I am going travelling for a year and I am looking at buying a new compact camera because mine has a pitiful 3.2 meg which my phone now rivals. I want to get a nice compact one which i can carry round with me all the time. If i had the patience for an SLR I would get one, but i don't.
I have seen a few camera's which I am interested in, however some of them don't have view finders, they just rely on the LCD screen. Is it important to have a view finder to get some really good pictures or should I give that a miss and focus on Pixels and Optical Zoom? I've seen a decent Ixus and Olympus which have 5X Optical zoom.
Any advice would be welcome. Or if anyone can recommend a decent compact camera that would be great.
In my opinion, nope. Not for a compact p&s. When mounting large lenses on a large SLR body, I find having the camera body pressed against my face helps to steady the camera and follow the action. But other than that, I personally prefer to compose my shots using the LCD. You can also compose while holding the camera well away from your head and looking at the LCD.
With Compact Cameras the view finder is actually a bit of hindrance if you're not aware that what you see is actually not what the camera is seeing.
This is because the viewfinder is a bit higher than the lense so you can end up cutting off heads and feet despite the fact that it looked okay in the viewfinder.
With SLR cameras there's a little mirror in front of the film pane which snaps up when you release the shutter. This mirror is reflected in the viewfinder so that you see exactly what the lense sees.
I have a Canon Powershot S1 IS with an electronic viewfinder - a tiny LCD inside. The only time I find the viewfinder useful is when the battery is running very low and you need to snap some shots but activating the LCD will drain the last remaining bit.
If you take your photography more seriously, then I would vote for a camera with a viewfinder. When viewing the LCD screen, it's deceitful (even though it looks good), as you get too into the colours, etc to notice what you're aiming at, the actual light, the framing..etc. A viewfinder is quite simple, and gives you more leeway to concentrate specifically on the picture you see, and not the pretty stuff the LCD tries so hard to enhance for you. (More to a picture!!!)
Otherwise, if you just need it to basically point and click, to be durable and such, then I think you'll be fine without a viewfinder. I bought an Olymus myself recently specifically for that. It has the specifications I want, doesn't have a viewfinder, but is easy to use and simple for any occasion. I use my practica for more specific photography. It's quite old, but it gets the brain into gear, and works very well.
Thanks for the input. To be honest when I use my camera at the moment I tend to just use the LCD screen to take my pictures. I'm not trained in photography or anything like that. I just like taking nice pictures when I can. The main reason for considering a viewfinder is that when I'm trying to take a picture with slow shutter speed its difficult to keep it steady when you are look at the screen in front, where as when I'm looking through the viewfinder my body kinda acts like a tripod so it keeps the camera still. I am going to buy a small tripod for when i go travelling though so I think maybe a better camera without a viewfinder is the best option. What does everyone think of the Olympus MJU 750? I have considered the next pixel size up (10 meg) but the optical zoom isn't as good.
Ditto to Q, but I'm just curious why a good camera wouldn't have a view finder. I'd sooner go for MP over that, but at the same time, what kind of picture quality would the camera have? I bought a camera last year that, on paper, was great. And it had a lot of great and easy-to-use features that I still miss, but the photo quality was awful! Out of over 200 pictures, I came away with ten that were of a decent quality. Everything else was grainy and flat. The ones that did come out were superb, but I was very disappointed. Took it back and exchanged for another camera.
Just something to keep in mind. I'd say when you buy a camera, make sure you get it from somewhere that has a good return policy. Most major chain stores will let you return it; you can exchange for something else in their store without too much problem, or you can get your money back after they discount a 15% restocking fee.
So, whatever you wind up with, take it out and play with it a LOT before you go anywhere. That would really suck to come back with hundreds of not so great pictures!
The greatest pro-viewfinder argument is the fact that it gives you the possibility to compose a photo even in strong sunlight. If you press the camera against your face looking trough an optical finder, you block the light out. Looking on a LCD screen in bright sunlight isn't just hard - it's downright impossible.
I specifically looked for a compact camera that had a viewfinder for those occasions when sunlight is too strong - it's a huge plus. Also, remember that the screen uses most of the camera's power, so turning it off and using the viewfinder only gets you a lot of extra life out of your battery - perhaps that special shot at the end of the day when your battery would otherwise have given up.
There is a small difference between what you see in the viewfinder and the image you get, but the sensor gives you MORE than you can see, not less. No camera on this earth has ever been responsible for chopping peoples' heads off - that's down to you. Don't blame the viewfinder!!!