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Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D70s

The Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D70s are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2004 and April 2005. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera, while the D70s is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 6 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Epson R-D1
versus
Nikon D70s
Epson R-D1   Nikon D70s
Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica M mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
6 MP – APS-C sensor 6 MP – APS-C sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 200-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0" LCD – 235k dots 2.0" LCD – 130k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g 140 x 111 x 78 mm, 679 g
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Check R-D1 offers at
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Check D70s offers at
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D70s? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D70s. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D70s
Compare R-D1 versus D70s top
Comparison R-D1 or D70s rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D70s is notably larger (23 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the D70s is markedly heavier (10 percent) than the R-D1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the R-D1 nor the D70s are weather-sealed.

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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (R-D1) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D70s).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.
 
Epson R-D1 142 mm 89 mm 40 mm 620 g .. n Mar 2004 2,999ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899ebay.com
3.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899ebay.com
4.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 amazon.com
5.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595ebay.com
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950ebay.com
7.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
8.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D70s was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the R-D1, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Epson R-D1 and Nikon D70s sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 6 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the R-D1 and the D70s have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the D70s is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the R-D1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Epson R-D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The Nikon D70s offers exactly the same ISO settings.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

R-D1 versus D70s MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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.
 
Epson R-D1 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.110.456455
2.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
3.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
4.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p24.013.3178882
5.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.813.0161480
7.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
8.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
9.
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
10.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
11.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
12.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
13.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
Neither the R-D1 nor the D70s offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The R-D1 and the D70s 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Epson R-D1 and Nikon D70s along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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.
 
Epson R-D1optical n2.0 / 235 fixed n 1/2000s 1.0/s n n
2.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
4.
 
Leica CL2360 Y3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0/s n n
5.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
7.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
8.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0/s n n
9.
 
Nikon D5300optical n3.2 / 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
11.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
13.
 
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 difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D70s has one, while the R-D1 does not. While the built-in flash of the D70s is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The R-D1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the D70s uses Compact Flash cards.

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 Epson R-D1 and Nikon D70s 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.
 
Epson R-D1Y- / --------
2.
 
Nikon D70sY- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
4.
 
Leica CLYstereo / mono----Y--
5.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereo / mono---2.0---
7.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D5300Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
10.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Epson R-D1 (unlike the D70s) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the R-D1 and the D70s have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D70s was replaced by the Nikon D80, 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 Epson and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Epson R-D1 or the Nikon D70s – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Epson R-D1:

  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (235k vs 130k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (142x89mm vs 140x111mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2004).

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Advantages of the Nikon D70s:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 1 month) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D70s comes out slightly ahead of the R-D1 (5 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

R-D1 04:05 D70s

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the R-D1 and the D70s in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
 
Epson R-D1............ Mar 2004 2,999ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899ebay.com
3.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899ebay.com
4.
 
Leica CL....4.2/5....4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 amazon.com
5.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595ebay.com
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 1133.5/5........3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950ebay.com
7.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
8.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D53004/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999ebay.com
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D70s

    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 Epson R-D1 Nikon D70s
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2004 April 2005
    Launch Price USD 2,999 USD 899
    Sensor Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D70s
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 3008 x 2000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 7.85 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 1.63 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 50
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 529
    Screen Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D70s
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 235k dots 130k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D70s
    Focus System Manual Focus Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D70s
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector no USB USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D70s
    Battery Type EU-85 EN-EL3a
    Body Dimensions 142 x 89 x 40 mm
    (5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
    140 x 111 x 78 mm
    (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 679 g (24.0 oz)
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    Check R-D1 offers at
    ebay.com
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    Check D70s offers at
    ebay.com

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