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Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D90

The Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D90 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2004 and August 2008. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the D90 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 MP.

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 D90
Epson R-D1 Nikon D90
Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica M mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 720/24p Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 200-3,200 (200 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 235k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1 shutter flaps per second 4.5 shutter flaps per second
142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g 132 x 103 x 77 mm, 703 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D90? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Epson R-D1 and the Nikon D90 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D90
Compare R-D1 versus D90 top
Comparison R-D1 or D90 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D90 is notably larger (8 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the D90 is markedly heavier (13 percent) than the R-D1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the R-D1 nor the D90 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 (D90).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.

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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 2,999i
2.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
3.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
4.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
5.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
6.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950i
8.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
9.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
11.
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
12.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
13.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
14.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
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
Notes: 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 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 D90 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the R-D1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D90 is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Epson R-D1 and Nikon D90 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the D90 offers a higher resolution than the R-D1 (6MP), but the D90 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). Yet, the D90 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 5 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 D90 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D90 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 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 Epson R-D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D90 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.

R-D1 versus D90 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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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 2000none........
2.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
3.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
4.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
5.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
6.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
8.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
9.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
10.
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
11.
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
12.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
13.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
14.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
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

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D90 indeed provides for movie recording, while the R-D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the D90 can use is 720/24p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The R-D1 and the D90 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Epson R-D1, the Nikon D90, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Epson R-D1optical n 2.0 235 fixed n 1/2000s 1.0 n n
2.
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
3.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
4.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
5.
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
6.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
10.
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the D90, 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.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the R-D1 and the D90 write their files to SDHC cards.

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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 D90 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Epson R-D1Y---------
2.
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
4.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
5.
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
6.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereomono---2.0---
8.
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
17.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Epson R-D1 (unlike the D90) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the R-D1 and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D90 was replaced by the Nikon D7000, 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Epson R-D1 better than the Nikon D90 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Epson R-D1:

  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 83g or 12 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2004).

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D90:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 235k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 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 (57 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 5 months of technical progress since the R-D1 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D90 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 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 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.

R-D1 03:10 D90

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the R-D1 and the D90 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Epson R-D1.......... Mar 2004 2,999i
2.
 
Nikon D90..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
3.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
4.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
5.
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
6.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950i
8.
 
Leica X Vario3/5....4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
9.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D70004/5..80/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
11.
 
Nikon D300S5/5+ +82/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
12.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
13.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
14.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
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.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Epson R-D1:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D90:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. 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 D90

    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 D90
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2004 August 2008
    Launch Price USD 2,999 USD 1,299
    Sensor Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D90
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 5.53 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 200 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 73
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 977
    Screen Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D90
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 235k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D90
    Focus System Manual Focus Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1 shutter flaps/s 4.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D90
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector no USB USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Epson R-D1 Nikon D90
    Battery Type EU-85 EN-EL3e
    Body Dimensions 142 x 89 x 40 mm
    (5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
    132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 703 g (24.8 oz)

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