Epson R-D1 vs Olympus E-1
The Epson R-D1 and the Olympus E-1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2004 and June 2003. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the E-1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (R-D1) and a Four Thirds (E-1) sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 4.9 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 Olympus E-1? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Epson R-D1 and the Olympus E-1. 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 dimensions 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 Olympus E-1 is notably larger (16 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the E-1 is markedly heavier (19 percent) than the R-D1. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-1 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 Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-1).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Epson R-D1||142 mm||89 mm||40 mm||620 g||..||n||Mar 2004||2,999|
|2.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|3.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|4.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|5.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|6.||Leica X-U Typ 113||140 mm||79 mm||88 mm||635 g||450||Y||Jan 2016||2,950|
|7.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|8.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|10.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|11.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|12.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|13.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|14.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|15.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|16.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|17.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|Notes: 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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 43 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.
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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Epson R-D1 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-1 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the R-D1 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 6MP, the R-D1 offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the R-D1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.85μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the R-D1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the E-1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Epson R-D1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the R-D1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-1 are 12.8 x 9.6 inches or 32.5 x 24.4 cm for good quality, 10.2 x 7.7 inches or 26 x 19.5 cm for very good quality, and 8.5 x 6.4 inches or 21.7 x 16.3 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 Olympus E-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|6.||Leica X-U Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|8.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|15.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|16.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The R-D1 and the E-1 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 Olympus E-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|6.||Leica X-U Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|7.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
One feature that is present on the E-1, 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 R-D1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-1 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the R-D1 only has one slot.
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 Olympus E-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Leica X-U Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the R-D1 and the E-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, 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 Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Epson R-D1 or the Olympus E-1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Epson R-D1:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (6 vs 4.9MP) with a 13% 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.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (235k vs 134k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (142x89mm vs 141x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 118g or 16 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 8 months after the E-1).
Advantages of the Olympus E-1:
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (43 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2003).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the R-D1 emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 7 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the R-D1 and the E-1 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.
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.
|1.||Epson R-D1||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2004||2,999|
|2.||Olympus E-1||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|3.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|4.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|5.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|6.||Leica X-U Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||..||3.5/5||Jan 2016||2,950|
|7.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|8.||Leica M9||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|9.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|10.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|11.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|12.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|13.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|14.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|15.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|16.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|17.||Olympus E-300||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Epson R-D1 vs Olympus E-1
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||Olympus E-1|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2004||June 2003|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus E-1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||4.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||2560 x 1920 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||6.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||2.19 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus E-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||1.8inch|
|LCD Resolution||235k dots||134k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus E-1|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus E-1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||no USB||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus E-1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
142 x 89 x 40 mm
(5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
141 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||620 g (21.9 oz)||738 g (26.0 oz)|
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