Epson R-D1 vs Olympus PEN-F
The Epson R-D1 and the Olympus PEN-F are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2004 and January 2016. The R-D1 is a fixed lens compact, while the PEN-F is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on an APS-C (R-D1) and a Four Thirds (PEN-F) sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 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 PEN-F? 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 PEN-F. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The PEN-F can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the R-D1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus PEN-F is notably smaller (29 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the PEN-F is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the R-D1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the R-D1 nor the PEN-F 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. 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 Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (PEN-F).
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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Epson R-D1||142 mm||89 mm||40 mm||620 g||..||n||Mar 2004||2,999|
|Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|Canon 300D||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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 PEN-F was launched at a markedly lower price (by 60 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Epson R-D1 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus PEN-F a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the PEN-F 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 PEN-F offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the PEN-F offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the R-D1. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). However, it should be noted that the PEN-F is much more recent (by 11 years and 10 months) than the R-D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the PEN-F has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus PEN-F implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the PEN-F for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 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.
Unlike the R-D1, the PEN-F has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (40MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Epson R-D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN-F are ISO 80 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The PEN-F indeed provides for movie recording, while the R-D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the PEN-F can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the PEN-F has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the R-D1 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Epson R-D1 and Olympus PEN-F along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The PEN-F 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 PEN-F has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the R-D1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the PEN-F is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus PEN-F 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 PEN-F uses SDXC cards. The PEN-F supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), 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 Olympus PEN-F and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the PEN-F 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.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Epson R-D1 (unlike the PEN-F) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the R-D1 and the PEN-F have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Epson and Olympus. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Epson R-D1 and the Olympus PEN-F? 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:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- 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).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN-F:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 79%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (1037k vs 235k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (125x72mm vs 142x89mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 193g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-II standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 11 years and 10 months of technical progress since the R-D1 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the PEN-F is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 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 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the R-D1 or the PEN-F perform in practice. 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Epson R-D1||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2004||2,999|
|Olympus PEN-F||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Canon 350D||80/100||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|Canon 300D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2003||899|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica X Vario||..||..||4/5||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|Leica M9||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Leica M8||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|Nikon D50||78/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|Nikon D70s||..||..||..||o||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|Nikon D70||..||+ +||..||o||..||Jan 2004||999|
|Olympus E-M1 II||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-M5 II||+ +||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-300||..||+||o||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|Panasonic GX8||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon T6s vs Epson R-D1
- Epson R-D1 vs Fujifilm X100V
- Epson R-D1 vs Leica X1
- Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D1
- Epson R-D1 vs Olympus E-M1X
- Epson R-D1 vs Panasonic GF5
- Nikon D5200 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic G7
- Olympus PEN-F vs Pentax 645D
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony A7 II
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony A7R IV
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony RX100 II
Specifications: Epson R-D1 vs Olympus PEN-F
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 PEN-F|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2004||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 1,199|
|Sensor Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus PEN-F|
|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||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||894|
|Screen Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus PEN-F|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||235k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus PEN-F|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||1 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||no shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus PEN-F|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||no USB||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Epson R-D1||Olympus PEN-F|
142 x 89 x 40 mm
(5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
125 x 72 x 37 mm
(4.9 x 2.8 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||620 g (21.9 oz)||427 g (15.1 oz)|
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