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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.

Headline Specifications
Epson R-D1
versus
Olympus E-1
Epson R-D1 Olympus E-1
Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica M mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 4.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-800 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 235k dots 1.8 LCD, 134k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g 141 x 104 x 81 mm, 738 g

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.

Body comparison

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.

Size Epson R-D1 vs Olympus E-1
Compare R-D1 versus E-1 top
Comparison R-D1 or E-1 rear

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.

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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 2,999 i
2.
 
Olympus E-1 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699 i
3.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899 i
4.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
5.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950 i
7.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i
8.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999 i
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499 i
10.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499 i
11.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749 i
12.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899 i
13.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999 i
14.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699 i
15.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699 i
16.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999 i
17.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799 i
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.

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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.

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.

Epson R-D1 and Olympus E-1 sensor measures

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.

R-D1 versus E-1 MP

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.

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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.
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none...... ..
3.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.8544 55
4.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p...... ..
5.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.22133 86
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p...... ..
7.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.71320 78
8.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.7884 69
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none...... ..
10.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.0561 56
11.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.8560 55
12.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.3529 50
13.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.3529 50
14.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.5519 56
15.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.5571 56
16.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none...... ..
17.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none...... ..
Neither the R-D1 nor the E-1 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.
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Feature comparison

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.

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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.
 
Olympus E-1optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
3.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
4.
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
5.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y 3.0 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 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.

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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 Olympus E-1 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.
 
Olympus E-1Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
4.
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
5.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereomono---2.0---
7.
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono---2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-3Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-300Y-----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.

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Review summary

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.

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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).

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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.

R-D1 10:07 E-1

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.

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 2,999 i
2.
 
Olympus E-1....+o.. Jun 2003 1,699 i
3.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899 i
4.
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
5.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950 i
7.
 
Leica X Vario3/5....4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i
8.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999 i
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499 i
10.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499 i
11.
 
Nikon D50..78/100+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749 i
12.
 
Nikon D70s........5/5 Apr 2005 899 i
13.
 
Nikon D70....+ +.... Jan 2004 999 i
14.
 
Olympus E-54/5..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699 i
15.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699 i
16.
 
Olympus E-330....+o.. Jan 2006 999 i
17.
 
Olympus E-300....+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799 i
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.

Epson R-D1:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-1:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    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 Specifications
    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 Technology CCD CCD
    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
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    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%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.48x
    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
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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 Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EU-85 BLM-1
    Body Dimensions 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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