Epson RD-1

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by silver92b, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    So I decided to try using a RF camera to see how I like it... My friend let me try his Epson RD-1 that is going on Amazon or Ebay if I don't buy it. These are my first attempts at shooting this fully manual camera. These are the B&W jpegs right out of the camera except for the one of the Porsche 911 covered in pollen. I cropped that one. The others are as shot. Very interesting how they look like film! The rendering definitely looks like film or Polaroid.

    I am wondering, should I or shouldn't I? Is this just another manifestation of G.A.S. :wink:








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  2. shutterduster

    shutterduster Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 8, 2013
    Keremeos, BC. Canada
    Dave T
    No advice on whether you should jump on it or not.
    It does create some interesting images.
    Have fun and if it gives you what you want then buy it. :smile:

    Dave T
  3. duke

    duke Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 4, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Well, just depends on the price ;)  A nice thing about buying used photo gear is that usually you aren't assuming much risk since the market is so large you can just sell it for what you paid. I would go for it if you like it, why not? :) 
  4. shutterduster

    shutterduster Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 8, 2013
    Keremeos, BC. Canada
    Dave T
  5. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    There are two things that I would like to know ..
    First and most importantly .. Do you know if i can buy that car from the owner?
    And second, how much is he asking? After all it is quite old and the Ricoh GXR Digital Camera body w/ Leica A12 M Mount Module is selling for around $550 used.
    And remember the RD-1 is just 6 Mp, but if its priced right, and you like the photos it produces, it may be right for you.

    I will add this . I do like the quality of the photos you have taken so far.
  6. shutterduster

    shutterduster Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 8, 2013
    Keremeos, BC. Canada
    Dave T
    I want the 442, you guys can fight over the Miata and Porsche.

    I also like the look of the images. The ones that are in focus have a real nice film grain to them.
  7. I shot with an R-D1 for years before solding it to fund the M9.

    It still remains a case of sellers regret. I purchased mine shortly after Epson announced it wouldn't pursue the camera any further direct from Japan for $1300USD. I sold it for $1500USD several years in early 2010 with the modified grip.



    In some ways, it was better than the M9.

    Rich Cutler was also a fellow that purchased the Epson RD1 very early and started collecting information about it. He has long moved on to other cameras but camera-quest is hosting the content:

    A quick summary of my experience:

    * 1:1 viewfinder which means you can shoot with two eyes open while peering into the viewfinder. The experience is unmatched even by Leica. Think of it as a Heads up display similar to what jet fighters probably experience. The frames lines "float" up in view and you have a full human FOV to see. This is the number one reason why I enjoyed this camera the most.
    * 6MP is more than enough for this camera and what I shoot with.
    * It is an APS sensor camera which means that you'll have to work its FOV.
    * The camera can be operated completely without accessing the LCD display. In fact, mine was flipped inward hidden most of the time I shot. All the important settings; ISO, Aperture, Shutter, WB, frame count etc.. are available on analog displays on the top plate. If you are familiar with Voigtlander RF cameras, they operate and feel just like them. You shoot the RD1 just like you would a film camera.
    * Base rangefinder length is short. So telephoto lenses are difficult to focus.
    * Limited to 28-35-50 framelines. They do adjust for parallax. The framelines are not automatically switched like Leicas. You manual switch them.
    * Battery life sucks. I carried 10-12 batteries. The NP-80 battery from Epson is no longer made and it seems that Epson produced batteries that had a little more oomph. So some third party batteries wouldn't have enough current to drive the internal shutter while still reading charged. Batteries is about the biggest issue with this camera. There are threads on rangefinderforum (and others) experimenting with various brands of batteries. I wouldn't rely on the battery meter. I knew the number of frames of my worst battery and simply changed the battery once that number of frames were shot.
    * Metering readout is more than just < * > like the typical Leica. It reads out the actual value. In full manual, its ideal for what I like. I can change the shutter speed and know what its value while looking in the viewfinder.
    * I street shot this camera with the Leica Tri-Elmar 28-35-50. (Another seller regret). It matches the camera beautifully. I also shot it with a 12mm heliar quite extensively with a optical viewfinder. The longest focal length I shot was a 75mm Summarit which I would simply estimate. The lens in the photo above is a 35mm voigtlander nokton. Great combo... a bit heavy.
    * The rubber grip can come off over time. I pulled it off.. cleaned it and reattached it with rubber cement.
    * The Grip in the photo was a "photo-equip" grip designed for the M film cameras that were modified to fit the Epson. Works beautifully.
    * Rear LCD display is low resolution.. even for its time. Then again, I almost never used it. it was always flipped inward.

    To say the camera is quirky is an understatement. Its REALLY quirky.. all the way to having to use the film winder to "advanced" the shutter on a digital. This quirkiness is exactly why I love the camera.


    If funds allowed it, I would buy one in a heartbeat. I really wished Epson (or someone) would continue its legacy.
  8. Whether or not you should buy it....

    You buy a rangefinder camera for how it handles and shoots... it requires a bit practice but once you figure it out it will either speak to you or you move on to something else. For most, they are wired to the TTL type experience.. others like me find that experience to removed.. like living the day looking through a tunnel. For me, a rangefinder provides a fluid non-intrusive workflow.... worthy of the price tag of even a Leica. The camera becomes part of your vision.

    One thing to note with the Epson. Finding repair will be extremely difficult. Going to Epson is going to be tough and prohibitively expensive.

    I miss my RD1.. sniff sniff.

    PS> The Epson RD1 is the worlds first digital rangefinder... it beat the M8.
  9. Epson R-D1 w Heliar 12mm

    This combination can be easily shot at the hip.... zone focus.

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  10. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    The price is $900 with the 50mm Russian lens that is on it. Comes with all boxes, etc. plus 3 batteries, charger, and 3 SD cards. It's a bit expensive (I could use the $900 for other things). I do believe that as long as it remains in the condition that it is in, I would be able to sell it for about the same price.

    As luck would have it, I do know the owner of the house in the lawn of which the ragged 442 sits.. The Porsche, I don't know and the Miata is mine. I don't know about the other cars, but I'm not selling my minty '91 roadster at this time :wink: Thanks for the comment about the photos.

    Thanks very much for the nice posts. Very informative! I am very curious about the RF format. If funds were no object, I would buy the new M9 like my friend did, because I want the FF *and* the RF... It seems kind of retrograde to go to such a primitive camera, but it's an intriguing proposition. BTW, your skills with that camera are impressive. Also, I know that the $900 is just a beginning as more lenses would need to be purchased.

    I will take the camera today for an excursion and see how I like shooting it in fairly ideal conditions. I do find focusing takes a bit of practice and getting decent shots takes a steady hand as well (not to mention a good eye for composition, etc.). If I am happy with the camera after today, I will probably buy it. Otherwise, I'll save a bit more and get a compact FF camera. I love the the sharpness and low light capabilities of those big sensors :wink:
  11. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    My e-P1 feels like it should have this "feature" : I wish it did.
  12. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I owned one for a number of years and got a lot of good pics from it, but $900 feels like a lot for a camera of that vintage (meaning both pure age as well as technology). I don't recall the RD-1 being a particularly robust camera and the comment about repairs above is probably on target - unfortunately. :sad:
  13. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Yes, $900 seems like a lot. For some reason these cameras seem to fetch from $900 upwards of $1400 in ebay... But I agree, it seems like a lot of money. I guess digital range finder cameras are rare and sought after. I'm not sure I want it just for a novelty though.. If I really like shooting with it and I am happy with the pictures, I will seriously consider emptying my piggy bank :wink:
  14. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    There is probably a cult factor, and of course anything that prices relative to a Leica is going to benefit from upwards pressure. Still, given the choice between an M8 and an RD-1, assuming about the same cost, I'd take the M8 in a heartbeat. That camera made the absolute nicest files I have ever gotten out of a camera.
  15. duke

    duke Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 4, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Duke has a classified section as well as a knowledgeable and enthusiastic user base when it comes to the rd1, would check them out if you haven't already.
  16. As for focusing, each person has their preference on how its done.... When I show people how to use a rangefinder, I generally recommend sticking with this technique for a little while.

    Always turn the focus ring in one direction. Starting from near focus (if subjects tend to be close) or infinity (if subjects tend to be far).

    Familiarize yourself with how fast the focus patch moves into center in comparison to the speed at which your turn the focus ring.

    Train yourself to turn direct with intent to line up the focus patch. In the beginning, you will turn until the focus patch has past position and then bring it back into position. This is what people do with SLRs with matte focus screens which is not what you want. You want to turn in a single direction quickly and stop at the moment the focus patch are lined up. Think... line up patches.. not focus. After some practice, people can get very fast at this. Some will even be faster than some AF capable cameras.

    Take your photo.

    Immediately afterwards, return the ring right back to either near or infinity.

    The idea is that you always turn the ring in a single direction in your next focus. You remove the decision on whether or not your subject is now close or further than the last position of the focus ring. You are always turning the ring in the same direction.


    Some will take it further and "prefocus" way ahead of the time it takes to shoot. They can estimate by distance and sight. I used to be good at this but I'm out of practice (thanks to MFT AF, lol). So I still default to the above technique even after all these years. Also, the deeper the DOF the less critical it is to line up critical focus. Use that to your advantage in dynamic situations (street photography for example). Don't get hung up on exactly lining up the patches if your are shooting wide angle or at smaller apertures. Unlike SLRs, the focus is "not in your face"... its simply a setting. There are people that have become so proficient, that they can even track subjects...

    Also, remember unlike SLRs focus in which the lens is wide open, your view is subject to DOF. With rangefinders, you are peering through a different optic. One that renders the same all the time. How the focal length impacts compression and expansion of space is again... "not in your face". You simply focus on composition knowing how the optic renders in your visualization. Along with this, this viewing optic will render complete DOF all the time... again... Shallow DOF is "not in your face". So you can also visualize how the background and foreground subjects fall into frame... even though you know much of it may be rendered OOF beyond DOF. Finally, you can see past the framelines of the chosen focal length. The "tunnel" vision of shooting TTL is "not in your face"... You can see subjects entering and just outside of framing and can adjust composition at the last moment before tripping the shutter. The epson is even better in that its viewfinder is 1:1. You can shoot with both eyes open. The experience of shooting like that is unmatched.

    I know it may seem "overly complicated" especially in the face of all the complex and intelligent modern cameras of today... but realize this is a different workflow of photography. Much like how people find enjoyment rowing through the gears of a manual transmission in a sports car. Its why I never push or recommend a rangefinder unless the user is looking for particular experience.. simply not focused on the end result. A rangefinder is not for everyone but can really be a joy to "IN-USE" as opposed a means to an end (picture).
  17. Yeh.. i can't argue with that. Certainly the same amount of money can buy you a really nice MFT body.

    The reason why they fetch a high price is because they are deemed an alternative to the Leica M8, M9 etc... And they are also priced high. These are niche products and they always carry a price. If Rangefinders were the popular type of camera, I'm sure competition would bring their cost down. I actually sold my R-D1 used for higher than when I bought it as a refurbished camera direct from Epson's Japan website.

    My career is in technology... but people tend to think I'm either a Luddite of sorts or simply stuck in time. I like rangefinders. I like old antiques. I prefer to row through my gears in my car. I like doing things the old fashioned way. Its getting hard to find rangefinders. Its getting expensive to find good antiques. Its getting near impossible to find new cars with manual transmissions. Heck, I would need to pay extra for a manual in a Corvette... seems backwards..
  18. rbelyell

    rbelyell Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 15, 2013
    Mountains of NY
    no point in having a supercharged engine like that in a 'vette and not use manual transmision. no point at all.
  19. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Funny you should talk about straight drive sports cars... Here is one of mine ;) 


    I wish I had read your tips on focusing earlier, but anyway I went out to take some pics wit the R-D1 (the one above is one of them). I don't know why, but I love how the shots came out. Bad focusing notwithstanding.













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  20. Great minds think alike.

    Here's mine. Just did the suspension FM 2.5 suspension kit fall of last year.

    Nice set.. you are doing just fine.
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