Editors Choice 2004: Digital SLRs

Epson R-D1 Rangefinder



Epson R-D1 Rangefinder Digital Camera

Digital Rangefinder? Though 35mm interchangeable-lens rangefinders have made a comeback, digital photographers with one foot in the past have been pining for a filmless rangefinder-with little hope that it would ever come to pass. Enter the Epson R-D1 Rangefinder Digital Camera (about $3,000), which gave us a moment of cognitive dissonance when Epson put its prototype in our hands. It accepts Leica M- and (with a threaded adapter) L-mount lenses, allowing those of us who've been loathe to part with some of the greatest optics ever made to shoot with them once again. Talk about a system: A couple of hundred different lenses fit the R-D1.

Based on the magnesium-alloy-sheathed, die-cast aluminum body of the Cosina-made Voigtlander Bessa-R2, the Epson RD-1 houses a sixmegapixel, APS-C-size CCD, saving JPEGs or 12-bit RAW files to an SD card. Though lenses have a 1.5X focal-length conversion factor, the
viewfinder is happily full-sized, this being a rangefinder, not an SLR. The lithium-ion-powered camera even uses analog dials and needle displays, and shoots in either manual or aperturepriority exposure modes.

The main clue to the R-D1's digital nature is its two-inch swiveling color LCD screen. As with a D-SLR, it doesn't give you a live preview; it's for reviewing images only. But you can swing it out and reverse it so that it's facedown-and you might fool yourself into thinking you're shooting film.