Thoughts on improving viewfinders in compact cameras

in Miscellaneous
By photocrit/Eain (3,193) Send mail to this user on January 19, 2008 9:01:32 AM CST

Long ago I owned and used a voigtlander camera with a two and a quarter inch square waist level viewfinder. It was modelled on the rolleiflex but was not a tru twin lens reflex as the viewing lens was not connected to the capture lens. Nevertheless it was very easy to use having a solid position against the body and quite discreet given the size of the camera. Recently I bought a high qulaity digital compact having done a lot of research into the range available. It soon became very apparent that it is difficult to find one with the traditonal eye level viewfinder. The norm is the viewing screen on the back of the camera which requires the photographer (having found his spectacles!) to hold it some distance in front of him/her. This is a far from ideal position and is probably why anti-shake devices are now almost universal. I would like to see manufacturers, on perhaps high end models as a start, move the viewing screen to the top of the camera so that one looks down on it against midriff or chest. This would give a firmer position and together with anti-shake produce better results. The camera would also become an ideal tool for candid shots. In conditions of bright light pop up shutters could be fitted to make viewing easier. I realise that this would require a pretty radical design of the body but would provide an interesting alternative to what is now available. As first step to try out the market a rear screen which could be folded out to the horizontal might be a way forward. Perhaps such things already exist in compacts and if so I apologise for my ignorance. In conclusion I have to say that I find my little compact an amazing tool compared to the old voigtlander but when it comes to peering at a scene on that rear screen I do look back to with nostalgia to that old technology.

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From vermilye/Jon (5,163) This user is a Premium Member Send mail to this user on February 12, 2008 6:59:32 PM CST

Or, you could use the Nikon Coolpix swivel system & adjust the LCD for viewing from above, behind, below, or even in front! Examples - the Coolpix S10, P1, or 995, etc

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From photocrit/Eain (3,193) Send mail to this user on February 17, 2008 11:18:54 AM CST

I realise only now that this is available. Too late - I have already invested in a LX2

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From magalia/Bob (5,734) Send mail to this user on June 21, 2008 4:45:52 PM CDT

I used to have a Mamiya Sekor 500 TL 35 mm SLR. I bought a right angle attachment "tube" that attached to the view finder. It also could be turned left or right but also straight down. Then I could see the image over the heads of people in from of me. This would a nice accessory to have now to fit over my optical viewfinder on my digital camera (a Fuji Fine Pix 5700. In my opinion, digital cameras without an optical finder are very difficult to use because they are difficult to see in bright sunlight and impossible to follow a moving object since the "film" plane goes in the opposite direction.

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From keithselmes/Keith (479) Send mail to this user on December 26, 2008 4:55:22 AM CST

About the time of this article, nearly one year ago, I started with a Ricoh GX100.
This has an optional electronic viewfinder which fits into the hot shoe. It rotates to, so it works as an angle finder.
It has all the digital readout, and while its not great, its better for me than the rear LCD.

But perhaps you can add an optical VF in the same way, on the hot shoe. The Ricoh GR Digital has a prime lens equivalent to 28mm on 35mm, and an optional optical VF which fits the hot shoe. This VF is supposed to be very good.

I believe the Panasonic LX3 also has an accessory optical VF, but only for its widest setting of 24mm equivalent.

It happens my GX100 can either zoom continuously, or in steps, equivalent to 24, 28, 35, 50, 72. Some other compacts can do this.

So I think some people are using the VF from their rangefinder at a chosen setting on their digital compact. The down side is that the viewfinders usually cover only one focal length, and either come packaged with rangefinder lenses, which each cost more than the digital camera, or they come separately at about half or one third the price of the compact. So unless you already have a full rangefinder kit, a set of quality viewfinders will cost more than the compact camera.

A possible option are the old turret lenses, some of which were Soviet made, and thus reasonably priced. There is currently a Helios finder with multiple brightlines, but these are for 35, 50, and 135, and of limited use to me. I might try one though. They don't cost a lot, maybe 35 UKP.

Incidentally, I do like using the fold out LCD on a Canon G5. It does allow using it like a TLR, as well as other angles.

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From murf1/Leonard (12) Send mail to this user on January 11, 2009 8:09:17 AM CST

I have just started with digital cameras. I bought a Panasonic FZ18 and use the viewfinder almost exclusively for the reasons outlined.

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From creativestream/spammer (0) Send mail to this user on June 23, 2014 4:55:22 AM CDT

This truly makes sense...

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