With a depth rating of up to 3m for up to 2 hours, the waterproof Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP could be the perfect beach accessory this summer. Whether you're splashing in the surf or lounging in the pool, this is a camera that you can take with you. It's small, it's simple and, at around £160, it's rather affordable too. You can even pick a colour to match your towel.
This is a very pretty little camera. Fujifilm's chosen really bright and eye-catching colours (blue, green, pink, yellow and black), and created a camera that looks contemporary, fashionable and elegant at the same time. It just shows that underwater cameras can also look cool.
Round the back, there's no navigation pad -- just a screen and a vertical grid of buttons on the right, four of which double up as navigational buttons. It takes a while to figure out how to use the controls, but it's an efficient system and, of course, it's waterproof. It also looks rather good.
Inside, you get a 10-megapixel sensor and a 3x optical zoom, which is fine for a casual snapper like this. The shooting modes include Fujifilm's handy 'natural light with flash' option, which takes two pictures -- one with flash and one without -- so you can pick the one that works best. The flash also blends in rather well with the existing light to produce more natural-looking flash shots.
It looks like Fujifilm's forgotten about the old xD-Picture Card format. For a while, it's been building dual-format slots into its compacts that can support both xD-Picture Cards and SD cards, but the Z33WP is SD/SDHC only. That's hardly a great loss, it has to be said.
While this camera's style, simplicity and price make you want to like it, there are some limitations. You get what you pay for, and your first batch of pics will reveal one of this camera's main weaknesses: it may be a 10-megapixel sensor, but you're not getting 10 megapixels worth of definition. The Z33WP's pictures are noticeably softer than those of other 10-megapixel compacts. They'll be okay if you just get your prints done at a photo lab and seldom enlarge anything beyond 10 by 8 inches, say, but, the minute you open them up in an image editor, you're going to see the difference.
It has a slow playback mode, too. You can probably put up with the jerky 'wipe' transition between images, but, if you press the zoom button to check the fine detail, it takes an astonishing 15 seconds to reach full magnification. When it takes that long, you start looking for something else to do.
These problems start to add up. Your initial enthusiasm begins to wear off. You notice other things, like the sluggish and noisy zoom, and the rather heavy feel of the buttons. This is still an appealing little camera, but it's certainly got its faults.
The Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP's definition isn't great and its operation is rather sluggish, but, despite all that, this camera is so neat and pretty that you've got to cut it some slack. Perhaps its biggest problem is that it doesn't look like a £160 camera, so it's disappointing when it starts behaving like one.
Edited by Charles Kloet