What Has Happened to Viewfinders?
I LOVE these ultra-zooms . . . but what has happened to the viewfinders?? These long lenses are just about perfect for wildlife photography EXCEPT it's basically impossible without a viewfinder!
Is any manufacturer going to bring it back?
I guess the answer to your question depends on what you classify as ultra-zoom cameras.
The reason I say this is that most of the cameras that are in the ”super zoom” or ”bridge” camera category do have electronic viewfinders. These cameras such as the Nikon Coolpix P500, Sony DSC-HX100V or Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 typically have optical zooms of 20X or greater and almost always have some type of optical viewfinder.
While it is true that some cameras such as the Olympus SZ-10 or Nikon S9100 could be classified as ultra-zoom cameras because of their longer than normal zoom lenses, they are really more of a point and shoot camera and not what would normally be considered a super-zoom or bridge camera. The reason for this difference in camera category is that these cameras are more of the typical rectangular shape that is common with smaller point and shoot cameras. Also they do not have any type of viewfinder and the photographer must use the LCD display to compose the image. In fact one key characteristic of any “bridge” or “super zoom” camera would be the presence of some type of electronic viewfinder as well as the slightly larger “DSLR-Type” bodies that help separate these types of cameras from the point and shoot type of camera.
While it is unlikely that manufacturers will bring back any meaningful type of viewfinder on the smaller point and shoot cameras, there have been several recent announcements of “rangefinder style” cameras being introduced that do incorporate a viewfinder in a smaller, more compact body such as the recently announced Sony NEX-7 or the Fuji Finepix X100. Of course these cameras are really in a category by themselves and not what would normally be labeled as “ultra zoom” cameras.
For photographers looking to have a functional electronic viewfinder, DSLR style body and a long telephoto lenses today’s super zoom or bridge cameras offer a great value. Some popular models of this type of camera include the Nikon Coolpix P500, Sony DSC-HX100V, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 or Canon SX30IS. These amazing cameras offer great values and can work well for wildlife photography. They truly are “bridge” cameras in they serve to bridge the gap between the smaller point and shoot cameras and the larger DSLR’s. While they should not be expected to produce DSLR style performance they are very capable cameras able to produce good quality images while maintaining the easy to use functionality of a smaller point and shoot camera.