/ Technology

Yes! Canon renews commitment to viewfinder cameras

Good news for anyone looking for an affordable compact camera with a viewfinder – Canon has revealed a new addition to its line, the PowerShot A1300. Is this evidence of a renewed enthusiasm for viewfinders?

A few years ago, Canon was the last game in town if you were after a small, cheap digital camera with a viewfinder.

Every other manufacturer had largely given up on producing such models. Before long, Canon followed suit, with 2009’s Canon Ixus 100 IS looking like the last of a dying breed.

Canon tests the waters

Then last year, Canon returned to its old ways by releasing the Canon PowerShot A1200, the first cheap compact model with a viewfinder in years. Camera enthusiasts who wanted a simple, affordable model that they could hold to their eye in bright conditions finally had an option.

We were excited as we’d been pushing for a return of viewfinders here on Which? Conversation. The bad news was that Canon at the time refused to commit to producing future cameras with viewfinders. The A1200 was effectively a way of testing the waters – initially, it was only available from Jessops before spreading to other retailers.

It seems that sales of the A1200, which has dropped in price to under £60, have been strong enough to persuade Canon that a market still exists for simple digital cameras with viewfinders.

Enthusiasm for viewfinder cameras

We’ve had hundreds of comments on Which? Convo telling us that there’s a real hunger for cameras with built-in viewfinders, and we’ve been passing these comments on to all the major manufacturers.

I’ve spoken to representatives from Canon numerous times on this issue myself, reminding them that plenty of potential customers have been tracking down old cameras online rather than buying the latest models which don’t have viewfinders.

With the release of the new Canon PowerShot A1300, it seems Canon has listened to its customers and renewed its commitment to producing cheap compacts with viewfinders.

The A1300 offers a 16Mp image sensor, 5x optical zoom (up from the A1200’s 4x zoom) and 720p HD video recording. It will launch in April priced at £109, and we’d expect this price to drop further as well.

We want more viewfinders

Make no mistake, from our independent lab testing of last year’s A1200 we didn’t think the camera was perfect, and the viewfinder itself was on the uncomfortably small side. But it’s still great to see a major manufacturer offering low-cost models with a feature that’s in demand but hard to find.

Most of the viewfinder cameras released in 2011 were ludicrously expensive, so a cheap option will always be a welcome prospect. Well done Canon, but why stop there? I’d now like to see other major manufacturers upping their game and offering cheap viewfinder cameras!

Jimmy says:
1 August 2012

I bought a Sony Cybershot in the US in 1999. My first digital camera. It was fantastic. I used the viewfinder exclusively – never used the screen except to check sometimes on the captured image. I lost the camera and bought a new Sony Cybershot. It has no viewfinder. I hardly ever use the camera now. Please wake up camera suppliers. A viewfinder is essential on virtually all cameras, including compact, point-and-shoot models, especialy when you are like me, far-sighted and want to take a photo without having to find my reading glasses beforehand. Also, holding the camera to my head helps me to stabilise it and to compose better pictures.

JayD says:
12 August 2012

I have long been looking for a decent digital camera that has a viewfinder as well as a screen. In sunlight, the screens are just impossible for me to see – I like to look through a viewfinder and see what I am taking a picture of – not hold the camera at arms lenght, squinting at a screen that is reflecting everything else in it. Please keep the campaign going.

I almost bought a Canon A1200 but it was out of stock and fear that it is soon to be withdrawn 🙁

Trevor says:
16 September 2012

Congratulations to Which? on this campaign. I can’t believe how deaf the manufacturers are to what customers want. I would NEVER buy a camera with only an LCD screen. Perhaps you could start a parallel campaign on camcorders where the issue is even more crucial. I tried to buy one a year or so ago when my old DV machine died. John Lewis had nothing. I asked the helpful salesman how many customers asked for a viewfinder and he said 40%. That is a lot of sales being lost. I gave up an got a secondhand DV machine on EBay for £90.

Rod Jones says:
9 June 2013

Are the manufacturers faizing out cameras? I do not hope so. The menus usually used are very fiddley and confusing for me and maybe a lot of other users as well. If taking a picture of wildlife fiddling to try and get a picture, the item has gone. So enough of the too many complex menus and easier disc programmes (These also take up too much time) if the manufacturers want to hold on to their sales, please, please include a much larger Optical Viewfinder and not loose them to Phone Cameras. A camera on its own has better spec than a phone camera!

Excellent been looking for a small point and shoot with viewfinder nearly impossible to find wish was available now 😉