Epson R-D1 - Digital Rangefinder Camera - Epson R-D1

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


The viewfinder is the most important part of a rangefinder camera, so it’s odd that this one has no dioptric correction. This means that if you need glasses, you’ll have to wear them in order to be able to focus the camera, but it also has no rubber cushion, so you risk scratching your glasses lenses. In the viewfinder there is an etched outline indicating where the edges of the frame lie and a selector switch to choose between 28, 35 and 50mm frame sizes.

The camera I was lent for testing came with a very nice 35mm Voigtlander lens, a fairly standard focal length for this type of camera, which according to the handy chart on the flip side of the monitor, equates to 53mm. However I found that the coverage of the lens was slightly less than the 28mm setting on the viewfinder. I’ve heard rangefinder camera enthusiasts talk about how great it is being able to see outside the edges of the frame, but the 28mm lines are right at the edges of the viewfinder where it is quite difficult to see both sides at the same time. I found the viewfinder to be very awkward and unpleasant to use, and made accurate framing and composition impossible. I also scratched my glasses.

Instead of an LCD display or information overlay on the monitor, the R-D1 has a circular window in the top with four analogue dials. Their meaning is not at all obvious, but a quick look at the manual reveals that they indicate battery level, number of shots remaining, white balance setting and quality level. It’s very cute, but I think that Epson’s claim that it’s a quicker and more natural way of presenting information is stretching it a bit. I’ve never heard of anyone having trouble reading an LCD display. LCD’s are also usually backlit, these dials are not.

Other controls are equally obscure. There are five buttons next to the monitor labelled with incomprehensible non-standard hieroglyphs, and the strange little circular menu is also labelled with symbols.

Of course all of these quirks could be forgiven if only the R-D1 offered superior image quality to make up for them, but sadly it does not. There is an excellent technical reason why this is the case, one so obvious that I’m amazed that it wasn’t picked up at the design stage.

Bill Hunt

August 27, 2008, 1:07 pm

Perhaps the most telling comment of this review is "I really don’t get the point of the Epson R-D1". That really comes across.


March 1, 2009, 6:30 am

This product might as well have come out of the minds of the Sirius Corporation's Marketing Department... (for those who haven't read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it may suffice to say that the aforementioned company's Complaints Department occupies all the major landmasses of three planets in the Sirius System...)


September 1, 2009, 8:25 pm

Not so stupid. This is a niche camera designed to take 39mm screw Leica rangefinder lenses. These have been made by a huge range of makers from 1934 to there are zillions to chose from. Zeiss and Leica still make brand new 35mm rangefinders in tiny numbers at big prices. Camera is a bit dated now 6Mp won't impress but its a bit cheaper than the $5000 Leica M8.


August 12, 2013, 6:16 pm

It do not take 39mm screw lenses (at least without an adapter) because it has an Leica M bayonet.

Michael Singleton

February 18, 2014, 9:22 pm

Yes, you really have missed the point of this camera, of course there is no point buying this camera now, 10 years after the original release of the RD-1, with how fast digital is evolving, but that is only because of the 6mp limitation. The camera is basically a film camera with a digital back, it has no autofocus, that's because it can mount some of the best lenses ever made which are interchangeable between film and digital cameras, therefore they aren't AF lenses, also if you're used to manual focusing then you'll probably prefer it. You next point out that it doesn't have auto bracketing or continuous shooting or even a movie mode, first of all who the hell wants to take HDR shots? Keep in mind what I said about it being a film camera with a digital back, you didn't have auto bracketing on film cameras, also I don't think your going to use this camera for sports photography, so continuous shooting is pointless, if you using continuous shooting on your digital camera then you aren't valuing your shots. The lenses are incredibly expensive because as I said before, they are some of the best in the world, but they're not all that expensive, you can get a lens for less than £500, which if you know anything about cameras then you will know that is not that expensive. Second to last point now, you stated you don't even get to look through the lens, yes that's because it's a rangefinder, you clearly don't understand the pros of an RF, they're quiet (no mirror), they're quicker to focus than SLR's and in the main easy to frame, granted they're not the best for everything but its not a negative. So basically its a camera for photographers that have come from film, have built up techniques and ways of shooting using film and now want to carry on those techniques using digital with ease, which brings me to my last point, the film advance, if you have ever used a film camera (properly) then you will understand the pleasure of having a film advance, it breaks up shots (this links back to not having continuous shooting and instead valuing ever shot) it makes you think about the shots because you have to advance the lever. So again its giving the film photographer everything they're used to but with a digital camera, the fact you have hated it so much makes me think that you do not understand the reasoning behind the cameras release and therefore you are not equipped to review it, giving it 1 star is a complete joke and shows how biased you have been. Of course this camera most likely won't be appealing to people who have only ever shot digital SLR's and want the same feel with a different camera, but that is not why it was produced. Anyway I know this post is nearly exactly 5 years after the article was published but this review has shown a distinct lack of understanding and a massive bias and therefore can't be trusted, so I thought I would point out why :)


July 27, 2016, 9:01 pm

What a lame review.
As the author said in the text and as others have pointed out: reviewer completely missed the point of the camera.

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