Casio QV-R40 Review

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Steve's Conclusion

As the successor to Casio's popular QV-R4, the 4-megapixel 3X optical zoom QV-R40 is worthy of its name. With an MSRP of $299.99, it falls into the class of mid-range consumer digicams, but its speed, size, features and photo quality are comparable to higher-end cameras costing much more. The QV-R40 is simple enough for a beginner to use and although providing no way to manually set aperture or shutter speed, it offers plenty of adjustability to satisfy the creative urges of an intermediate user. EV (+/- 2 stops), white balance, ISO (80, 160 and 320), sharpness, saturation, contrast and more can be changed via the easy to use menu system.

The QV-R40 is quite durable thanks to its aluminum-alloy body, and the retraction of its lens inside the camera behind a lens cover when powered down. The size and durability of the QV-R40 will allow you to stow it in your pocket, fanny or back pack without being overly concerned about damaging it.

The QV-R40's shooting performance is impressive. From power-on until completion of the first image capture took only 2.2 seconds. While Casio claims a fast startup of approximately 1 second, our testing includes power-on, the delay of the photographer releasing the shutter, and image capture; this is a measurement that you will be able to reproduce in the real world. Shutter lag, the elapsed time between the photographer releasing the shutter and the camera capturing the image, measured an impressive and professional-class 1/10-second when pre-focused, and an equally impressive 4/10-second including autofocus delay; both timings include photographer response time. The QV-R40's responsiveness will allow you capture unposed special moments and sports action while many of its competitors would leave you frustrated with their delays. Surprisingly, the QV-R40 has no continuous capture shooting mode, and its shot-to-shot time measured an average 4 seconds; its rapid shooting performance is not in the same class. All timings were obtained using a 4-megapixel image size, best quality, and no flash.

The unbranded 3X optical zoom lens produced sharp results throughout its range, with noticeable barrel distortion at extreme wide angle and pincushioning at full telephoto. The operation of the optical zoom is smooth and quiet, but not continuous; it moves through its 39-117mm range in 7 distinct steps, adequate for composing most shots.

We were pleased with the results of our outdoor shooting. The lens and 5-point autofocus system combined to produce sharp images, while the exposure system delivered shots that were both richly saturated and well-exposed. Its 4-megapixel imager provides enough resolution for 11X14 prints, and will enable you to produce pleasing 8X10 prints even when the image is heavily cropped. The LCD viewfinder has an anti-glare coating, but its brightness is not adjustable; we found it usable in most outdoor shooting situations, but you'll prefer to use the optical viewfinder on very bright days.

We were equally pleased with indoor shooting results. While it has no focus-assist lamp, the QV-R40's autofocus was surprisingly effective in conditions of low ambient light, as was the usability of its LCD viewfinder. The flash is well matched to the 39mm wide angle field of view, with no noticeable drop-off in lighting at the edges of the image, and it seemed more powerful than Casio's claimed maximum range of 2.9 meters. You won't be illuminating an entire banquet room with this flash, but you'll be pleased with your results in average-sized rooms, portraits of small groups, and with the the QVR-40's accurate reproduction of skin tones. Its ability to squelch the flash at close range and its macro focusing capability make the QV-R40 a good choice for photographing small objects for online auction listings.

Although it uses only 2 AA's for power, we were able to shoot more than 100 images using the LCD viewfinder on a pair of 2000mah NiMH batteries. We always recommend using NiMH batteries when possible, and you should keep several charged pairs on hand for the unexpected photo opportunity.

The QV-R40, like its predecessor the QV-R4, is equipped with several unique and effective shooting modes. For example, the Coupling Shot mode combines 2 subjects into 1 image. Imagine you're with your spouse or friend and want to take a shot of the two of you and there's nobody else around to help you. One of you poses, the other takes the shot. Then you switch places and stand where you would if you had been next to your partner and she takes a second shot; the two pictures are then "merged" in the camera to form one image. This of course works best if the camera is sitting on a tripod or other sturdy support surface. Another unique exposure mode is called Pre-Shot, allowing you to compose a shot of a suitable background for your own portrait. The Pre-shot background becomes a semi-transparent guide for another photographer to capture the same composition, but with you in the foreground. Only the second image is saved. Your results will benefit from a choice of 21 BestShot scene modes that have been optimized for a variety of shooting situations. The range from the unique Coupling and Pre-shot modes just described, to the more ordinary portrait, scenery, pet, macro and more. Each BestShot mode is well-described on the LCD viewfinder as you select it, helping you choose the right one for the conditions or subjects you're shooting.

Another feature unique to Casio digicams is the ability to build HTML-based slide shows and albums right in the camera. You just copy the entire ALBUM folder to your hard drive and then load the INDEX.HTML page with you favorite browser to view your photos. This folder and images can also be placed on your website and accessed by your friends; it's a very useful feature that can take the place of 3rd-party software.

With its robust performance, useful and unique scene modes, 4 megapixel imager, small size, durable aluminum-alloy body and very good image quality, the Casio QV-R40 packs a lot of value into its MSRP of $299.99. It's a camera that the entire family can use, but its simplicity doesn't diminish the usefulness of the more advanced features which make this camera unique in the digicam marketplace. We think that you'll enjoy this all-around family camera.

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