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Poll: How often do you use the viewfinder on your point-and-shoot digital camera?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / December 10, 2010 6:02 AM PST
How often do you use the viewfinder on your point-and-shoot digital camera?

-- Always.
-- About half the time.
-- Only when I absolutely have to.
-- Rarely.
-- Never.
-- What viewfinder? My camera doesn't have one.
-- I don't even remember if I have a viewfinder on my camera.
-- I have no idea what you are talking about.

With less and less point-and-shoot digital cameras being produced without viewfinders, are you one of those folks that misses them? Do you find the optical viewfinder useful or do you think it is just a waste of camera space? How many times have you used your viewfinder? Would you care if your next digital camera didn't include an optical viewfinder, or is it a must have for you?

Answer the poll and discuss it here.
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Regretfully, ALWAYS Use Viewfinder

I cannot see anything on that little screen, especially outdoors. Pitiful. I would never have a camera without a viewfinder. Screens are not functional.

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Point-and-Shoot Viewfinders

I use mine every time - no glare and I can brace the camera better to avoid shake, etc. I see so many pics being taken at arms' length which would seem to induce camera movement.

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Old Habits Die Hard?

I suspect many (older?) people use viewfinders with their digital cameras out of habit, because they did so with their film-based cameras. I certainly find myself often doing so reflexively, without thinking.

In most cases I prefer to use the viewfinder, but there are situations where it is useful to use the screen to frame a shot. For example, you can hold a digital camera high up over your head and still get a good shot by swiveling the screen to set it up.

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I wish more digital point and shoot cameras had viewfinders

The display is SO hard to use in full sunlight. Viewfinders are going to make a comeback.

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Old guy who always uses the viewfinder

I always go to the viewfinder. I've been taking pictures since the 1950's. I can't help it. My Canon has a pretty good evf.

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Very rarely

The only time I use the optical viewfinder is when taking pictures with my friends camera, she has a Nikon DSLR camera and I find it such a pain as you can't take pictures by looking at the screen.

Much prefer to use the screen as you get an exact WYSIWYG view, and being Dyspraxic using them viewfinders quite often means that the picture is slightly offset, so screen is so much better and more practical.

I never have problems seeing the screen in sunlight, always crystal clear, mind you my camera (a Canon Powershot) has a slight cover over the screen to reduce glare.

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dSLR viewfinders....
by Jelly Baby / December 11, 2010 2:16 AM PST
In reply to: Very rarely

".....Much prefer to use the screen as you get an exact WYSIWYG view, and being Dyspraxic using them viewfinders quite often means that the picture is slightly offset, so screen is so much better and more practical....."

I'm not sure what you mean by the picture being offset. A dSLR, by definition, will show you exactly what the lens sees. The final image may, in most consumer SLRs, be very slightly larger than the viewfinder shows but it will be aligned.

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Viewfinder? All the time

Those of us who have done photography for years know--if you try holding the camera out infront of you, you CANNOT keep it still. You can always tell videos shot behind a viewfinder and one shot with the flip-out display. Unless they are on a tripod, the image bounces around in-and-out of frame. Try doing quick moving sports. It doesn't work. At least I have never seen anyone successfully able to do it.

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How much do I use the viewfinder...

I lied in my answer, because the choices went from "Always" to "almost never, or less frequently." I DO use the LCD screen when light conditions allow it, but when I am outside light conditions almost never allow it.

I was really surprised to find that the LCD screen shows MORE than what appears on my final pictures; I had a cutoff head recently when using the LCD. I want to check this out comparing the two for accuracy in placing the borders. And this was with a Nikon L18, of all companies to not have accurate viewfinders/screens.

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Me too - and a tip
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / December 10, 2010 10:45 PM PST

Another possibility for cut-off heads:

If you have your photos printed on 6 x 4 inch paper, the people processing the photo will chop off about 1/4 inch from the top and bottom of your photo.

Because, a camera with a 4:3 aspect ratio (such as Nikon L18), produces a photo that does not fit on 6 x 4 paper. To get all of your photo printed, you need 6 x 4.5 inch paper.

6 x 4 paper has an aspect ratio of 3:2 which is fine for 35mm film or DSLR cameras.


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Aspect ratio can be adjusted on most recent cameras
by john3347 / December 11, 2010 1:25 AM PST
In reply to: Me too - and a tip

As snapshot2 points out, popular 4x6 prints are 3:2 aspect ratio. If the majority of your printed pictures are on 4x6 photo paper, you are doing yourself a favor to set your camera's aspect ratio to that ratio. This saves having to crop pictures prior to printing in most cases. If, on the other hand, you seldom print a picture and view your pictures on a 4:3 monitor screen or on a 16:9 Widescreen monitor or on a 16:9 flatscreen TV, you should set camera aspect ratio to that ratio.

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inaccurate viewfinder/screen
by mach37 / December 11, 2010 3:41 AM PST
In reply to: Me too - and a tip

I may have misled in my comment on the Nikon L18. It does not have a viewfinder, only the LCD screen. I was really surprised to see that what I had carefully composed near the top edge of the screen was cut off in the full image as viewed in my graphics viewer. Not a print cropping problem.

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clarifying my comment:
by mach37 / December 11, 2010 4:04 AM PST

What surprised me about this Nikon L18, is that the actual picture area recorded should be exactly the same as shown on the LCD, or larger. Nikon has always touted the accuracy of the viewfinder image at the edges of their film cameras; to neglect this in digital cameras is not very reassuring, quality-wise.

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Using a viewfinder

We are just selling a 'viewfinderless' camera because
it doesn't have one! It has a huge screen, but in bright light it is impossible to see it, even with a
'shade'. So we have bought cameras with viewfinders,
and have also bought shades for the screens.

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I always use the view finder. Taking photos for over 40 years. The digital screen is useless in sunlight. I only use the screen, when i use the video function, in order not to get a headache. The camera is more steady, when using the viewfinder. I take a lot of sport photos, and have to see where the subject is. if they take it off SLR cameras, it would be a shame.

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My new camera does not have one

I used to use the viewfinder often, mainly when I was trying to save battery or it was to sunny out. I always made sure I got a camera with a view finder, and my last camera was an SLR, so it had to have one. I recently got a Sony NEX-5, and I was so excited about the camera's technology that I completely forgot about it not having a view finder. I do miss not having it. The good thing is that Sony sells an optional, external, view finder for the SLR-like NEX line.

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Digital Viewfinders

The digital viewfinders (not optical!) on my Fuji cameras are invaluable as they let you compose the shot knowing you will get exactly what you see.
I cannot understand this fashion for dispensing with a viewfinder and the reliance on the screen; I feel quite sorry for those snappers standing with their camera at arm's length trying to compose a shot in bright sunlight, very difficult. The only time I use the screen is for Macro (close up) shots.
I would not buy a camera that did not have a digital viewfinder.

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Point-and -Shoot, not bridge
by Jelly Baby / December 11, 2010 2:10 AM PST
In reply to: Digital Viewfinders

I'm guessing from some of the replies above that a lot of folks are talking about bridge cameras, rather than true point-and shoots. Optical finders on point and shoot cameras are becoming as rare as hens teeth, however, on my very elderly Nikon 775, the optical finder is useful as the display screen is small and dificult to see in bright light. A little bit of paralax indication would help massivley but I suspect that the cost of even fairly large display panels is now less than the cost of the optics for an optical viewfinder so we'll be seeing less and less of them.
None of my newer point and shoot cameras have an optical finder.
I use my point and shoot in a very different way, and for very different things, than my dSLR so it's not a huge issue - but it would be nice to have a finder on all my cameras as I also don't like the "arms out" grip which I need to use while using the display panel

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Not enough choices in this poll for accurate results

There is no choice here for those of us who use a viewfinder for the vast majority of our photography. I would not want to be without the screen view for occasional situations, but I just feel more comfortable using a viewfinder. Very often, the screen is totally unable to be seen due to ambient light or glare.

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LCD screen is not a replacement for an optical viewfinder

In the hope that camera manufacturers are reading these comments, I'd like to extend this discussion to camcorders. I was extremely disappointed with my Sony HDR-XR100; but just about all other brands in the same price range also have no optical viewfinder. To find a similar model with the optical VF means several hundred dollars more, putting those cameras well out of my range. As much as I like the idea of a HD camcorder, I'm giving up on the XR100 for outdoor use - the great majority of my videos - and sticking with my Sony DVR-TRV120 Digital-8. At the very least, mfgrs should make inexpensive folding LCD hoods for their lowest priced camcorders.

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I wish

I really wish that my PS had a viewfinder, (Olympus Stylus 790 SW) I can use the screen just fine but I am used to using the viewfinder on the DSLR that I use when not on my rougher adventures. This will definitely be something to look for in my next PS purchase.

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Viewfinder use

I use my optical viewfinder (OVF) almost all the time. Far too often the LCD screen is virtually invisible due to the high ambient light level My most recent purchase (following the accidental dropping of my tiny Sony 7.2 mp camera into a rock pool) was difficult to make, because almost all of the cameras in my price and mp range have no OVF. Eventually I settled for a Canon Powershot A1100IS, slightly bigger than the Sony, but with 12.1 mp and OVF. This gives good results, but there was very limited choice. I heartily deplore the modern tendency of manufacturers to drop the OVF in favour of a few more square millimeters of LCD screen. I wonder how much real market research they have done to arrive at this decision.

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When I bought a little P&S camera back in 2008, a viewfinder in addition to the large LCD screen was high on my list of features. I ended up with a Nikon that has a small EVF--electronic View Finder--installed where an optical viewfinder would be. Some don't like those, but I find it extremely useful for shooting outside in the bright light: not only can I see what I am framing, but the menus that would show up on the LCD screen also appear in the little EVF. That means that I can adjust the camera settings in bright sun as well as see what I am shooting.

Otherwise, I find that I use the large LCD screen most of the time.

I mostly use a digital SLR, purchased right after the P&S in 2008, which does even have "live view" on the LCD screen so I am using the optical viewfinder all the time. So that's 100% viewfinder!

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About half the time here

On my P&S camera (an Optio 33LF), I use the optical viewfinder about half the time if not slightly less. It doesn't auto-focus any faster regardless of whether the screen is used or not. Also there is just enough offset of the viewfinder optics where it's better to use the screen when doing up-close shots. In fact the screen is necessary when doing manual focus, since the camera in this case has a stepped focusing mechanism and being off by one tick is often blurry. The screen gives me a better idea of what I'm getting.

Now on my DSLR (a D5000, which is a bigger and different breed of camera than the P&S) I use the optical viewfinder whenever I can. Using the screen via live-view mode makes auto-focusing much slower. (Its about the same as the P&S in that mode.) And because of the reflex mechanism, not only is using the viewfinder advantageous in terms of speed, it also shows me exactly what I'm getting through the lens. Using the screen also works better when the eyepiece cup is swapped out with the eyepiece cover, which can be a moderate pain because leaving it open causes artifacts or throws off the metering and it's dealing with extra piece of tiny gear that may be easy to lose. Yet the screen on my DSLR is repositionable like that of most P&S cameras letting me see and take shots from otherwise impossible vantage points, not to mention being handy for doing video. So I still consider it a good feature despite the trade-offs.

The funny thing is that while it's more advantageous overall to use the viewfinder on the DSLR, but the DSLR has has a much better screen in regards to bright light visibility. Yet the P&S has the screen swivel positioned much better such that I can actually use it when getting in shots during tripod shooting. (While it makes more sense to use the P&S in situations when you're not lugging gear around.) Can't have it all I guess.

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