A Canon patent filed in May of last year and published last week reveals that the company has a new optical viewfinder up its sleeve that offers both a compactness and 100% coverage. While 100% coverage is a standard feature in high-end DSLRs, the new technology may help bring it to smaller and lighter cameras that have traditionally displayed less than what is actually captured.
Craig Blair Canon Rumors thinks the technology might show up in the upcoming EOS M followup that’s set to arrive in 2013. The camera reportedly packs a viewfinder, and the compact size fits what’s described in the patent. Blair writes,
I’d say [the viewfinder is] for an upcoming EOS-M body due to the physical size of the viewfinder. A lot of people would welcome an optical viewfinder, but it definitely has to be better than what we find on the G series PowerShots.
We had previously assumed that the viewfinder would be a purely electronic viewfinder. After all, that’s what most mirrorless camera makers have opted for so far. A 100% optical would be nice, but you wouldn’t be seeing the exact same scene as the photo you’re capturing, since the viewfinder will be to the side of the camera lens like on a rangefinder camera.
Fujifilm’s X-Pro1 has shown that photographers are willing to take this tradeoff, however. The hybrid optical viewfinder on that camera is highly acclaimed.
The X-Pro1 is significantly bigger than the EOS M, though, and usability issues could arise due to how small the EOS M is. Attach any bigger EF lens to the EOS M, and it might completely block an optical viewfinder unless the viewfinder position is offset by a lot (e.g. raised above the top of the camera).
If the viewfinder in the patent isn’t for an upcoming mirrorless camera, perhaps it’s for Canon’s smaller DSLR cameras. The 60D offers 96% coverage, while the 650D offers 95%.