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Author Topic: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?  (Read 4411 times)

Offline Don_1

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Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« on: 04/04/2012 10:14:22 »
I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever with my Nikon D300 DSLR, though I wouldn't say 'no' to a nice new D800 (hint).

But a DSLR cannot be slipped into the pocket for that opportune shot which sometimes presents itself.

Back in the good old days of film, the same problem came with my various SLR's (Pentax ESII, Canon AE1, Nikon F301), so a compact camera slipped into my pocket was a great and neccessary addition to my photgraphic equipment. It also served as nice Xmas or birthday gift for the Mrs. (I know, 'the cheek of it'). The last was a fantastic little Miranda range finder.

But some years ago I bought 'er indoors a Pentax A10 digital compact. Now don't get me wrong, its a lovely camera which gives very good results, BUT, it has no optical viewfinder and I just don't like trying to compose a frame looking at the display screen. In fact I find it very difficult to do so and there is the problem of seeing the screen in bright daylight (though some later models have screens which address this problem) and keeping the camera on target while you check the composition and when pressing the shutter release and camera shake brought about by the awkward position the camera is held in. OK, camera shake is compensated for, but wouldn't it be that much better if the camera could be held in a position where shake can be minimised in the first place?

We recently bought our daughter a compact Nikon, this has the same problem as the Pentax. So I have been looking for a nice little handy compact to slip in my pocket for those opportune shots and for snap shots of friends and family where I really don't want to be humping around my DSLR kit and/or haven't the time to set up my D300 with appropriate lens and, maybe, flash, set the lens to the appropriate distance, focus and aperture and set the body to 'P', 'A', 'S' or 'M'.

But can I find a suitable camera for the job WITH AN OPTICAL VIEWFINDER? No.

Canon seems to be the manufacturer which still has optical viewfinders on more models than most. But I really only want a handy snapshot camera for which I expect to pay well under £100.

The optical viewfinder is simple accurate and does the job it was intended for very well indeed yet it has been ditched by so many manufacturers in favour of the inferior LCD screen. Is this technology for technology’s sake? Is this a step in the wrong direction? I certainly think so.


 

Offline RD

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #1 on: 04/04/2012 12:26:04 »
... there is the problem of seeing the screen in bright daylight (though some later models have screens which address this problem

Optical viewfinder is pretty much incompatible with having a zoom lens.
Optical viewfinders also suffer from parallax problem, usually resolved by including a large margin of error to avoid cutting peoples heads off, but in-turn results in windy compositions with too much space around the outside. 

Add-on optical viewfinder ?





some sort of hood to stop glare from the screen ? ...

« Last Edit: 04/04/2012 12:36:04 by RD »
 

Offline imatfaal

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #2 on: 05/04/2012 11:34:22 »
Kinda agree with Don - I have found myself using both arms, my nose, brow and cheek to stabilise a non-viewfinder compact camera.   People think you're mad - but it is still the best you are gonna get without a tripod; and definitely better than holding at arms length to see the screen.  It also allows you to move position very quickly - we can turn our head and shoulders far quicker when compact rather than when holding a camera at a distance away.  Our proprioception is very good but keeping a camera axis parallel to our line of sight is not instant, however it is if you are gluing the camera to your face. 

I am slightly ashamed to say that I now use my phone instead of a compact - ie when not using my nikon slrs or my old nondigital slrs
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #3 on: 05/04/2012 15:18:10 »
You really would need the SLR technology to get a true optical viewfinder with zoom capabilities.  Otherwise you have something like my older Olympus digital camera with both a digital screen and a digital viewfinder, and I always find looking through the tiny hole for the digital viewfinder is annoying.

Is it time to upgrade my old 3.2MP camera for a new 16MP camera?  I really don't think I need larger than 1MB photos, but certainly one can use the excess resolution for digital zooming.

Personally I think there are huge benefits of the point & shoot capabilities built into devices such as cell phones and tablet PC's.  My nephew had a lot of fun with the camera on his Nintendo DS he got for Christmas.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #4 on: 05/04/2012 16:08:37 »
Decapitation of the subject has long been a problem for some due to the viewfinder and lens 'seeing' slightly different views, though I must say, I never had such a problem when using even a good old Kodak Brownie, let alone that trusty old Miranda.

Yes its true that a fixed optical view finder on a camera with a zoom lens won't give a very good representation of the end product and that Helios finder has just 3 bright line boxes within it for 35mm, 85mm & 135mm focal lengths. The box for 135mm must be tiny and virtually impossible to compose anything in. There are optical zooming finders available, but at anything from £100 - £250+ not really a viable buy for use on a camera costing less than the viewfinder. There is also the fact that most compacts have built in flash, so an attachment which fits to the hot shoe is a non starter.

But Canon's G12 & Nikon's P7100 (both at just under the £500 tag) do have real image zooming optical finders. Since both cameras are bristling with adjustment controls which would put an entry level DSLR to shame, I can't imagine that the cost of fitting one as standard could be that expensive. Perhaps adding £30 to the price of the camera. That's roughly the price of that Helios finder.

I could even stand for an electronic finder. Since everything but the image display is already on the camera, for the display screen, that addition should come in quite cheap. But these seem to be rarer than optical finders.

As for this contraption..........

........... which I note has been stuck on the back of a DSLR (WHY???), I think one might look as big a fool with that as poor old imatfaal with his camera glued to his forehead. Must look like a rudy Dalek!

"Take a picture of me Dad!"  Oops!

Nope, I'm sorry, but I'm sticking by my guns on this. The lack of a good optical viewfinder is definitely a step in the wrong direction. Arms waving around in front of you knocking some innocent passer-by for a six, its just not cricket.

Come on Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Fuji, Sony, Lumix and the rest, bring back the optical view finder.
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #5 on: 05/04/2012 16:23:11 »
I agree with Don.
 
I have an old Pentax Optio with a viewfinder which I find very handy in lots of situations. The parallax problem really isn't a major issue except with really tight closeups, but then I'm using the display and a tripod.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #6 on: 05/04/2012 16:51:36 »
Well, you can get a small, cheap digital camera with an optical viewfinder.
http://www.maplin.co.uk/3-in-1-keychain-mini-digital-camera-544653?c=froogle&u=544653&t=module
but, with the best will in the world, it would be hard to describe it as much good.
 

Offline RD

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #7 on: 05/04/2012 17:48:16 »
this one has an optical viewfinder ...



and should be able to focus "to infinity and beyond" :) 
« Last Edit: 05/04/2012 17:52:05 by RD »
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #8 on: 05/04/2012 19:06:18 »
able to focus "to infinity and beyond" :) 

Don't need a camera for that. My eyebolds can only focus beyond infinity.
 

Offline RD

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #9 on: 06/04/2012 09:50:44 »
... My eyebolds

Is that a typo or are you channeling Stanley Unwin:)
 

Online evan_au

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #10 on: 06/04/2012 10:21:06 »
With modern camera chips, there is not much of a lag between the external scene and the viewfinder display.
My digital camera has a flip-down LCD viewfinder; it's great for those over-the-head shots in a crowd. An optical viewfinder would be no good when holding the camera over your head.
My camera also has a small LCD in a viewfinder, which is good for direct sunlight.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #11 on: 06/04/2012 19:02:26 »
Perhaps the trick will be getting a pair of these...



Then programming them to receive a picture from your camera.  Then, you could use your camera at any angle.  Of course, you could also add a camera to the glasses...  no longer "point and shoot", but rather "look and shoot".

Or... 
Half Glasses.
 

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Re: Digital Cameras: A step in the wrong direction?
« Reply #11 on: 06/04/2012 19:02:26 »

 

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