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Epson R-D1 vs Pentax 645D

The Epson R-D1 and the Pentax 645D are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2004 and March 2010. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the 645D is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (R-D1) and a medium format (645D) sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 39.5 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 Pentax 645D
Epson R-D1 Pentax 645D
Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica M mount lenses Pentax 645 mount lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 39.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 235k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1 shutter flaps per second 1.1 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g 156 x 117 x 119 mm, 1480 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Epson R-D1 and the Pentax 645D? 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 Pentax 645D is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Epson R-D1 vs Pentax 645D
Compare R-D1 versus 645D top
Comparison R-D1 or 645D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax 645D is considerably larger (44 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the 645D is substantially heavier (139 percent) than the R-D1. It is noteworthy in this context that the 645D 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Epson R-D1 142 mm 89 mm 40 mm 620 g .. n Mar 2004 2,999i
 
Pentax 645D 156 mm 117 mm 119 mm 1480 g 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995i
 
Canon 1D X 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 1D Mark IV 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999i
 
Canon 350D 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
 
Leica S Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2012 21,950i
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
 
Pentax 645Z 156 mm 117 mm 123 mm 1550 g 650 Y Apr 2014 8,499 i
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 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 R-D1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the 645D, 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 Pentax 645D a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the 645D is 292 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 0.79. The sensor in the R-D1 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the 645D offers a 4:3 aspect.

Epson R-D1 and Pentax 645D sensor measures

With 39.5MP, the 645D offers a higher resolution than the R-D1 (6MP), but the 645D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.06μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). Yet, the 645D is a much more recent model (by 6 years) 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 645D has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Pentax 645D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 645D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.3 x 27.2 inches or 92.3 x 69.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.1 x 21.8 inches or 73.8 x 55.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.2 x 18.1 inches or 61.5 x 46.1 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 Pentax 645D are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

R-D1 versus 645D MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 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
 
Epson R-D1 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
 
Pentax 645D Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440none24.612.6126282
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
 
Canon 1D Mark IV APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
 
Leica S Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.282476
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
 
Pentax 645Z Medium Format 51.1 8256 61921080/60i26.014.74505101
Neither the R-D1 nor the 645D 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 range of features. The R-D1 and the 645D 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 Pentax 645D, 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
 
Epson R-D1optical n 2.0 235 fixed n 1/2000s 1.0 n n
 
Pentax 645Doptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 1.1 n n
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IVoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Canon 350Doptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 300Doptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica S Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Pentax 645Zoptical Y 3.2 1037 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 n n

One feature that is present on the 645D, 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 Pentax 645D 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 645D uses SDXC cards. The 645D 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 Pentax 645D 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
 
Epson R-D1Y---------
 
Pentax 645DYstereo----2.0---
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IVYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 350DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 300DY-----1.1---
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica S Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---
 
Pentax 645ZYstereomonoY-mini3.0---

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 645D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 645D was replaced by the Pentax 645Z, 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 Pentax websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Epson R-D1 and the Pentax 645D? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Epson R-D1:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More compact: Is smaller (142x89mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 860g or 58 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2004).

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Reasons to prefer the Pentax 645D:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (39.5 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 151%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • 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.
  • 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 (921k vs 235k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • 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 modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the R-D1 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 645D is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 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 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 05:14 645D

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 645D in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Epson R-D1.......... Mar 2004 2,999i
 
Pentax 645D......4.5/5.. Mar 2010 9,995i
 
Canon 1D X....4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 1D Mark IV..89/100..5/5.. Oct 2009 4,999i
 
Canon 350D80/100+ +oo.. Feb 2005 899i
 
Canon 300D..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899i
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica X Vario....4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
 
Leica S Typ 006.......... Sep 2012 21,950i
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Leica M8..+ +...... Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Nikon D3S..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
 
Nikon D5078/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999i
 
Olympus E-300..+oo4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
 
Pentax 645Z....4.5/55/55/5 Apr 2014 8,499 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Epson R-D1:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax 645D:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. 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 Pentax 645D

    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 Pentax 645D
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Pentax 645 mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2004 March 2010
    Launch Price USD 2,999 USD 9,995
    Sensor Specs Epson R-D1 Pentax 645D
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 44.0 x 33.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 1452 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 55 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 0.79x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 39.5 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 7264 x 5440 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 6.06 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 2.72 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 82
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 24.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1262
    Screen Specs Epson R-D1 Pentax 645D
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.78x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 235k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Epson R-D1 Pentax 645D
    Focus System Manual Focus Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1 shutter flaps/s 1.1 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    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 no
    Connectivity Specs Epson R-D1 Pentax 645D
    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 Pentax 645D
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EU-85 D-LI90
    Body Dimensions 142 x 89 x 40 mm
    (5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
    156 x 117 x 119 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 4.7 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 1480 g (52.2 oz)

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