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Fuji FinePix Z33WP

Trendy, splashy waterproof Fuji FinePix
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer and Carol Cotton)

With seemingly everyone branching out into the waterproof space, Fujifilm did not want to be left behind and introduced the FinePix Z33WP in February of 2009. It's a part of Fuji's popular Z-Series geared towards young (and young at heart) consumers who like trendy designs. The small and light Z33WP offers 10-megapixel resolution, comes in four colors (green, blue, pink and black) and can handle 10 feet of water.

What's in a name?

Right upfront, I must say that the "Z33WP" name of the camera puzzles me a bit. The "WP" is clear enough -- Water Proof" -- but with waterproof cameras usually being able to handle either 10 or 33 feet (3 or 10 meters), I thought the "33" in the camera's name referred to its depth rating. This notion was reinforced when I saw that the camera carries an IP68-equivalent rating. IP stands for Ingress Protection and is a rating system often used for rugged mobile computers. The "6" means it's dustproof, the "8" means it is totally waterproof. So the 10 feet depth limit of the Z33WP came as a surprise. It's no big deal as it simply means the camera was designed for splashing around, snorkeling, boating, kayaking and so on, as opposed to going on scuba dives.

Positioning

Fuji's press release described the new Z33WP as "life-proof," a fun 10-megapixel camera available in three striking colors and ready for any adventure including underwater activity up to approximately 10 feet. Its 2.7, 230,000 pixel resolution LCD screen is the largest of any Z-series camera yet, and there is a fully internal Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens to get a clearer view of not-to-be-missed moments on the beach, on ski slopes, hiking in the mountains or boating at the lake. And since the camera is waterproof it is also perfect for everyday activities in the rain, the pool or any other place you might think twice about taking a conventional digital camera.

Features

One of the things we always liked about the Olympus weather and waterproof cameras is their small size. They aren't any larger than regular ultra-compacts, which means you can take them anywhere and they fit anywhere. The same applies to the FinePix Z33WP. It measures just 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches, so the footprint is barely larger than a credit card. The camera weighs less than four ounces without card and battery, and not much more with them. In fact, Fuji calls it the world's smallest 3-meter waterproof camera (the fineprint qualifies that as the smallest 10-megapixel camera with 3X zoom).

In terms of features, the Z33WP has a "smart" self timer function that waits until it recognizes the selected number, position and distance of faces before it snaps a picture. This way, everyone can get into a picture, and the camera won't shoot until all are present and accounted for. The camera's face detection feature not only finds faces and optimizes them, it can also apply automatic red-eye removal. In night portrait and backlit portrait mode the camera will find faces and then select the proper exposure and flash setting for an optimal result. There's also a scene recognition auto mode where it recognizes six different scene types (portrait, macro, night, landscape, and the afore-mentioned night and backlit portrait modes. The camera has Fujifilm's Picture Stabilization that uses high sensitivity for faster shutter and operational speeds to help reduce the impact of camera shake.

The camera has a special "Blog Mode" that automatically resizes a photo to a standard VGA (640x480 pixel) or QVGA (320x240 pixel) image and enables twelve in-camera editing features such as zooming, miniature effect, illustration and painting, cutting the need for extra time with home editing, should you so desire. Another nice benefit is being able to see a 10 x 10 thumbnail array all at once.

We also like the Z33WP's large and bright 2.7-inch hi-res display and the one-touch movie mode. In movie mode, you can shoot in 640 x 480 format at 30 frames per second until the card is full (or a movie file reaches 2GB).

For underwater use, Fuji equipped the Z33WP with a special underwater scene mode (but no special underwater white balance), and there is also an optional float strap in case the camera escapes your hand, as well as a protective silicone jacket that guards against scratches and improves grip.

The Z33WP's controls are arranged in a 5 x 2 grid instead of the conventional button/navigation diamond arrangement. The grid provides access to the standard point-and-shoot camera functionality.

The battery is a small, easily available 740 mAh, 3.7V Li-Ion NP-45 pack. A full charge is good for about 200 pictures, though that depends on how often you use the LCD. Replacement batteries are inexpensive and widely available, so get a spare.

Bottom line

The 10-megapixel FinePix Z33WP is Fujifilm's entry into the waterproof camera space where it joins a growing number of offerings from Olympus, Pentax, Panasonic, Canon and a number of specialty manufacturers. The playfully styled camera is very small and light. That's in part because while it is waterproof, it doesn't claim to be freezeproof or shockproof as some of the competition does. The camera's maximum depth rating of ten feet makes it suitable for all sorts of activities in and around the water, including boating, swimming, kayaking, surfing and snorkeling, but not scuba diving unless it is on very shallow dives. The Z33PW has a large and bright 2.7-inch LCD display and the camera's somewhat uniquely arranged controls are simple and easy operate. The basic 3X 35-105mm equivalent optical zoom is not optimal for underwater use where wide angle shooting is almost mandatory. There is digital, but not optical, anti blur. The camera is strictly a point-and-shooter with some fun features and functions such as onboard image correction, automatic scene selection, and advanced face recognition modes. If the 10-foot depth limit or lack of ruggedness doesn't cramp your style, the list price of US$199 makes this new Fuji a fun and very affordable choice among waterproof cameras.

We like:

  • Waterproof to 10 feet, dustproof
  • Bright 2.7-inch LCD
  • Very small and light
  • Funky colors and styling
  • Inexpensive for a waterproof camera
  • One-touch movies
Not so much:
  • Basic 3X optical zoom that starts at 35mm
  • Only one underwater mode and no underwater white balance
  • Not freeze- or shockproof
  • 10-foot depth limit precludes most scuba

Specifications Fuji FinePix Z33WP
Status Added 02/2009
Camera Type Waterproof Compact
Body Unknown
Water/dust protection Waterproof to 10 feet, "IP68 compliant"
Operating temperature unknown
Shock protection unknown
Size 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.8
Weight (oz.) 3.9 w/o (camera body only)
Effective Pixels 10.0 mp
CCD Type 1/2.3-inch CCD
Max pixel size 3648 x 2736
File formats Still: JPG (EXIF 2.2), DPOF 1.1; Movie: AVI (Motion JPEG); Sound: WAVE (monaural)
Compression Normal, fine
Movie recording (best) til full @ 30fps at VGA
Max movie pixels 640 x 480
Voice recording unknown
Speed continuous shooting 0.6 frames/sec.
Image stabilization digital (high sensitivity --> faster shutter)
Lens Fujinon
Focal length 6.3-18.9mm (35-105mm)
Zoom (optical/digital) 3X/5.7X
Aperture Wide: f/3.7 - f/8.0; tele: f/4.2 - 9.0
Focus modes unknown
Focus macro/normal 3.2 inches, 2.0 feet
Shutter speed 1/1000 to 3 econds
Sensitivity (ISO) auto/ISO 64/100/200/400/800/1600 equivalent
Autofocus system TTL autofocus
Metering TTL 256-zone metering, programmed AE
White-balance modes Auto, fine, shade, 3 fluorescent, incandescent
Shooting modes Auto, SR auto, natural light, natural with flash, manual, anti-blur, successive movie; SP: underwater, action, portrait, landscape, sport, night, night (tripod), sunset, snow, beach, museum, party, flower, text.
Exposure compensation +/-2EV in 1/3 steps
Viewfinder Type none
LCD size 2.7" LCD (230k) TFT color
LCD type standard
LCD construction fixed
Flash type built-in
Flash range up to 13 feet
Flash modes Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Synchro
Camera internal memory 50MB
Storage Medium SD Card, SDHC
I/O USB 2.0
Battery type 740 mAh, 3.7V Li-Ion NP-45
CIPA Battery life 200 images
List Price US$199.95
Contact Fujifilm FinePix Z33PW

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