/ Technology

Our viewfinder campaign: Canon & Olympus respond

Digital camera with viewfinder circled

Our campaign to bring back viewfinders to digital cameras prompted a huge reaction. Your comments didn’t fall on deaf ears – we’ve challenged manufacturers Canon and Olympus to respond to your concerns.

Here at Which? we’ve been campaigning to bring viewfinders back to compact digital cameras over the last few months.

This was based on both an overwhelming enthusiasm from our members and, of course, support here on Which? Conversation.

Armed with the results of our survey and your best comments, we took this issue straight to the big camera manufacturers and encouraged them to respond to their customers’ complaints.

Today we’re bringing you Olympus and Canon’s comments and leaving you to judge on what they’ve said. Plus, you can check out statements from Sony, Fujifilm and Panasonic right here.

Olympus wants to take the scenic route

Olympus acknowledged that ‘LCD’s are not perfect but we are reaching a point where the better ones really do work even in bright light’ – something a lot of your comments appear to disagree with.

While warning that a traditional optical viewfinder could add ‘as much as 25%’ to the cost of a compact camera, Olympus also insisted that ‘the majority of happy-snappers are not that concerned’ about being without one.

On a more positive note, Olympus recognised the growing importance of electronic viewfinders, saying that ‘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.’

Olympus pointed towards the availability of their VF2 external electronic viewfinder. But the downside to this is that it costs £200, and only works with a select few high-end cameras.

Insisting that they were doing their best to respond to the issue, Olympus concluded that ‘sometimes progress takes the scenic route but we will get there’.

Canon responds with new viewfinder launch

Canon was one of the manufacturers we were most interested to hear back from, given that we received numerous comments saying how people were deliberately seeking older Canon cameras with viewfinders, rather than plumping for the latest viewfinder-less models.

We are thrilled to see that Canon has taken on board these views by deciding to unveil its first new affordable compact model in nearly two years to feature an optical viewfinder.

The Canon PowerShot A1200 will be available to buy exclusively from Jessops on the high street from late March. As well as a viewfinder, it features a 4x zoom lens with a 28mm wide angle, 12 Megapixel resolution and the ability to record high-definition video.

Canon told us directly that this camera has been developed ‘to address the voice of the market requesting optical viewfinders’, and it’s great to see that a major manufacturer is listening to its customers in this fashion.

It seems the limited availability of the Canon A1200 is something of a market test, as Canon were lukewarm about the future of the small optical viewfinder beyond this model, saying ‘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.’

What do you think of these responses?

If you want to read more about what Canon and Olympus had to say about our viewfinder campaign, you can check out their full responses here. And make sure to have a look at these statements from Fujifilm, Sony and Panasonic before voting on whose is best.

So does the Canon A1200 have what it takes to get you reaching for your wallet? Would you like to see it kick-start a greater return of viewfinder-equipped models? And does Olympus need to speed up its own developments now that Canon has laid down a low-priced offering?

Our viewfinder campaign: which camera manufacturers' response was best?

Canon's (57%, 264 Votes)

Fujifilm's (20%, 93 Votes)

Panasonic's (11%, 52 Votes)

Sony's (7%, 33 Votes)

Olympus's (4%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 462

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DaveG says:
23 June 2011

Further to my previous comment,my wife wears glasses,but has no problem using her A1200 through the viewfinder.

Betty Mitchell says:
5 July 2011

I had a Canon digital IXUS 70 until May when It and I ended up at the bottom of a fountain at Het Loo Palace in Holland, where by the way, they appear not to understand anything about health and safety records. Whereas when I dried out and I still worked perfectly the camera to my despair doesn’t.
The camera had both and LCD screen and a view finder both worked perfectly well unfortunately the repair shop say its not economical to repair it. This model had a lithium battery not AAs as the new canon 1200, the screen might be slightly small by today’s standards but it was a good camera why not just reissue it

Ruth says:
19 July 2011

Us oldies or not so old who need reading glasses need an optical viewfinder as its too much fafing about putting on your glasses just to take a photo!!!!!!!!!!! Please please put em back on to a small digital camera so we can be like the young un’s who are snap snap snap with a camera so small you can put it in your pocket.

michael says:
28 July 2011

A small set of framing marks in the viewfinder for a range of zoom ratios would overcome the zoom problem at minimal cost. The ultimate viewfinder would, however, have a very small screen showing an electronic copy of what the lens sees.

John W. says:
29 August 2011

Yes, it is the READING GLASSES issue that is most important, not the brightness issue. Even a screen that is totally visible in sunlight will not solve the former issue. Most people over 50 need at least one pair of glasses, often two. But when they are outdoors, they will be wearing whichever glasses (or not) that are appropriate for distance vision. Use of an LCD requires a switch to close-up vision. Moderately short-sighted people will need to remove their glasses to see the screen. Long-sighted people will need to put on their reading glasses. Those with more compled prescriptions will have to switch from one pair of glasses to another (unless they have varifocals).

Using a viewfinder uses distance vision, so no change of glasses is necessary.

Why do camera manufacturers (who are supposed to understand about lenses) not understand this?

Andy says:
5 October 2011

Just joined your forum. I’ve been pushing the viewfinder issue for as long as I’ve been involved in selling cameras. What’s with this ‘optical’ viewfinder – not matching scene – we all know that. Put in a smaller screen and an electronic viewfinder. No one seems to pick up on the most important issue – you hold the camera much more steadily with a viewfinder, and with these huge zooms blur free shots, especially in low light get very difficult, even with image stabilizers. The manufacturers have thrown the viewfinder out and had to throw clever stabilizers in to comensate – mad! TBC

Davd R says:
13 October 2011

I have an old Canon IXUS500 with viewfinder (which Canon repaired free after five years!), this has 5.0mps and is my favourite although I have a modern Panasonic/Leica lens job that has 12.0mps , it is useless to me without the viewfinder.

I will not replace the IXUS 500- it is a classic unless the new one has a viewfinder. So come on Canon make a modern copy with better definition, larger screen AND viewfinder.

Judith H says:
6 November 2011

I would like to join your campaign to make compact cameras with viewfinders more widely available. For the last several years I have been happy with my Canon Powershot A1100 IS. It is the right size to slip in my purse for everyday use and takes decent pictures. Alas, I dropped it on a tile floor and I’m now looking for a replacement. I was hoping to find a similar camera with perhaps updated technology. Since many of my photographs are beach scenes in bright sun a viewfinder is a must. Eyesight and steady hands are also issues for me. Many individuals on the net are complaining about the viewfinder issue but this is the first semi-organized effort I’ve seen.

DaveG says:
10 November 2011

JUDITH,I think the new Canon A1200 would fulfil all your requirements.It’s small,compact has a view finder that my wife has no trouble using with her glasses on,and takes a very good photo and the SD card slips into a computer.

Judith H. says:
6 May 2012

An update on my previous remarks. I am still holding out on purchasing a new camera. I don’t understand the remarks from manufacturers that it would be too expensive to add a viewfinder. It was standard on almost all cameras 10-15 years ago. I would be interested in the Canon 1200 but am hoping for a higher zoom. Fujifilm has some recently debuted cameras in the F series that have a setting for monitor sunlight mode but reviews and sample shots are not yet available. This still doesn’t solve the problem of eyesight/glasses and being able to steady the camera against your forehead. Having to add features to compensate for not having a viewfinder makes no sense to me.

Well done Which?
The screen on my state of the art compact is useless out of doors.
Like so many other present day products, good design and practicality have been sacrificed to fashion and the quick buck.

Daveg says:
6 May 2012

Judith.Having talked about the A1200 when I bought my wife one,I should like to say I have seen it on offer for £49.95 so you have to keep your eyes open to get an exceptional bargain. I have had a Canon PowerShot S3IS for 6 years which has 12x zoom and has LCD screen which can be turned off that I rarely use,because it has an excellent view finder.With 4 Lithium AA batteries I can take nearly 1,000 photos before battery change probably because i don’t use screen.

Oh Canon Oh Canon what have you done,
You’ve got a new camera that must be fun,
Interchangeable lens and video too,
So light so sleek so easy to use,
So colourful so practical, answers to EOS M
How can I but not want one of them,
But, wait just a moment,
An EOS with no viewfinder!
Oh Canon Oh Canon what have you done.

The Canon A1200 does not have A/S/ priority or manual modes, it also takes silly AA batteries. So this camera is not really an option!!!

The silly AA batteries take about 500 photos,if you buy decent AAs.For the average holiday maker this is an really good buy especially if you shop around. .My wife has just photographed Malta and produced excellent photos even in that bright sunlight,what more could you want.

I just can’t do without a viewfinder, but I would buy something like an Ixus 950 with a slightly longer zoon
What I can’t understand is why the passion for movie mode. If I want to take video I’ll use a camcorder. Just cannot see why I need to go to Canon G15 to get a decent zoom with a viewfinder.
Like many others I’ve ended up sticking with what I’ve got which, basically, continues to do the job

With Photoshop would it not be possible to crop those nasty remains left by using an optical viewfinder?

I am willing to admit that I have only a few occasions where I need something optical. Only outdoor photos do me in with my Canon G12. But next month I will be going to New Zealand. It is my understanding that outdoors is the best place to be.

My G12 will be able to take its usual great pictures, but my movie camera will struggle (even if I am a decent photographer). I may have outsmarted Sony, though. I bought a leather sunshade for its. Less than perfect LCD screen. I will find out under real shooting conditions.

Light a candle for me.

Having used Nikon DSLR’s professionally for the last seven years I have grown tired of carring around my cameras socially. Basically I was looking for the best of bost worlds I wanted a small camera which I could point and shoot to take images in quick sucession, an optical viewfinder and something which wasn’t going to cost a fortune. After lots of research I have finally found one to fit the bill and have just order myself a Fujifilm X00T. Just shy of £800 it ticks all the boxes (Beware the standard battery only last for 30 minutes so you will need to purchase either the 2hr or 4 hour one