Pentax’s Optio 33L offers a 3x optical and a 2.7 digital zoom in a camera that resembles a standard 35mm compact.
The first question you’re likely to ask is where is the LCD display and viewfinder? The later has been disregarded just like latest cameras from Nikon. The former, however, has now been hinged at the top (unlike the side with the 330 GS) and allowed to a rotate 180 degrees in both directions to give you the benefit of coping with difficult angles or merely popping back into place to make for easy viewing.
Powered by two standard AA batteries, the camera weighs 230g (with batteries) giving it a sturdy feel and makes it sit comfortable in the hand. The zoom capabilities give it 38 - 114mm equivalent to 35mm standards with a f-stop range of 2.6 - 5.0.
On the inside the camera offers plenty to the aspiring photographer with eight picture modes (Picture scene mode, Program, Night Scene, Movie, 3D image, Auto bracket, Digital filter, Panorama assist) plus a manual focus option. Further searching within the cameras simple to use menu system, will also find a live histogram option (not normally found on entry level cameras) and the ability to change shutter speed, aperture settings, white balance and flash settings at a whim.
The 33L copes admirably with greens and multiple focus points. Even on the auto focus setting, pictures were impressive, holding plenty of detail and producing low amounts of noise. The four images size options (2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480) give plenty of choice for both picture quality and memory usage. Using the digital zoom on its highest setting produced images that where affected by noise, making this the only downside to the cameras performance.
This is a great entry-level camera that offers perhaps more than most would want or know how to use at this level. In that way it offers novices room to grow without upgrading straight away, quite rare in today's digicam market.