Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/09/29

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Subject: [Leica] Epson R - D1 User impressions
From: firkin at (Alastair Firkin)
Date: Wed Sep 29 01:56:13 2004
References: <>

Nice summary, but what is the bottom line? How much can we expect to 
part with at this stage?

On 29/09/2004, at 5:31 PM, Howard Cummer wrote:

> I have had my Epson R ? D 1 now for five days and would like to report 
> on the good and the bad so far.
> First the good- the camera handles very much like a film camera. It is 
> very sturdy ? heft a Leica M and heft the R D 1 and the feel is very 
> much the same. It is a solid piece of equipment. The controls are an 
> interesting amalgam of the old and the new and have been thoughtfully 
> designed with the traditional film camera / Leica user in mind. For 
> example, to change the ISO setting you just lift the shutter speed 
> dial and turn it to show the ISO speed that you want  (from 200 ? 
> 1600) in the cutout on the speed dial. Like a camera from the 1970?s. 
> The RD 1 has AE which is set on the shutter speed dial and exposure 
> compensation +/- 2 stops is accomplished by turning the speed dial up 
> or down from the AE setting. No buttons to push ? no menus to scroll 
> through. The other adjustments that can be made without resorting to 
> the menu include selecting JPEG (high or normal) or RAW, and the 
> setting of the white balance. The on / off switch is under the wind 
> lever and is stiff to turn so it won?t get knocked off accidentally. 
> The shutter cocking advance lever has a short throw and is very easy 
> to use. It is also very easy to forget to wind and I have missed some 
> photo opportunities because the shutter wasn?t cocked. The needle 
> dials in the roundel next to the shutter speed dial are easy to read 
> and informative about what white balance is in use, how many pictures 
> are left on the SD memory card and what type of image format is 
> recording. Battery life is also indicated ? from full to empty by the 
> dial at the bottom of the display. The needle indication isn?t linear 
> ? when the dial gets to 1/3 full you are just about out of gas. In 
> Hong Kong there are no spare batteries available yet ? so when the 
> battery needs recharging ? you stop shooting for about three hours. 
> Battery life is impressive though ? about 250 H resolution JPEGS on a 
> single charge with lots of playback.
> The 1: 1 viewfinder is clear and bright but as a glasses wearer I 
> can?t see the outlines of the 28mm framelines at the edge of the 
> finder (like the M6 .072). 35mm and 50mm frame lines are just fine. 
> One problem ? the rangefinder in the prototype I handled in July was 
> very slightly out of alignment and so is the rangefinder on this 
> production model. Long time Luggers will recall that I am obsessed 
> with accurate range finding but in this case it really is out ? not 
> enough to reduce focusing accuracy appreciably in the near focus ? but 
> enough that TV towers several miles away do not line up coincidently 
> and they should. I have brought this to Epson?s attention and they 
> tell me they will fix it likely by giving me a new camera when one is 
> available. They don?t have anyone in Hong Kong to adjust the finder 
> and will have to send the camera back to Tokyo ? and I don?t fancy 
> being without the camera for an extended period. Rangefinder focusing 
> accuracy is one thing Epson must get nailed down right away ? 
> otherwise Leica users like me will drive them crazy.
> So what about picture quality. I am amazed. ISO 1600 with noise 
> reduction turned on high produces a very moderately grained image much 
> like, maybe better than the Canon 10D. Couple this with a fast lens 
> like a 35 Summilux Asph and you can go into dark places with higher, 
> more useable handheld shutter speeds and produce results that are 
> simply amazing. It is a killer combination! This is where the marriage 
> of Leica lens quality and low noise digital really come together. And 
> it is so nice to be able to open a lens wide open and have bokeh 
> back!!
> I think that once over the novelty of exercising all my Leica M lens 
> in digital, the RD 1 will become welded to the 35 Summilux Asph for 
> low light work. For daylight work, a versatile combination is the Tri 
> Elmar that lets you cycle quickly through the 28 / 35 / 50 
> combinations when you are in situations where you want to shoot 
> quickly, but really, when the light is good, the convenience of the 
> Digilux 2 or Panasonic LC 1 with the Leica Vario Summicron has a lot 
> going for it.
> There is an Epson RAW plugin available with the camera for Photoshop 
> CS and I have installed this but am having some trouble getting it 
> running properly. This is entirely due, I?m sure, to my operator 
> error. If you shoot with the 12mm Heliar or 15mm Heliar the program 
> has a feature where you check the lens focal length and the program 
> eliminates the dark edges of the photograph which are naturally there 
> because of the wide angle nature of these lens. That is very neat!!
> In sum, I think the R D1 is a keeper ? with some minor teething 
> problems ? but in the end it is going to provide a very positive 
> experience for Leica M users who want to try digital and not give up 
> their Leica M lenses. It looks like it will be the only game in town 
> for M users for a year or two and in that time I expect Epson will 
> sell a train load of them.
> Cheers
> Howard (in Hong Kong)_______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

In reply to: Message from cummer at (Howard Cummer) ([Leica] Epson R - D1 User impressions)