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Old Aug 29, 2006, 10:07 AM   #1
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I just got a Pentax *ist DL to go with my now dated but OK Camedia C3030.

I like it, but it is too big to carry most of the time.

The reason I went DSLR was mainly that the viewfinder on every compact Digicams I have seenis 85% size, and not a good representation of what the camera is actually taking. However, for any serious picture taking, using the LCD is pretty tough (for several reasons).

So - I am trying to find a 3-5 MegaPixels, 3X zoom (~30-100), compact that has a viewfinder that is at least Close to 100%, and takes good pix (say top 25% of the compact class?). Nothing else is very important.

There are plenty of sites that will find me the 3-5 MP, 3X zoom, and give an idea of picture quality, but none seem to care about the viewfinder. They all seem to assume I will use the LCD all the time.

So, any experts out there on the finders? Or do I just stick with what I have, and decide based on situation, which tradeoff to live with???


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Old Aug 29, 2006, 10:54 AM   #2
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The best optical viewfinders I know of cover around 85%. Many of the newer pocket cameras with optical finders aren't that good. I would prefer 100% coverage but I don't find the overlap to be that big a problem. You learn to frame the shot tight and crop off any extra. If the shot requires all of your pixels for some reason you can muddle through with the LCD.

I don't think you are going to find a current 3Mp camera worth owning and most 5Mp pocket cameras are getting long in the tooth with slow performance. You can get decent 6 and 7Mp pocket cameras with viewfinders, and you still have plenty of pixels left over for most use after you crop.

Since you likely already have a charger and NiMH batteries you can get something like the 7Mp Casio Z120 for $227 delivered (B&H). For that price it isn't worth looking for lower pixels. You aren't going to like the viewfinder though as it isn't even up to 85% and is really tiny. But it has full manual everything if you want that and an excellent sensor. It is also extremely configurable compared to Canon and Sony pocket models you might consider.

The Canon SD series and Sony W series are small and probably have a better viewfinder than the Casio, although you aren't going to really like any of them. I agree with you that an optical finder is very desirable and that it would be nice if they could fit a large 100% finder on a tiny pocket camera. But the compromises are better than not having a pocket camera to carry everywhere IMO.

Go to a store and handle some. Keep in mind that you have to get your eye really close to the tiny viewfinders on current pocket cameras or you are seeing a postage stamp view. And many don't have diopter adjustments. So if you wear eyeglasses for distance vision you probably aren't going to find an adequate compromise and might just as well get something with the brightest possible LCD.

I have a Casio Z750 as a pocket camera and it has the same viewfinder as the Z120. I haven't found it a big problem and like it a lot better than not having an eyelevel viewfinder at all. Besides skimpy coverage and size the Casio finder doesn't have a spot metering target. The viewfinders on the Canon and Sony pocket cameras might be better but I haven't used either of them.

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Old Aug 29, 2006, 2:25 PM   #3
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Thanks Slipe

As for the "3-5" MP "requirement" – It isn't a hard requirement. However, I have done research suggesting that going much above 4 or 5MP for a camera with a small sensor (9-11 mmdiagonal size which all compact cameras have) doesn't add much in resolution as the lens is the major limiter. I have done some testing with resolution charts that seems to confirm this. What higher resolution DOES do is decrease the photo detector site size enough that (according to what I have read) noise becomes an issue, especially at ISOs above 200. If this is true, then going to higher resolution is really a step backwards, or at best, window dressing.

That all said, the "technology" of today's $250 - $400 consumer digicamslooks to begood enough that 8 X 10 prints should be fine. However, If my ability to compose a decent shot are impeded by a poor viewfinder, no amount of technology will help.

Thus my "unusual, unconventional" question.

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