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Rec for a point-and-shoot compact with viewfinder for under $500

After my Adriatic tour this past spring, I vowed to buy a point-and-shoot with a viewfinder so I can actually see what I'm shooting at under bright sun conditions. I mean, I love the photos my iPhone takes, but the LCD panel is a drag. I own a mirrorless camera (Olympus OMD EM10), but stopped bringing it overseas with me because it's just too big to comfortably travel with given that I'm a carry-on-only traveler.

Any recommendations for a high-quality point-and-shoot compact WITH VIEWFINDER for less than $500? There are nice models out there for upwards of $700, but that's more than I want to spend.

Posted by
4696 posts

Look at Panasonic cameras. They have a number of compact models with viewfinders. I have a DMC-LF1 which is about 4 or 5 years old and I love it. I don’t know what the successor model is.

Posted by
5786 posts

I know what you mean about P&S cameras with screen only. Pratially impossilbe to use in snow when light is reflecting off the screen.

My go to point and shoot with veiwfinder (and articulating screen) is a Cannon SX30 (latest model bing a SX70) that is a superzoon P&S. The Canon SX70 runs $550 but the slighly older model has been cut to $450: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1086692-REG/canon_powershot_sx60_hs_digital.html
Down side is the SX60/SX70 are not light and compact like a screen only camera.

The SX60 offers two methods for composing images and video, either
through the bright 3.0" vari-angle LCD display or an electronic
viewfinder. Each features a 922k-dot resolution and works with the
Zoom Framing Assist function to help track and capture subjects while
at the furthest telephoto focal lengths.

The Canon SX530 is even cheaper ($250) but I believe the screen does not articulate: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1110382-REG/canon_9779b001_powershot_sx530_hs_digital.html
Dimensions (W x H x D) 4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6" / 120.0 x 81.7 x 91.9 mm
Weight 15.6 oz

Posted by
914 posts

I have a Canon Powershot A 580 that’s a decade old. Includes a viewfinder. Canon may not make that model anymore, but I can attest it’s been a good camera that takes excellent photos.

Posted by
5584 posts

You'll find a lot more info and better input over on dpreview.com.

Posted by
62 posts

Thank you, Rachel, Edgar, and Laura! I'm looking into these models now. Edgar, the links are super-helpful; thanks for taking the time.

David, I actually started at dpreview.com before posting to my travel family here at ricksteves.com, and found the site to be too overwhelming and geared toward experts who know what they’re looking for. Based on my limited knowledge and vocabulary, I couldn't find any cameras that cost less than $700…

Posted by
279 posts

Sony has a number of “point and shoot” cameras with view finders for under $500. One good example is the DSCHX/80. About $350. This is also a “super zoom”.

I have a Sony RX100-3 which is a full fledged “enthusiast’s” camera in the guise of a point and shoot. About $650.

Check out Sony.

Posted by
5584 posts

Lori,

There are plenty of people there (dpreview) who are pimping themselves and putting on airs (it's the internet...) but if you haven't yet looked at this yet, try clicking on "Buying Guides" (in the horizontal menu running across the site just below their large top section). You'll find options like "Best cameras under $X", "Best cameras for travel", "Best pocketable Enthusiast Cameras", etc. Also look under Cameras > Camera Feature Search...where you can specify all sorts of the particulars (eg Compact + Screen & viewfinder + a dozen other parameters). Lots of ways to search there.

Good luck.

Posted by
504 posts

You might want to look at Nikon Coolpix models that begin with "P" or "B." I have a P100, which is quite old and obsolete, but it's a great camera and does have a viewfinder. The later models are more capable. Some are probably beyond your price point, but I think some are in range.

Posted by
2914 posts

Hi Lori, We have a Nikon 7800 (all our other cameras are Canons, so now I am partial). This Nikon has the articulated screen and view finder; however, the pictures are very noisy. We don't use it as a result. I don't recommend it. Look at B&H.com. They have just about any piece of equipment you could desire along with the reviews, pros and cons, to match. Or if you are on a business trip to NYC just stop in. Jan

Posted by
62 posts

wray! i was hoping you'd show up. thanks for reminding me about B&H. it's one of my favorite stores to actually shop at in NYC (due in equal part to the knowledgeable service and chewy fruity candies they hand out), but didn't think to use their search functions to find what i'm looking for. unfortunately, my next trip to NYC isn't till december, after my trip to japan, which i am hoping to buy this camera for. btw, telling me what model NOT to buy is as valuable as telling me what to buy.

in my short 10 minutes on BHphotovideo.com, i have found it to be quite a bit easier to use than dpreview.com (sorry, david, but thanks for the pointers!) because it allows me to limit by price and, importantly, compare models. the customer reviews are also helpful.

mike, i envy you for your Sony RX100-3! and thanks for the rec on the DSCHX/80. i am looking into its specs now on BHphotovideo.com. that along with P and B series on the nikon coolpix -- thanks for tip, dav!

Posted by
2914 posts

Lori, Bob tells me the Nikon 7800 is a Coolpix, so be careful. Although it does have nice features. The telephoto lens is excellent and works well in low light. I just couldn't get beyond the noise. I've tried to love that camera, particularly before Greece I really tried, but as you know, I ended up with my DSLR and heavier zoom lens... BTW, Bob approves of your Olympus OMD EM10... LOL.

Posted by
379 posts

I have a Sony RX100-3 which is a full fledged “enthusiast’s” camera in the guise of a point and shoot. About $650.

The RX100 got my attention when it first came out, but I wanted a viewfinder. Got a mint condition used RX100 III with a viewfinder on eBay for <$400. I now have it with my mirror less camera on my trips. Good as a backup and when I need to go real light. Aside for its excellent capture quality, the RX100 is build like a piece of jewelry.

B&H has a used one for <$500.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/used/1049537/?c3api=1876%2C72118895162%2C&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6rXeBRD3ARIsAD9ni9BAO7T-30apOQsGBQ93v3N-yzpKP5TDA6XbzPOj2lxJxMuHEyXtuNMaAruCEALw_wcB

Posted by
192 posts

I used to take my Canon DSLR + lens, but I felt that it took too much space. I now use a Nikon Cool pix P610. It is a super zoom, and I am very satisfied with it. It is not small so that you can slip it into your pocket, but I am able to carry it in a smaller purse when in a city. It is difficult finding a low cost point & shoot. My husband is hard on cameras-dropping, etc. I recently bought him one without a viewfinder as I couldn't find a lower cost one for him. I would have bought him the same as his broken P & S, but it was no longer being made.

Posted by
62 posts

hello all who have offered such great help so far.

i think i've found what i'm looking for: a panasonic lumix ZS100, which scores very well across the camera review sites. and, while it retails for $699 a B&H, best buy, adorama, etc., amazon is selling it for $547. so, yes, above my original budget, especially with the $50 sales tax on top of that, pushing it upwards of $600. but, it seems to hit the important checkmarks on my list: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1211983-REG/panasonic_dmc_zs100_digital_camera.html

what i found incredibly useful in making this decision was this website called CameraDecision.com. sounds tacky but it lets you compare 1-on-1 any choice of 2 cameras, spits out which camera wins on which points, and then offers a final assessment on the better choice. i highly recommend. https://cameradecision.com/compare/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-ZS100-vs-Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-RX100-III (staynsavor, i ended up choosing the lumix over cyber-shot you recommended based on this particular comparison).

thank you all again. hope to report back a satisfied customer after my trip to japan next month.

Posted by
4933 posts

FYI, the Lumix ZS100 is a 2+ year old camera. Not saying that's bad, just an FYI - it sure has terrific specs for the price, for a camera that size. I bought my Lumix DMC-FZ1000 last year knowing it too was an older model, but I bought an "open box" version on Amazon for $100 off, so at least I saved some money. (Mine had only 135 frames shot on it when I got it, so almost new.) I really love my Lumix, though it's not a "point and shoot" like this ZS100 you're looking at.

Tip: buy a spare battery (eBay for an off-market brand is all you need). Maybe even buy a spare charger. I've bought a couple of spare batteries for my Lumix that have maybe 60% the charge time as the factory battery but for maybe 1/10 the cost, and one of the spares came with a microUSB charger compatible with my Android phone charger. My Lumix original battery does not last me even the whole day of shooting when I'm traveling, so I need at least one charged spare with me.

Also, try your best to get out and try and use the camera to get used to it before your trip. Don't learn how to use it in Japan! See how it does in low light situations. My Lumix took a lot of getting used to, vs. the Canon DSLR I had used for years. The time I spent in advance shooting with it was time well spent after I finally took it to Europe.

Posted by
62 posts

thank you, andrew! such great tips! i really appreciate your sharing.

Posted by
130 posts

Seeing this a bit late but I echo the strong reviews for the Sony DSC-HX80. I'm on my second one (dropped the first) but after updating all the reviews, I went right back and bought a new one. They're ~$350 now but will likely be $300 again during Black Friday. I like the viewfinder and Wi-Fi features, both easy to use. Camera settings take a bit to get used to but are easy enough. Flip-up "selfie screen" is helpful. Battery lasts a long time. The only drawback for me is I wish the screen was a touchscreen, would make camera operations even easier.