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Pentax Optio E40 compact camera

This snapper needs to sharpen its teeth

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Review If you’re thinking of dipping your toe into the digital photography waters or simply on a tight budget, then an entry-level (aka budget) compact is a very appealing answer. The Pentax Optio E40 is one such model.

Not least because today’s budget models offer a surprisingly wide array of features – and their performance can be pretty good too. The £100 Pentax Optio E40 (cheaper if you shop around) is aimed squarely at the above buyers. Even so, unless you’re on the same kind of salary as a Premier Division footballer, spending £100 on a duff product is not something to be taken lightly.

Pentax Optio E40

Optop E40: plastic casing yes, but it still feels well constructed

If you’re buying a budget camera you have to be realistic. At this price level you’re not going to get a camera with a diamond-encrusted titanium body, and indeed, the Optio E40 is largely made of plastic. That said, it’s fairly tough plastic and feels reassuringly solid in your hands. And even after we had carried it around in a bag all day, it didn’t get scratched.

At the front is the usual lens, flash, self-timer lamp and pin microphone. On top is a large shutter button and small power button. There’s also a garish sticker extolling the features offered by the E40 – you’ll want to remove this pretty quickly if you have any taste.

Around the back is an LCD screen, zoom rocker control, playback button and four-way controller that is used for selecting the self-timer, flash mode, focus mode (including a manual focus option) and shooting mode – more on this below. Underneath are a menu button and a Green (default) button, which also doubles up as a delete button.

Around the side is a mini USB PC/AV connector, which isn’t covered by a flap. We rather like this arrangement as you can just plug the connecting cable straight into the camera, although the price paid is reduced dust protection. At the bottom are a tripod hole and a flap for batteries and SD/SDHC card.

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