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sgy1962
06-17-2005, 08:45
I'm considering making the move, at least partially, to digital. I don't process my own film, and the local labs in my new home stink, which means that to get good processing I have to mail my film away. This is really a pain. Maybe I'm just not used to it yet.

I have used the Leica M rangefinder for the last 8 or so years, and have really enjoyed this camera system. I have enjoyed these little cameras so much, I've considered picking up a second body before the prices go up here in the states on July 1. I'm a bit leery in putting any more money into a film based system, given the hassle to process film.

Then it struck me that for the same cost I could get an R-D1. I have a couple of lenses, so I would be ready to go.

What are the pros and cons of the R-D1? I know it is a bit bigger then a Leica M, but not much.

Is it difficult to work with the restricted field of vision?

Is learning how to print out digital images difficult?

Any comments would be much appreciated, as I do not know much about digital cameras.

pfogle
06-17-2005, 11:58
Kiss film goodbye... all the cons are nothing compared to that! And you've got the glass ;)

(IMHO)

Phil

Stephanie Brim
06-17-2005, 12:21
This is my opinion and it in no way reflects the thoughts of others.

I hate digital. I like getting my hands dirty, loading film in a camera, and the anticipation of the wait for processing. I like my cameras to be older than me, made of metal, and durable as a tank. I don't like to have to worry about having a piece of machinery that costs more than my computer out and about. I also never liked doing all my post-processing in Photoshop.

Digital cameras are wonderful, but they could never replace film to me. I've had 3 digitals and went back to film because of the feeling I get when I get the film back from the lab and see it for the first time. Mystery is a good thing. :)

Aschlaman
06-17-2005, 12:32
When the RD1 came out I had to have one. I Love it. I recently got the new Zeiss 35mm f2 ZM and shot some shots of my Grand daughter and they came out awsome.
The camera handles just like a regular rangefinder except the shutter is silent like my Hexar Silver. The 1.4 factor doesn't bother me at all as I have lenses to cover the wide angle end.
If I were to do it over again I would still buy it even at the steep price. The has not replaced my film Leica's and Konica Hexar's. I still love film, and I will be shooting with it until it goes away.

I receommend the RD1 highly. If you can afford it Buy it.

Art Schlaman
Downers Grove, Illinois USA
RD1, M6TTL, M4P, M3 DS, Konica Hexar RF, Konica Hexar Silver, Voigtlander R, R2A and many many more ( I am a bit compulsive with photo Equipment)

jlw
06-17-2005, 12:41
Thanks to your M experience, you will have absolutely zero difficulty getting acclimated to the R-D 1. It doesn't have quite the same feel of superb craftsmanship, but it's nice and solid, and it works almost exactly the same way as your M cameras. (Okay, you do have to remember to select framelines manually, which is a bit of an adjustment for some M users.)

I'm not sure what you mean by the "restricted field of vision." If you mean the viewfinder, the only problem there is that some people who wear glasses have trouble seeing the 28mm frameline. If you don't wear glasses, or don't use a 28mm lens, then it isn't an issue. If you do wear glasses and shoot with a 28, you'll have to try for yourself to see whether or not it's a problem with your particular vision prescription. (There's also the option of adding a diopter correction lens made for the Nikon FM2 so you can shoot without glasses.)

If what you meant is the 1.5x "crop factor" of the R-D 1's smaller-than-35mm sensor, then yes, it takes a bit of getting used to -- especially if you like to shoot with wide-angle lenses. You'll need roughly a 25mm lens to approximate the view angle of a 35mm on your Leica, and so on down the line. What threw me for a while was not just the mathematical differences, but the fact that my long-honed lens-selecting instincts were all "off" -- I'd think, "OK, from where I'm standing, I need a 50 for this shot," then discover that I actually needed a 35, etc. It's something you can get used to; just be prepared for a bit of mental re-programming.


How hard it is to learn to make digital prints is about like how hard it is to learn to make prints from black-and-white negatives (if you've ever tried that.) In other words, if you're satisfied with decent, "usable" prints, you can get the skills you need with a couple of hours' practice. The latest photo-inkjet printers make very nice prints, especially for color work, and if you get one with a card reader slot, you won't even need to use a computer -- just take the memory card out of your R-D 1, put it in the printer, and proceed from there.

On the other hand, if you want to do custom corrections to get the most out of each image, then you'll need to learn to use an image-editing program of some kind, and that IS a bit of a learning curve. Becoming a real expert with a program such as Adobe Photoshop takes time and practice. You don't need to learn it all at once, though, and you'll probably find that it won't take long to pick up the skills you need to handle most of your printing. (As with b&w printing, it's the occasional "problem" image that demands the most expertise; it takes time and experience to acquire an expert's bag of tricks, but you only need to pull them out once in a while.)

Don't forget that there's another option: You can do the editing on your computer and farm out your printing to someone else. Even if the labs in your area do a lousy job of printing from negatives, they may be able to output good digital prints -- the decision-making and correcting are being done by you, at your computer, and all they have to do is run out the prints from the files you give them. It'll take a few tries to learn the differences between how a picture looks on your monitor and how it prints, but once you've figured out that you should be able to get reasonably consistent results. When you're just starting out, I'd say this is a better alternative than investing in an expensive photo-inkjet printer right away.

So, does that tell you what you need to know? If not, ask again!

Stephanie Brim
06-17-2005, 12:46
Oh, and since I didn't really get into the question of the post:

The R-D1 is a good camera. If you like digital and rangefinders it can be a good investment.

jlw
06-17-2005, 13:00
I hate digital. I like getting my hands dirty, loading film in a camera, and the anticipation of the wait for processing. I like my cameras to be older than me, made of metal, and durable as a tank. I don't like to have to worry about having a piece of machinery that costs more than my computer out and about. I also never liked doing all my post-processing in Photoshop.

I don't hate digital, and I shoot digital because some of the ways I use my photos need to be digital, and there isn't enough time in my life right now to do a good job of doing it both ways.

But other than that, I agree with Stephanie, and if I live long enough to retire, I'm going to ditch digital and go back to film.

(I just hope someone's still making b&w film and paper then. Come to think of it, I started losing my enjoyment of printing when Agfa discontinued Portriga-Rapid.)

saxshooter
06-17-2005, 15:23
sgy:

If you are used to shooting Leica M's wanting to go "digital" with the same approach to photography, there is really no substitute for the Epson RD-1. Even the Leica Digilux 2/Panasonic LC-1 with its M-like look operates nothing like an M camera.

There is something to be said about manually focusing a lens with a rangefinder. There is nothing more "positive" than that rangefinder patch telling you that your picture is in focus. And with a press of a button, voila! You see your result on the back of the Epson RD-1's screen.

I don't know what glass you already have, but the camera works nicely (and also has built-in framelines for) the 28-35-50mm lens. I have a Leica 21mm also, but for me it wasn't "wide enough" and I felt it isn't worth the trouble of having to use an auxiliary finder. I ended up buying the Voigtlander 15mm Heliar and with the corrected finder, that lens satisfies my wideangle needs.

Shooting digital also involves committing yourself to new organizational habits which is mostly keeping track of the digital images you shoot, whether it be jpegs or raw files. You'd want to make either CD or DVD backups in addition to having them on a harddrive, and also figure out your system of cataloging.

Perhaps you want to spend less money on a digital point and shoot first, toy around with jpegs and image editing applications, before you take the $3k plunge. But hey, if you can afford it, why not.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

Charlie

Sean Reid
06-17-2005, 16:34
"What are the pros and cons of the R-D1? I know it is a bit bigger then a Leica M, but not much."

You've read my review of the camera already? If so, I can't think of much to add beyond what I wrote there.

"Is it difficult to work with the restricted field of vision?"

There's no restricted field of vision with the R-D1, in fact the finder view is wonderful. JLW summed this up well above.

"Is learning how to print out digital images difficult?"

As JLW said above, decent prints = fairly easy; exceptional prints = very challenging, just as is true in the silver darkroom. Film or digital, fine printing is an art form and requires a lot of skill and practice. Contrary to what you may read elsewhere, digital prints can certainly be as strong, impressive, beautiful, striking, etc. as silver prints but either process takes practice to master.

Perhaps I'm among a minority but I worked with lots of film, in many formats, for a long time and despite fond memories, etc. I have no intention of going back to film or the darkroom.

Cheers,

Sean

RubenBlaedel
06-17-2005, 18:58
This is my opinion and it in no way reflects the thoughts of others.

I hate digital. I like getting my hands dirty, loading film in a camera, and the anticipation of the wait for processing. I like my cameras to be older than me, made of metal, and durable as a tank. I don't like to have to worry about having a piece of machinery that costs more than my computer out and about. I also never liked doing all my post-processing in Photoshop.

Digital cameras are wonderful, but they could never replace film to me. I've had 3 digitals and went back to film because of the feeling I get when I get the film back from the lab and see it for the first time. Mystery is a good thing. :)

You took the words right out of my mouth Stephanie! Everytime I try digital I can simply not get back to my analogue gear fast eneugh! I recently tried out some digital canon stuff - the 20 and the 350 - not for me - only thing I like about digital is the white balance thing because it does not steal as much light as putting a blue filter infront of your lens when shooting slide film indoors at electric bulb lightning. I need to see 3 things happening to digital before I am convinced 1) independency from batteries, I am serious! solar cell neuclear power anything 2) sensors being able to capture images in the same soft and yet sharp and deep way film can (not even an imacon back can doo that), all the anoying small buttons have to go and be replaced by one or two selecting buttons and a turning selection wheel as seen on the back of the eos cameras - I have been trying to teach my father how to use his digital camera - a 350 by the way - and he is really trying - but the buttons are just to small and the icons on the lcd makes no sense.
ANYWAY as Stephanie put it - it is strictly my problem - and if the RD1 is your thing I am sure you will make great pictures - a very dear friend of mine produces wonderfull pictures with her x-pan and her 6x17 fuji but everytime I get near one of those panoramic cameras the pictures turn out really bad, were as the close we get to the square image of my Rollei or hasselblad things turn out to my advantage - So best of luck if it is the right thing for you !
ps. by the way - I do like my photoshop darkroom
:) ruben

LCT
06-18-2005, 00:00
If you don't mind playing with your Mac or PC, the R-D1 with Leica glass will give you a lot ot fun.
Otherwise you will be desappointed i'm afraid because the raw format is unavoidable if you want the best results and for this purpose a bit of post processing at least is mandatory.
Also if you prefer wide lenses, i.e. 21mm ones or wider, you'll have to use an external viewfinder
Best,
LCT

RML
06-18-2005, 02:39
I have a Canon Eos 300D, which I find a drag to use. But my R-D1 is lovely to work with. I think if you prefer RF cameras over SLRs than you'll probably feel the same as I do about digital RFs vs digital SLRs.

For me going the R-D1 way means no more expenses on film and development. I shot on average 1 film a day, which in dutch prices meant 3 euro for the film and 3 euro for development, times 365 days a year. You do the math. I can tell you my yearly film/dev expenses were almost the same as the R-D1 cost me.
The digital files also save me tons of scanning time. I still have about 200 rolls waiting to be scanned.

It does take a little getting used to the crop factor. I'm running around with all of my lenses just to get the hang of the new FoV. My widest lens is the CV 25/4 and I like the FoV of it on my Bessa and M2. I like to have a similar FoV for the R-D1 so one of these days I'm going to shell out some dough for a CV 15mm.

When/if you get the R-D1 order at least 2 more batteries. You'll soon see how useful that decision is.