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Friday, 27 February 2009


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I'm hoping that the micro 4/3ds format cameras will provide similar functionality to those of us with normal budgets... sure is a pretty little thing though.

Almost had me excited for a second. It's hard to argue with any new M-mount digital. With the Bessa R3A viewfinder, it'd be hot stuff. But given that price I think I'd go for the M4/3 camera, or maybe that new Olympus.

Kudos to Epson. This is a "real" camera with a sensor behind the lens, not some digital toy.

Read readreviews for more information!

You can't appreciate such a tool unless you hold it in your hands. But, it is for RF fans obviously. And it is a good thing imho that Epson is offering it again, since as you said, Mike, choice is good.

Um...what's with the manual film rewind? Force of habit?

I hadn't clocked the price before - ouch! I don't see any single part of it that can justify the price, especially built around a years-old sensor (the likes of which now go into $50 cameras).


Take a $500 digital SLR, rip out the innards, and put them in a $500 Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder, and you have a $1000 digital rangefinder. OK, it's not quite so simple, but $3000? Ridiculous.

I would happily pay a premium over a film Bessa, but not a 600% markup.

$3000 !!!

Wow. Significant margin on that one. A sensor close to four years old, in a modified Bessa RF body. I would get one if it was priced not way more than the film version of the body.

I have wondered if a DRF would appear at an affordable (for me) price. Guess not.

Would love to use one with that Voightlander glass. :( . For folks that can afford it, cool. A lot cheaper than an M8, and can use M mount glass.

Why does it appear to have a film advance lever (or whatever it's called) if it's digital? Nostaligia?

I'd guess if it's successful it would get a sensor upgrade...

With recent rebates, an M8 was not that much more costly... I've never played with a CV but damn if the Leica ain't fun... wish I'd picked one up forty years ago... btw, the CV 40/1.4 is good glass...

One of the most strange camera releases I've ever seen. I've used a RD1s and loved it (ah, the joy of an enormous 1:1 viewer!) but, nowadays, a 6 mpx APS-C sensor at such a price can only be sold in a market as special as the Japanese.

It's a pity the camera hasn't been fully revamped, since the concept is truly lovable.

HIgher resolution sensor, and a lower price, and I'd buy one. They may have lost the articulated display, but at least they kept the analogue dials and the advance lever...
But really, what are they thinking?

Adorama shows $2000

Actually, one very important implication about the RD-1x: when the RD-1s came out, it was speculated and probably correctly that Epson simply took the remaining stock of the RD-1 that haven't been sold, upgraded the firmware and added a little 's' to it, i.e. no new parts were ordered or made.

If I understand correctly, tooling for the body can be expensive. It may even be possible that the manufacturer for the original R-D1 bodies no longer have the "mold" to do the R-D1.

So now we have Epson investing production dollars for a "dead" product. Hmmmm.....

If this is April 1st (I wrote the "Leica bought Epson to release RD-2 as Digital M" back in 2006?), I'd spread the rumor that the RD-1x is only one of the two rangefinders Epson will announce at PMA. With RD-1x at $2000 (street price is typical 2/3 of MSRP) and the Leica M8 at $3800/$5800, there is plenty of space for a quieter shutter R2D-2.

You read it here second! :-) (I wrote this for the LUG...)

p.s. the shutter is one of the best features of the RD series: it saves battery, cocks the shutter, and a place for you to hang your thumb on. If you think the last is trivial, google "thumbs-up," an add-on for the M8.

p.p.s. the analog gauges are gorgeous.

According to the original RD-1 manual, the film advance lever is used to cock the shutter.

How does this product make any sense in the current economy? I just don't get it. It's like repurchasing my old D70 for the price of a D700, while dangling on the precipice of mass bankruptcy.

It's depressing really. Is there a rule that says all digital rangefinders have to be thinly veiled attempts at grabbing cash from the specially price insensitive?

I'll echo what someone else said - rip out the guts of a low-end Nikon or Canon camera and stuff them into a rangefinder. That shouldn't be hard. Better, take the guts of a Pentax instead and pocket the difference as margin. I'll take it.

I am pleased that the R-D1's continue. While I have owned and used (professionaly) Nikons -D100, D200, D300, D1, D1X, D2x- I prefer the "film" like quality of my two Epson's.

Mike, you had me excited there for a while; I even cheered at the 6MP sensor! But when you put that extra zero on the price tag my heart sank.

Anyone got a long fishing rod...?

Obviously, I have no problem with 6MP and I really dig rangefinders (I have four).

But this can't be serious! $3000? Six or possibly even seven D40s? World has moved on, Epson.

Or maybe the rangefinder manufacturing world is rather like Chevron, which once explained (in front of the the media!) that prices for their gasoline were highest in my neighborhood because people here "expect to pay more."

I have an original R-D1 and it's an okay camera, but more of a thing for people who like machinery, than for people who like images. Even at the time it appeared, its sensor was no great shakes, and now, it's ancient. But with a bunch of analog controls, it's pretty interesting to use...just not so interesting that I'd actually buy a new one. It's sorta like that train driven by Doc in the last episode of "Back to the Future" -- a cute combination of quaintness and modernity, and, at $3,000, way overpriced...unless perhaps you're a collector/speculator who knows what he's doing.


My heart leapt there for a minute, but quickly calmed when I saw the spec and, more importantly, the price.

Why doesn't someone make that elusive compact digital, RAW format, <=10MP, with a good 28mm lens, optical viewfinder (rangefinder is ok), without too may bells and whistles?

Torn between a Canon G10 and Panasonic LX3, I've ended up with neither, as neither is quite 'right'.

Will probably be produced in a very small production run and become a collectible. $3K seems a bit pricey to me.

Why,..Oh why not build a full-frame digi-rangefinder ???
Then wide angle lenses would be W-I-D-E , not cropped !!!
Now that would be something worth having !

6 mega pixels for $3000.00 Does not seem like a worth while purchase. For the same price you could purchase any number of cameras that are infinitely worth having.

i think we should have a person who translates us all the specifications the epson japan site shows us in these nice but unreadable letters.

adorama has a bug they wrote

"the Epson RD-1xG would become the only other digital rangefinder currently available besides the $6,000 Leica R8.2" ;)

they meant m8.2, and people: the "old" m8 is still available!

So, you can imagine my relief when I saw that my recently acquired M8.0 cost less than this...

Anything more than 6 megapixels is just showing off. Long live the RD-1. :-)

This sure seems like a badly overpriced backslide on the camera tech timeline to me. The timing seems like a fart in church, too.

But what do I know?

A great collectable item, so the price. Not need to update. Some fancy color would be better, though.

A great collectable item. Fair price. Not need to update. Some fancy collor would be better, though.

At least it doesn't have some snake skin grip or other oddity to make it collectible.

*is still waiting for the inevitable micro four-thirds announcement.

Sure, choice is great, and a second (first?) company making digital rangefinders certainly increases the chances that others will see this as a viable market. Still...

That camera is almost a spec match for the R-D1 that was released five years ago, also at $3000. That sensor is essentially the same one that was introduced, I believe, in the Nikon D100 *seven* years ago. The retail cost meets or exceeds that of the D700 and A900. And, by the way, matches the cost of a "condition 9/10" used m8 from B&H and exceeds by $300 the cost of a "condition EX" m8 from keh. This is just madness.

Someone serious needs to enter the market. Oh Zeiss/Sony Digital Ikon, where art thou?

Obsession with megapixels is amazing, the problem of the digital age. Being an engineer and a marketer, it is clear that people wants bigger numbers, an end by itself... The r-d1 as a tool is great and makes nice A3 printable pictures. There is more to a camera than pixel counts and numbers: on the most fundamental aspects like handling, noise characteristics, the r-d1 beats the m8 for many.

The photosuffren guys (known photo shop in paris) told me that if the r-d1 had not been put out of production in 2007, they could have sold 2 units a week. It is still in demand as it was before being discontinued.

Have the r-d1, it captures great shots, feels like no other cam in the hands (and to te eye with its 1:1 finder rather than the "projection screen" of a slr). It has a great bw tonality with epson photoraw (according to many photographers) that can be reproduced only with a lot of efforts with other cams. Just bought a second body from ebay...

Anyway it is important to be happy with the tool and for streetphotography, the rangefinder and the rd1 in particular rocks (to me)!

LoL 3000$ ! There's nothing One can do with 500-700$ entry level cropped sensor DSLR with an adapter and some cheap manual focusing lens.
This RF hype is just ridiculous. Go take some photos... such equipments do not make Your photographs any better.

Well...Epson did succeed in producing that much sought-after "Leica Look"...you know...that look you get on your face when you see the ridiculous price.

Cheers! Jay

With used M8's going for less than this, one has to wonder. On the flip side, though, 6 mp is about all you need for b&w. And frankly, I think the advance lever is a good thing. I still miss having one on the M8.

This may be an example of a Veblen good, where its desirability is positively correlated with its price.

Obviously noone cares, but I made a mistake in my OP: I meant "Reidreviews" of course.

Regarding the Epson: Phil M is in the know, but besides this I wonder all the obsession with this "useless" and hopelessly outdated 6 mp crap sensor, with which you can't take pictures, hm?

When Fuji or someone introduces a new compact, everyone bemoans the megapixel race and cries for the revival of the 6 MP sensor. Because 6 MP ought to be enough, better to have 6 beatiful MP than 12 noisy ones, blablabla... Have read that stuff often.

But suddenly it all turns upside down. Funny, there seems to be some rangefinder envy going on from time to time. On the other hand the TOP readership usually seems to belong to the "it is the photog, not the camera"-crowd. But here it is not appreciated that a tool like the R-D1 is much more than specs and numbers. MUCH MORE. A hughe viewfinder window with framelines, buttery intuitive focussing till almost absolute darkness (believe me, and I am not the eagle-eyed), a manual shutter lever, manually setting aperture and manually setting shutter speed, no mirror black out, no mirror vibration, all like God wanted it to be (and I am an atheist, btw. ;-)

As I see it, there are few possibilities out there, IF you like RF-style digital photography, i.e. unobstrusive, intuitive, fluid, rewarding, satisfying, being close to the subject working:

1. Get a compact camera with some accessories, use it within its limitations and pretend it is a RF
2. Get a dslr with a small lens, use it within its limitations and pretend again. But prepare to stay unsatisfied with bulk (or Gestalt if you like) or a tiny viewfinder (you don't get both of best worlds here)
3. Get a film RF and scan the negatives
4. Get an M8 or R-D1 and pay a premium

There is nothing wrong with eiter joice, I have tried them all and even loved the E-1 with 14-54 combo, but it is just plain good that option 4 now consists of 2 parts again.

Sorry for the lengthy rant, but allow me one more thought:

Sean Reid wrote about how to avoid digital obsolescence on his well known site. The Epson R-D1 was one positive example he mentioned. And now he seems to be proven right, for me at least. Because the R-D1 files were beautiful some years ago, and nothing has changed about that beauty. What has changed is the way we think, and this was done by marketing campaigns, not by real quality issues.

Go to his site, subscribe (it is worth the few bucks anyway) and look at the recent Panasonic G1 review. The comparisons of files with the R-D1 tell it all up to ISO 1600. Ok, you pay - and stay realistically here - maybe 2-3 times the price, but you get, as mentioned before, a different world of shooting experience, at least no stinking viewfinder blackout.

And just to make things clear: the R-D1 is no Veblen good for me. I want it as less noticed as possible, actually this is a strong deciding factor FOR this type of camera. It is nothing to show off... But truth be told, it looks sinfully good too. ;-)

Wow there's a lot of whining about the price. I don't want one and can't afford one, but the same is true of a D3x.

In my book it's a good sign that it is possible for cameras other than the mainstream volume-sellers to be made at all. This was true in the film world, and for a while it looked like digital was going to be the end of all that, we'd all end up on the same model. But now there's more and more choice, catering to a wider and wider set of preferences, and this is a great thing.

(Still shooting a 6mp slr, which works just fine, and every time I look at newer ones I end up buying a lens instead.)


I'm with you through most of this. An RF is a totally different experience (and the R-D1 cameras perhaps moreso than an m8), but the fact remains: this price is out of sync with every reasonable data point you can think of. Other $3000 cameras offer much more. The a900 offers four times the resolution. The D700 offers significantly higher ISOs at significantly less noise. Both of those are 36x24 "FF" chips. The m8 offers more pixels, a bigger chip, and offers framelines for many more lenses. Taking crop factor into account, the M8 can be used for 6 focal length equivalents from 32-120mm. By the same metric, the R-D1 allows framelines for 3 equivalents from 42-113mm.

The fact is, there is no accounting for the cost, on any level. The electronics are old and the body is very similar to the $600 Bessas. The same camera (ostensibly) sold at the same price five years ago. It isn't unreasonable to expect either price to decrease or specs to increase.

Me? I've never liked that family of sensors. When I had a D70, I found that it was almost useless above ISO 400 in practical use. The pixels on that chip are nearly the size of the pixels on a D700... if I had any reason to expect that the new R-D1x would deliver pixel-level results at ISO 4000 that even come near the D700, I'd say the six megapixel chip was an absolute good; I don't expect that to be the case at all. I eagerly await the actual results that people get from actual cameras, but in the meantime, I can't for the life of me see what the value proposition is here, even in the world of rangefinders. The m8 offers enough more that it seems the $1000 new or same-cost used is a better alternative for the RF crowd.

But I'm still glad we have more dRFs, and even more glad this hubbub has caused me to realize how "in-reach" the m8 has become for me.

As a owner of Minolta 5D, R-D1s and Sony A700, performance of the 6MP sensor of R-D1s was similar to Minolta 5D/7D, or D70. 6MP is plenty for most usage. However, in terms of dynamic range, high iso performance; it certainly shows its age; A700 is already far better in these regards, and also come with sensor anti-shake. Another less documented shortcoming is it shares a similar IR issue as with a M8.

In the film days, I'd never find the 35mm RF appealing; I rather shot with a Speedgraphic. I bought the R-D1s second hand 2 years ago. And I'm still keeping it as an alternative, it does render a scene differently than a DSLR.

I find the announcement disappointing, with minor upgrades but keeping a dated sensor. Street price for a new R-D1s was around US$1900 in Japan a few months ago. I would expect the new camera selling for a similar price there. It would not be available to most users outside Japan, since most Japanese photo companies would refuse to ship any product overseas directly with an invoice above 200,000 yen. M8/M8.2 would be a more sensible choice for most dRF users.

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