The Epson R-D1, the only DRF (Digital Rangefinder) camera available for sale anywhere in the world. This extensive article looks at the camera's performance and reliability over the past 15 months based on my own experience (with three bodies) and the experiences of 48 photographers who responded in detail to a custom-designed survey about the camera. It should prove to be of interest for anyone who is curious about DRFs, whether they are R-D1 owners or not. For those who are considering buying the camera, this is essential reading. The R-D1 came out in 2004 and is widely regarded as the first digital rangefinder, but it is also the first digital interchangeable lens camera as well. Seemingly merging the worlds of film and digital, the R-D1 has a unique film advance winder that opens the shutter, giving it a lovely tactile feel to use.
Built around an APS-C sensor (giving a 1.5x crop), and 6.1 megapixels, the R-D1 may seem a little light on the MP front by today's standards, but as Cavanaugh explains, if you’re mostly shooting for Instagram, it will be more than enough. It also happens to be a beautiful camera to look at. There's the gorgeous servo-driven watch face dial made by Seiko, Epson’s parent company, that displays data such as white balance, shutter speed, battery life and even how many shots are left on your SD card. Seemingly beating Fuji's X-PRO2 to the punch by more than a decade, the shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation setting are all combined in the one dial.
On the left side of the top plate is a knob that looks like a film reminder, but is actually used for navigating the menus. In fact, the only detail that gives away the fact that it’s a digital camera is the 2-inch rear non-touchscreen that swivels 180 degrees. ISO is good up until a relatively paltry 1600, but Cavanaugh says the noise is more reminiscent of film grain than digital noise, and is quite easy on the eye. Unlike most 'classic' digital cameras the R-D1 isn't cheap - with a quick glance on eBay confirming you'll need about $1,500AUD to get one. Despite this, it's a beautiful camera to both look at and use. "The experience of this camera is what makes me want to use it.