21 May 2005

You need an optical viewfinder

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There’s a growing trend for digicam manufacturers to fit out their trendy consumer models with increasingly large screens at the expense of an optical viewfinder. Sony, Pentax, Canon and Nikon, companies who would know better, have all jumped on the bandwagon. What in heaven’s name are they thinking?

The optical viewfinder is one of the few indispensable features of a digital camera, as necessary for the basic point and shoot photographer as for anyone else. And here are some reasons why:
  • LCD screens, although constantly improving, are still very hard to read in bright light. Even if you like using them to frame photos you will still sometimes need to use an optical viewfinder.
  • LCD screens tend to flatten out depth of field, so even large ones are sometimes not entirely indicative of the picture you’re about to take.
  • LCDs, particularly large ones, churn through battery power if you always have them on. Turning off the LCD and using an optical viewfinder is a great way to get a few more crucial pictures out of your ailing battery.
  • Holding the camera up against your head is a great way of reducing camera shake, and far more stable than holding it out in front of you, especially with today’s very small cameras.
  • And for some people the most important reason of all is that you simply can’t look like a real photographer holding up a camera at arms length in front of tour face and squinting at an LCD. No-one in this pose looks cool or radiates a sense of extreme photographic expertise.

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