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

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


Digital image sensors work best when the angle of incidence of the light falling on them is very high, preferably nearly perpendicular to the plane of the sensor. All of the digital SLR manufacturers now make lenses specifically designed to compensate for this by moving the rear element of the lens further away from the sensor. The R-D1 is designed to use Leica M-bayonet lenses, which as I mentioned earlier protrude well back into the camera body, which means the rear element is quite close to the sensor and the angle of incidence of the light striking the sensor near the edges is very low.

This sounds complicated, but what it means is that the images produced by the R-D1 with a wide angle lens are noticeably darker towards the edges of the frame, and I mean noticeably. It is possible that the vignetting might be less apparent with longer lenses, but as it stands the R-D1 will have major problems with at least half the lenses it is designed to use, making it almost useless for serious photography. Since it is specifically targeted at the professional and enthusiast amateur market, this has got to be something of a handicap.

There are other problems, including the camera occasionally freezing for no reason, inconsistent exposure metering and the lack of any cleaning mode for the dust-prone CCD. Ironically noise control at high ISO is very good, and the overall sharpness of the Voigtlander lens is simply fantastic, but sadly these cannot compensate for the vignetting issue.

As I said, I really don’t get the point of this camera. The kind of person who loves their Voigtlander Bessa is unlikely to ever commit the blasphemy of going digital, and anyone used to a modern digital camera will find it awkward, clumsy and unpleasant to use. Both will be massively disappointed by the poor image quality. My apologies to Epson, but the R-D1 is an expensive, badly conceived white elephant that should never have made it off the drawing board in its present form.


The Epson R-D1 is an exercise in nostalgia for people with more money than sense. Brick-like handling, poor results and a major inherent design flaw make it an expensive and pointless novelty item. The only analogy I can think of would be stuffing a turbocharger into a wood-framed Morris Traveller and then asking the same price for it as a brand new Mercedes. Who’s going to buy it?

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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