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Canon 5D Mark III vs Epson R-D1

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Epson R-D1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2012 and March 2004. The 5D Mark III is a DSLR, while the R-D1 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (5D Mark III) and an APS-C (R-D1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 22.1 megapixels, whereas the Epson provides 6 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 5D Mark III
versus
Epson R-D1
Canon 5D Mark III   Epson R-D1
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
22.1 MP – Full Frame sensor 6 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 102,400) ISO 200-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD – 1040k dots 3.2" LCD – 235k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6 shutter flaps per second 1 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
152 x 116 x 76 mm, 950 g 142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g
Canon 5D Mark III:
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Epson R-D1:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Epson R-D1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Epson R-D1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 5D Mark III vs Epson R-D1
Compare 5D Mark III versus R-D1 top
Comparison 5D Mark III or R-D1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Epson R-D1 is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark III. Moreover, the R-D1 is substantially lighter (35 percent) than the 5D Mark III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D Mark III is splash and dust resistant, while the R-D1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D Mark III) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (R-D1).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark III 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499i
2.
 
Epson R-D1 142 mm 89 mm 40 mm 620 g .. n Mar 2004 2,999i
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i
4.
 
Canon 5DS 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
5.
 
Canon 5DS R 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
6.
 
Canon 6D 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark II 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499i
8.
 
Canon 5D 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299i
9.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
10.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
11.
 
Nikon D610 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i
12.
 
Nikon D600 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
13.
 
Nikon D800 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999i
14.
 
Nikon D800E 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299i
15.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
16.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
17.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The R-D1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 14 percent) than the 5D Mark III, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D Mark III features a full frame sensor and the Epson R-D1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the R-D1 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 5D Mark III and Epson R-D1 sensor measures

With 22.1MP, the 5D Mark III offers a higher resolution than the R-D1 (6MP), but the 5D Mark III has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.25μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). However, the 5D Mark III is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 11 months) than the R-D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 5D Mark III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 5D Mark III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 28.8 x 19.2 inches or 73.2 x 48.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 19.2 x 12.8 inches or 48.8 x 32.5 cm. The corresponding values for the Epson R-D1 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Epson R-D1 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

5D Mark III versus R-D1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
2.
 
Epson R-D1 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.110.456455
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
4.
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187
5.
 
Canon 5DS R Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886
6.
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
8.
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
9.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
10.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
11.
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
12.
 
Nikon D600 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094
13.
 
Nikon D800 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
14.
 
Nikon D800E Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996
15.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
16.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
17.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 5D Mark III indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the R-D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark III can use is 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5D Mark III and the R-D1 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark III and Epson R-D1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s n n
2.
 
Epson R-D1optical n2.0 / 235 fixed n 1/2000s 1.0/s n n
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IVoptical Y3.2 / 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 7.0/s n n
4.
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
5.
 
Canon 5DS Roptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
6.
 
Canon 6Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5/s n n
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9/s n n
8.
 
Canon 5Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s n n
9.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
10.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
11.
 
Nikon D610optical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D600optical Y3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5/s Y n
13.
 
Nikon D800optical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0/s Y n
14.
 
Nikon D800Eoptical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0/s Y n
15.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
16.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One feature that is present on the 5D Mark III, but is missing on the R-D1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The 5D Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the R-D1 uses SDHC cards. The 5D Mark III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the R-D1 only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Epson R-D1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmono / monoYYmini2.0---
2.
 
Epson R-D1Y- / --------
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IVYmono / monoYYmini3.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 5DSYmono / monoY-mini3.0---
5.
 
Canon 5DS RYmono / monoY-mini3.0---
6.
 
Canon 6DYmono / monoY-mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 5DY- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
10.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D610Ymono / monoYYmini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D600Ymono / monoYYmini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D800Ymono / monoYYmini3.0---
14.
 
Nikon D800EYmono / monoYYmini3.0---
15.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D70sY- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 5D Mark III and the R-D1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D Mark III was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark IV, while the R-D1 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Epson websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 5D Mark III better than the Epson R-D1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (22.1 vs 6MP) with a 92% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 235k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 11 months of technical progress since the R-D1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Epson R-D1:

  • More compact: Is smaller (142x89mm vs 152x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 330g or 35 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in March 2004).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5D Mark III is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

5D Mark III 14:04 R-D1

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 5D Mark III or the R-D1 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 5D Mark III..+ +..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499i
2.
 
Epson R-D1............ Mar 2004 2,999i
3.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV4.5/5+ +4/587/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i
4.
 
Canon 5DS..+..83/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
5.
 
Canon 5DS R5/5+..83/1005/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
6.
 
Canon 6D5/5+ +..83/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
7.
 
Canon 5D Mark II4/591/100..79/1004/5.. Sep 2008 3,499i
8.
 
Canon 5D..88/100..+ +o.. Aug 2005 3,299i
9.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
10.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
11.
 
Nikon D6104/5+ +..87/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i
12.
 
Nikon D6004/5+ +..87/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
13.
 
Nikon D8005/5+ +..82/1005/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999i
14.
 
Nikon D800E......84/1005/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299i
15.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
16.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
17.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 5D Mark III:
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Epson R-D1:
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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 5D Mark III vs Epson R-D1

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 5D Mark III Epson R-D1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2012 March 2004
    Launch Price USD 3,499 USD 2,999
    Sensor Specs Canon 5D Mark III Epson R-D1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 22.1 Megapixels 6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5760 x 3840 pixels 3008 x 2000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.25 μm 7.85 μm
    Pixel Density 2.56 MP/cm2 1.63 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 25,600 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 102,400 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 81 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.0 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.7 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2293 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 5D Mark III Epson R-D1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 235k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 5D Mark III Epson R-D1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 1 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon 5D Mark III Epson R-D1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 no USB
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Headphone Socket Headphone port no Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 5D Mark III Epson R-D1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type LP-E6 EU-85
    Body Dimensions 152 x 116 x 76 mm
    (6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    142 x 89 x 40 mm
    (5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
    Camera Weight 950 g (33.5 oz) 620 g (21.9 oz)
    Canon 5D Mark III:
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    Epson R-D1:
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