We’ve been fighting on your behalf to bring back viewfinders to digital compact cameras. But after waves of high-cost cameras with viewfinders this year, we’re still left frustrated by the distinct lack of cheap options.
Our viewfinder campaign has had a surge of support from aggravated consumers finding the only options available for cameras are expensive DSLRs and bulky bridge cameras.
Armed with your comments, we challenged the major camera manufacturers to address this clear demand. A number of compacts with viewfinders have since been released, but as you’ll see below, virtually all of them price out everyday users looking for a cheap point-and-shoot.
Electronic viewfinder accessories
Panasonic, Olympus and Sony have all released hot-shoe electronic viewfinders which can be attached to the top of certain cameras. While we’ve been impressed by the quality of these, they’re an added cost of £150 and upwards. Plus, they’re only compatible with cameras which cost over £350. They also make the shape of the camera alittle awkward.
Our verdict: neat technology, but a costly solution with questionable aesthetics
Fujifilm X100 – hybrid viewfinder
Fujifilm’s hybrid viewfinder is an exceptional innovation, offering a sharp-quality glass optical viewfinder which converts into an electronic viewfinder at the flick of a switch. There’s no doubt it has the looks, but the retro-styled Fujifilm X100 has an eye-watering price of £850.
Our verdict: an exciting innovation, but out of reach of most budgets
Fujifilm X10 – high quality glass viewfinder
This is more like it Fujifilm! A top-notch glass viewfinder with a built-in zoom mechanism to follow the zoom of the lens precisely. We tried out the Fujifilm X10 ourselves and the clear, bright viewfinder was a joy to use. However, at £450-£500 this camera is again aimed at enthusiasts rather than everyday snappers.
Our verdict: one of the best optical viewfinders we’ve seen on a non-DSLR, but still not cheap
Nikon V1 camera system
Nikon created a flutter by finally steering away from DSLRs and entering the compact system camera market, and the Nikon V1 offers an electronic viewfinder in a small body. The design is impressively portable, but with a price of £830 with a kit lens, this is far from a cheap option.
Our verdict: an interesting move from Nikon, but the price-tag leaves a sour taste
Sony NEX-7 with OLED viewfinder
There’s no question the Sony NEX-7 is a stunner – the OLED (organic light emitting diode) electronic viewfinder is staggeringly bright and sharp, and Sony have slipped it into an amazingly slim camera body. But the price? £1000 just for the camera body with no lens. Wow.
Our verdict: wonderful viewfinder technology, but ruinously expensive
Canon PowerShot A1200 – the holy grail?
Finally, this April saw the release of a new cheap compact from Canon with a small optical viewfinder. At just £80, the Canon Powershot A1200 feels like the answer to all of our prayers. However, the viewfinder is exceptionally small, and Canon refuses to commit to releasing future compact models with viewfinders.
Our verdict: the price is right, but the viewfinder itself is disappointingly small
A year down the line from when our viewfinder campaign began, the camera market certainly looks different. However, the fundamental need for an affordable, compact camera with a viewfinder to suit all users has scarcely been addressed at all.
It’s true that technology which debuts on more expensive models will find a way of trickling down to more affordable versions over time, but sometimes this process needs a shot in the arm.
That’s why we intend to return to all of the major camera manufacturers to let them know there’s still an appetite for affordable cameras with viewfinders – so make sure you tell them what you think of their latest largely expensive offerings!