Shown only in prototype form and behind glass at PMA this year Epson has today fully revealed their R-D1 'Rangefinder Digital Camera'. This camera has come out of a collaboration between Epson and Cosina, it supports Leica M mount and L mount with an adapter and has a six megapixel APS size sensor with an output image size of 3008 x 2000 pixels (which sounds to me like the sensor used by Nikon in the D100 & D70). Epson's timing for this announcement is the 2004 Photo Expo to be held in Tokyo between 19th and 21st March. This announcement has received a lot of attention from the Japanese websites who have lots of images of the camera, see inside for links.

Epson RD-1 Images

Phil: Sometimes it's the little details which are the most important, with this camera I love the flip-out and twist rear panel which has the LCD monitor and digital controls mounted on it, when closed against the body you could easily mistake this camera for a normal film rangefinder camera. There's even a small equivalent field of view (or approx. focal length) converter ring on the panel cover.

Press Release:

Epson Launches the World's First Rangefinder Digital Camera

Seiko Epson Corporation ("Epson") has launched the Epson Rangefinder Digital Camera R-D1, the world's first rangefinder digital camera, in partnership with Cosina Corporation.

Technical collaboration

Epson has helped transform the world of photo printing into the digital world by developing inkjet printers and other digital photo printing technologies. Among the critical technologies behind the stunning quality of Epson's digitally rendered photos is digital image processing—technology for optimizing digital data as a high-quality photo image. Digital image processing technology is already being used in Epson's printer drivers, high-resolution scanners and other input and output devices, but Epson had been looking for new potentially intriguing applications for it, as well. It was while scouting the possibilities that Epson met up with Cosina, a company that can boast some of the world's foremost original optical technologies.

Cosina has developed outstanding original optics technologies in the production of camera lenses while still maintaining a rigorous fidelity to the historic photography heritage. Epson felt that if the companies were to use the rangefinder camera platform—a platform that is being left in the wake of progress toward the digital age—and if they were to merge Epson's digital image processing technology with Cosina's advanced optics technology, they might be able to discover some completely new creative photographic possibilities. This idea led to collaboration between the two companies, with engineers from both sides paying uncompromising attention to detail during product development. Thus was born the R-D1

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.

Digital camera firsts

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*2. 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.

Epson = Photo

With "Epson = Photo" as its watchword, Epson is committed to bringing color to life and to the way people communicate, by aspiring to create new possibilities that expand the horizons of the digital photo market and by suggesting new ways to enjoy digital photography using advanced digital image processing technology.

The R-D1 will be exhibited at the 2004 Photo Expo, which will be held from March 19-21 at the Tokyo Big Sight.

*1 Epson Rangefinder Digital Camera R-D1 is a trademark of Seiko Epson Corp.
*2 The L-mount is adaptor-compatible.
Note: Lenses with external dimensions exceeding 20.5 cannot be used with this camera. In addition, the following lenses cannot be used (correct as of March 11, 2004)
Hologon 15mm F8, Super Angulon 21 mm F4, Super Angulon 21 mm F3.4, Elmarit 28 mm F2.8 (early models), Summicron 50 mm F2 (dual range Summicron), Hektor 50 mm F2.5, and Elmar 50 mm F3.5.

Epson RD-1 Specifications

Body Magnesium alloy
Sensor • 23.7 x 15.6 mm APS-C size CCD
• Primary color filter (RGB)
• 6.1 million effective pixels
Image sizes • 3008 x 2000
• 2240 x 1488
File formats • CCD-RAW (12-bit)
• JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
Viewfinder • Twice reverse Galileo finder
• 1.0x magnification
• Radical line length 38.2 mm
• View frames 28 / 35 / 50 mm switchable
• Parallax correction
• 85% frame coverage
• Exposure display by LED
Lens mount • EM mount (Leica M type interchangeable mount)
• Field of view crop: 1.53x
Shutter speed • 1 - 1/2000 sec
• Bulb
• 1/125 sec flash x-sync
Exposure modes • Aperture priority
• Manual
Exposure compen. • +/- 2.0 EV
• 0.3 EV steps
ISO sensitivity • ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
White balance • Auto
• Shade
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Sunny
• Manual preset
Image parameters • Standard
• Epson Film 1
• Epson Film 2
• Epson Film 3
• User defined
B&W modes • Standard B&W
• Green filter B&W
• Yellow filter B&W
• Orange filter B&W
• Red filter B&W
LCD monitor • 2.0" TFT LCD
• 235,000 pixels
Needle display

• Image quality setting
• White balance
• Frames remaining
• Battery power

Play mode • Single image
• Four thumbnail view (2x2)
• Magnify (up to 9.4x)
• Highlight and Histogram display
• Exposure detail
Print standards • DPOF
• Epson Print Image Matching 2.6
• EXIF Print
Self-timer Yes
Flash Hot-shoe
Storage Secure Digital (SD)
Power • Epson EPALB1 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Battery charger included
Dimensions 142 x 89 x 40 mm (5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
Weight (no batt) 590 g (1.3 lb)

* Note that these specifications are a direct translation from Japanese and thus may contain small interpretation mistakes

More images of the Epson R-D1