/ 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
Guest

Only just realized the implications of looking for a new camera (out of necessity, not choice, lost old one) …no view finder….impossible when you are as short sighted as I am. I wear contact lenses & have to have reading glasses for close up. Will be impossible to use an LCD to take pics so will have to look for an old camera. Probably second hand will be the only way to find one now so it’s the manufacturers’ loss!

Guest

Good news everyone! Another manufacturer has answered our campaign by announcing a compact camera with a viewfinder! It’s a bit more of a high-end one, but it’s an exciting camera – from Sony, the NEX-7 has an integrated OLED electronic viewfinder.

Here’s Richard Parris’s view on it: ‘This camera is a game-changer. We’ve been waiting to see which manufacturer could fit an electronicc viewfinder into a camera body this small, and Sony has cracked it. This high-spec model won’t come cheap, but given time technology like this tends to filter down into more affordable cameras. It’ll be one of the first products I track down at the IFA technology show in Berlin next week, so keep an eye out for a hands on video coming soon’.

http://blogs.which.co.uk/technology/cameras-camcorders/sony-announces-nex-7-and-nex-5n-compact-system-cameras/

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. Share your thoughts about this latest camera here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/digital-camera-viewfinder-sony-nex7-oled/

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

Guest

I have normal mid distance sight but require spectacles for reading. I can therefore use a viewfinder without glasses, but need to scrabble about for reading specs, if the camera doesn’t have a viewfinder. My camera is waterproof (Canon Powershot D10), but taking underwater shots, when snorkelling is almost impossible, because holding the camera at arms length destabilises you in the water, and makes it difficult to keep the object in view. Also having to hold the camera away from the body, makes it hard to take blur free pictures in strong winds or when you are on a moving object (like a boat). With a viewfinder, you can brace your body against an object and the camera against your face, making small adjustments to keep the subject still and in the centre of the viewfinder.

Guest

Part of the issue seems to be their belief that a bigger and brighter screen is what everybody wants. Is it? I don’t. I’d happily have a smaller, darker screen if I can have a viewfinder. All you need the screen for is to check if the shot’s basically OK to decide whether you need to shoot it again.

I think there’s too much emphasis on the inability to use the screen in bright light or with a need for varifocals, although both are problems. I just don’t want/need that much screen. I’d rather have battery life if it comes to it.

Ali

Guest
Tom Parry says:
4 December 2011

I find that using a camera without a viewfinder in strong sunlight is virtually impossible and it really is a case of “POINT AND HOPE”. Can I also suggest that the campaign to bring back viewfinders be extended to camcorders. I still use my sturdy SONY -TRV33E Mini DV Digital Handycam because it has a viewfinder. I am very reluctant to invest in a more modern camcorder because of this issue. I find using a viewfinder gives you far more control over what you record, particularly in strong sunlight.

Guest
DavidDAD says:
3 December 2013

I completely agree, it is nice to have a larger, brighter LCD to review and evaluate your shots. I think of it as a nice perk. But, for most of us who chose to use an EVF to frame and shoot our photos, (when available), we would sacrifice some of the size and brightness of the screens so we can have a viewfinder. I know the younger generations seem to have adapted to shooting pictures at arms length. Of course they have the close-focus ability that comes with young eyesight that allows them to actually see the screen at close distance without optical assistance. However, I also know many younger photogs who would still rather see their shots through a veiwfinder held steady on eye-level rather than at arm’s length. So, for me, if all it takes to bring back the viewfinder is a smaller LCD, I’m fine with not having a TV screen on the back of my camera.

Guest
Mike Barrett says:
4 December 2011

I need a shirt-pocket size camera with viewfinder and anti-shake. Just like the Canon Ixus models that were around a few years ago. I have an Ixus which pre-dates antishake, a geat little camera in good light. I had a lovely composition on a dull windy day in the Cotswolds, but the picture was spoilt by the shake.

Guest
Malcolm R says:
5 December 2011

Hi there, I totally agree in having a viewfinder on camera and especially a camcorder too. Its really difficult to see the full shot on sunny / bright days. I have sent emails to manufactures several years ago regarding the lack of viewfinders as well as microphone inputs on camcorders and they never really listened. Only the more expensive cameras and camcorders only seem to have viewfinders or mics on there spec. So thank you so much for pushing this lack of viewfinder spec with the manufactures,

Guest

After decades of using Olympus film SLRs I bought a KonicaMinolta Dimage A2 – one of the pioneering bridge cameras. In most respects a splendid camera, but I detested the EVF, which was much less crisp than an optical finder, and showed time delays and wierd effects as the automatic exposure and white balance adjustments struggled to cope when scanning a scene by holding the camera to the eye, and whatever they say, EVFs eat up batteries. I got a KM Dynax 5D DSLR. The optical viewfinder more than made up for the disadvantage of the added bulk (though I had other reasons too for returning to an SLR). My wife is looking to replace her ancient Minolta compact, but we’ve held back because she too wants a proper optical viewfinder. I belatedly came across the new Canon A1200 and it looks to fill the bill. My wife has a birthday coming up and I now know what to get her! Full marks to Canon in responding with an affordable camera with a proper viewfinder!

Guest
David Wray says:
13 January 2012

I have an ageing Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom camera which i have been looking to upgrade for some time now. It has a 10x optical zoom lense, and 40x electronic, plus a small LCD screen, by todays standards.
But most importantly, it has a view finder, which i use all the time for taking photo’s. It might only be 4 megapixels, but when you print a picture from this camera, the results are great. My only reason for wanting to upgrade from this camera is that it is rather bulky when compared to todays models, and lacks some modern features such as anti shake/blur.
Take my advice. If you see a second hand model of this camera for sale, take a serious look at it, if size and special features are not an issue to you.
Until a manufacturer comes out with a camera with a view finder at a sensible price, then i guess i will have to carry on with what in essence is a great camera.

Guest
Harry says:
1 February 2012

One normally takes a photo with the light somewhere behind the photographer. This results in less than adequate conditions to nicely compose an image using and LCD screen. LCD’s are battery hogs, and are subject to damage. An LCD with a cover is an added inconvenience. A simple viewfinder like on the older digicams is vastly superior to being restricted to an LCD screen.

As much as I love my Cannon S3 IS (has a look-through digital viewfinder), it is just too bulky to grab and go. I’d love to have a point-and-shoot for days out where I don’t want to carry a bulky camera. I’m keeping my eyes open for an older point-and-shoot with a look-through viewfinder, as I simply won’t waste my money on a camera that only has an LCD screen.

Guest

We’ve had some good news on our viewfinder campaign – Canon has followed up 2011’s PowerShot A1200 with the new Canon PowerShot A1300, a low-cost compact camera with an optical viewfinder

https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/canon-powershot-a1300-viewfinder-compact-digital-camera/

Hopefully this means a renewed commitment to producing further viewfinder cameras each year! We’ll keep pushing this issue to the manufacturers in the meantime

Guest

Good news from Cannon. Best wishes with their a1300 inc viewfinder. Thanks also to Which? and every success with the campaign for the return of viewfinders. No annoying reflexions

Guest
Marion says:
11 June 2012

Just returned from vacation spoiled by the frustration of my compact camera not having a viewfinder. Bright sunshine all the time so impossible to see in the screen where I was ac tually focussing. Fortunately had been to the area before in the good old days when we had viewfinders so got much better pictures of the same scenery then. I’ve been waiting for ages without success to find a compact with a viewfinder and will not make a purchase until the manufacturers come to their senses. Everywhere you go you hear people complaining that they can’t see what they’re photographing so the manufacturers are crazy not to pay attention. Good luck with your campaign.

Guest

The OMINOUS DEVELOPMENT is the INSIDIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF OVFs FROM SO-CALLED SLRs!!!

I needed to replace an old and now unreliable KonicaMinolta 5D. I have a lot of lenses, some old full frame Minolta lenses but also two important APS zooms. Sony – successor to the KM range – have abandoned OVFs for EVFs (served via a translucent fixed mirror) in their mid-range APS cameras. At least they have the honesty to rename the range SLT cameras, not SLRs! I couldn’t buy their top of the range true DSLR without abandoning and replacing my lenses as it’s a full frame model. I had to pay over-the-top for the recently discontinued A580 – a magnificent APS-format camera WITH AN OVF! End of range cameras are either very cheap or very expensive, and there are good reasons for this pricing split!

Olympus’ new OM D E-M5 has an EVF (albeit a good one) leading to at least one disappointed reviewer – see http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1022&message=41764777&changemode=1

Most of the big manufacturers are introducing Leica-like compact ranges with EVFs. If these catch on to the detriment of the SLR market it’ll be the death knell of the OVF. Why? For technical reasons it is VERY difficult to make decent OVFs for cameras with large FL ranges, and any attempt at dealing with parallax is an unsatisfactory botch. These cameras try to get the best features of the compacts and the SLR ranges, but end up with a lot of unsatisfactory compromises.

What will I do if I need to replace my A580? Probably I’ll get another, second-hand.

Guest
walterbyrd says:
8 September 2012

On my old Olympus D-490, I could turn off the LCD screen, and just use my viewfinder to save my batteries.

Guest
Derek Voller says:
8 September 2012

I have a Canon Power-shot A590 IS which performs superbly and is very robust. I also have a Fuji Finepix S5800 which performs better than the Canon in very poor light conditions, but not quite so good generally. Both have viewfinders, and the Fuji’s one can be used independently of the screen which can also be turned off. I also would never ever buy a camera without a viewfinder. Keep up the campaign.

Guest
mor-kor says:
12 September 2012

Agree completely with most all other comments regarding lack of viewfinder. Bought a new Lumix CS7 last year for long trip to mideast. A beautifully made camera without a viewfinder. Tried it out in sunshine and couldn’t see viewing screen most of the time. Took it back and bought “el cheapo” Canon A1200 (around $100.) that has viewfinder. Don’t expect the same quality as Lumix — but it did the job in a very small camera that uses regular or chargeable AA batteries.
Bottom line: will never buy a camera without a viewfinder!

Guest

You write at the beginning: ” 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.”

Why not to Pentax also? Their SLR cameras are excellent and a little bit smaller than the two main brands, but Pentax have also stopped fitting viewfinders to their small cameras. The Pentax Users forum regularly has comments bemoaning the lack of an optical viewfinder on the smaller models. Please put some pressure on that brand too.

Martin

Guest
kevin says:
10 October 2012

recently i was in New Zealand,i have a nikon camera with a lcd screen,the light is much brighter than here in the UK,the lcd screen was totally useless,i could not see whatever it was that i wanted to photogaph,and i do not have problems with my sight,my next camera will have a viewfinder,
needless to say i have no photographs of my time in New Zealand

Guest
Richard Finley says:
14 November 2012

What’s the point of owning a camera if you can’t see what you are photographing? On a sunny day, I might as well wear a blindfold. Bring back viewfinders now.

Guest
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.

Guest

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.

Guest
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.

Guest
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!

Guest
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.

Guest
Walter Byrd says:
2 December 2013

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

Guest
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.

Guest

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! .

Guest

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.

Guest
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.

Guest

Hi Derek, Panosonic directly responded to our viewfinder campaign by developing and releasing the TZ60. You can read the review here: http://www.which.co.uk/technology/photography/reviews/digital-cameras/panasonic-lumix-dmc-tz60/review/

With a whopping 30x zoom, electronic viewfinder and built-in wi-fi, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 is a flagship compact camera with bold ambitions…

Guest
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.”

Guest

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!)

Guest
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!