Our viewfinder campaign – full manufacturer responses
When we asked whether you thought it was unacceptable that you can no longer find an affordable digital camera with a viewfinder, Which? Conversation readers answered in their hundreds. Here the big camera manufacturers respond in full.
It seems plenty of you share the same problems when it comes to composing a shot on a digital camera’s LCD screen, particularly in bright sunshine or when tracking a moving subject.
A survey of 1,667 Which? members found that 70% of respondents struggled to use digital cameras in bright daylight. Furthermore, 60% of respondents who owned a camera without a viewfinder agreed that their experience would be easier if they did have a viewfinder.
Over 400 comments on Which? Conversation backed up these survey results, so we took this avalanche of support directly to the big camera manufacturers and challenged them to respond to their customers.
You can find an overview of the big camera manufacturer responses here and we’ll be updating this page with new manufacturer statements as and when they come in.
Olympus’s full response:
‘Viewfinders are a thorny issue with intertwined and often conflicting strands. They add weight and cost to a product yet are still seen by many as a natural way to frame an image. The cost factor can be as much as 25% on a compact, which is significant in a competitive market place where the majority of happy snappers are not that concerned.
‘The product has also moved on. Conventional optical viewfinders were never very good at dealing with zooms on a non-reflex camera [i.e. non-DSLR] as the image is not the one seen by the lens. In order to allow for modern zooms which go beyond the modest 3x, the viewfinder is often small and shows more of the image than is actually captured – not very satisfactory. To make them work with a zoom lens effectively leads to them being large and complex, adding cost and size.
‘Making an optical finder fit a modern zoom camera with 8x, 10x , 20x zoom is not feasible. As camera phones are doing the everyday snap job for most people, compact cameras have quality and zoom as their point of difference. Compacts today can take images that required a huge SLR and lens a few years ago so you have to balance that even if it works against the optical finder.
‘LCD’s are not perfect either but we are reaching a point where the better ones really do work even in bright light and the idea of an optional electronic viewfinder is gathering momentum. Our own version which works not only with the PEN series but also the new XZ-1 enthusiasts’ compact, is widely regarded as the best yet available and it will not be too long before they are even better and will be acceptable to most people
‘Yet, there is a sizeable group who are not happy with the alternatives, so what happens next? There will continue to be products with optical finders for a niche market who are prepared to pay more, accept the increased size and smaller zoom. The big breakthrough will be in the cost of electronic finders coming down and the quality up so that they can become more widely available.
‘As with many things the market drives the process and it is up to us to prove that a new generation LCD and electronic finder is good enough to satisfy those that are used to an optical one. Sometimes progress takes the scenic route but we will get there.’
You can comment and vote on Olympus’s response on our latest viewfinder Conversation.
Canon’s full response:
‘The PowerShot A1200, announced in January this year, is a versatile compact with optical viewfinder that will attract a wide range of customers looking for a highly capable and easy to use Canon camera. With 28mm wide-angle, 4x zoom Canon optics, HD movies and Smart Auto it not only takes great quality stills and movies, but it allows you to do so with minimal effort or experience. Together with large, clear buttons and controls, plus Hints & Tips to provide guidance for every setting, it is very much a family camera and will appeal to all ages.
‘For the last 5 years our research into customer demand has consistently shown that the vast majority of compact camera users find a large, bright, high contrast LCD more useful than a smaller LCD plus a small viewfinder. Now, however, the time of ever-increasing LCD screens is inevitably nearly at its conclusion. As the size of an LCD is restricted by the size of the camera body and since research indicates that users prefer smaller cameras, the industry has now achieved the optimum balance between these requirements.
‘This has meant Canon has been able to diversify its DSC range of cameras even further this year, offering, as always, a broad range of features, designed for a broad range of users and needs. These include both 3″ LCDs in the PowerShot A3300 IS and IXUS 115 HS, as well as the PowerShot A1200 to address the voice of the market requesting optical viewfinders.
‘We currently have 3 models with viewfinders across our range (PowerShot G12, PowerShot SX30 IS (EVF) and the PowerShot A1200), and while we cannot guarantee that viewfinders will always appear in new models, we are constantly assessing the market needs to determine the feature mix of future models.’
You can have your say on Canon’s response on our latest viewfinder Conversation.
Fujifilm’s full response:
‘Fujifilm believes that both electronic and optical viewfinders have their place in digital photography and the company has recently invested in developing the world’s first hybrid viewfinder for the much anticipated X100 high-end compact camera, specifically designed to recreate a professional photographic experience.
‘Fujifilm will continue to research and develop both electronic and hybrid viewfinders in future, evaluating each application by cost, design practicality and consumer preferences.’
What do you think of Fujifilm’s response? Tell us on this viewfinder Conversation.
Panasonic’s full response:
‘We shared the Which? research with our factory in Japan, which they really appreciated seeing as they are interested in these views moving forward when developing new models.
‘We already have products in the Lumix range that feature viewfinders and, for Panasonic, we are concentrating on continuously developing the quality and functionality of our electronic viewfinders and LCDs.
‘The list of products we offer with viewfinders include FZ100, FZ45, LX5 (optional) and all the Lumix G series (combination of built-in and optional)
‘Another key functionality of our Lumix range include an automatic brightness setting on the LCD, if the camera is in an environment with bright sunlight the camera will increase the brightness of the LCD by up to 40%. The screen brightness automatically adjusts in 11 steps as the surrounding brightness level changes, ensuring easy visibility at all times.’
Are you happy with Panasonic’s response – share your views on our viewfinder Conversation.
Sony’s full response:
‘Thank you for sharing the results of the recent Which? viewfinder survey, the results are very interesting. Unfortunately we received the information at a time when our range was already in the final stages of development and therefore it was too late to influence any possible launches this year.
‘On closer examination of the findings, your survey suggests that the main reasons customers are wanting a viewfinder are for use in bright sunlight and tracking moving subjects.
‘As you are probably no doubt aware, we are continually developing our LCD technology with greater levels of anti-reflective coatings to combat the sunlight issues in our TruBlack screens and in the latest range of Cyber-shot cameras we now have super-quick AF and the ability to track and lock onto moving subjects.
‘We’d also like to point out that we do appreciate and understand the demand for viewfinders which is why on our NEX products there is such an accessory available for those consumers who wish to have it.
‘We are always striving to meet consumer demand and make better products, so the information has been shared with our colleagues in Tokyo product planning departments. We have been promised they will study the information carefully and they are in the process of preparing a global feasibility study to gauge the need for such a product for a much wider audience. We hope to be able to share some positive news with you in the future.’
Have your say on Sony’s comments in our latest viewfinder Conversation.