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Epson R-D1: Servicing and repair

Although the R-D1s ceased production in May 2007 (see Epitaph), Epson officially stated that it will continue to repair and service the camera until 2013  from the British Journal of Photography, 13 June 2007: "Epson will continue to honour all warranty repair contracts for the next six years". Amateur photographer magazine in the same week reported that spares would be available for the same length of time. This deadline will presumably be extended owing to the announcement of the Epson R-D1x in February 2009, which shares most components with the R-D1. In addition, a few camera technicians have gained familiarity with the R-D1, and are happy to work on it (many are not, owing to its complex electronics).

Below, I provide information on:

  1. getting your camera repaired by Epson
  2. getting your camera repaired by independent technicians
  3. obtaining spare parts.


Epson can service and repair the R-D1, including out-of-warranty cameras, to a high standard, and the turnaround is 2-3 weeks.

Unfortunately, getting your camera serviced or repaired by Epson can be a Sisyphean task, since most staff at Epson support centres (excepting Japanese ones) know nothing about the R-D1, and often insist that normal procedures are followed: that you send the camera to an independent service center to be evaluated  do not agree to this as none have the expertise to deal with the R-D1. For example, one owner who’d lost his shutter button was told by a support manager that the camera was irreparable and refused to examine it  although replacing the button is very straightforward and can be done in a couple of minutes!

The support centre should instead ask you to send the camera to one of Epson’s dedicated R-D1 repair centres for evaluation: in Europe, all R-D1 cameras requiring attention are dealt with by an Epson facility in Créteil, France; in the US, the repair centre is in Plainfield, Indiana; and in Asia, it's Matsumoto City, Japan (I am unaware of an R-D1 repair centre for Australia). The Matsumoto City centre appears to be the main repair facility. Their contact details are below.

You should thus insist that your camera is sent to Créteil, Indiana or Matsumoto City, depending on where you live. The Japanese service centres seem to be aware of the R-D1, and, if you live in Japan, it is straighforward to arrange for your camera to be collected and sent to Matsumoto City. Unfortunately, staff in Epson service centres outside Japan will often tell you that Epson cannot service or repair the camera, or tell you to send it to a local service centre that does not specialise in the R-D1: this information is wrong (R-D1 owners have reported that the three aformentioned service centres adjusted/repaired their cameras). If necessary, hang up and call back to talk to someone else. As staff are unfamiliar with the Epson R-D1, it is also commonplace for emails to be ignored, calls to remain unreturned and for you to be given the runaround: you will just have to keep hassling Epson and make a nuisance of yourself. This is poor customer service, but, sadly, Epson are far from unique...

Rather than going through your local European or US Epson service centre and being fobbed off by staff who haven't a clue, it may be possible to deal with the R-D1 repair facility directly. For Europeans, contact Epson France and insist on a ‘numéro de retour en intervention/SAV’ (after-sales service number), and then send your camera, accompanied by that number and the serial number of the camera body (and a copy of your invoice, if the camera is still under warranty), to the Epson Engineering Europe SA address below.

If you cannot get your local Epson service centre to help, you can send your camera to Matsumoto City in Japan. For those outside of Europe who cannot speak Japanese, Japan Exposures (a Japan-based camera equipment company) will contact Epson on your behalf (for a fee): contact Dirk Rössler, who is fluent in both English and Japanese.

Once past the hurdle of getting Epson to send your camera to an R-D1 repair centre, make sure that your camera is accompanied by a detailed letter explaining your problem clearly. Attach it to the camera with a rubber band, so the two can't become separated.

in Europe and the US, Epson have charged a flat fee for repairing out-of-warranty cameras (2007 prices: £317.25 (incl. VAT) in the UK, $548 in the USA)  which included a complete service and repair of all faults. However, there have been reports in 2009 that Epson Europe is charging a per repair fee: for example, a service that included repair of the analogue guages cost 90 euros (excl. VAT).

If you think you have a fault, Epson (at least in Europe) charges a fixed fee in Europe(£70 in the UK, 45 euros in Europe) for collecting, inspecting and returning a camera. This fee is waived if the camera requires repair/servicing and you give Epson permission to go ahead with the work.

In Japan, Epson still charge a flat fee at the time of writing (Oct 2010): 5250 yen (plus parts, if needed) plus 1575 yen for collection and return postage (a total of US $75)  a bargain, as this includes a complete service (sensor clean, rangefinder adjustment, etc.). Note that the cost is significantly less than that charged in Europe or the US, which may offset the cost and hassle of sending the camera overseas. Prices are on Epson's website (in Japanese).

Note that Epson may decide that the best solution is to replace your camera with a refurbished one, in which case your ‘new’ camera will have your old hotshoe affixed (because of the serial number).

Epson R-D1 repair centres

Epson Engineering Europe SA
Service Reception Magasin
60 rue Auguste Perret
94043 Créteil Cedex
Tel: +33 (0)8 21 017 017   or
       +33 (0)1 56 715 700
Fax: +33 (0)1 56 715 726
Epson Service Centre
1563 Kanbayashi
Matsumoto City
Nagano 390-1243
Tel: 050 3155 7110   or
       0263 867 462
Fax: 0263 86 7698
Epson America, Inc.
Service Center
2350 E. Stafford Road
IN 46168
Tel: 562 276 4315

None of the repair centres seem keen to provide a direct email address, unfortunately.


Any competent camera technician will be able to check and calibrate the rangefinder (if you’re technically minded, you can do this yourself). They should also be able to repair mechanical faults. Unfortunately, many technicians specialising in rangefinder servicing and repair will not tackle the R-D1 owing to its electronic components, even though it has many mechanical parts that they would be familiar with; for example, I have heard that DAG Camera Parts, an expert technician, will not work on the R-D1.

All is not gloom and doom, as there are a few camera repairers who will work on the R-D1. In the UK, Camera City, based in London, undertakes basic repairs and servicing.

One business stands out, though: Steve’s Camera Service Center in California, run by Steve Choi.

4355 S. Sepulveda Boulevard
Culver City
CA 90230

Tel: +1 310 397 0072

Steve’s Cameras have serviced and repaired several R-D1 cameras, and seem to be becoming the place to have your R-D1 seen to. Some of the problems have been serious and been pronounced unrepairable by other independent technicians, and have involved complete disassembly of the camera, for example repair of faulty shutters and of non-working LCD screens. (They have kindly allowed me to show the step-by-step dissasembly of an R-D1 with a faulty shutter that they repaired.) A typical major repair costs about US $300, and a 6-month warranty is provided on the work. Steve’s Cameras will accept cameras from outside the US (example repair from a Swiss customer).

However, Epson supplies only a limited range of spare parts for the R-D1 (see below), so, despite their best efforts, independent camera technicians may be unable to repair your camera if an unobtainable component needs replacement. Also, bear in mind that the R-D1 contains a lot of electronic components, any of which could fail: it is unreasonable to expect a camera technician to also be an expert electronics engineer. So, sending your camera to Epson may be your only option for certain repairs.

Spare parts

Replacing the rubber covering (e.g. with leather)

Camera Leather supply numerous real leather alternative coverings that are self-adhesive and easy to apply (this US-based company will re-cover your camera for you, if you do not want to do it yourself). Morgan Sparks, the owner of Camera Leather states:

You can order any of the materials we have in stock for your Epson. The factory covering is a molded piece, and our aftermarket kit will give the camera a slightly thinner circumference. But it is not an issue, really. The new covering fits nicely inside the edges of the top and bottom plates. There is an issue with the molded back grip piece, and here is what I have been letting other RD-1 owners know about the issue:

"We strongly suggest you leave the original molded part on the back. Removing it creates a condition where, if you are holding the camera with your right hand without a strap, your thumb will push up to the card slot door, and if it opens you may drop the camera. This has been observed by one of the two photographers that have been beta testing the RD-1 kit. It's enough of a concern that probably we will not offer anything for the back once the RD-1 has a real dedicated section on our site."

I'll be happy to include the 2 -piece section for the grip area on the back, as long as you understand and accept the limitation and risk in applying them. Otherwise you can just apply the front sections and not worry about it!

General components

Two German companies that distribute parts for Epson can supply R-D1 spares: MK Computer and Gedat Datentechnik. The websites list many small parts, but not major components such as the body frame, the rear LCD, the shutter assembly, the analogue gauge assembly and electronic components. The listed items can be ordered online. The following PDF shows an exploded view of the R-D1, and provides a parts list of the camera components that can be ordered online from these two companies:

Partial exploded view of the Epson R-D1 (PDF file, 190 kB)

Some components are identical to Voigtländer Bessa parts (e.g. the screw-in eyepiece), but how much the R-D1 and Bessa cameras have in common is unclear; for example, is the R-D1 shutter (made by Copal) the same as that in the Bessa R2/R3/R4?

The LCD is a standard Sony item (as used in the Canon Pro1 and several other cameras). The analogue dial motors may be standard Seiko items.

The sensor

The sensor in the Epson R-D1 is an interline-transfer CCD (Sony ICX413AQ), as used in the Pentax *ist D, Nikon D100, Starlight Express SXV-M25 and other cameras, first manufactured in 2002 (Figure 1). The sensor in the Nikon D70 and D50 is not the same as the D100 CCD, as sometimes suggested on the web: although the D70 CCD is a newer design, its advantages lie in faster image acquisition rather than improved image quality.

Sony’s documentation on the ICX413AQ sensor:

Product brochure (PDF file, 300 kB)
Technical specifications (PDF file, 185 kB)
Sony CCD

Figure 1. Left: the 1.8"-type Sony ICX413AQ CCD. Right: a 1/2.7" CCD, as used in most compact digital cameras. The ruler is marked in centimetres. As can be seen, the size difference between the sensor formats used in digital compact cameras and SLRs/rangefinders is significant.