Cameras

Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP Digital Camera Review

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Introduction

The Fujifilm Z33WP is a waterproof (up to 10 feet depth) compact camera that takes only lackluster photos. But at $140, it won't break the bank if you lose it in the surf.

Front

Front Tour Image

Back

Back Tour Image

Sides

Sides Tour Image

Top

Top Tour Image

Bottom

Bottom Tour Image

In the Box

Box Photo
  • The camera
  • NP45 Battery
  • BC-45W Charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • Software CDs
  • Quick Start Guide

Not included is an A/V output cable. That costs an additional $9.

Color

We found that the Z33WP did a reasonable job of capturing colors; most were reasonably accurate, although they were all somewhat oversaturated, and there was no way to lower this saturation. This over saturation was significant; we measured it at about 113 per cent in the normal mode and 128 per cent in the Chrome color mode. That's not uncommon for low end point & shoot cameras, though. We found that the best color accuracy came with the camera in the Normal color mode. More on how we test color.

Color Modes

In addition to the Fujicolor Normal mode we used in the test above, the camera offers a black and white mode and a mode called Chrome that tries to emulate the colors of Fuji's own Fujichrome film. You can see examples of images taken in these modes in the Controls section of this review.

Noise

The bottom line here is that the Z33WP is a noisy camera. In our tests, we found a significant amount of noise in the images at all ISO levels, even at the lowest ISO setting of 64. The amount of noise increased as the ISO increased as well, reaching a maximum at the ISO 1600 setting that is significantly higher than most cameras. More on how we test noise.

ISO

The Z33WP has an ISO range of 64 up to 1600, with an auto setting that sets the ISO across this entire range, depending on the amount of light. There are no settings for higher ISO levels at reduced resolution.

NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.

Resolution

Overall, we were not impressed by the resolution of the images captured by the Z33. They didn't show much distortion or much chromatic aberration, but they also didn't contain much detail; the images were soft and blurry across the zoom range, particularly at the edges of the image. See below for examples, or see our samples section for examples of how the images look. More on how we test resolution.

Distortion ()

We found very little distortion in our tests of the Z33WP: images across the zoom range had only negligible distortion, with the largest amount being 0.14 per cent at the widest angle. That's so small as to undetectable by all but the most critical photographers.

That also compares well with the other cameras that we've tested: the Z33WP has lower distortion than all of them.

Sharpness ()

We were much less impressed with the sharpness of the images that the Z33WP captured. We found these to be reasonably sharp in the center of the image frame, but at the edges the images were rather soft, with fine details not being captured. We saw the same pattern across the zoom range of the Z33WP: moderate sharpness in the center of the image, but very poor sharpness at the edges.You can see examples of this below

Chromatic Aberration ()

This lack of sharpness didn't seem to be caused by chromatic aberration: we saw only small amounts of the characteristic color fringing that is caused by the lens diffracting colors of light to different amounts, and this fringing was mostly consistent across the range.

Quality & Size Options

The Z33WP provides a decent selection of image quality and size options, with 6 different sizes on offer, and two levels of quality available at the highest resolution. The sizes range from the largest 10 megapixel size down to VGA resolution. With a 4 GB memory card, that means you can store between approximately 800 and 24,820 images.

Image Stabilization

This camera has no image stabilization features: there is no optical or electrical image stabilization on this camera. The only thing of this type is a single scene mode called Anti-blur, which increases the shutter speed to try and avoid blurring. We don't test this type of mode. More on how we test image stabilization.

Video Mode

The Z33WP can capture videos, but this mode seems like more of an afterthought than a real attempt to capture video. The maximum resolution it can capture is 640 by 480, or 320 by 240 both at 30 fps. It is simple to use, though: to start recording, you just hit the video button on the bottom right of the back of the camera, and hit it again to stop. You cannot use the zoom controls while recording, but you can zoom in before you start recording a video.

The files that the Z33WP captures are saved as AVI files that use Motion JPEG compression, with mono sound.

Video Color

We found that the Z33WP captured rather inaccurate colors in our tests: with the camera set to the auto white balance setting, most of the colors were shifted significantly towards the blue, giving the video an unpleasant bluish tint. We normally try this test using a custom white balance, but this camera does not offer that feature. More on how we test video color.

Video Sharpness

We found that the movies captured by the Z33WP were not particularly sharp: the captured movies looked blocky, with little detail and jerky motion. More on how we test video sharpness.

Playback Mode

The Z33WP offers a surprisingly wide range of playback features. You can look at up to 100 images on the screen at once as thumbnails, or zoom in up to 10x on an image. There are also a wide selection of slideshow modes, including the ability to create slideshows of only images that show faces.

In-Camera Editing

A very basic selection of image editing tools are on offer: you can trim, re-size, rotate and remove red-eye from images, but there is no way to edit or correct colors.

Direct Print Options

There are the usual options on offer for printing images: you can flag images for printing using the DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) format, or print directly from the camera to any printer that supports the PictBridge standard.

Viewfinder

There is no viewfinder on the Z33WP; images a previewed on the LCD screen.

EVF Photo
EVF Photo 2

... and it has a diopter adjustment ring.

Display

On the back of the camera body is the LCD screen, a 2.7-inch model with a 230k pixel resolution. Although that's a decent size (especially for a small camera like this) the resolution is low, and images on the screen look blocky as a result. The Screen is also rather dim, even at the highest brightness setting.

LCD Photo
LCD Photo 2

...but it turns into a nice 3-inch widescreen in playback mode.

Flash

The small flash is located to the right of the lens. Fuji claims a usable distance for this of up to 12 feet, but we didn't find it to be effective to more than 10 feet at most. We also found that the flash has a habit of overexposing close objects, so it should be used with caution for head and shoulders shots or anything closer than about 4 feet. This was especially annoying when the camera was in auto mode, as it often mistakenly chose night mode when shooting indoors, which seems to crank the flash up even more. Not only will you get pale, washed out photos, your subjects will get temporarily blinded as well.

There are four flash modes: suppressed, forced flash, red eye & slow and red eye. The difference between red eye & slow and just red eye is that the former mode can combine a flash and a slow shutter speed for a night portrait.

Flash Photo

The flash emitter pops up from the top of the body via a mechanical release.

Lens

The Z33WP has a 3x zoom lens built into the camera body: the lens does not protrude from the front of the camera body. The front element of the lens is protected by a plastic cover that keeps it waterproof, but which is also something of a fingerprint magnet. Because this cover remains in place at all times, it is very easy to put your finger on it while the camera is in a pocket, which can leave a nice greasy mark that can make images somewhat blurry.

Lens Photo

The lens has a reasonable aperture range for a fixed lens: f/3.7 to f/8 at the wide zoom setting and f/4.2 to f/8.0 at the telephoto end.

Battery

The Z33WP is powered by a single Lithium Ion battery that holds about 740mAh of charge. Fiji claims a battery life of about 200 frames, and this would seem to be about right, based on our informal tests. The small size and capacity of the NP-45 battery means that you will need to take the charger with you on trips longer than a day or two, and you can't use any other types of battery or power sources. You also have to take the battery out of the camera to charge it; it cannot be charged over USB or other connections.

Battery Photo

Memory

The Z33WP stores photos on SD or SDHC Cards, which fit into a slot above the battery. Cards with capacities of up to 32GB are supported by the camera, and an 8GB card will hold about 1600 shots at the maximum resolution and image quality of the camera.

Media Photo

Jacks, Ports & Plugs

There is only a single connection on the Z33WP; a proprietary socket in the battery and memory card compartment that can be used to connect the camera to a computer or printer with the supplied USB cable. This can also be used to connect to an analog TV with an optional AV out cable, which costs $9.

Ports Photo 1
Ports Photo 2
Ports Photo 3

The DC-input and multi-AV port are located on the right side of the camcorder.

Ports Photo 4

... as is the SD/SDHC card slot.

Other Hardware

Waterproofing

The Z33WP is waterproofed to the IP68 standard, which means it is sealed against dust and dirt and is waterproof to a depth of 9.8 feet (around 3 meters). That's enough that the camera could accompany you while scuba diving, but not enough for anything deeper. Fuji claims that it is the world's smallest camera that can go down to this depth.

Other Hardware Photo

The new GPS module.

Shooting Modes

The Z33WP has a range of shooting modes available, including the usual full auto mode and a wide range of scene modes (19 in all). A mode called manual is also included, but this isn't what the name implies; it's more of a slightly tweakable auto mode that is equivalent to the P mode on most other cameras. There is no true manual mode, as there is no way to directly access the shutter speed or aperture.

Auto Mode Features

Focus - The Z33WP has two focus modes: center and multi. The center mode uses a small area in the center of the frame to focus on, while the multi mode looks for a high-contrast object near he center of the frame and uses that to focus on. We found that the auto focus was generally quick, but did have issues with focusing in low light, especially as this camera does not have an AF assist light.There is no manual focus mode; you have to use the auto focus.

Exposure - The Z33 offers exposure compensation in the manual mode: you can apply up to 2 stops of compensation either up or down. But there is no way to take multiple exposures with different levels of compensation (called bracketing), and the exposure compensation feature is somewhat buried in the on-screen menu. A face detection feature is offered, though, which can detect and use faces as focus points.

Metering - The Z33WP uses a 256-point array to judge the pattern of the subject, but there is no way to manually control this: you have no access to the common center weighted or spot metering features, which allow you to control which parts of the frame are used to judge exposure.

White Balance - A rather basic selection of white balance features are on offer, with an auto mode plus 2 daylight, 3 fluorescent and one incandescent preset. There is no option for setting a custom white balance point either directly or by evaluating a white balance card.

Aperture - For a small lens, the 3x zoom has a decent aperture range: f/3.7 to f/8 at the wide zoom setting and f/4.2 to f/8.0 at the telephoto end. However, there are only three stops on the range, and there is no way to set the aperture manually.

Shutter Speed - In the full auto mode, the shutter speed of the Z33WP ranges from 1/4 of a second down to 1/1000. In other modes, this gets extended out to 3 seconds. Either way, that's a much smaller range than many other cameras.

Self Timer - Several options are offered for taking delayed photos: as well as the usual 10 and 2 second timers, you can also set the Z33WP to take photos when two people are in the frame (with a further option to control how close together they have to be take the photo) or when a group numbering from 1 to 4 are there. There is no option to detect smiles, but the group shutter feature will be welcomed by those trying to corral children into the frame.

Modes Photo

The full mode dial is nice, but frequently rotates by accident.

Scene Modes

There are a good selection of scene modes on offer, including a mode called natural and flash which takes one shot without flash and another with the flash, so you can have both quickly. Other modes on offer include an underwater mode, landscape, night, night(tripod) and anti-blur, which uses a faster shutter speed to reduce camera shake.

A scene recognition mode is also on offer which tries to pick the most appropriate scene mode for the shooting situation. We found this to be easily confused, though; it often picked night mode when shooting indoors, which uses an overly strong flash that produces bleached out results.

Picture Effects

The Z33WP doesn't have any special effects: the closest it comes is the FinePix color setting, which has options for standard, chrome and black & white. The chrome option boosts contrast and saturation to produce a look similar to slide film.

Manual Controls

Manual Controls Photo 1

A dedicated focus-mode switch on the front panel.

Manual Controls Photo 2

The scroll wheel surrounding the d-pad is neither awful nor perfect.

Drive/Burst Mode

The Z33WP has a small selection of drive modes. The main one is a continuous mode (called long period) that takes photos and saves them directly to the memory card, but there are also two modes that shoot quicker, saving the first or last 3 captured photos to memory. These two modes are called First 3 and Last 3.

Shot to Shot ()

Using the long period shooting mode, we measured the speed of the Z33WP at an extremely slow 0.34 frames a second. If you just want three frames, the First 3 mode can capture a slightly better 0.5 frames a second, but that's hardly anything to write home about.

Handling

The Z33WP is a small camera, but it fits into the hand well, with the index finger falling naturally onto the shutter. The small raised ridge on the front also gives the fingers something to grip, although the slick surface of the body means that you won't get much of a grip if you have sweaty hands. Fortunately, there is a wrist strap included, and we would recommend that you use this.

Handling Photo 1
Handling Photo 2
Handling Photo 3
Handling Photo 4

These dedicated buttons give you quick access
to aperture and shutter speed controls.

Buttons & Dials

The buttons that control the Z33WP are on the back of the camera, in a group of 8 buttons on the right side. The top two control the zoom, and these are poorly placed; it is very hard to control the zoom while holding the camera in one hand.

Buttons Photo 1

The other buttons control features such as playback mode, menu, flash, focus and self timer. On the bottom row are buttons for changing display options and movie mode. Again, these are somewhat awkward to use. 4 of the buttons double as directional controls in the on-screen menu, but the layout is confusing.

Buttons Photo 2

The Z33WP has a simple menu structure: you hit the menu button and you are presented with a menu of options such as shoring mode, face detection, etc. This list stretches over two screens, and there is an additional 4 screens of less commonly used setup options, such as volume, memory card formatting, etc.

Manual & Learning

You don't get a printed manual with the Z33WP- instead you get a two single sheet user guides that cover the basics of using the camera in several languages. Fortunately, a more comprehensive manual is available on a CD or as a PDF download here (direct PDF link).

Olympus Stylus TOUGH-8000 Comparison

The Canon D10 is the clear winner in our performance tests: it had better color, lower noise, higher sharpness and a more effective image stabilization system. And this isn't just down to resolution: although the D10 shoots 12.2 megapixel images while the Fuji shoots 10 megapixel ones, the Canon has better optics, a bigger sensor and is just an overall better camera. The D10 also has a pretty effective image stabilization system, which the Z33WP does not.

The Canon D10 is also a much tougher camera: it is waterproof down to 33 feet (against the 10 feet of the Fuji), can deal with temperatures of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (Fuji gives no information on the cold-proofing of the Z33WP) and can handle a drop from up to 4 feet (again, Fuji does not give any info on shockproofing of the Z33WP). So if you like to rough it in the great outdoors, the D10 is more likely to survive.

The Fuji is much cheaper than the Canon, though: at $140, the Z33WP is a lot cheaper than the D10. So, it boils down to if the robustness and better image quality of the D10 is worth the extra money.


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Pentax Optio W80 Comparison

In our tests, we found that these two cameras performed quite similarly. Both had adequate color and reasonable noise performance, but the Fuji did slightly better on our resolution tests, which look at how well the camera can capture detail.

The Olympus is a much tougher camera, though; the company claims that it can handle drops from up to 6.6 feet high, water to a depth of 33 feet and temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The Fuji can handle water to a depth of 10 feet, but they make no claims on temperature or drop resistance. Basically, the Olympus is far more likely to survive rough treatment than the Fuji, but this might be overkill for some users. The Fuji will undoubtedly survive a day at the beach, but the Olympus will survive a day at the beach followed by a bit of diving, a climb up a mountain and a fist fight at a bar afterward. Whether the Olympus is worth the extra $150 depends on what your idea of fun is.


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COMP 3

Both cameras are well priced: the Fuji Z33WP will cost you about $140, while the Pentax W80 will cost about $200. You do get a wider set of features with the W80, though a 5x zoom (against the 3X of the Z33WP), the ability to capture high definition video at 1280 by 720 pixel resolution and a wider zoom (28mm, while the Fuji has a widest zoom of 35mm). The W80 also has a rather nice super macro mode that can focus down to 1cm away, while the Fuji has a minimum focus distance of 8cm.

The W80 is also a tougher camera: Pentax claims that it can go down to 16 feet underwater, be dropped from 3.3 feet and can stand temperatures of 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The Fuji can go down to 10 feet, and the company makes no claims for shock and cold-proofing. That's not to say that the Fuji is a fragile camera: it feels robust enough to stand up to heavy use, and the waterproofing is good enough for beach and shallow snorkel use.


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Conclusion

The FinePix Z33WP is not a great camera. It took images with merely acceptable color and detail and rather poor looking movies. But it is a cheap camera, costing about $140. And the waterproofing makes it a great camera for taking to the beach: it'll be fine in surf, sand and up to 10 feet of water.

So it's fine for beach use, but serious shooters and divers may want to look elsewhere. It is rather awkward to use and lacks manual controls. And the 10 feet of waterproofing means it will be fine for shallow scuba diving, but won't cut it for anything more serious. It is also not proofed against extreme temperatures, so it's not guaranteed to stand up to being dropped on the ski slopes.

If you're looking to take snaps of fun in the sun and sand, the Z33WP is a good, cheap pick. But if you are doing any serious diving, climbing or spelunking, you might want to spend more on a camera that can go deeper, colder and take better pictures.

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