Priced just the right side of £100, this 8Mp Pentax Optio E40 would make a decent Christmas or birthday gift.

Press the on/off button and the Pentax Optio E40's 3x optical zoom takes a leisurely two to three seconds to extend to maximum wide-angle setting (here a 37.5mm equivalent).

The Pentax Optio E40's rear 2.4in LCD aids shot composition.

The plastic-feel Pentax Optio E40 is powered by two AA batteries rather than a rechargeable lithium ion cell, but you still get 240 shots per charge. Face recognition, auto-focus and exposure are included.

Like Panasonic's pricier FX55 there's an intelligent Auto Picture mode that allows you to point and shoot in any given situation – the Pentax Optio E40 decides whether it is composing a landscape or night scene and adjusts its settings accordingly.

There's also a digital Shake Reduction mode to combat camera wobble by boosting the Pentax Optio E40's ISO setting and shutter speed.

Suggesting its entry-level status, the Pentax Optio E40's controls are larger than average and simply laid out – there's even a 'green mode' (read: easy) button that strips away any confusing elements.

Usefully – if you do want to move away from mere snaps – the Pentax Optio E40 has an alternative program mode that lets you choose light sensitivity (an impressive range from ISO80 up to ISO1000), white balance and exposure compensation – more hands-on control than you'd normally get on a £100 camera.
The Pentax Optio E40 is quick to determine focus and exposure, and its shutter delay is negligible.

As for images, colours are naturally rendered and the white balance is accurately determined by the auto settings. A reasonable amount of detail is captured, with the Pentax Optio E40 erring on the side of underexposure when faced with bright conditions to preserve detail.

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