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Old May 30, 2013, 10:31 AM   #1
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Default Compact P&S with Viewfinder?

Help! Can someone suggest a compact ' P&S' with the performance specs of the Panasonic ZS15 but with an optical viewfinder? The auto functionality and pix quality of the ZS15 are amazing but it is almost impossible to use in sunny outdoors because you cannot see the screen to really frame a shot. I end up using my old Sony W5 because of its viewfinder even though the pix are of a lesser quality.
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Old May 30, 2013, 1:28 PM   #2
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I know what you mean. I was wearing a Madras shirt while using my Sony WX150. In bright sunlight, all I could see on the LCD display was the reflection of my shirt.

Optical viewfinders can't display the view a zoom lens projects onto the image sensor, especially in a compact package. The lens projects an image onto the sensor whenever the camera is turned on, and the camera uses that to display an image onto the LCD display on the back. Since the LCD Display is necessary to display the menus and settings anyway, you can't really do without it, so it might as well be used for composing the shot too. Some P&S cameras have eye-level electronic viewfinders, but again, it's rare to find that in a compact body.
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Old Jun 5, 2013, 9:12 PM   #3
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I know the feeling well as wife has same issue with her Canon SX120 that has similar spec to the ZS15. Specifically the long zoom range 24-384. There essentially isn't anything with the a viewfinder - optical or electronic - with that zoom range. Fuji X20 has an optical zoom viewfinder (very rare) but the lens is on 28-112. Even those stepping up in sensor size to 1/1.7 (enthusiast P&S), such as the Canon G15 are in that lower zoom range. However, the recently announced and on "pre-order" with expected delivery June 30th is the Panasonic LF-1, a 1/1.7 class camera extending the zoom range to 28-200 with a fast f2.0-5.9 lens AND an electronic viewfinder, about the same size and look of the ZS15. Hopefully, that is a sign of things to come as manufacturers address the LCD glare which is probably the #1 complaint.

Stepping up a little more you enter the world of mirrorless with 2 lens solution, and the tele zoom will usually go up to the 300 range. Probably least expensive is the technically discontinued but still sold on Nikon's site is the Nikon 1 V1 kit for around $550. (The V2 kit that replaced the V1 is way overpriced.) Another 2 lens solution - and most compact - is the Olympus E-PM2 (or $100 more, the E-PL5) with an optional plug-in electronic viewfinder. Now that I think of it, the Nikon requires purchase of a plug in flash, so both have an add-ons but at least Olympus includes the plug in flash (neither have internal pop-up).

It is frustrating. Other solutions are even more expensive. Daughter didn't want to go the extra for the Sony NEX6 and got the NEX5. Experience the same glared out LCD and bought the optional plug in electronic viewfinder...which takes it up to about the price of the NEX6. Trying to talk wife into the NEX6 with pancake lens...which is very compact as an everyday walkaround camera. It becomes bulky when you mount the tele zoom. But she doesn't want to spend the $1100.

Last edited by tizeye; Jun 6, 2013 at 7:58 AM.
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