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Epson R-D1 vs Sony NEX-7

The Epson R-D1 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2004 and August 2011. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless, while the NEX-7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 Sony NEX-7
Epson R-D1 Sony NEX-7
Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica M mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-16,000
Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)
2.0 LCD, 235k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
1 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g 120 x 67 x 43 mm, 400 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Epson R-D1 and the Sony Alpha NEX-7? 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 physical size and weight of the Epson R-D1 and the Sony NEX-7 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Epson R-D1 vs Sony NEX-7
Compare R-D1 versus NEX-7 top
Comparison R-D1 or NEX-7 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-7 is considerably smaller (36 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the NEX-7 is substantially lighter (35 percent) than the R-D1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the R-D1 nor the NEX-7 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (R-D1) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-7).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.

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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 2,999i
2.
 
Sony NEX-7 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 400 g 430 n Aug 2011 1,349i
3.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
4.
 
Fujifilm X100 126 mm 75 mm 54 mm 445 g 300 n Sep 2010 1,199i
5.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
6.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950i
8.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
9.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
11.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
12.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
13.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
14.
 
Sony A6400 120 mm 67 mm 50 mm 403 g 410 Y Jan 2019 899 i
15.
 
Sony A6000 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 n Feb 2014 599i
16.
 
Sony A3000 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329i
17.
 
Sony RX1 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Sep 2012 2,799i
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 NEX-7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 55 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. 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-7 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Epson R-D1 and Sony NEX-7 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the NEX-7 offers a higher resolution of 24 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 3.90μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). However, it should be noted that the NEX-7 is much more recent (by 7 years and 5 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.

The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-7 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.

The Epson R-D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-7 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).

R-D1 versus NEX-7 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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
1.
 
Epson R-D1 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
2.
 
Sony NEX-7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681
3.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
4.
 
Fujifilm X100 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/30p22.912.4100173
5.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
6.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
8.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
9.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
10.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
11.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
12.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
13.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
14.
 
Sony A6400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p2413.6143183
15.
 
Sony A6000 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782
16.
 
Sony A3000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878
17.
 
Sony RX1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The NEX-7 indeed provides for movie recording, while the R-D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-7 can use is 1080/60i.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the NEX-7 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Epson R-D1 and Sony NEX-7 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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
1.
 
Epson R-D1optical n 2.0 235 fixed n 1/2000s 1.0 n n
2.
 
Sony NEX-72359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
4.
 
Fujifilm X1001440 n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
6.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n 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.
 
Sony A64002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
15.
 
Sony A60001440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
16.
 
Sony A3000202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
17.
 
Sony RX1optional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The NEX-7 has one, while the R-D1 does not. While the built-in flash of the NEX-7 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The R-D1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the NEX-7 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

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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 Sony Alpha NEX-7 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.
 
Sony NEX-7YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
4.
 
Fujifilm X100Ystereo---mini2.0---
5.
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
6.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereomono---2.0---
8.
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
14.
 
Sony A6400YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY
15.
 
Sony A6000Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Sony A3000Ystereomono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony RX1YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Epson R-D1 (unlike the NEX-7) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the R-D1 and the NEX-7 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 Sony. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Epson and Sony websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Epson R-D1 or the Sony NEX-7 – 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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Reasons to prefer the Epson R-D1:

  • 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).

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Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-7:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 100%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i 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 (921k vs 235k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 142x89mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 220g or 35 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (55 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 5 months of technical progress since the R-D1 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the NEX-7 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 3 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.

R-D1 03:13 NEX-7

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the R-D1 or the NEX-7. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.

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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 2,999i
2.
 
Sony NEX-75/5+ +81/1004.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349i
3.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
4.
 
Fujifilm X1003/5..75/1004/55/5 Sep 2010 1,199i
5.
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
6.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950i
8.
 
Leica X Vario3/5....4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
9.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
11.
 
Nikon D50..78/100+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
12.
 
Nikon D70s........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
13.
 
Nikon D70....+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
14.
 
Sony A64004/5+85/1004.5/54/5 Jan 2019 899 i
15.
 
Sony A60005/5+80/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2014 599i
16.
 
Sony A30003/5+..4/54/5 Aug 2013 329i
17.
 
Sony RX15/5..79/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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
Sony NEX-7:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Epson R-D1 vs Sony NEX-7

    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 Sony NEX-7
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2004 August 2011
    Launch Price USD 2,999 USD 1,349
    Sensor Specs Epson R-D1 Sony NEX-7
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 365.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 3.90 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 6.57 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 16,000 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 81
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 24.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 13.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1016
    Screen Specs Epson R-D1 Sony NEX-7
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2359k dots
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 235k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Epson R-D1 Sony NEX-7
    Focus System Manual Focus Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/2000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 1 shutter flaps/s 10 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Epson R-D1 Sony NEX-7
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector no USB USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Epson R-D1 Sony NEX-7
    Battery Type EU-85 NP-FW50
    Body Dimensions 142 x 89 x 40 mm
    (5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
    120 x 67 x 43 mm
    (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 400 g (14.1 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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