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Our viewfinder campaign: Sony, Panasonic and Fujifilm respond

Fujifilm Finepix X100

You answered in your hundreds when we asked whether you missed viewfinders. We took this avalanche of support directly to the big camera manufacturers – today Sony, Pansonic and Fujifilm respond.

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.

We’ve already heard from Olympus and Canon, with the latter deciding to launch a new compact camera with a viewfinder. Can Sony, Fujifilm and Panasonic match that?

Sony’s preparing to test the market

Sony showed great interest in our campaign and guaranteed to share this information with its product development team in Tokyo. However, it did warn us that it was too late to influence its latest lines which are set to release this year.

It told us, ‘we are continually developing our LCD technology with greater levels of anti-reflective coatings to combat the sunlight issues in our TruBlack screens.’

Sony also stated that it does have an optical viewfinder accessory available for its NEX camera system. Then again, this isn’t a cheap option – the cameras alone are upwards of £340 even before you add on the extra viewfinder.

Sony finished by saying that it was ‘preparing a global feasibility study to gauge the need for [a viewfinder camera] for a much wider audience,’ so hopefully there’s more to be seen from the Japanese giant.

Panasonic may develop new viewfinder models

Panasonic also said that it had shared our campaign with an appreciative research team in Japan. However, the current crop of Lumix cameras offer no cheap options if you’re after a camera with a viewfinder.

We were advised that the FZ100, FZ45 and G-series cameras featured built-in electronic viewfinders, and an optional electronic viewfinder accessory could be used with the LX5 and certain G-series models. Still, not only are these expensive options, they are complicated cameras that may not suit point-and-shoot users.

More encouragingly we were told that Panasonic ‘are concentrating on continuously developing the quality and functionality of our electronic viewfinders and LCDs,’ so hopefully we’ll start seeing these in cheaper, more user-friendly models in the future.

Panasonic also claimed that its automatic brightness adjustment screens can increase LCD brightness by up to 40% in strong sunlight conditions. However, this is still little help to those who need glasses to use the screens or find them an unnatural way to compose a shot.

Fujifilm sees place for viewfinders

We were eager to hear back from Fujifilm, as its recently-unveiled X100 model floored the camera press with a unique hybrid viewfinder, which acts as an optical or electronic viewfinder.

Fujifilm told us that it ‘believes that both electronic and optical viewfinders have their place in digital photography’, and our hope is that it will stand firm to this ethos, even with cheaper point-and-shoot models.

Encouragingly, we were advised that ‘Fujifilm will continue to research and develop both electronic and hybrid viewfinders in future, evaluating each application by cost, design practicality and consumer preferences’.

However, we still want to remind camera manufacturers, like Fujifilm, that there’s demand for compact cameras with viewfinders, at least as an option amongst all the LCD-only models.

What do you think of these responses?

If you want to read more about what Sony, Fujifilm and Panasonic had to say about our viewfinder campaign, you can check out their full responses here. And remember to mull over Canon and Olympus’s statements before you vote on which response is best.

Have any of these manufacturers managed to give a satisfactory response? Do you think that improving LCD screen technology is good enough or should they concentrate on bringing viewfinders back to compact digital cameras?

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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Comments
Guest
Don Walton says:
29 March 2011

It isn’t just cameras which need a viewfinder of this sort but also camcorders. It is very difficult to follow a moving target when using a digital screen even if you can see it. I have rejected many possible middle range upgrades for just this reason.

Guest

Hi, I completely agree – camcorder-buyers are being left very short-changed indeed now that only the most expensive models feature built-in electronic viewfinders. And when you’re taking moving footage – a panning shot, for example, it’s so helpful to have one of these to hold to your eye.

I was recently impressed using the Sony SLT camera, the alpha 33, to record video. The electronic viewfinder on that is high quality, and the video quality is impressive, as is the autofocus. Price-wise, it compares favourably to a good HD camcorder –

http://www.which.co.uk/technology/photography/reviews/digital-slr/sony-alpha-a33/review/

Guest
Charles Miller says:
20 April 2011

Absolutely. Much easier to follow action (or subjects that will not stay still such as children and animals) without blurring by using a viewfinder. Holding a camera at arm’s length does not do the job. Yes, the newer micro SLRs have add-on viewfinders, but for those who just want a compact camera there should be some choice.

Guest
Alec says:
25 April 2011

I agree that the lack of viewfinder on a camcorder is a major problem. Using the screen on my current camcorder uses up the battery very much quicker. I am looking for a replacement and while the new models have all sorts of gizmos I am having difficulty finding camcorders with the basic essential of a viewfinder.

Guest
Aileen says:
8 May 2011

I agree completely – it never crossed my mind that viewfinders would disappear from cameras. I was thinking of replacing my camcorder with a hard disc model but I won’t buy one without a viewfinder as I’d need to wear my reading glasses to see the screen – and then I wouldn’t be able to see what was going on so I’d probably be taking pictures of the wrong thing! My compact digital camera only has the LCD screen and I so, so, wish I’d bought the one with a viewfinder (they were still an option 4 years ago when I bought it). So many of my pictures have bits missing, extra bits on them or are blurred because of having to hold the wretched thing at arm’s length to have any idea whay might end up in the picture.

Guest
Alec Millar says:
13 September 2011

Absolutely agree that camcorders should be fitted with viewfinders as well as still digitals. Just back from Turkey and viewfinder essential for both. Our non viewfinder camera completely useless. Also why should re addition of viewfinders be more expensive as originally camcorders and digital cameras were sold with integral viewfinders.

Guest

I just purchased a Panasonic LX5 with the ‘live’ electronic viewfinder option. The viewfinder was almost half the cost of the camera!

Although the screen on the LX5 is superb and I agree with Panasonic that it does adjust itself to the lighting conditions, a screen-only camera fails dismally on two points.

1. In tropical sunlight rt even on the rare British bright summer’s day, the screen is virtually useless.

2. There’s no dioptric adjustment for those of us who need to keep pulling out reading specs to focus on the screen.

The ‘Live’ viewfinder for the Panasonic LX5 provides dioptric correction, can save power because it turns off the larger screen and can be flipped to different angles (though only downwards). It isn’t as good as a real through-the-lens viewfinder but it does meet many of the problems using a screen. But at a big cost!

Guest

Another thought. If Panasonic dumped the feeble integral flash, there’s room for a live electronic viewfinder.

I am sure that most users would rather have the integral live viewfinder and have to carry a separate flash for the hot-shoe. Most separate hot shoe flash guns are infinitely batter than integral flashes.

If Panasonic need a camera designer…