Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D780
The Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D780 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2004 and January 2020. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the D780 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (R-D1) and a full frame (D780) sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.3 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D780? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D780 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D780 is notably larger (32 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the D780 is substantially heavier (35 percent) than the R-D1. It is noteworthy in this context that the D780 is splash and dust-proof, 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 Leica M Lens Catalog (R-D1) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D780).
The power pack in the D780 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Epson R-D1||142 mm||89 mm||40 mm||620 g||..||n||Mar 2004||2,999|
|2.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|5.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|6.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|7.||Leica X-U Typ 113||140 mm||79 mm||88 mm||635 g||450||Y||Jan 2016||2,950|
|8.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|9.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|10.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|11.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|13.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|14.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|15.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|16.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|17.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 D780 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 23 percent) than the R-D1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Epson R-D1 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D780 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D780 is 132 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.3MP, the D780 offers a higher resolution than the R-D1 (6MP), but the D780 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). Yet, the D780 is a much more recent model (by 15 years and 10 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 pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D780 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D780 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.1 inches or 76.8 x 51.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 40.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 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 D780 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Epson R-D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D780 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|6.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|7.||Leica X-U Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|9.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|10.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|13.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D780 indeed provides for movie recording, while the R-D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the D780 can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The R-D1 and the D780 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 Epson R-D1 and Nikon D780 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|7.||Leica X-U Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|8.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The D780 has a touchscreen, while the R-D1 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Nikon D780 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The R-D1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the D780 uses SDXC cards. The D780 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the R-D1 only has one slot. The D780 supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the R-D1 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 D780 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Leica X-U Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the D780 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the R-D1 does not provide wifi capability.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The D780 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the R-D1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the R-D1 from Epson. 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.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D780? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Epson R-D1:
- More compact: Is smaller (142x89mm vs 144x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 220g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2004).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D780:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.3 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 101%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced 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 capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check 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 (2359k vs 235k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards on both slots.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (23 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 15 years and 10 months of technical progress since the R-D1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D780 is the clear winner of the contest (23 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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.
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 D780 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.
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], 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.
|1.||Epson R-D1||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2004||2,999|
|2.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|5.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|6.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|7.||Leica X-U Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||..||3.5/5||Jan 2016||2,950|
|8.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|9.||Leica M9||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|10.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|11.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|13.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|14.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|15.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|16.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|17.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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.
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.
Specifications: Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D780
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 Model||Epson R-D1||Nikon D780|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2004||January 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 2,299|
|Sensor Specs||Epson R-D1||Nikon D780|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||24.3 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||6048 x 4024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||2.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Epson R-D1||Nikon D780|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||235k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Epson R-D1||Nikon D780|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||1 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Epson R-D1||Nikon D780|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||no USB||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Epson R-D1||Nikon D780|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
142 x 89 x 40 mm
(5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
144 x 116 x 76 mm
(5.7 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||620 g (21.9 oz)||840 g (29.6 oz)|
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