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Epson R-D1 vs Zeiss ZX1

The Epson R-D1 and the Zeiss ZX1 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2004 and September 2018. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the ZX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (R-D1) and a full frame (ZX1) sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Zeiss provides 37.4 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 Zeiss ZX1
Epson R-D1 Zeiss ZX1
Rangefinder camera Fixed lens compact camera
Leica M mount lenses 35mm f/2.8
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 37.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 80-51,200
Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder (6221k dots)
2.0 LCD, 235k dots 4.3 LCD, 2765k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
1 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g 142 x 93 x 46 mm, 800 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Epson R-D1 and the Zeiss ZX1? 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 Zeiss ZX1 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Epson R-D1 vs Zeiss ZX1
Compare R-D1 versus ZX1 top
Comparison R-D1 or ZX1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Zeiss ZX1 is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Epson R-D1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the R-D1 nor the ZX1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZX1 has a lens built in, whereas the R-D1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the R-D1 and their specifications in the Leica M Lens Catalog.

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 2,999i
2.
 
Zeiss ZX1 142 mm 93 mm 46 mm 800 g 250 n Sep 2018 5,999 i
3.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
4.
 
Leica Q2 130 mm 80 mm 92 mm 718 g 370 Y Mar 2019 4,995 i
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 Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249i
9.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
10.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
11.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
12.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
13.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
14.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
15.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899i
16.
 
Sony RX1R II 113 mm 65 mm 72 mm 507 g 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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. 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 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 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 Zeiss ZX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the ZX1 is 134 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.

Epson R-D1 and Zeiss ZX1 sensor measures

With 37.4MP, the ZX1 offers a higher resolution than the R-D1 (6MP), but the ZX1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). Yet, the ZX1 is a much more recent model (by 14 years and 6 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.

The resolution advantage of the Zeiss ZX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.4 x 25 inches or 95.1 x 63.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.1 x 50.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.6 inches or 63.4 x 42.3 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 Zeiss ZX1 are ISO 80 to ISO 51200 (no boost).

R-D1 versus ZX1 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
1.
 
Epson R-D1 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
2.
 
Zeiss ZX1 Full Frame 37.4 7488 49924K/30p........
3.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
4.
 
Leica Q2 Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/30p26.413.5249196
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 Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
9.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
10.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
11.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
12.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
13.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
14.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
15.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
16.
 
Sony RX1R II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The ZX1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the R-D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the ZX1 can use is 4K/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the ZX1 has an electronic viewfinder (6221k 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Epson R-D1, the Zeiss ZX1, 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
1.
 
Epson R-D1optical n 2.0 235 fixed n 1/2000s 1.0 n n
2.
 
Zeiss ZX16221 n 4.3 2765 fixed Y 1/1000s 3.0 n n
3.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
4.
 
Leica Q23680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 20.0 n Y
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 Q Typ 1163680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y
9.
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
11.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
16.
 
Sony RX1R II2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 5.0 n n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The ZX1 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 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 ZX1 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 R-D1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the ZX1 uses an internal SSD.

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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 Zeiss ZX1 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.
 
Zeiss ZX1Ystereomono---3.1YYY
3.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
4.
 
Leica Q2Ystereomono----Y-Y
5.
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
6.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
7.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereomono---2.0---
8.
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
15.
 
Panasonic FZ1000YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Sony RX1R IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-

It is notable that the ZX1 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 ZX1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The ZX1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Zeiss. 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 Zeiss 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 Zeiss ZX1? 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:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/2000s vs 1/1000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.

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Reasons to prefer the Zeiss ZX1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (37.4 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 149%.
  • 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/30p video.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (4.3" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2765k vs 235k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the R-D1 necessitates an extra lens.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More prestigious: Has the Zeiss luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the ZX1 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 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.

R-D1 04:17 ZX1

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 ZX1 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 (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.
 
Zeiss ZX1.......... Sep 2018 5,999 i
3.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
4.
 
Leica Q2....84/1004.5/54/5 Mar 2019 4,995 i
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 Q Typ 1165/5..80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249i
9.
 
Leica X Vario3/5....4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
10.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
11.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
12.
 
Nikon D50..78/100+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
13.
 
Nikon D70s........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
14.
 
Nikon D70....+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
15.
 
Panasonic FZ10004/5+ +82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899i
16.
 
Sony RX1R II5/5..82/100..4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 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
Zeiss ZX1:
Check Amazon price

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 Zeiss ZX1

    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 Zeiss ZX1
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses 35mm f/2.8
    Launch Date March 2004 September 2018
    Launch Price USD 2,999 USD 5,999
    Sensor Specs Epson R-D1 Zeiss ZX1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 37.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 7488 x 4992 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 4.81 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 4.33 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 80 - 51,200 ISO
    Screen Specs Epson R-D1 Zeiss ZX1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.74x
    Viewfinder Resolution 6221k dots
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 4.3inch
    LCD Resolution 235k dots 2765k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Epson R-D1 Zeiss ZX1
    Focus System Manual Focus Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Electronic Shutterno E-Shutterup to 1/8000s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards Internal SSD
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single SSD
    Connectivity Specs Epson R-D1 Zeiss ZX1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector no USB USB 3.1
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Epson R-D1 Zeiss ZX1
    Battery Type EU-85 DD-PS1A
    Body Dimensions 142 x 89 x 40 mm
    (5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
    142 x 93 x 46 mm
    (5.6 x 3.7 x 1.8 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 800 g (28.2 oz)

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