Epson R-D1 - the world's first rangefinder digital camera
By Mike Hanlon
June 4, 2004
Epson, which does digital image processing really well, has teamed up with Cosina, which has developed outstanding original optics technologies in the production of camera lenses, and they have created a digital camera which looks and feels like a vintage film camera, even though it's capturing 6 megapixels per shot. Oh, and it can be used with Leica L- and M-mount lenses.
The R-D1 dares to swim against the high tide of fully automatic electronic digital cameras. It is a digital camera that still manages to feel like a traditional manual camera, for people who appreciate the peculiar satisfaction that comes with the ability to use an analog camera well. In other words, the R-D1 is simultaneously a state-of-the-art digital camera that offers outstanding performance and image quality, and a throwback that offers camera buffs the look and feel of a vintage film camera, as well as the joy of skillfully using their camera as a tool.
Among many digital camera firsts, the R-D1 is the world's first rangefinder digital camera. A rangefinder is a type of camera that has a built-in device for measuring distance based on the principles of triangulation. The photographer focuses the camera by superimposing two slightly different views of a scene with the rangefinder.
In general, compared to an auto-focus system, performance does not change even if lenses are swapped, and focus can be achieved quickly, accurately and with a light level that is nearly the same as the unaided eye, even in dimly lit locations. In addition, since the field of view is not blocked by the action of a shutter as it is with a single-lens reflex camera, the photographer will not miss the decisive moment.
The R-D1 is also the world's first digital camera to accept Leica L- and M-mounts. As such, it offers a new platform that links the future with the past. A huge number of lens types - more than 200 - have been created and sold over the long history of photography. This camera gives twenty-first century photographers a way to use these famed lenses from our photographic heritage. The new camera gives photographers the chance to develop a new cult of photography by allowing them to resurrect their familiar old lenses in a digital world.
The R-D1 also uses the world's first 1x viewfinder, enabling photographers to view scenes - including panoramas - through the camera as if they were looking at scenes using their naked eyes. The camera also has the advantage of improved focus precision compared to low magnification optical finders.