Random Thoughts

The disappearing viewfinder

Written by Gail Bjork

The viewfinder on digital cameras seems to be going the way of the typewriter, betamax and ice box. Too bad!

Even a small viewfinder comes in handy at times

Even a small viewfinder is very useful at times

There’s a whole generation of digital camera users that probably will never use a viewfinder, even if their camera has one.

Too bad!

Manufacturers increasingly omit viewfinders on small compact cameras that sport large LCD monitors. People want smaller cameras and larger screens, and there is just so much camera real estate to go around. And there is no doubt that the quality of LCD readouts are improving.

However, I much rather have a digital camera with a slightly smaller LCD and a mediocre viewfinder. I can use the viewfinder when it’s really needed, as I do with my Canon SD890.

Camera shake

Because a camera must be held at arms length when shooting, there is a greater likelihood of camera shake when using the LCD to frame a shot. A camera with a viewfinder can be pressed against the face to help steady it. Increasing numbers of digital cameras have Image Stabilization but, while extremely effective, it’s not perfect.

LCD Glare

Without an anti-glare film protector,  an LCD can be difficult if not impossible to see when framing a shot in bright light. This truth was brought home when taking photos with my Panasonic TZ3 digital camera. The TZ3 is the first digital camera I ever owned without a viewfinder. I discovered I could not live without a viewfinder and sold the TZ3, which is an otherwise very fine camera.

LCDs can be extremely effective for framing shots and observing exposure changes in a scene. But there is one thing that can be said about a viewfinder that you just can’t say about LCDs: a viewfinder is always viewable!

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.


  • The Canon A1000IS generally has favorable reviews, but like any item, there can be manufacturing problems with some of them. Thanks for sharing this information. It will be helpful to new owners of this camera so they can check for the problem while still under the return or warranty period. Here some information about testing a new digital camera.

  • Buyers of Canon A1000 beware, they have an inherent fault in that the viewfinder is manufacture crooked and all viewfinder photos of distant horizon type are off lateral, eg the ocean horizon comes out up hill
    Canon will try to tell you it’s your fault but not true, the Camera is a dud