• Price: 1702

  • Company: Epson

  • Pros: Classic analogue handling with life-size finder for an involving experience, while large digital SLR-style sensor provides low noise.

  • Cons: Menu system is poor. Main concern is that the camera has frame-lines for only three focal lengths.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

Epson’s 6mp R-D1 shares some features with the recently announced R3A. It includes the same bright, life-size finder magnification, and aperture priority exposure control.

Its big attraction, though, is the compatibility with loads of Leica M bayonet and L mount screw lenses. It also fits a wide range of other brands – such as early screw thread lenses from Canon and Nikon – with the help of an optional adaptor. A lever on the top plate allows selection from one of three frame-lines visible in the viewfinder for 50mm, 28mm, and 35mm focal lengths.

Other lenses will fit, but it will be difficult to judge the field of view for the sensor without a viewfinder. However, Voigtländer has introduced a series of four viewfinders covering 12mm, 15mm, 21mm, and 25mm focal lengths. These attach via the hot-shoe, but as yet there are no dedicated finders for longer lenses, such as an 85mm, or 105mm.

We were supplied with the gorgeous M mount Voigtländer Colour Skopar 35mm f/2.5P II pancake lens, so called due to the stubby construction. Together, handling is very good, though the R-D1’s body is big, and the magnesium alloy construction belies its 590g weight.

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There are few modern comforts. For starters, these classic lenses are manual focus only, and there’s no evaluative metering, built-in flash, or automatic frame advance. It’s odd having a manual film advance lever when saving to an SD card. It cocks the shutter though, and lightly pressing the shutter release primes the TTL centre-weighted metering. 
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As with most similar systems, you’ll have to know how to compensate for difficult lighting, but at least there’s exposure compensation or metered manual. In both instances, the shutter speed selected is shown in the viewfinder, either automatically, or, if using manual, the set speed is shown while the metered option flashes. It’s simple but effective. 
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Both shutter speed and exposure-compensation are selected by a traditional knurled dial on the top plate. It locks when set to AE (Auto Exposure), and it’s fiddly to release to use exposure compensation. ISO settings from ISO 200-1600 are selected by pulling the same dial up and rotating to suit. And, just like a 35mm camera, there’s no auto option. 
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Powering up is sluggish, but it’s only really noticed when you’ve forgotten to turn it on. It’s not really an issue as the shutter has to be cocked before metering anyway. 
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On the left hand side, a large circular window encompassing four dials with needles provides the first indication that this isn’t actually a film camera. It looks not unlike the gauges on your dashboard. It’s here that white-balance, image quality, battery life, and the approximate number of frames remaining are displayed. A pseudo film rewind knob is actually a super-responsive jog-dial, and is used for adjusting the settings in combination with a well-placed lever sitting high on the camera’s back.
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<b>RAW power</b>
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In addition to a 3,008-x-2,000-pixel RAW file format (ERF), there are just two JPEG settings – one at full resolution and the second with a 2,240-x-1,488-pixel image size. The camera’s rear is dominated by a pull-out and rotating monitor, but at 2.0-inches it could easily have been larger. Nonetheless, it is well detailed, though the protective screen is highly reflective and difficult to see in bright lighting. It can’t really be angled either as the camera’s shutter design doesn’t allow real-time CCD viewing. It’s either out for setting the menu, or it’s folded away to protect it from scratching. 
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Navigation of the menu is clunky, even with the excellent jog-dial – there are too many button-presses required to select any given feature. That said, there are only two settings that you’ll probably use regularly – film settings, and colour options. The latter allows mono shots with the further option to add digital photo filters for effect, such as red, yellow, and green, for portraits and landscapes. 
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