The Fujifilm Z33WP has a small, beautiful case and for some reason, out of many cameras, I choose to bring it on several recent trips. Size does matter when trying to travel light, I suppose.
The Price: $180...which is astoundingly cheap for a quality (although not top line) waterproof camera.
The Waterproofness: Pretty decently rated to 3 meters. No accompanying shock or coldproofing, so this guy is strickly for pool and tropical snorkeling, not for snow or deeper activity.
The Image Quality: The sample shots I took simultaneously with other waterproof cams revealed a few things, but mainly, noise at anything but great lighting conditions. And taking underwater shots near twilight, the Fuji triggered its flash before other cameras did, implying a slowness in lens setup that even the 1600 iso couldn't overcome. And like most periscope internal lens set ups the edges around photos were not razor sharp. Overall, color was undersaturated at times but photos were good in bright light as long as there wasn't too much contrast to deal with. (See: Hawaii photos) There were an abnormal number of shots ruined by lens smudges, which other cameras seemed to shrug off. (User error? Well, it happened to four z33wp users who tested this camera for me, so you be the judge.) I love the variety of photo modes for different scenarios, but the UI to switch between these modes is buried two levels down in a menu. There's face detection, and digital shake reduction, too.
Video Quality: Does a max of 640 by 480 pixel video.
Controls are WEIRD: The buttons on the back are laid out in a grid, and the control feel suffers because the buttons have dual purposes in many cases; the cross pad also coincides with functions like menu buttons, etc. And zoom buttons are labeled W and T, for wide and telephoto, which took me a moment to figure out and I continuously forgot about them. Maybe its me being dumb, but I found it slightly confusing compared to the button layouts on other cameras. But the good news is that the entire back, side from those buttons, is a 2.7 inch screen.
Shape: Man, no waterproof camera has ever slipped into my pocket so easily.
The Verdict: For Budget types and Fashionistas that splash around a little bit in the waves.
Small and pretty. Cheap, too.
Photo noise, awkward controls. With sunglasses on, maybe the photos won't look that bad.
Summermodo is a chance for Giz to get outside and test our gear where it belongs.