Read through the user reviews of point-and-shoot cameras on CNET and you'll come across a common question: where's the optical viewfinder? The answer is there aren't any. Well, almost any. Canon is basically the lone major manufacturer of compact cameras with optical viewfinders. And even its numbers are dwindling.
In Canon's current lineup of PowerShot Digital Elph and A-series models, there are just five models featuring the company's real image optical zoom viewfinder. If you want manual control over shutter speed and aperture, the only option is the 14.7-megapixel SD990 IS (and it's nearing the end of its life). (On the upside the SD990 can now be found for more than $100 less than its original $399.99 price, making it a much better purchase than when I originally reviewed it.)
Below is a listing of the five models that are still readily available at retail with links to their reviews. Generally, they're all very good cameras and at current prices I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of them if you must have a viewfinder. If you want it to be powered by AA-size batteries, too, you're limited to the A-series models. Also, if you don't mind a larger, more advanced camera, Canon's PowerShot G11 and Nikon's Coolpix P6000 models both feature optical viewfinders. … Read more