There's a market for third-party viewfinders

Started 11 months ago | Discussions thread
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SW Anderson
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There's a market for third-party viewfinders
11 months ago

From what I'm seeing, many digital photographers want and need the kind of viewfinder they can put an eye to. LCD's are great in some situations, but even the best are no match for strong sunlight. What's more, many of us learned to steady a camera against our face, elbows close to our sides. Image stabilization is a terrific help, but sometimes not enough. Holding a camera at arms' length and eye level is much less steady and stable, and feels awkward. For street photography it's only slightly more subtle than wearing a clown outfit.

Unfortunately, camera makers have all but abandoned built-in eye-level viewfinders as standard equipment. About the last remaining ones can be found on exquisitely expensive Fuji X-series cameras and Canon's handy little A1200-A1400 point 'n' shoots. Fuji's sophisticated VF's are big and beautiful. The Canons' VF's are painfully small.

What some camera manufacturers have been willing to do is offer optical and electronic viewfinders as extra-cost add-ons. When I say extra cost, I mean very, very expensive. The OVF-1 for Pentax's diminutive Q is a good example. When introduced, the Q was priced at $749 with 47mm prime lens.  A good entry-level DSLR can be had for that kind of money.  The add-on Q viewfinder came along later, priced at $249. A decent bridge camera can be had for that kind of money. I don't begrudge Pentax a decent profit for its camera, which predictably has come well down in price. But the OVF-1 still costs $249, and that seems excessive.

OK, camera makers charging an arm and a leg for a much-desired add on is not new news. But here's what mystifies me. With an obvious market for optical and electronic eye-level viewfinders, why, oh why, haven't any independent lens or photo accessory makers entered the field with popularly priced products for various popular makes and models of camera? They all make scads of me-too products, but seem oblivious to what could be a lucrative addition to their business.

I  feel certain a decent, very useful optical viewfinder could be produced and marketed profitably to sell for $89 or less. With diopter adjustment and accommodation for zooming, a $150 price seems doable. An electronic model with the latter features can surely be made to sell for no more than $189.

Are you listening, Sigma, Tamron, Targus, Zeikos, Fotodiox, others . . . ?

(Note: I looked at the Accessories Forum before posting this here. Posts there seem to be more along the lines of "What's the best tripod to take on a cruise?" and "My SD card won't format." A discussion about a requested product type seemed to fit in this open forum more appropriately. If a moderator feels this was a mistake, I apologize and will understand if you decide to move this post.)

Canon PowerShot A1200
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