First Grope: Fufifilm F40fd

Fujifilm announced the F40fd (at left) a few days before CES, and we got our first chance today to fondle it. The biggest improvement from its predecessor is the slimmer figure. We loved the old FinePix F31fd (right) that boasts a stratospheric ISO 3200 sensitivity (and actually looked good up to at least up to ISO 800). It also produces crisp detail and gorgeous colors. Not so loveable, though, is its doughy physique measuring 1.1 inches thick—which made it hard to slip into a pocket.

The F40fd slims down to a lithe .9 inches and ups the resolution from 6.3 to 8.3 megapixels. Like the F31fd, it includes Fujifilm's face-detection technology, which can recognize up to 10 mugs and adjust focus and light metering so they come out clearly in the picture. (At least it worked with cardboard cutouts of faces in a demo.) And it's one of Fujifilm's first new cameras that accept SD memory cards (in addition to the white elephant xD type that Fujifilm has so stubbornly stuck by).

First Grope: Fufifilm F40fd

Using its face-detection foo, the F40fd can automatically produce cropped previews and copies of photos to create portraits of each individual in a group shot. And if you print directly from the camera (sans PC) it will kick out as many copies of a picture as there are faces in it. The camera can play slideshows from the memory card, and it automatically rotates photos taken in portrait mode so nothing ends up going sideways across the screen. Fujifilm did drop the maximum ISO from 3200 to 2000. But since 3200 was useless on the F30 anyway, it's not much of a loss.

First Grope: Fufifilm F40fd

The F40fd goes on sale in March for $300.

This one is a keeper.