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Design

The C-40Z is clearly designed to be as compact and portable as possible. From the front it takes on an almost square appearance. From a portability point of view the C-40Z is not only small but surprisingly light, fully loaded it weighs in at only 250 g (8.8 oz) and that makes it the same weight as the Pentax Optio 330 and some 73 g (2.6 oz) lighter than Canon's PowerShot S40. While we're talking about the S40 I really do prefer the C-40Z's lens cover, it slides along rails at the top and bottom of the body, this gives it a smoother, stronger feel than the S40.

The front of the camera, including the lens cover, is metal, the center 'band' and rear are moulded plastic (although a fairly robust variety). Clearly if the camera had been made entirely from metal it would have been 50 g or so heavier.

Behind the sliding lens cover you'll find the flash, viewfinder window and 2.8x lens. Something you may not have noticed yet (take a closer look) is that the lens elements aren't centrally mounted within the barrel, they are offset towards the top. Camera layout is logical enough, buttons are located within reach of your fingers and grip design and rear thumb moulding works well, it's difficult to make a small camera easy to grip but Olympus appear to have pulled it off.

Here you can see the size of the C-40Z compared to the Canon PowerShot S40 and Pentax Optio 430 (both ultra-compact four megapixel). The C-40Z is larger than both but (to me) no less pocketable. You can see the better more 'integrated' design of the C-40Z's sliding lens cover (compared to the S40).

The C-40Z is remarkably small, it's difficult to realize until you first pick it up. Yet despite this, and thanks to the thumb grip moulding at the back of the camera, it's actually quite easy to grip. The cameras light weight is no doubt another help. The second 'in hand' shot above should give you a good idea of the C-40Z's size.


Status LCD (top)

The C-40Z's status LCD indicates the status of major camera settings such as focus mode, flash mode, drive mode, white balance, ISO, exposure compensation, image quality setting and available frames. Because of its limited size the status LCD doesn't give a readout of exposure information such as shutter speed or aperture, but it's sufficient to provide you with enough information to shoot without constantly referring back to the LCD monitor.


LCD Monitor (rear)

The 1.5" LCD monitor on the rear of the camera provides a bright, clear and high resolution display. As we've seen on previous cameras these small 1.5" displays are often brighter and clearer than some of their larger counterparts (because of the finer dot pitch). That said the C-40Z's LCD doesn't have a protective screen (you can touch the LCD) which would lead me to worry about it being damaged, this really should have been considered for a pocket camera. This also means there's no anti-reflective coating.


Viewfinder

As with nearly all compact and ultra-compact digital cameras the C-40Z has the standard 'optical tunnel' type viewfinder, although linked to the main lens zoom system it can't offer the exact same field of view and especially will suffer from parallax (frame offset) errors at close subject distances, there are no parallax correction lines on the viewfinder screen. There is also no dioptre adjustment for those wearing corrective glasses.

The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:

Orange Steady Flash charged and will fire with next shot
Orange Flashing Shot may suffer from shake blur (slow exp.)
Green Steady Good AF Lock
Green Flashing AF difficulty, cannot lock focus


Battery Compartment

The C-40Z is fairly unusual among digital cameras in only requiring two AA batteries (or one Olympus CR-V3 Lithium - not rechargeable), this of course helps to keep down the cameras overall weight and size. It's also surprisingly handy as most rechargeable AA battery packs come in fours you will always have a spare set.

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