Fujifilm's Z series of digital compacts are geared toward the tween user with their flamboyant style and pared-down functions. A 10.0 megapixel sensor offers plenty of resolution and room to crop images, and a Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens operates internally. It allows the user basic controls over shooting settings including white balance, ISO sensitivity (from 64-1600), exposure compensation and autofocus mode (center or multi).
At only 3.6 inches wide and 0.8 inches slim, Fujifilm boasts that the Z33WP is the smallest waterproof camera availalbe. It's not much bigger than my cell phone, and it fits easily in the palm of my hand. There's no question that this is a tiny camera, but is smaller necessarily better? I haven't come to a solid conclusion yet, but it's a question on my mind as I continue shooting with the FinePix Z33WP.
As a former teenage girl, there's a part of me that loves the all-bets-are-off style of this camera. It certainly attracts a lot of attention, causing some pedestrian rubber-necking on a trip around my block. I'm glad to report that nobody was hurt.
Standing out from the crowd
Maybe the best way to describe the look of this camera is "non-traditional." It follows that the controls on the back panel are also laid out in a similarly non-traditional way. Instead of a four-way layout, the small, square buttons are stacked into two columns next the 2.7 inch LCD.
This places the directional buttons somewhat awkwardly, and it slowed me down quite a bit at first since I had to keep hunting for the right button. A couple days' worth of shooting has made it easier to work with this button layout, but it should be noted that using the Z33WP may take some adjustment.
I've found that the super-modern style makes the Z33WP a little bit tricky to hold. The slim, rounded edges slip easily even on dry land. And it won't come as a shock to you when I say that the FinePix Z33WP sinks in water. It's usually recommended that owners of a waterproof camera like this one should buy a floating wrist strap, and this is no exception.
Everybody in the pool
The FinePix Z33WP promises full functionality underwater at depths of up to 3.0 meters (9.8 feet). That equates to a dive into the deep end of a pool or snorkeling along an ocean shore. In our case, it was a dive into my kitchen sink. Shooting in the underwater mode, I was surprised at how clear the images were.
Image quality in general has been fairly good. I've been using the Z33WP in better lighting conditions, so more testing needs to be done in that regard. Under good light, however, the FinePix Z33WP turns in some nice images. The leaves in the photo below show quite a bit of detail even toward the edges.
Flash has been very tricky to use, however. In dim conditions when the flash automatically fired, it overwhelmed the subjects in my photo both in and out of water. To combat this problem, Fujifilm has included a shooting mode that takes two shots back-to-back - one with flash and one with natural lighting. I'll be giving this mode a try and doing some more testing with the flash over the next few days.
My first impression of the FinePix Z33WP is a good one. It has turned out some nice images, and it functioned well underwater as promised. Though long-term use of the unusual control layout may prove tiresome, I haven't had much trouble with the interface so far. Our full review will take a closer look at these factors, so check back for the final verdict on Fujifilm's water-loving Z33WP.