Epson R-D1 vs Panasonic S5
The Epson R-D1 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2004 and September 2020. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless, while the S5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (R-D1) and a full frame (S5) sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 24 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S5? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Epson R-D1 and the Panasonic S5 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 size 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 Panasonic S5 is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the S5 is markedly heavier (15 percent) than the R-D1. It is noteworthy in this context that the S5 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The power pack in the S5 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.||Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999|
|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.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|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.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|15.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|16.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|17.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 S5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 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.
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 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 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 Panasonic S5 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the S5 is 129 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 24MP, the S5 offers a higher resolution than the R-D1 (6MP), but the S5 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). Yet, the S5 is a much more recent model (by 16 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. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S5 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic S5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 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 S5 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (96MP) 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|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.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|15.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|16.||Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The S5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the R-D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the S5 can use is 4K/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S5 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 Panasonic S5 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.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S5 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 S5 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 S5 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 Panasonic S5 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 S5 uses SDXC cards. The S5 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 S5 supports UHS-II cards on its first slot and UHS-I on its second one, 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 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.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|17.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the S5 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 S5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The S5 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. 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 Panasonic websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Epson R-D1 or the Panasonic S5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
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.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 94g or 13 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).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 100%.
- 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.
- 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/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 (1840k vs 235k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex 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 (7 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.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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.
- 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 and UHS-I) SDXC cards.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 16 years and 5 months of technical progress since the R-D1 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S5 is the clear winner of the contest (27 : 5 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 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 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 S5 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 why expert reviews are important. 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.||Panasonic S5||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999|
|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.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|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.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|15.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|16.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|17.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Epson R-D1 vs Panasonic S5
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||Panasonic S5|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Leica L mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2004||September 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Epson R-D1||Panasonic S5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Epson R-D1||Panasonic S5|
|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||1840k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Epson R-D1||Panasonic S5|
|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||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|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||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Epson R-D1||Panasonic S5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||no USB||USB 3.2|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro 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||Panasonic S5|
|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)
133 x 98 x 82 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||620 g (21.9 oz)||714 g (25.2 oz)|
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