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Underwater compact camera review

Fuji XQ1 | Fuji WP-XQ1 underwater housing

Equipment review

The Camera | It's been quite a while since we reviewed a Fuji compact for underwater use. 2014 was a very busy year (something to do with writing a new book) but once we came up for air, it felt like it was time to catch up with the latest in compact cameras.

Fuji put a halt to their lovely FinePix range in late 2013 and moved across to developing a new "X" product group. The Fuji XQ1 is tagged as being part of their Pro-enthusiast camera range. There is a wide selection of models from the smart and retro-looking X100T and X100S right down to this, the smallest in the group.

The XQ1 doesn't look very different from a few others on the market and in fact could easily be mistaken for Canon Powershots or Sony Cybershots. Each of these has their own unique features, mostly based on the software programmes. Despite the visual similarities, the XQ1 is small neat, uncomplicated and easy to use.

Technical specs

2/3-inch 12M X-Trans CMOS II sensor
25-100mm zoom
Wide F1.8 aperture
Large 3.0 inch LCD
Versatile control ring
0.06 seconds Autofocus
Wireless image transfer.

Mode dial

Pop-up flash

Control ring
Landside tests

So far, I have only used this camera on land as our planned dive trip for the spring fell through. However, it has been great fun having it at home in the UK during a good spell of weather. You could use this camera on any number of settings that allow a variety of adjustments to speed, exposure and so on, but principally I stuck the top mode dial on the camera symbol (auto) and let camera do the work. Surely, that's the point of a small compact like this and – as you can see from the pictures below – the colours and exposure are excellent. I also used the advanced SR, which chooses settings for you (pretty good) and in strong sun, I used P so I could reduce the brightness a little.

The introduction of the control ring around the lens is very nice. This has default actions that link to the selected setting on the mode dial and allow adjustments (aperture, ISO, zoom, filters etc.) without going into settings via the menu. You can also assign your own settings to the ring.

Speaking of filters, one very cute little trick is the partial colour filter. This takes a black and white photo with a single highlight colour. Set it on the red option, take a picture of the roses and voila! the picture on the right is the result. This is absolutely the first thing I will do underwater just to see what happens.

The only small negative I have found is that the autofocus in macro mode can be a little temperamental, but it is fast so it makes sense to shoot a few extra frames to ensure you get the shot. One other little quirk is this camera is quite noisy with soft clicks and whirrs which may well be amplified in the housing and be heard on video. We shall see.

LOCATION: Lyme Regis, Dorset

LOCATION: Barrington Court Gardens, Somerset

LOCATION: Lyme Regis, Dorset

Dive Kit
Underwater Housing | The Fuji WP-XQ1 housing will be tested shortly but this has nearly all of the same features that have always impressed me in other Fuji housings. Produced to specifically fit this camera, it is still substantial, solid and well made. My favourite feature remains the locking device – a sturdy twist wheel, that clicks firmly into place and is ideal for anyone who has ever given their precious camera a salt-water bath. Sadly, in this version, the previous double o-ring system has been removed. However, the twist wheel lock should do the job.

Fuji supply this as a complete kit as well. The package includes:
• Fujifilm XQ1 digital camera
• Underwater housing
• Fujifilm X series bag
• 8GB SDHC card
• Screens protectors.

The dive pack does not include battery charger as the camera can be charged direct via a USB cable.

Update coming | watch this space for more on the camera and housing in use underwater or sign up for our newsletter and we will send you a link when it's ready to read.

More information on this
and similar cameras are on the FujiFilm website.

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