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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!

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks for this, Rich. I have lost my compact camera so at the moment I am using a ten year old 2MP Olympus digital camera – so old that it has a viewfinder. 🙂

I don’t make much use of a camera in bright, sunny conditions so the lack of a viewfinder on my missing camera has never proved a big problem. I would however like the choice, so I appreciate your efforts to push the manufacturers for action.

Profile photo of Rich Parris
Member

Thanks very much Wavechange, and we’re keen to keep pushing this issue to the manufacturers – I’m glad to see Canon following last year’s camera with a newer model, but for a realistic degree of consumer choice I think there is plenty left to achieve!

Member
Jon says:
19 May 2012

Good idea thats what I will probably have to do, as Cameras out today really are rubbish!

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
9 February 2012

I’m too interested in photography (not that I’m great) to dream about buying a camera without a viewfinder.

Member
David says:
10 February 2012

A few years ago screens were not that good and a viewfinder was really helpful. Nowadays the screens are so much better I don’t think a viewfinder is useful at all.

Member
MAC says:
16 July 2012

Obviously you have very little experience with cameras.

I consider a viewfinder essential for just about all sorts of non static photography. Sure, an LCD is fine for something that is sitting still but as soon as it moves, the viewfinder is far superior.

And, in bright light; LCDs are next to useless. In dark settings, you usually can’t even make out the subject on low cost cameras. Why do you think all high end cameras (professional) carry a viewfinder? Because a pro knows they can’t live without it.

By the way, I worked as a pro for over 10 years before getting into computers. I know.

Profile photo of frank ah
Member

People don’t understand why their photos are out of focus. I see so many taking photos at arms length. In low light the out of focus is normally camera shake. At arms length it’s so difficult to keep the camera still.
Holding the camera against your eye holds the camera steadier, so better quality shots. Years ago with film cameras you only found out when you got your prints back from the developer that the shot you wanted is off centre. Now digital really comes into its own. Take the shoot through the view finder, check the screen, not happy, readjust the shot in the view finder as required, take another shot. Keep the one you like delete the rest. After a while you’ll get to know where to put your subject in the view finder and not suffer from camera shake.
The viewing screen should for viewing the taken image and the view finder for taking shots. Ah with one exception. Macro shots. I’d always use the viewing screen for macro shots.

Profile photo of mikes162
Member

I support this campaign, I much prefer the old style viewfinder, I have a Canon SX1IS which performed brilliantly on safari last year, and I pretty well never use the screen on the back.

A friend wants to buy a little camera with a decent viewfinder for an old lady who has shaky hands and who finds pressing the camera to her face helps her more shan a stabiliser – not much about.

Member
RichardS says:
11 February 2012

Most outdoor photography is taken with the sun behind the camera rather than into the sun, most of the cameras I seen have reflection from the sun affecting the ability to compose the picture, view finders are therefore invaluable especially when the sun is low in the sky, I also agree that using a view finder give a far more stable stance for shake free photography.

Member
Paul Turner says:
11 February 2012

My first camera, bought in Germany on National Service in 1954, a £20 Zeiss Ikon, had an accessory viewfinder as well as the standard squinty hole. It was a one inch cube which clicked into the hot shoe. One eye looked into it, the other eye saw the whole scene, with apparently a frame etched on it. It was great to see exactly what you were missing, as well as taking, and to have both eyes open. Please bring them back.

Profile photo of rod.lewington
Member

In bright sunlight, I found it impossible to see anything on the screen.
Perhaps it is the model of movie camera I use, but for many situations it is essential/preferable to have a view finder.
Please bring back viewfinders.
I was astounded to find that they were no longer available on the current low-cost models.
So, l’ve held back replacing it.

Member

I just can’t take decent photos without a viewfinder, as I can’t focus on the LCD screen. Really frustrating.

Member
Rod Jones says:
26 February 2012

Every digital compact camera needs an optical viewfinder. At the moment manufactures haven’t made an SLR that is small enough to fit into your pocket! I have a compact camera with one of the best LCD screnes, but still it is hard to see the image in bright sunlight.

Member
Jon says:
25 March 2012

Why don’t the camera manufacturers build a decent compact camera? Something like a rangefinder style, it must have manual and aperture and priority settings. All this at a reasonable price, and not a silly over inflated price. The cameras out at the moment are very poor indeed, with the exception of the fuji x100 this is a nice little camera, but very poor video. Also the price is crazy, it should be about £200 in price, there is no need to be asking £700 for it.

Member
cameras photos says:
4 April 2012

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Member
DALE says:
16 April 2012

Something else I have tracked down to by an old model is the Canon A95, fit in the pocket, AA batteries, VARI-ANGLE LCD viewfinder AND optical viewfinder. If only Canon would add the vari-angle lcd and manual controls to the A1300 I would pay a heavy price to get my hands on that !!!

Member
Jon says:
17 April 2012

I am still in search of a decent compact, one at a sensible price. It must have a good lens, and it MUST have a decent viewfinder, not a tiny silly thing. Also a proper dedicated battery, not silly AA type batteries!

Member
Peter says:
23 April 2012

Almost every time I want to take an outdoor picture in the sun it’s a true guessing game if I capture anything that I want. I will never ever buy a camera without a viewfinder again. I long for the good old days…
Unfortunately I want the smallest camera possible that will fit in my pocket and I want at least a 10x zoom. Sadly no such camera exists with a viewfinder – yet.
I once had a Sony video camera where the viewfinder looked at a tiny b/w monitor. That was a great idea since you could see exactly what you were recording. The b/w image didn’t bother me at all – much better than looking at an LCD screen and wondering what you are seeing.
I honestly don’t understand anyone who says they don’t need a view finder. It just isn’t possible to see the image in bright sun on the beach, in the mountains, in the snow, or on the water – even with the best backlit LCDs available today. I miss so many good pictures just because I can’t “see” them!

Member
Jon says:
19 May 2012

When are the Camera makers going to make a proper decent camera? One with a Viewfinder that you can see all the information in. It is a silly idea making a camera without a viewfinder! OH and please make a proper battery for the camera NOT silly AA batteries as they just don’t last. NO silly prices either. Make something like the Fujifilm X10 but with a better viewfinder and at a sensible price, not £379 but something about £100 !

Member
Helen says:
2 June 2012

I’m trying to find a replacement compact camera for my excellent old Fuji that has broken down for a second time with the same fault so it seem foolish to have it repaired again. But I may have to as I can’t find anything suitable. I’m old enough to need reading glasses and using the screen is totally inconvenient as it involves fiddling around with glasses while a view finder just lets me get on with taking the photos. I contacted Fuji to ask them what camera would suit me and they haven’t bothered to reply.
I totally support a campaign to bring back view finders. Its discrimination against people with imperfect vision to not have them.

Member
Neil Friday says:
5 June 2012

I have one of those cameras that’s much in demand.
It’s an old Hitachi HDC-531E complete with an excellent viewfinder, superb 5 mpx that seem to be better than 8Mpx, excellent colourimetry and no adverse edgeing. It also has macro, but only down to 100mm. Also Li-ion battery.

Pictures can be blown up on computer and show no adverse problems.

PROBLEMS ARE:
(A) The mini usb connector is becoming intermittent, thus affecting (twice replaced) battery charging.
(b) Nowadays it is effectively blind in dark scenes and only “replaying” an image shows up anything at all.
(c) The time taken to complete a picture is terrible. I want an immediate push and click system – nothing about this confirming images on the screen.
(d) It does not have a ROM saving changes capability. To extend battery life I would wish to “switch-off” the screen and have these changes saved all the time.
Delighted to read about the Canon A1200 and the new one now.
It is essential to have an optical viewfinder as the hassle of wearing glasses on dim colour screens is a sad joke.

Member
MAC says:
16 July 2012

Now, what I would support is a very high res LCD in the viewfinder that’s source is the primary sensor. That would be ideal as it is digital, it would display exactly what your getting, and could display all the additional information (selectable of course) that you want. It could even display the low light high ISO images that you really can’t see very well in a viewfinder. I don’t care if the LCD’s pixel resolution is too low to prevent some pixelation in this viewfinder; it would still be an awesome feature. And, since your are seeing thru the sensor, what you see is exactly what you’ll get. If the LCD in the viewfinder is good enough you will see your composition exactly as it will appear on your computers monitor. Advantage – Photographer.

Why haven’t the manufacturers figured this out?

Member
MAC says:
17 July 2012

I’d even put a fake lens on the outside of the viewfinder…. Nah, maybe something like a logo:
WSIWYG VF or something like that…
on the fake lens…

Member
MAC says:
17 July 2012

Ah, figured it out. Put a larger say 3/4 to 1 inch LCD inside the camera. Using optics and prisms fold the light up to the viewfinder. Advantage – bigger LCD, higher resolution, heck make it an LED LCD…

Member
Anita says:
19 July 2012

I love my old(ish) Kodak. It’s a bit heavy and bulky but as I couldn’t find any decent compact camera with a viewfinder I am still using it. In any, especially sunny, conditions I can’t see anything on lcd screen so I always prefer using the viewfinder. Can’t understand why manufacturers stopped including viewfinders into cameras. Screens are to check on photos taken but to take photos you need a viewfinder!

Member
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.

Member
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 🙁

Member
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.

Member
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!