The Epson R-D1: One Rangefinder Camera You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

We bet you’ve never had the slightest idea that the Epson R-D1 was the very first digital rangefinder camera.

Looking for the next interesting or quirky camera to add to your collection? Here’s one that we think may be something you’ve never heard of: the Epson R-D1, which was the first digital rangefinder camera. It’s one of the coolest cameras you can have if you also love shooting with film because of its unusual feature.

If you’re wondering if there’s something that lets you enjoy the convenience of digital photography with the feel and controls of a film rangefinder camera, the Epson R-D1 is essentially that. Its draw for hybrid photographers who learn about it is an unusual feature: it’s a digital camera with a rapid wind lever for manually winding the shutter. Its controls also work the same as analog rangefinder cameras. This is why photographer and cinematographer Casey Cavanaugh believes that this camera in a sense lets you shoot film for free. He explains why in his video below:

As Casey mentioned, the Epson R-D1 may be from way back in 2004, but it’s noteworthy of being the first digital interchangeable lens mirrorless camera apart from being the first digital rangefinder camera. It has an APS-C sensor, and you get a 1.5x crop and 6.1 megapixels, so it’s understandable why many may be hesitant to buy a used one for around $900. But if you’re mostly shooting for posting on Instagram anyway, it will be more than enough for you.

It will be an especially satisfying camera for you if, like Casey, you love the tactile handling and control of film rangefinder cameras. Got the itch to shoot film but haven’t got any rolls to feed your camera? This will scratch that itch for you. It even has other cool analog details, notably the servo-driven watch face dial made by Seiko, Epson’s parent company. It displays data such as white balance, shutter speed, and shots left. The shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation setting are also combined in one dial. On the left-most side of the top plate is a knob that looks like a film rewinder, but it’s actually for navigating the menus. The only detail that gives away the fact that it’s a digital camera is the 2-inch rear screen that can be rotated to either reveal the controls or hide it.

Curious about the Epson R-D1? You might want to check out what Steve Huff has to say about it.

Screenshot image from the video by Casey Cavanaugh