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View Full Version : Impressions after 1 day of ownership


Tom Conte
02-03-2005, 07:06
First off, shooting with a rangefinder is a very, very different experience from a camera like my 1Ds. It is much more rudimentary. You are on your own a lot more. Where the 1Ds is a high octane athlete, the R-D1 feels as though it is a temperamental curmudgeon, but one worth talking to.

That being said, the images coming out of the R-D1 are very nice indeed. The rhythm of the shots is very good. This camera is not designed to be the pinnacle of digital photography. Rather's it's one of those "let's see if we can do it" devices. I knew a house of grad students when I was in college where they had an old TV cabinet. The guts had been pulled out, and a glass liner installed. Then they made it into a fish tank. It sat in the living room of their house where you'd put a TV in a 1960s model home, but of course there were fish, not a black and white image of Ed Sullivan. The R-D1 reminds me of that. It is the case and operation of a throwback rangefinder, but the guts are completely different.

If you are inclined to drive a manual transmission, if you perhaps wear a mechanical watch (bonus points for if it is handwound instead of automatic), if your hobby is woodworking and you know what a #7 is for vs. a #5, chances are you are a candidate for owning an R-D1. If you look at it purely technically, though, and you have no emotional attachment to rangefinders, get a 'regular' digicam (I hear the new G6 is good) instead.

In sum, the R-D1 is both modern inside and a throwback outside. The first truly 'postmodern' camera I've seen.

So onto some of the 'odd/annoying things' I've noticed that perhaps other owners have seen:

* When the LCD is on, if you tilt the camera past say horizontal, it will turn off. I have no idea why this would be the case. The camera does not have an image orientation sensor. But something is sensing the change and adjusting.

* The battery life is not all that great, closer to say the original Canon 1D than (for example) a 10D or 20D. My hunch is they found something that fit in the space remaining and made it work. Definitely get a spare. I ordered mine from mydigitaldiscounts (it's the same as a Fuji NP-80), but I understand there are other generics out there.

* The camera has a couple of hot pixels. Now, I know that every dense sensor will have a few. In the case of Canon, I surmise from people who have sent their cameras in for service and get back notes that the bad pixel has been 'remapped', that most digital cameras have a 'pixel list.' If the pixel is on that list, the information is replaced with information averaged from surrounding sensors. My hunch is that Epson just simply either did not do it, or did not do this in the factory. I plan to call their service dept and find out if they can do it with their firmware.

All this being said, it's just a wonderful little camera. It's hard to put down. Is it worth $3000? To you woodworkers: is a Lie Nielsen #7 worth $425 when the same amount of money would buy a nice dewalt 13" benchtop planer? Yes, for me, definitely, but it's a personal choice.

I'd be interested to hear from others about their experiences and thoughts.

Tom

rover
02-03-2005, 07:47
Hey Tom, you went big time with your rangefinder!!!

Thanks for sharing your impressions.

BTW, my Maxxima has a 6 speed manual transmission, just for fun of course.

Tom Conte
02-03-2005, 07:53
Hey Tom, you went big time with your rangefinder!!!

Thanks for sharing your impressions.

BTW, my Maxxima has a 6 speed manual transmission, just for fun of course.

My M3 has a 6sp too (...ok, so my personality is to definitely go 'big time' for anything... thankfully, I have a very understanding wife!)

Tom

Sean Reid
02-03-2005, 08:02
Hi Tom,

I shoot with a 1Ds professionally as well. I like the fishtank in a TV analogy (as well the original idea itself - we'd be much better off watching fish). My only comment would be that I actually find the R-D1 to be much more fluid to work with - quite athletic actually. Much of that probably comes from having used manual cameras for a long time. The lack of weight and bulk will likely grow on you. What lenses are you using?

Battery life is mediocre but at least the extra batteries are fairly compact. The NP-80 is useable but not the same battery and it won't last as long if it's 1300MhA vs. the 1500 Mha Epson.

The advantages of rangefinders aren't only emotional, they're also very functional. I talked about this in the review so I won't recap here.

Enjoy,

Sean

Tom Conte
02-03-2005, 08:26
Sean,

My first lens is the CV 35mm f/2.5 PII. Very nice indeed for people shooting. Next up I think I may look for a fast 50mm to work roughly as a 85mm fast portrait lens does on my 1Ds.

Best,
Tom

JonasYip
02-03-2005, 12:06
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* When the LCD is on, if you tilt the camera past say horizontal, it will turn off. I have no idea why this would be the case. The camera does not have an image orientation sensor. But something is sensing the change and adjusting.
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My R-D1 does *not* do this. You may want to have that checked out... perhaps a connection about to go bad somewhere.

BTW, I agree the R-D1 seems great so far... very nicely designed on both the traditional rangefinder handling and digital sides. I'm a Nikon D1X user along with a Leica M user, and so the R-D1 is perfect for my preferred workflow.

Oh, and like others above I have a 6sp manual transmission too...

j

richardpaul
02-03-2005, 15:09
My R-D1 also doesn't turn off the LCD when I tilt the camera.

I am a rangefinder user for many years using a Hexar RF and a Leica M with a lot of lenses. And this lot of lenses and the reviews of Sean Reid and Marc Williams (at the wedding forum of photo.net) did affect my decision to buy this camera. And I am glad I did. I sold my M6 for the Epson. I have the camera for two weeks now.

Actually I use it with a VC 21mm, a Konica 28mm, an old coll. Summicron 50mm, and an old f4/90 Elmar. I also have a Konica f2/50 and a VC f1.5/50, these lenses have more contrast and bite, but I love the character of the old Summicron. Strangely I have problems to focus my VC 75 and VC 90, but both work on the film bodies without problems. I simply don't get constant results with both this lenses. But I get constant results with my Elmar 90, I cannot explain this behavior. I have a clean example of the Elmar without cleaning marks, if you can get one, I can only recommend this lens. They are dirt cheap in the moment and used with an external 135mm finder framing is easy.

It's simply a great camera.
Richard

Tom Conte
02-03-2005, 15:41
By tilting, I don't mean casual tilting. Hold the camera in your hand. Turn on the LCD. It is now vertical. Tilt it beyond the horizontal.

Richard, Jonas, did either of you have any hot pixels?

By the way, my box was shrinkwrapped, so I am confident it wasn't returned by someone else and resold.

wblanchard
02-03-2005, 16:23
I'm really surprised at the battery life. My Leica D2 gets over 500 shots easily in RAW mode. The Panasonic also has a long battery life. What's the difference in the batteries? Perhaps Sean knows...(I'm not saying or implying my Leica is better than the Epson or anything like that...I'm just a little surprised at the battery life on the RD-1) Maybe it's because I never have the LCD on and use the EVF? Or perhaps there is less power drain because of something...

DaShiv
02-03-2005, 16:54
Well for starters, the Epson has a much larger, and thus more power-hungry CCD. :D The Leica D2's lack of that was the major deal-breaker for me (well, that and the lack of an optical rangefinder and RAW buffer). However, I could easily forgo interchangable lenses when one has a lens as exceedingly good (judging by reviews) as the one on the D2.

I don't know if it's because of the shorter product cycle for digital cameras, but manufacturers continue to get so many things wrong with them on so many levels that sometimes I wonder if I'm not crazy for shooting all-digital. I wish I could take features from various cameras and slap them together into my own Frankencamera. :D That said though, the R-D1's battery life is okay and not downright poor, although I wish it could keep up with my Canon 20D!

JonasYip
02-03-2005, 17:23
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By tilting, I don't mean casual tilting. Hold the camera in your hand. Turn on the LCD. It is now vertical. Tilt it beyond the horizontal.

Richard, Jonas, did either of you have any hot pixels?
----------------------------------------------------------


After your initial post I actually picked up the camera, turned on the LCD and turned the camera through three entire revolutions, once in each major axis (i.e. I rotated it every which way), and the LCD did not turn off.

Though if you do touch the shutter button at all the LCD will shut off.

As for hot pixels, I have one.


j

http://www.jonasyip.com

Tom Conte
02-03-2005, 17:34
Bill,

I owe you an explanation since we talked about it. The holdup for me with the D'lux 2 was the electronic view finder.

wblanchard
02-03-2005, 18:59
Bill,

I owe you an explanation since we talked about it. The holdup for me with the D'lux 2 was the electronic view finder.

The funny thing is that I use mounted viewfinders like Sean had in his review of the D2...the brightliners are just easier for me to compose photos. I'm happy you got the RD-1 though...you seem very happy with it. :)

Tom Conte
02-03-2005, 19:07
Though if you do touch the shutter button at all the LCD will shut off.


Doh! I am touching the shutter accidentally as I tilt it. Ok, nevermind!

Tom

Sean Reid
02-03-2005, 19:25
Hi all,

Hot Pixels: I haven't noticed any. If they're happening at all it's not showing up on my radar.

Battery: It just isn't a very large or powerful battery. I think they just went with a common battery that could fit in the space they had available. I bought two extra generic batteries and never get to the third one even in a full day of shooting. The nice thing is that the batteries are small and easy to carry in a shirt pocket, as are the tiny SD cards. Almost everything in this system is smaller and lighter than what I normally use with my DSLRs: batteries, cards, lenses, etc.. And of course the camera itself is fairly compact.

I was going to mention that my LCD does not turn off when tilted but it looks like that mystery is solved.

The files from my 1Ds are gorgeous but I almost only use it now for work I'm being paid for. Otherwise, I'll trade the resolution for a body, style, size and weight that suits me better. I love being able to use these little rangefinder lenses again.

Quality control has not been perfect on the R-D1 overall, although mine seems to be fine. It's a learning experience, no doubt, for Epson and Cosina but Epson has been good about replacing cameras that have defects.

Cheers,

Sean

richardpaul
02-04-2005, 01:22
Tom, I have no hot pixels from 1/2 second up. Using slower speeds show a lot of hot pixel, at one second I have around three to five, if I open the shutter for 10 seconds I have 30 or 40 hot pixels.
If I turn noise reduction to high, these are gone.

Jim Watts
02-04-2005, 06:09
Hi All,
I have recently purchased an R-D1 and have only just discovered this excellent forum, which certainly seems to be the most active and informed on the web. So here my own comments on the R-D1 up to now.

At first I did regard the R-D1 as fairly expensive purchase at 2K, but then it is unique and I suppose if I factor in film costs it will have paid for itself in a couple of years. I suppose one of the reasons I did regarded it as expensive was I did not think after reading earlier reports that the R-D1 would be easily available outside Japan & the U.S. as only 10,000 are being made so I had recently purchased a Cannon 20D. Have Epson sold out yet? I heard one report that they had no more replacements and could only carry out repairs? I have not owned a 35mm (style) SLR for over 20 years so this was quite a change for me.

The 20d is great camera but I’m really a rangefinder man at heart. When I got my hands on an R-D1, I had to have one to use along side my 30 year old (owned from new) Leica M4) even though I’d spent too much money on the 20D. I did have to sell a Plaubel 6x7 rangefinder to help fund the purchase as I decided to hang on to the 20D even though its not had much use since I acquired the R-D1.

One of the main reasons for the purchase was I have 25mm Voigtlander f4 Skopar, 35mm f2.0 Summicron, 50mm f2.0 Summicron and 90mm f2.8 Tele- Elmarit lenses for the Leica, which I can use on the R-D1. I have also (very briefly) tried a friends Voigtlander 15mm, 28mm f3.5, 40mm f1.4 & 75mm F2.5 lenses on the camera and will probably purchase the Voigtlander 28mm f1.9, especially after seeing Sean Reids reviews. (Thanks for those very informative pieces Sean).

I like the compactness and the feel of the camera in the hand, not far off the M4. Its quick to use and I have not so far found the shutter lag from ‘sleep’ mode (mentioned by some others) a problem for the type of pictures I take. If I half press the shutter as I am bringing the camera to my eye and steadying it I am then able to shoot quickly enough. The fact that you can also use this camera just like the Leica with little need for menu search and button pressing for me is a real advantage. I have never really come to terms with the need for all the image modes of modern cameras when all you really need to do to operate a camera quickly is understand the relationship between shutter speeds and apertures. In MHO the rest gets in the way of the picture making process. Each to his own I suppose.

The R-D1 viewfinder is big and bright and in my example the rangefinder is very accurately aligned in both planes and focuses all the above lenses focus accurately, accept one, the 35mm Summicron, which front focuses by 3 inches (at 5 feet). I have seen posts elsewhere with regard to the front focusing problem, which I assume is to do with some incompatibility with the cam if the rangefinder works ok, but as yet no definitive explanation of why this should happen only with some lenses. I can now allow for this with this lens now I know the problem exists.

The exposure metering is accurate but you do have to use it carefully because of the centre weighting. There was a review in the Amateur Photographer, which heavily criticised the metering as inaccurate. The would have been better to have used a little more rigger in the testing or read the article in the same issue on exposure metering. I checked mine against two other meters on a Grey Card and they were all within a third of a stop. I would have preferred the exposure to lock with half pressure on the shutter but the AE button is almost ideally positioned under the thumb, so again no real problem.

The ‘noise’ level may be a little worst at high iso’s compared to the 20D, but the quality is much more like film. In fact at 800iso and in B&W the results seem pretty close to TriX at 400iso to me – Nice.

I would like better battery life, but I carry a ‘compatible’ spare so it’s O.K. although I would need a second for long trips (or take the charger) but the highest Mha I can find in a compatible is 1300.

I would like the viewfinder frames to be closer than 85% but I am adjusting to this. The Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 is tempting though as when I tried my friends it was almost a 100% match for the 35mm frame in the R-D1, with excellent quality results as well and its my 35mm lens that has the front focusing problem.

Most of the other things I don’t like are omissions that have been criticised elsewhere. I would have preferred an instant review mode with the histogram remaining on screen after sleep mode, for tricky exposure situations. I would like more than a 2x zoon in Raw mode. I think there could be just a little more resistance to the jog dial; mine seems to spin a little too easily in the raised position. I’m also not sure about the durability of the black finish.

The only other slightly negative comment I have is in regard to the hot pixel issue mentioned here. These are not much of an issue in prints at least at A4 but quite a few can be fairly clearly seen with my R-D1 at 100% view on the computer or even more clearly if you scroll across your photo on the R-D1’s screen at full magnification. The visibility is dependent on the ISO rating with higher rating (i.e. more amplification of the sensor) making them more visible. I made prints photographing a fairly plain surface to give zone 3 (dark) and zone 5 (mid-tone) and can ONLY Just make out three at 400 ISO but these become slightly more visible at 1600 ISO. My main concern over this is will the sensor show more with time? I spotted one locked pixel (worst than mine) on the dealers demo R-D1 in the shop and note others comments, so I wonder how much of a problem this is with the Epson? I could take it back but given other experience with the camera I could end up with a worst example. It’s not a real problem as long as it’s not a sign of a defective sensor.

Overall I am more than pleased with the R-D1 it makes for a very ‘fluid’ shooting experience and as I come more to terms with it more ‘transparent’ during the picture making process. Of course as always some things could be better but no camera is perfect. Highly recommended but probably not to first time rangefinder purchasers, only to those that can’t kick the habit and want to go digital.

Sean Reid
02-04-2005, 09:08
Welcome Jim,

This is indeed "the place" on the web to discuss the R-D1. There seems to a new owner added almost every day. I highly recommend the 28/1.9 - what a wonderful lens. The challenge with it, of course, is that lens hood which blocks part of the finder. For now I use it without a hood (scandalous I know) but would like to fit a Leica-style hood with a window down the line.

The other really useful thing about this site for an R-D1 owner is the range of other forums here that are useful for discussing various lenses. I'm partial to the imperfect but wonderful older Canon and Leica lenses and there's a great Canon rangefinder site here.
Great place to hang out overall.

Cheers,

Sean

David Kieltyka
02-04-2005, 20:01
I have never really come to terms with the need for all the image modes of modern cameras when all you really need to do to operate a camera quickly is understand the relationship between shutter speeds and apertures. In MHO the rest gets in the way of the picture making process. Each to his own I suppose.


Hehe, couldn't agree more. I think it takes more effort & brain power to sort through all the various scene "modes" and decide which one to use for a given photo than to simply learn how shutter speed & aperture interact.

-Dave-

Jim Watts
02-05-2005, 08:11
Sean,

Thanks for your welcome and I will certainly check out the other forums. Can't understand why I have never found this site before as I own rangefinders at most formats between 35mm & 5x4 inches.

I had noted the comments in your review that the hood for the Voigtlander 28mm f1.9 cuts out part of the field of view. I had thought that I could use the 'window cutout style' hood from my 35mm Summicron if this will fit on that lens? This uses a four spring loaded prongs that clip in the groove at the front of Leica lens barrel. My assumption was that although for a longer focal length with the x1.53 factor there should not be any cut off on the image. Unfortunately my dealer at present doesn't have the Voigtlander lens for me to check if its possible to fit or adapt to fit. External diameter of the Summicron lens barrel is 42mm and the hood just clears this so the diameter of the VC 28 would have to be about the same.

If a suitable hood can't be found and I found the Voitglanders hood cuts off too much to make a mental adjustment (I'm used to doing this with 6x7 Pluabels where its usually a mystery as to whats going on in the bottom righthand corner) I would, like you, would probably use the lens without it. It does seem to me so far though from the frame I have shot on the 25mm Color Skopar & 35mm Summicron that the sensor in the R-D1 seems more sensitive to flare than the same lenses used on the M4 with film?

Jim

Sean Reid
02-05-2005, 15:01
Jim,

Please let us know if that ends up fitting. I didn't think to try it on back when I had the Leica and VC lenses.

Cheers,

Sean