In search of the optical viewfinder
With the drive for ever-larger LCD screens, manufacturers have been forced to make sacrifices to free back-panel real estate without increasing the size of the camera. Perhaps most notable of these is the culling of the optical viewfinder, which is now a rare feature of low- to mid-level compact digital cameras.
In fact, finding a camera with an optical viewfinder is such a job we thought we'd list the few [current] cameras in the budget level (<$450) that still incorporate one:
- Canon PowerShot A720IS
- Canon PowerShot A570IS
- Canon PowerShot A560
- Canon PowerShot A460
- Canon IXUS 70
- Canon IXUS 950IS
- Nikon COOLPIX P50
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W90
In fairness to the manufacturers, optical viewfinders on compact cameras are often acused of being too small to be of use, anyway. Because of their small size (and sometimes bad positioning), they often don't offer a particularly good representation of the final image, and, as the technology has improved and sizes increased, using the LCD screen for composition is better in that sense.
We think it will be a while before the optical viewfinder becomes a feature of digital SLRs only (although with 'LiveView' technology, could SLRs go the same way?), but expect them to become increasingly rare on low- to mid-level compacts.