portrait and natural skin tone modes, it detects faces and sets the appropriate focus and exposure automatically. In my tests, this capability didn't work as well as other cameras' face-recognition features; I couldn't get it to lock onto more than one face at a time. The camera's antishake mode works by raising the sensor's sensitivity (ISO), so it can use a faster shutter speed.

Our lab tests saw mostly ac--ceptable results for a camera in this price range. However, flash photos looked awful, giving flat skin tones, dull colors, and dark shadows to our test mannequin. I saw the same characteristics in the flash portraits I took of friends.

We were able to take a reasonable 266 shots on a single charge of the lithium ion cell--about average for this group.

Pentax deserves commendation for including with the camera a printed, 187-page operating manual. It may be only black-and-white, but it has plenty of useful illustrations.

The Optio M40 is a relatively compact camera, but it's mostly average in its performance and features. For $200, though, it's a good buy.

--Paul Jasper

This story, "Pentax Optio M40 Compact Camera" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Not the jazziest-looking camera, the M40 earned its chart spot with a sturdy body and a low price. Flash shots looked drab.

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