Found, but out of range

Epson Digital Rangefinder RD-1 (“Digital Bessa”) at Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku. The two cameras they had in stock were already sold, at Â¥312,000 a pop.My initial impression, after admittedly a very short, 2-minute handling, was not exactly that of unconditional desire. The first thing you notice when picking up the camera is an apparent bulk. I am not a Bessa R or R2 user, so I cannot comment how it compares to the film bodies. However, compared to a Leica M series, it feels rather large. Holding it near a Nikon D70, the RD-1 seemed to have at least 80% of the SLR body’s footprint, rather more than less.

The shutter sound is rather metallic, not exactly quiet, although different and maybe more quiet than the Bessa Rs – again, I am not too familiar with their shutter sound, all I can say is that it sounded sharp and metallic. When set to auto-exposure, the camera clearly displays the shutter speed in the ultra-clear viewfinder, that I am envious of. The rewind knob as a scroll wheel is a nice touch, it works very smooth when looking at the images in playback mode on the decent display. The iconography on the buttons next to the LCD display is not very intuitive, they are rather cryptic and crude geometric line graphics, not as visual as let’s say a little waste basket or the mode colours blue/black on my Canon G2. But surely once one would reads the manual there wouldn’t be any problems, but who likes reading manuals?

The analogue gauge, which I think is about battery power and other values does look odd, I didn’t like on the preview pictures either when seeing it for the first time. Lastly the “film transport” lever is also another gripe for me, simply because it doesn’t travel far enough. Since no film is transported and only the shutter needs cocking, the path is rather short, let’s say around a third of the distance of a film body, and then it suddenly stops. This somehow feels like an interruption to the photographer’s natural motion in throwing the lever around.

I am not doing a comprehensive review here, others can and will do a better job of that, but these are my first impressions after picking up one of those in the shop in Tokyo today, and the bottom line is: not tempted, even at half the price.

Attention goes back to my Yashica Electro GX, where after some strolling around in Tokyu Hands crafts section I found a round rubber doorstop, which when twisted on the lens loosened the ring holding the front element in place. I am set for some serious kabi killing tonight!

UPDATE: I cleaned the lens using the actual kabi killer product, but now the shutter doesn’t fire anymore. Also in my clumsy attempts to get parts moving, I scratched the camera in various areas 🙁