WHERE HAVE ALL THE VIEWFINDERS GONE?


At the very start of the digital camera era I had a discussion with a Sony designer about one of the cameras being introduced.  It was fine in all respects other than the fact that it lacked a viewfinder. I thought then, and I have had no reason to change my mind, that a camera without an eye-level viewfinder was totally daft.

Holding a camera at arm’s length and waving it around is hardly the way to be discreet and unobtrusive. The fact that it is impossible to see the image in anything approaching bright light is, apparently, unimportant. Most modern camera are a triumph of style over function. The Olympus EP series, Sigma, Panasonic models are not cameras that I’d buy.

Fitting an EVF or a bright line finder to the hotshoe is a real Heath Robinson solution. It looks clunky, adds unacceptable bulk and according to posts on various forums differs in colour rendition to real panel, making evaluation of the image difficult.

I am not a fan of add-on viewfinders whether they are made by Leica, Nikon, Canon or any other maker. To have to focus in one window then switch to another to frame and having no idea of depth of field are two of the reasons SLR cameras almost totally destroyed the rangefinder camera. Going back to the bad old days in not an option for most photographers.

Sure I love my Nikon rangefinder and I put up with some of its problems because its lack of bulk and light weight make it a dream to carry. I’d hoped that the Olympus EP-1 would give me something approaching a digital substitute.

The new EP-1-L ticks all the right boxes – size, weight, flexibility, quality (I can ignore all the instructions etc), price but bombs totally on the viewfinder issue. The add-on EVF may work fine, but just look at it. Big, clunky and in the way.

The cause of all of this of course, is that cameras like these are not made for photographers. They are intended to be stepping-stones from compact (and) p&s models to big (and expensive) DLRS, so pandering to the needs of the inexperienced. I have nothing against beginnners as we all started somewhere but I do object to the dumbing-down of features … none of them are two difficult to master.

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