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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
Andrew Wilson says:
5 July 2011

I bought the Nikon Coolpix7000 because it and the Canon G12 were the only available new digital cameras with an optical viewfinder. Unfortunately the viewfinder is next to useless and adding no real benefit whatsover. There is significant paralex error and no indication of correct focus displayed.

I have reverted to using the screen. Overall the camera is not very good.

Guest
Hari Kodagoda says:
6 July 2011

LCD’s are prone to get dirty and grubby, and they are reflective. I have currently got a Sony DSC – HX5V which I carry with me most times. The camera is brilliant EXCEPT that on a bright sunny day I trust to God that my aim is OK as it is a guessing game as to what I am shooting – you can’t see your subject and surroundings.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF CARRYING A CAMERA WITH YOU IF YOU CAN’T TAKE A PICTURE AS YOU WANT TO WITH REGARD TO COMPOSITION BECAUSE OF REFLECTIONS ON THE SCREEN!

Guest

Quite right Hari! And the HX5 is a tremendous little camera in most regards, but the moment that screen is at the mercy of the sunshine, you’re left helpless! Sony have told us they’re speaking to their Japanese product development team about the findings of our campaign – we’ll keep on chasing so that they’ll hopefully see light of day!

Guest

Sony are being a bit disingenuous. Their eye-wateringly expensive optional viewfinder for their NEX series can only be used for their wide angle lens; more of an arrogantly dismissive nod towards the viewfinder campaign, I’d say…

Guest
Irina says:
24 August 2011

I have had 3 models of the Olympus SP series over the years because a) they have a manual function b) a zoom and c) an (electronic?) viewfinder which sems to be as good as any SLR prism for composing shots . I have now irreparably damaged my SP560uz and now cannot find a direct replacement. I wouldn’t be without the viewfinder – I rarely use the LCD screen except for shots from the ground/very high up! I think the manufacturers are making a grave mistake phasing them out. Using a viewfinder reduces camera shake and you see exactly what you are getting! I need to be able to compose a shot accurately….

The Olympus has other issues with its zoom mechanism… but that’s another story…..

Guest

Sooo glad you are working on this issue. I am not old, nor do I need glasses, but I travel a lot, and even in England sometimes it is virtually impossible to see anything on the screen…until the ‘moment’ has passed. After many years (any maaaany problems) my Sony DSC W80 has died, but I am now going to wait until next year’s models…hopefully with viewfinders…come out to choose. I would like something perfect for travelling please, manufacturers: small, not too expensive (likely to get stolen, especially if it looks expensive), robust (waterproof to 2 metres?), viewfinder, and a ‘light flash’ option, I don’t want to look like a ghost, but sometimes it’s just too dark (in a tent!) not to use anything.

Guest

Good news! Sony’s latest compact camera isn’t only slim, it includes a viewfinder. It’s pricey, but as Rich Parris explains in his latest Conversation, it’s a game changer – this electronic OLED viewfinder could help manufacturers bring viewfinder tech to today’s slim compact cameras:

https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/digital-camera-viewfinder-sony-nex7-oled/

Let’s hope it happens soon, and is more affordable!

Guest
Alberto G. says:
1 September 2011

Well, I am glad something is moving ! Not only the compact cameras, but also some bridge cameras do not have any viewfinder (e.g., the recent Nikon L120). I add another point in favor of electronic or optical viewfinder: if you are long-sighted – and everyone beyond a certain age becomes long-sighted –
you have additional problems in seeing the LCD image, whereas the viewfinder can be easily adapted to one’s sight ability !
I would like to know what NIKON is saying…
From my point of view NO VIEWFINDER NO BUY, as others have stated already