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There are things that would barely be noticed if they were removed from digital cameras, things like digital zoom, world-clocks, digital picture frames and even video-games. Unfortunately that is not what is being removed. Viewfinders are. Not from DSLR cameras, of course – that is the nature of an SLR – but from smaller cameras.

Consider why viewfinders are disappearing. There are more than one reason, but the first is cost. Everyone likes to pay less. Optical tunnels are secondary lenses complete with a zoom motor. EVFs are tiny LCDs and OVFs require a mechanism to divert light from the photographic lens. All viewfinders therefore add to a camera’s price.

The second reason is space. All viewfinders, particularly OVFs, add to the bulk of a camera. This goes against the tendency to make cameras smaller. On the other hand, LCD displays are getting bigger, covering the entire back of many recent ultra-compact cameras, leaving even less room for viewfinders.

Add to these reasons the fact that most pictures are framed with an LCD and the result is little reason to increase a camera’s cost and size for a seldom used feature. This doesn’t mean that viefinders don’t offer any value, because they do.

A viewfinder is most valuable in the presence of bright light which turns even the best trans-reflective or hyper-crystal LCD into a barely legible low-contrast display. Some LCD screens get washed out entirely in such conditions. The most common alternative, the optical tunnel, is admitedly a very poor substitute. At an average coverage below 80%, optical tunnels cause images to be poorly composed and require cropping of up to 33% to compensate, thereby drastically reducing image resolution. Both EVFs and OVFs offer far better solutions. For more details see the viewfinders feature article..

In sum, having a viewfinder adds value by increasing usability and not having a viewfinder adds value by allowing smaller and less expensive digital cameras. So individuals must decide which of these is worth more to them.

Neocamera © Cybernium.

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