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Why still no follow-up to the R-D1?
Old 12-21-2016   #1
anselwannab
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Why still no follow-up to the R-D1?

So it has been about 13 years since the R-D1 came out. I can understand why Epson was cool on an R-D2, but I'm surprised that Leica is still alone with M mount rangefinder cameras.

Why hasn't Cosina/Zeiss brought out a replacement? I understand the market is small, but perhaps that could be addressed with something like a Kickstarter campaign. I think if it had V-lander/Cosina or Zeiss name on the front it would go better than a printer company bringing out a camera.

I still want the winder lever...
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Old 12-21-2016   #2
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I don't have the details - Epson did not publicly share them SFAIK.

Strangely enough the RD was a GREAT design for its time,
that was killed by Epson's terrible terrible practically non-existent marketing and poor customer service.

Had Epson corporate done a good job with the RD1, we might well happily be on the RD10 by now.


Why Epson went out on a limb with R&D and investment to produce the R-D1
and then intentionally dropped the ball,
is indeed a very interesting mystery.
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Old 12-21-2016   #3
Peter Wijninga
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Just have a look Epson's corporate vision: http://global.epson.com/company/corporate_vision/ I don't see an Epson R-D2 there....
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Old 12-21-2016   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Wijninga View Post
Just have a look Epson's corporate vision: http://global.epson.com/company/corporate_vision/ I don't see an Epson R-D2 there....
I have zero confidence or interest in an Epson branded camera. It was a Cosina/Voigtlander camera anyways. Frankly, with the ties to Nikon, I'm surprised that they didn't bring out a digital S series, or even a digital Canon P camera. Both of those companies I think could benefit from reminding photographers about their dominance at different times in camera tech.

You look at Fuji's success and the Nikon dF's demand and used prices, why there aren't FM3As, Canon A1 or F1Ns in digital form really surprises me. I think the advances in camera tech actually create enough space for these kinds of camera's to be viable.
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Old 12-21-2016   #5
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Originally Posted by anselwannab View Post
I have zero confidence or interest in an Epson branded camera. It was a Cosina/Voigtlander camera anyways. Frankly, with the ties to Nikon, I'm surprised that they didn't bring out a digital S series, or even a digital Canon P camera. Both of those companies I think could benefit from reminding photographers about their dominance at different times in camera tech.

You look at Fuji's success and the Nikon dF's demand and used prices, why there aren't FM3As, Canon A1 or F1Ns in digital form really surprises me. I think the advances in camera tech actually create enough space for these kinds of camera's to be viable.
It was not a Epson branded camera.

It was an Epson camera produced in part by Cosina.

ALL marketing was done exclusively by Epson.
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Old 12-21-2016   #6
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look at a crowd of people at a social event...over 90% of them are shooting with phones...another digital by canon or nikon or epson or cosina cannot compete with those damn phones.
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Old 12-21-2016   #7
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in the long run it will be only unique products--like (but-not-limited-to) a digital rangefinder--that will compete with phone-photography.
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Old 12-21-2016   #8
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i'd be very happy if it were true...
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Old 12-21-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest View Post
It was not a Epson branded camera.

It was an Epson camera produced in part by Cosina.

ALL marketing was done exclusively by Epson.
Actually, it was Epaon branded. It had the Espon name right on it. Am i misunderstanding what you mean.
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Old 12-21-2016   #10
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Originally Posted by Faintandfuzzy View Post
Actually, it was Epaon branded. It had the Espon name right on it. Am i misunderstanding what you mean.
that depends upon the use of the term.

Nicca produced Nicca cameras. Nicca camers with a Tower top plate were Tower branded, but not Tower cameras.

The R-D1 was not a Cosina camera branded with a Epson top plate.
It was a Epson camera partially produced by Cosina.
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Old 12-21-2016   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbelyell View Post
in the long run it will be only unique products--like (but-not-limited-to) a digital rangefinder--that will compete with phone-photography.
Not sure that is true of a digital rangefiner. I would think compact cameras would compete with phone-photagraphy, because they are small, easy to carry and tend to be better photographic tools. However, I've seen a few posts here over the last few years saying compact camera sales have been declining.

One alternative and don't think it made it far was a Samsung phone made like compact camera. Think of something like the Canon S100 with a phone and apps added. To me that would be a great tool. A camera with a real zoom, relatively fast lens, larger-than-phone sensor and still retains the usefulness of a smart phone.
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Old 12-21-2016   #12
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I suspect there was no follow-up model because Epson lost money on the project, for whatever reason.

That's the usual reason a line of product development is cancelled.

G
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Old 12-21-2016   #13
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You guys are arguing semantics and I'm not going to disagree with Stephen on the details of the camera. It sure did look like a Bessa and it had a Sony sensor, IIRC. I'm guessing Stephen's point is that the critical electrical engineering of implementing a sensor into a film body was done by Epson engineers, and maybe those components were sent to Cosina for incorporation?

My interest in that is limited to what impact it would have on the production of a follow on- I'm guessing that the technology has far outstripped the R-D1. Maybe there are some IP or market restrictions- I don't know.

I'm glad Stephen joined the discussion and I'd really value hearing what he thinks might be a viable way to get an alternative to Leica's position in M digital cameras. Crowd funding seems like a really viable way for someone with the engineering needed to potentially get this going.

Like I said, a Zeiss Ikon body with a Sony FF sensor? Heck even the last generation would be OK- or the A7RII after is obsoleted in the next year or so.

How do we get the band back together?
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Old 12-21-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest View Post
that depends upon the use of the term.

Nicca produced Nicca cameras. Nicca camers with a Tower top plate were Tower branded, but not Tower cameras.

The R-D1 was not a Cosina camera branded with a Epson top plate.
It was a Epson camera partially produced by Cosina.
Thanks...I get what you mean.
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Old 12-22-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
look at a crowd of people at a social event...over 90% of them are shooting with phones...another digital by canon or nikon or epson or cosina cannot compete with those damn phones.
The people that shoot with phones were never going to buy a Epson though.
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Old 12-22-2016   #16
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Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
The people that shoot with phones were never going to buy a Epson though.
John, I shoot with my iPhone...and for 80% of the time, it does what I need to do. I use my RF carema for more serious shots....like shooting in prisons
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Old 12-22-2016   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anselwannab View Post
...
My interest in that is limited to what impact it would have on the production of a follow on- I'm guessing that the technology has far outstripped the R-D1. Maybe there are some IP or market restrictions- I don't know.
...
Like I said, a Zeiss Ikon body with a Sony FF sensor? Heck even the last generation would be OK- or the A7RII after is obsoleted in the next year or so.

How do we get the band back together?
Having worked for a high tech company for nigh on thirty years producing hardware and software products, my opinion is that the answer to your question is simple: money from an audience willing to buy the product in volume.

The problem is that any new camera model is going to cost several million dollars at a minimum for development and, if there's insufficient market to buy the products and return a profit, there's no point to getting involved.

My understanding is that somewhere near 10,000 R-D1 and derivative model cameras were manufactured and sold at about $2900 each. That puts gross revenues at $29M to pay for development, production costs, distribution costs, distributor profits, and dealer profits. The cost of manufacture of products like this tends to be about 1/4 the MSRP, so the cost per camera was about $750. If we can optimistically say that the development costs were $2,000,000, that means that something like $200 per camera came out of Epson profits to pay for development costs alone. That's a huge percentage and pretty much obliterates the profit (usually 8 to 10 percent of MSRP to the manufacturer).

So the way to get a new camera into production is to prove to a manufacturer that it can be done with an economical development cost AND will sell at a rate that returns that 8 to 10 percent profit on the investment. This is a tough thing to do in a falling market like the present camera equipment market.

G
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Old 12-22-2016   #18
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Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
The people that shoot with phones were never going to buy a Epson though.
yes, youve said that several times, so im just not quite sure what the end point is...which seems much bigger than 'epson products'. the point seems to be 'forget cameras'? if so, then categorization as rf, dsl, mirrorless or whatever seems quite irrelevent, no? the logic of the phone-photo point leads inexorably to 'no new nonphone cameras will sell', and thus it seems like an end point to further discussion on any new hardware. im just not sure how else the rest of us should deal with that point and its a tad exasperating.
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Old 12-22-2016   #19
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John, I shoot with my iPhone...and for 80% of the time, it does what I need to do. I use my RF carema for more serious shots....like shooting in prisons
I understand, but I believe he said social situations. I took this to mean every day people not interested in photography other than to capture a moment.
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Old 12-22-2016   #20
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yes, youve said that several times, so im just not quite sure what the end point is...which seems much bigger than 'epson products'.
Huh? MY comment was pro Epson. I meant that Epson could make a new RF because the people that shoot phones were never going to be potential clients. I don't use my phone for photography because I like a more robust camera which offers me functions tailor made for photography.
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Old 12-22-2016   #21
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An Epson RD-2 would be aimed at a very narrow market.

You need to find a customer base who want to shoot a digital rangefinder enough to skip the multitude of great mirrorless cameras but not quite enough to shell out Leica money. That seems to be a pretty narrow wedge to aim for.
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Old 12-22-2016   #22
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Originally Posted by CameraQuest View Post
Had Epson corporate done a good job with the RD1, we might well happily be on the RD10 by now.
It's a pity. I'm sure that if this were the case, I would own one right now... and would probably have had several of the intermediate releases between 1 and 10.

I have seen the comment before on here, but it still seems to me that the R-D1 was slightly ahead of its time - but not in the way that this phrase is often used (regarding the technology), more that it was a little too early for its own appointment with the 'Zeitgeist'.

I'd venture to suggest that it would have been more successful if it had been released around 3 to 5 years later than it actually was. Of course, I might be completely wrong... we'll never know.
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Old 12-22-2016   #23
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Originally Posted by anselwannab View Post
I still want the winder lever...
Definitely!

No lever, no deal...
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Old 12-22-2016   #24
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Originally Posted by tbhv55 View Post
Definitely!
No lever, no deal...
It's funny, but that was one of the things I really disliked about the R-D1. I'd already had enough experience with winders on 35mm and digital cameras by then that I found the need to manually wind the shutter just an annoyance.

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Old 12-22-2016   #25
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It's funny, but that was one of the things I really disliked about the R-D1. I'd already had enough experience with winders on 35mm and digital cameras by then that I found the need to manually wind the shutter just an annoyance.

G
I missed countless situations in my life with film cameras because after one shot I just forgot to wind and at the next photo situation I realized quickly why the camera refused to take a photo. Still happens regularly with my MF camera, my only camera with a lever.
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Old 12-22-2016   #26
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i love the winder. i always wind after taking a shot so i rarely missed a photo because forgetting to wind.
the epson is a camera i enjoyed a lot using. iso 200 is lovely. i hate the dust on the sensor though so hard to clean. the rf base is a bit short to focus a 50mm f1.4 but other than that its as good as it gets for a digital camera form factor. love the iso dial and the top Seiko watch dial.
Of course a M240 would be nice but i'm ok with a sony for digital. it produces great results for 35mm and up focal length which i use often.
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Old 12-22-2016   #27
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Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
I missed countless situations in my life with film cameras because after one shot I just forgot to wind and at the next photo situation I realized quickly why the camera refused to take a photo. Still happens regularly with my MF camera, my only camera with a lever.
At least with the Hasselblad 500CM, I'm notified if the camera isn't wound because the mirror is still up ... :-)

G
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Old 12-22-2016   #28
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At least with the Hasselblad 500CM, I'm notified if the camera isn't wound because the mirror is still up ... :-)

G
Too bad my MF camera is a rangefinder....
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Old 12-22-2016   #29
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Definitely!

No lever, no deal...
Agreed. I just gifted myself an M8 and I kind of spaz out with my thumb after each shot. Dang muscle memory!
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Old 12-22-2016   #30
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The people that shoot with phones were never going to buy a Epson though.
Nor Nikons or Canons or any other real camera.
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Old 12-22-2016   #31
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That seems to be a pretty narrow wedge to aim for.
Thats the wedge Cosina is living off.
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Old 12-22-2016   #32
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Nor Nikons or Canons or any other real camera.
Oh agreed. But those already exist. I was supporting that a new Epson could sell enough. Obviously, I wasn't so eloquent in my wording.
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Old 12-22-2016   #33
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Originally Posted by anselwannab View Post
So it has been about 13 years since the R-D1 came out. I can understand why Epson was cool on an R-D2, but I'm surprised that Leica is still alone with M mount rangefinder cameras.

Why hasn't Cosina/Zeiss brought out a replacement? I understand the market is small, but perhaps that could be addressed with something like a Kickstarter campaign. I think if it had V-lander/Cosina or Zeiss name on the front it would go better than a printer company bringing out a camera.

I still want the winder lever...
I agree, a Zeiss digital RF would be very interesting, and perhaps tempting.

I don't miss the winding lever when shooting my M9 (or my X100).
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Old 12-22-2016   #34
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I always thought that Sony and Zeiss could team up on a digital version of the ZM with great performance, relatively low cost, and a selection of damn fine M lenses. With that combo they could absolutely eat Leica's lunch, then wash it down with their milkshake, AND take their lunch money for tomorrow.

But then Zeiss killed the ZM.
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Old 12-22-2016   #35
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I always thought that Sony and Zeiss could team up on a digital version of the ZM with great performance, relatively low cost, and a selection of damn fine M lenses. With that combo they could absolutely eat Leica's lunch, then wash it down with their milkshake, AND take their lunch money for tomorrow.

But then Zeiss killed the ZM.
Have you ever thought about WHY Zeiss/Cosina killed the Zeiss Ikon (not ZM, which is a lens line)? Like, because it wasn't profitable? Why do you think manufacturers discontinue things? Spite?

And what are the bases for your fantasies about "relatively low cost" and "eat Leica's lunch"? Do you know anything at all about the camera market?

Cheers,

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Old 12-22-2016   #36
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Thats the wedge Cosina is living off.
Most Bessa and Zeiss Ikon cameras are discontinued by now. Quite surprising Cosina is still alive...

Or, is it living off something else? Like it's lens lineups?
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Old 12-22-2016   #37
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Most Bessa and Zeiss Ikon cameras are discontinued by now. Quite surprising Cosina is still alive...

Or, is it living off something else? Like it's lens lineups?
As far as I can tell they only sell lenses and accessories these days.
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Old 12-22-2016   #38
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Old 12-22-2016   #39
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Some may recall that I used to run the unofficial Epson RD-1 website - now donated to Stephen and part of his Cameraquest website: https://cameraquest.com/Epson-R-D1/_r-d1/r-d1_01.htm. So, I know a little of the background to this camera. (Or, rather, can make educated surmises: to this day, Epson has said very little about the camera – at least not much has made its way outside of Japan.)

There will never be an RD-2! And the poor marketing and support was on purpose! You want to know why...?

Epson is a subsidiary of the Seiko Group, and the RD-1 was a concept product – designed to showcase the company's technical prowess. The camera is nothing more than an advert! To that end, the camera was never a "normal" product intended to be profitable.

It was no accident that Seiko Epson, to give the company its full name,

(1) chose to make a product associated with a company that was iconic in Epson's home country (Japan), namely the Leica rangefinder camera (that Leica had described a digital rangefinder as technically unfeasible was doubtless a factor)
(2) was publicly listed on the Japanese stock exchange shortly before the RD-1's release.

Some seem to think that the RD-1 was a joint project between Epson and Cosina or that Cosina was the lead: neither is true. The camera was wholly Epson's design and concept, with Cosina simply commissioned as a supplier. Apart from aspects that are Cosina's property, essentially the Bessa chassis, everything else was designed and supplied by Epson, including its heart – the Nikon sensor. The electronics were designed by Epson. The eye-catching analogue dials were created by its Seiko watchmaking sister company, and their inclusion was of course very deliberate – making the company's DNA and history obvious.

So, for these reasons (and perhaps also legal ones, arising out of Cosina's contract with Epson), Cosina can't make an RD-2 by itself. (Also, don't forget that Cosina has always maintained absolute disinterest in making a digital camera.)

In short, the RD-1 was a PR exercise, and Epson never intended to sell it as a mainstream product. Hence the lack of advertising and its low profile. In fact, I suspect its success was a bit of a curate's egg for the company: as a concept product it was wildly successful, becoming iconic itself, but this popularity strained its meagre support network, and frustrated users (Epson doubtless expected executives to buy the camera, rather than photographers wanting to actually use it!).

I wish an RD-2 would appear - I'd buy it! But it's not happening. Ever. Another digital rangefinder, perhaps, but it won't be like the RD-1 with its analogue handling and indicator dials.
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Old 12-22-2016   #40
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RichC, thank you so much for your post. When I first saw this thread I thought the real question is not why we haven't seen an R-D2, but how the R-D1 ever got made in the first place.
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