/ 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?

Les Moss says:
18 January 2011

Fully in accord with the majority of comments. I have both compact and SLRs and find it virtually impossible to use the LCD under sunny conditions and therefore have to carry the SLR even when it is not so convenient due to the bulk/size. Hence the compact is only used under favourable conditions and they are supposed to be practical and convenient.

Tai Pan says:
18 January 2011

I recently bought a Panasonic Lumix LX3, a camera I had wanted for some time. The only fault is the lack of viewfinder. Panasonic offer one as an optional( >£100) extra, but it has to be removed from the camera each time you want to put it in it’s case. Not good enough!

I have lost count of the number of shots I have missed because ‘I couldn’t see what I was looking at’.

My attitude to photography has changed as a result and I often no longer bother.

Eddie Roberts says:
18 January 2011

I bought a Pentax digital camera as a replacement for a Canon Ixus camera due to temporary fault on the Canon. I had no problem taking photos with the Canon in any sort of light due to it having a viewfinder. Using the Pentax in sunlight is sheer guesswork. Bring back the viewfinder.

Glen Jennings says:
18 January 2011

I like so many others would never buy a camera without a viewfinder. As a 74 tear old it is virtually impossible for me to see what what I am shooting without one but I also desire an electronic one which shows you exactly what your are going to get in the frame Of course this is bound to make the camera bigger but I do not want a SLR. The answer seems to be one of the 4/3 formats but it amazes me a lot of them do not have view finders either although some you can attach one to the hot shoe as an expensive extra.

Alan Paroid says:
18 January 2011

Perhaps compact camera manufacturers could consider a compromise – a small accessory shoe on the top of the casing, into which an (optional extra) optical viewfinder could be slid in as and when needed, and removed when not needed.

ArumLily says:
18 January 2011

Sign me up for this. If a camera doesn`t have a viewfinder I won`t buy it.

I wholeheartedly support this campaign. I recently wanted to buy a compact super-zoom to replace my D90 for those occasions when I don’t want to lug around a DSLR and lenses. I also particularly want GPS as this camera will largely be used when travelling abroad and I would love the ease of recording locations. After searching the web on and off for two weeks, I have given up hope of finding the combination of compact, super-zoom and GPS and have settled for a Samsung WB650, which at least has an AMOLED screen, which may mitigate a little against the bright sunlight problem, but I SO wish I could have had a viewfinder. It is VERY frustrating! I would even have settled for a decent EVF, although an optical viewfinder would be much preferred. I hope everyone who is similarly frustrated will join your campaign and that the manufacturers will give their customers what they want!

Mark says:
18 January 2011

No viewfinder, I might as well use my phone! Offer me a good point and shoot with a viewfinder and I will be interested.

My wife’s camera is unuseable in bright conditions as it only has a digitial screen.
My Nikon has a digital view finder and a moveable screen. The latter is also very useful for taking photographs overhead.
The other major disadvantage of a digital screen is that the camera has to be held away from the body to view the screen. Not having it snuggled against the face, as with a viewfinder, makes it less steady which is particularly frustrating for slower exposures. Many a time we have to re-take with my wife’s camera in response to reported ‘camera shake’

Anthony says:
18 January 2011

I wholeheartedly agree that a viewfinder is essential. Viewing panels are useless in daylight, and it is difficult to hold the camera steady at arms-length. My previous compact camera (Casio Exilim) had a viewfinder which changed its view as the lens zoomed out and in. Unfortunately, it developed a fault.

Kelvin Kleyn says:
18 January 2011

I have a superb Panasonic Lumix with excellent optical zoom and picture quality. But I can’t take pictures in bright light because I can’t see the screen! Please bring back the viewfinder on the next Lumix incarnation and I will upgrade!

Peter Thomasson says:
18 January 2011

I wouldn’t want to be without the viewfinder on my camera. Not only can you see what you are taking pictures of when outdoors in bright light but you can also preserve your battery life by switching to viewfinder.

Ron E. says:
18 January 2011

They can not come back soon enough

John Whittell says:
18 January 2011

I would not consider buying a camera fgor myself that did not have a viewfinder.

Tony Pearson says:
18 January 2011

I wouldn’t be without the viewfinders on my digital camera (Canon) nor my old trusty Sony Camcorder. Too often the bright sunlight makes it impossible to see the LCD screen. There should always be a viewfinder to provide that alternative option if required (quite frequently from my own experience!).

Lew Sutton says:
18 January 2011

I’ve had a serious interest in photography for over 40 years and I would never ever buy a camera without a viewfinder. A screen together with a viewfinder gives the best of both worlds and reminds me of my first SLR in the 1960s which had a removable pentaprism, thus ideal for portraiture.

Barry Fairbrother says:
18 January 2011

I will never again buy any camera which does not have a viewfinder. What is the point of having every conceivable function in a camera (many of which are never used) if you can’t see what you are taking?
Do the manufacturers actually use their products?

I find it almost impossible to frame a picture properly on an LCD display when the rest of the world is bouncing around in my peripheral vision. The workaround is to frame it big and crop it small after downloading, thereby losing the benefits of the much vaunted high megapixel initial image.

Paul Wilson says:
18 January 2011

Totally support this. I waited for the Nikon P7000 to launch before buying a compact to replace my ageing Casio Exlim which has a viewfinder.