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Is there an inexpensive digital camera with viewfinder?

by MollyUngulate / March 15, 2013 3:35 AM PDT

I have a Pentax Optio M20, which is o.k. for general usage, but I would like to get a camera with a viewfinder. I'd also like something better than the 3x zoom for close-ups of the birds in my garden. I have been looking at the Nikon D3100 with a separate 55-300 telephoto lens. Is there anything less expensive which might suffice?

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Best Answer chosen by MollyUngulate

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by PistonCupChampion / March 15, 2013 4:43 AM PDT

If you want a viewfinder and more telephoto, and not a DSLR, the most choices are in the superzoom category. They are also referred to as megazooms, or bridge cameras. Just about every manufacturer makes one. Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, and Sony are the most common, offering anywhere from 24x to 50x zoom lenses. My personal pick would be the Panasonic FZ200, which has the brightest lens, meaning you can take photos in lower light even at full telephoto without losing image quality. Still, these type of cameras work best in daylight, because their sensor are as small as the one in your Pentax camera. I'd probably say the Canon SX50 HS is the next best choice. It has a lot more telephoto with its 50x, 1200mm telephoto equivalent lens. But its aperture is much smaller at telephoto than the Panasonic, so it's strictly a daylight only camera for long zoom photos.

A DSLR is a completely different class of camera. It will of course offer the highest image quality; much better than a superzoom. But if you only print small or view your images to fit your computer screen, you don't necessarily need that extra quality. I don't know how much the D3100 package you found is, but if you go that route, be sure to get a lens to cover the wide angle too unless you will use the Nikon for telephoto only and use your Pentax for wide angle shooting. Personally, I would get a factory refurbished camera; you get the same camera for (usually) less money.

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Let me share a recent search I used for this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 15, 2013 3:49 AM PDT

Background first. We wanted a camera with the viewfinder and it's use was for a production line area so we were not going to put a thousand buck camera in the factory floor. We also wanted it to work with the Eye-Fi card so there was not user interactions to get the pictures back to the office area.

The search. We hit the Amazon best sellers list for point and shoot cameras and that does change all the time. It's currently at:

While we went with a Canon PowerShot A1300 since it met our criteria for cost, battery type, viewfinder and more you can scan the best sellers to see what you find today.

In the top 10 there are a handful of units with the viewfinder.

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