Hearing comments recently about the beautiful, but oddly lacking in information viewfinder on the Leica S2, and wondering how they could miss the mark like that, I started thinking about the Canon/Nikon 35mm digital viewfinders which are so useless for manually focusing versus the gorgeous Olympus OM-2 I grew up with. I started wondering what people thought the perfect viewfinder should look like, what information it should display, what the matte screen should look like, what the right viewfinder coverage is, and so on.
I prefer a clean, bright matte screen with little visible grain, no split-image or micro-raster. I also prefer screens which snap in and out of focus rather than gliding, and which can be comfortably viewed without squeezing my eye against the opening, but the primary importance must always go to manually focusing lenses.
As far as information display goes, I like the following information below the screen: Shutter speed, aperture (and of course the relevant substitutions for A, S, P, etc), ISO value and exposure compensation only if used (+ or - and how much). A flash-ready icon is also fine. I find it very important how the manual exposure setting look, and cannot stand the tiny little bars in cameras like the Canon 5D. I want it huge, and possibly another colour, like red or orange for numerals and green for the exposure meter bar, which could be beside or below the viewfinder. I don't like having anything above the viewfinder. Please no weird nomenclature like Av, Tv and such crapola, just the straight-forward industry standard letters like M, A, S, and P.
That's where it ends for me, actually. Everything else I prefer to see elsewhere, like battery life, drive mode and so on. I don't like information overload, and prefer only to see the options that I might change every few shots, not once-per-session settings like battery life, drive mode, etc. For things I change rarely I am content to lift my eye off the viewfinder and look on top of the camera, or wherever. For warnings an icon is fine, like low battery, but please don't flash it more than two or three times, max. I don't want my camera to warn me against my own stupidity in the viewfinder, like if I mistakenly change a setting; it can do that elsewhere.
Perhaps more controversially, I have become used to the Leica M and my crop-sensor Contax having space all around the image, and so my perfect viewfinder would actually be 10-15% too large, with a line for the coverage. I realize that this will incur extra cost and size, but I am willing to pay for this.
What do others think?