/ Technology

Our digital camera viewfinder campaign continues…

The viewfinder leaflet we sent to manufacturers

When we first asked whether you wanted viewfinders back on digital cameras, we didn’t expect such a resounding response. So we’ve built a ‘viewfinder campaign’ and taken your comments to the manufacturers.

When our camera expert Rich Parris wrote about his longing for the return of the good ‘old-fashioned’ viewfinder back in August, at best he presumed a trickling of support.

But instead of silent nods and quiet ambivalence, his Conversation received a flood of encouragement – we’ve had over 200 comments so far!

To this day Rich’s ‘bring back the viewfinder‘ Convo has provoked more public support than any other issue we’ve written about. And I don’t know of any other that has so many ‘thumbs up’ and not one ‘thumb down’.

Bring back the viewfinder

Manufactures have seemingly discarded the viewfinder in favour of outdoing each other with ever more compact digital cameras. It’s now so hard to track down a compact camera with a viewfinder, that you’re basically limited to buying a chunky and expensive SLR. And you quite decisively want them back:

‘I have never owned and will never buy any camera for personal use that does not have a viewfinder… period!’ asserts Sue Jenner. Peter Jones agrees, ‘I’ve been holding off buying a new compact camera for nearly two years because I can’t find a suitable one with a viewfinder’.

And Roger B rounds it off quite nicely, ‘The viewfinder is the first thing I try when buying a camera. No viewfinder, no sale.’

At the same time, Rich was surveying Which? members. Of the 1,667 asked 70% said they struggled to use an LCD camera screen in bright daylight, and of those who didn’t own a camera with a viewfinder, 60% said they’d find it much easier to take photos if they did.

Support our viewfinder campaign

So armed with these survey results and your hundreds of Which? Convo comments, we’ve taken this issue to the manufacturers. A gleaming pamphlet stuffed with some of your comments (pictured below) was created and sent to all the major camera manufactures – including Panasonic, Sony, Canon, Fuji, Olympus, Casio and Nikon.

Your comments on our viewfinder pamphletOne page of our viewfinder pamphlet with comments from BBSlowcoach, Tom Pyne and Liz C.

We’re currently awaiting a response from each of the camera makers (and prodding along the way) so fingers crossed the humble viewfinder will make a significant return.

We’ll bring you their responses in the near future, but if you support our viewfinder campaign, sound off below and help us badger manufacturers to bring them back.

Update 29 March 2011: Five of the big camera manufacturers have now responded to our campaign to bring back viewfinders to compact digital cameras! You can hear from Canon and Olympus in this Conversation, with Sony, Panasonic and Fujifilm having their say here. Are you happy with their responses?

Comments
Garry Bailey says:
14 November 2012

Its about time camera manufactures gave the view finder some thought, just give us an option of both ways to take a photo.

The screen should be an optional not the view finder that’s been tried and tested. The camera industry took one step backwards when they decided to remove view finders from cameras.

Why did all manufactures decide that the view finder was no longer needed, not just one of them but all manufactures to save money I hope not, its more important than GPS gizmo’s.

Its a camera fist and four-most and the photographer should have the best way to frame there shot.

Garry

Don’t forget that a screen is much better than a viewfinder for close-up shots using a compact camera, since a viewfinder is hopeless at short range. Unless you are using an SLR camera or have a digital viewfinder, a screen is really useful.

Tiny cameras with large screens have become popular and convenient, and there is no room for a viewfinder. Hopefully we will see more compact cameras with viewfinders, even if that means they are larger or have smaller screens.

Chris Simmons says:
17 February 2013

There’s only one thing to add to the already well rehearsed arguments for a viewfinder, namely badgering the reviewers of cameras (magazines, websites and Which?) to give far more weight to the presence or absence of a viewfinder, which in many instances is not even mentioned. Reading some of the reviews I get the impression they are so preoccupied with the technology that they never try using them in bright sunlight.

If cameras without viewfinders were consistently marked down, the manufacturers would soon sit up and take notice.

Chuck Sinclaire says:
28 February 2013

Being a private investigator(among an industry of experts who agree with me) the view finder on camcorders is a MUST have. Compact design, not too small but compact, long range zoom and a viewfinder. If it doesn’t have the viewfinder, NO SALE! I’ll by an older model until they stop selling these toys!

L Slak says:
2 December 2013

The camera I now have is a Kodak Easyshare Z710. One reason I love it is because it has a viewfinder. If it ever breaks I will try to find another camera that has a viewfinder. I think it looks stupid when you look at everyone’s arms sticking up in the air just to try to take a picture. Of course then there’s the glare from the sun. It’s so much nicer just to be able to hold it up to your eye and look through the camera without having to stick your arms up. I think it is awkward and difficult to have to extend your arms out every time. Hopefully the camera manufacturers will go back to the viewfinder.

Walter Byrd says:
2 December 2013

Cameras without viewfinders are being replaced by phones. Camera makers should wake up.

Brian Pastore says:
25 July 2014

I have been a Panasonic Lumix fan for quite a while now,having owned the TZ 20-TZ30-TZ40 and now the TZ 60 which has a 24mm-30mm zoom and a viewfinder.I don’t know why they did away with the view finder in the first place.Surely manufacturers must have known they were unusable in sunlight unless you had a towel to put over your head.

I have previously expressed the view that optical viewfinders and electronic viewfinders should not be conflated in these discussions. For me, there’s viewfinders and electronic viewfinders. I still don’t much like electronic viewfinders, but I too recently encountered the Panasonic TZ 60 and was very impressed. I am trying to persuade my wife, who does really need a new camera. to get one (she too insists on a viewfinder!) I use a Sony D580 DSLR, and bought a second one as insurance, and hope it (they) see me out! I shall not be buying one of the SLT and am sorry they have gone down this route, though I can see this may be the future. But SLT cameras have fundamental problems with ghosting, rarely a problem for most users, but a no-no for one of my main uses: astrophotography. We all know that RAW files are NOT the unembellished raw data, and maybe Sony and anyone else going down the SLT route should incorporate a dedicated Lucy-Richardson or some other deconvolution technique in preparing the “RAW”. Should be easy as there’s a constant, precise point spread function in the ghosting.

Returning to true flip mirror DSLRs, I think that since a data stream is increasingly commonly prepared for live view on the LCD screen, why could this be not,be offered – switchable – to a classic viewfinder window as an ALTERNATIVE to the optical viewfinder? Best of all possible worlds! .

I totally agree with this article. I had a Kodak pocket camera that I really liked, but it did not have a viewfinder. My brother in law was looking for a new camera because his gave up. I suggested that he look for one with a viewfinder. This was six or seven years ago. He found a Canon and he thanks me every time I see him for giving that good advice. My Kodak just gave out and I went looking for a pocket camera with a viewfinder. There is none available. You can get a Sony but have to pay mega bucks for an add on viewfinder. I went to E-bay and found a Canon A 1400, it has a view finder. It is a couple of years old. When new it sold for around a hundred bucks. On e-bay They are selling for up to close to $300.00 in some cases. paid $73.00. It was supposedly new in the original box. However, it came with no memory card and no USB cord. Fortunately The card from the Kodak worked and I had for some reason a cord that would work. So it isn’t like people aren’t looking for these pocket camera with viewfinders. I believe the manufacturers are controlling this because they think you need a $3000.00 Single lens reflex camera (SLR). As usual the consumer is right. We need a pocket camera that takes good picture, easy to use, and works in bright sunlight. As Obama would say, Period. Only this is not a lie.

Derek Voller says:
2 December 2014

I last posted a comment over two years ago on this subject and I believe that at that time a few manufacturers resolved to address the issue Including Canon, Sony and Olympus. Two years on and what is the result ?… Nothing !
I still have my trusty canon A590 but the Fuji is playing up so I’ve up-graded to a Panasonic FZ48 bridge camera, which is superb. However, my friend needs a point and shoot camera. I have tried to find one with as good a screen as possible in the hope that she can manage ok with it.

Morry Korman says:
2 December 2014

I have used cameras since my high school days in late forties both as an amature and pro. Have had Hassy, Leica, Pentax, etc. I will not use a camera that has no veiwfinder. I live in climate that has sunshine almost all year long. It is impossible to see image on screens on back of cameras in the sunshine no matter how big they.
Are you listening manufacturers:
“I will never buy a camera that has no viewfinder.”

Nor will I ever buy a camera without a viewfinder, and an optical one at that. I use a Sony A580 DSLR – the last proper SLR they produced – it’s all SLT now. I have bought two A580s, and hope that between them they’ll see me out. I MIGHT just decide to buy a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 if I want a small more portable camera. It has an electronic viewfinder – I don’t really like EVs but could live with it for a second camera. (One has to accept that it is technically impossible to provide a decent optical viewfinder on a non-SLR unless the zoom range is much smaller than what we have now come to demand!)

lisee says:
9 March 2015

i came across this here while searching for a new camera with a viewfinder. i dont want to be paying out too much, so havent found anything yet. i hated not having one built in for the last decade!

C Newton says:
11 July 2018

Manufacturers seem to be more interested in competing with each other too develop the next smallest camera, rather than listening to customers complaints of not being able to compose a shot for a number of reasons, too sunny too see screen,reflections, wearing glasses,contact lenses,ect ect , we want to see what we get not point and guess,come on manufacturers you know that you will have to do it eventually be the first and get ahead of the game.

B McCloud says:
15 July 2018

Manufacturers don’t have to do it and they won’t be doing it, simply because it is not the future. I could imagine a compact camera, of the type widely available in the 1980s and 90s, but digital, with an optical viewfinder, modest zoom range and lcd screen, but it would be an expensive novelty if built. In the same way that a digital and miniaturised version of the old twin lens Rolleiflex was. There might be legions of consumers who would like a return to the simplicity of film cameras with the advantages of digital, but they tend to be older and so are not the future. The market wants to embroil us in technology, steep us in virtual reality and ultimately, interface us with artificial intelligence. This is the goose-stepping march of progress.

Mike says:
3 August 2018

My wife just cannot use a camera without an optical viewfinder, her Canon powershot A 1300 has some minor faults and may not last much longer, are the manufacturers so short sighted that they can’t see a good customer base in front of their eyes?

Malcolm Hines says:
11 December 2018

I have a lovely Canon IXUS100IS with a tiny optical viewfinder. It is perfect for just framing a scene when you can’t see the LED screen on a bright day. Sadly it is only 12.1mp and I would love to upgrade but to what. I want a camera with a simple viewfinder. I don’t need an expensive digital/electronic viewfinder, I have one of those to use on my Olympus EPL1 and to be honest, it’s more trouble than it it worth (and it cost a lot). My IXUS is a great little camera..beef it up to 20mp and I will be happy.

John Sergeant says:
27 March 2019

To whom it may concern,
All cameras should have a viewfinder, if possible placed to the right -hand side. You simply can’t frame a shot properly with the sun behind yourself blazing into a rear LED screen. Even on a simple cheap camera a viewfinder would be possible with some limitations. What a shame that millions of decent compact cameras will never sport a real viewfinder. There isn’t even (in most cases) a flashgun hotshoe to insert a modification, these were available in the past, with a built-in range-finder, you slotted them into the hot-shoe. Now that we have super technology available let’s not forget how good a viewfinder could be to compliment this.