View Full Version : Has anyone else gotten "The Call"?

04-14-2005, 21:29
This evening I was out in my garage working on my car when my cordless phone rang. I picked it up, still holding a length of dirty exhaust pipe in the other hand, and found the caller was from a market research company and wanted to ask me some questions about my experience as an owner of an Epson R-D 1.

Needless to say, I put down the exhaust pipe -- which was a good thing, because the interview lasted about 25 minutes! It was pretty much a typical market-research interview: the lady asked me how long I had been interested in photography, what other brands and types of cameras I owned, what lenses I owned, etc.

Then she asked me to name the things that I especially liked about the R-D 1 (to which I replied: the fact that it's a rangefinder camera; the fact that I can use the rangefinder lenses I already own; and the picture quality) and what things that I disliked most (my choices were lack of a 75mm frameline, hot pixels, and no bundled batch raw utility for Mac computers.)

She read a long list of features of the R-D 1 and asked whether or not each feature had played a role in my decision to buy it (features I specifically remember saying yes to were the fact that it's a rangefinder camera, the 1:1 viewfinder, and the folding LCD.) As I said, pretty standard stuff.

One question that I did find interesting: she said that the design goal of the R-D 1 had been to capture the rangefinder photography experience in a digital camera, and how well did I rate Epson's success in achieving that goal? What interested me was not so much the question itself (I said I thought they had achieved excellent success, because using the R-D 1 really is just about exactly like using a Bessa) but that, although it was obvious that Epson had something like this in mind, this was the first time I had ever heard this officially articulated as THE design goal of the camera! Kind of heartwarming to find that evidently Epson realizes that the rangefinder experience is something special...

They also asked me to name my favorite photographer (Lois Greenfield); what photo magazines I read regularly; where I had received the information that led me to buy an R-D 1 (I said Internet reviews -- probably should have mentioned Sean by name, but didn't think of it); and whether I had ever participated in photography training activities such as classes or workshops.

The survey finished with the usual demographic questions (education level, income level, age bracket etc.) and then the lady asked me to name my favorite charity, noting that to thank me for participating in the survey, they were going to donate $25 in my name -- so, Doctors Without Borders gets another little cha-ching in their cash register.

As I've said, nothing too surprising -- but I thought people might like to know that evidently Epson is making an effort to find out what R-D 1 owners think of it.

Anybody else gotten "The Call"? Just curious...

04-14-2005, 22:10
No call here but that's not surprising because I don't own one. However, I'm impressed that Epson is making an effort to gather information with hopefully the goal being to improve their product. Time will show what they do with the data they gather.


04-15-2005, 03:44
This is really interesting. My initial response is "Whoa... maybe an RD-2 is in the planning stages." As much as it would be a good thing for Epson to collect this kind of information regarding a current product and customer satisfaction, companies normally don't make the investment required for this kind of effort unless there is something they need to accomplish on the horizon. Given the limited production run of the RD-1, the cost of this kind of survey is even more significant in my mind.

I could be wrong, but I'll hold on to the glimmer of hope that I imagine here.

Does anyone know what the actual production has been to date?


04-15-2005, 06:44
Although this kind of info of course would be useful for future product planning, my guess (based on helping design consumer research materials for the company at which I work) is that they want to use this info to guide marketing and advertising efforts -- which, face it, have been basically zilch for the R-D 1 in the US.

For example, all the questions about my photography background, experience, types of cameras I own, etc., give them an idea of the photographic experience level of R-D 1 buyers, which would help them plan what advertising media would reach them most effectively. The questions about what features I like best would help them know what to emphasize in the advertising copy. The questions about favorite photographers, workshop participation, etc., would help them know whether "celebrity endorsements" and/or workshop product placements or hands-on demos are likely to be effective.

My take on this is that Epson knows that even with a limited production run, they've probably sold about all the R-D 1s they're going to sell based solely on word-of-mouth, and now they need to develop a marketing plan for the camera. This was probably a planned strategy from the beginning: Get the product into the hands of reviewers and "early adopters," see how they respond, and tailor your full-scale pitch accordingly. (The product manager's recent conversation with Sean also would tie nicely into this theory.)

I suspect this means that within the next few months you'll see more visibility for the R-D 1 in terms of advertising, product placements, informational literature, etc., which will be good news for people who are interested in it but want to know more before taking the plunge. I hope it also will translate into more comprehensive arrangements for tech support and routine maintenance (e.g. rangefinder adustments.)

04-15-2005, 07:12
when she asked what you didn't like about the R-D1, you should have said the price.. otherwise, good comments

04-15-2005, 07:58
when she asked what you didn't like about the R-D1, you should have said the price.. otherwise, good comments

The price was a wrench, but I don't feel I paid too much.

One of the questions she asked (understand that these were all "canned" questions off a form) that I didn't mention earlier was whether I had considered any other cameras before deciding to buy the R-D 1.

I replied, truthfully, that I had: I had considered buying a Leica MP, which would have cost about the same money (at the time, I just happened to have that amount of money as a result of a severance settlement.)

Following the script, she asked why I had decided to buy the R-D 1 instead, and my answer was that I decided I ought to buy a digital camera instead of a film camera. (I wasn't given the opportunity to explain this, but the reason was that I already have several film rangefinder cameras that don't get enough use as it is!)

Now, everybody knows that Leicas are expensive, but by and large people have gotten over it and don't kvetch about their costing "too much." Epson, though, doesn't seem to get the same break. Guess they should have licensed a Germanic name for their new camera!

Benjamin Marks
04-15-2005, 09:13
Yup. Heard from the questionnaire people last night. The funny thing about my call (and I guess that this was predictable) was that the interviewer didn't really know anything about cameras. Him: what other cameras do you use most requently? Me: Leica M7, Hasselblad, Rollei TRL . . . Him: Hassle-what? Me: Hassleblad. Him: Blatt? Me: It's Swedish for Hazel Leaf - Blad, like a blade of grass. Him: Oh. Hmm. Now what kind of camera is the Rollei?

Not his fault, of course. I was happy to participate. I too mentioned the internet as a source of information and forgot to mention Sean (erg!). The photo magazines I read are unlikely to ever run a review of this camera: B&W, Lenswork, Aperture, Darkroom Techniques.

04-15-2005, 09:21
The production run has been 10,000 according to what I heard from Epson. (off the cuff response). They said that they are getting their allotment each month instead of one time. Interesting. I wonder if they could keep going past the 10,000 mark if demand is there.

I have not gotten a call yet. :(

As for publicity I have now seen 7 reviews of the R-D1 in all of the photo magazines my Border's (US book store) carries. It has gotten the magazine review spread but I have not seen the advertising. I wonder if they will start advertising after the survey.


04-15-2005, 11:18
Yup. Heard from the questionnaire people last night. The funny thing about my call (and I guess that this was predictable) was that the interviewer didn't really know anything about cameras.

Undoubtedly they have contracted with a research service to conduct the survey; that's what just about everybody does. The same interviewer probably will be working on a food study today, a car study tomorrow, and a political study next week.

04-17-2005, 18:09
I got hit tonight and spent about 30 minutes with the guy. Very good series of questions, and I back up the statement that Epson was trying to bring forward the Rangefinder experience to the digital era.

My complaints were the slightly mis-aligned vertical rf patch and hot pixels, and that the price was a tad high. Other than that I gave it glowing reviews (it's pretty much my primary camera and consistantly gets me great shots).