A Very Unusual Camera - Digital Rangefinder? (Digital Bessa/Epson at PMA)

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by shel_belinkoff|2, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. Care to speculate on what it may be? Or can read the Japanese
    site? The camera is shown with collapsible Leica lenses, looks like a
    Bessa body, but it also appears to be digital, has an Epson nameplate:

    http://www.itmedia.co.jp/pcupdate/articles/0402/13 /news003.html

    Shel Belinkoff
  2. Link doesn't work anymore.
  3. Link Looks definitely like a prototype, and no info on resolution etc. But something about announcing (or shipping?) by March.
  4. a digital camera with a film advance lever?

  5. No details yet but the speculation is that the advance lever cocks the shutter. If this
    camera works, it is really going to suck the wind out of Leica"s economic sails
  6. The article says, inter alia, that there'll be a full announcement of this Epson Bessa in mid March, and that the sensor is at least the size of "APS-C" (whatever that might be).
  7. It looks like a joke -- a Voigtlander body with an LCD grafted onto the back. Who else but
    credulous nerds would believe that it was a real digital body ... complete with a film
    advance lever?!?!
  8. Here is my favorite line from the translated link:

    "It is the attention machine of camera maniac drivelling of the Leica M mount correspondence and the past years in the design which is similar to Bessa-R well."
  9. MA 2004 Epson, worldwide first "range finder type digital camera"

    With PMA 2004 the SEIKO Epson, range finder type digital camera
    reference exhibition. It is the attention machine of camera maniac
    drivelling of the Leica M mount correspondence and the past years in
    the design which is similar to ??? Bessa-R well. In the middle
    of March formal announcement schedule.

    With PMA 2004 which is in the midst of holding in American Las Vegas,
    the SEIKO Epson referred displayed the range finder type digital
    camera which corresponds to the Leica M mount. Concerning the
    specifications and the like, it is not released altogether, but that
    it announces to the middle of March formally, you have announced.

    The range finder type digital camera which the SEIKO Epson refers

    The product to be inserted by the glass case, ???
    corporation make Hektor and the like of the past years and also the
    exhibition in the acrylic case. Design has been similar to Bessa-R of
    ??? well, design of the especially finder section is the
    impression which was said almost that way. However, some this one
    somewhat large pattern impression. Though, if the range finder type
    camera where the flange back is short to seem depth we are finished in
    the compact, to consecutive digital single-lens reflex compare
    portable characteristic probably will be much better.

    Becoming one important point in the appearance aspect, the analog
    meter which is arranged on product top. With the design as in the
    chronograph which the clock manufacturer seems, status such as the
    battery remaining amount it has become check possible. With this
    analog meter, "the analog ? ?" those where it has engendered, are
    the film film advance lever. Though in just the digital camera, the
    expectation where it is not the case that it is used in the film
    hoist. Perhaps, shutter charge, those which are done with the film
    advance lever it is presumed.

    The analog meter which is arranged on top. How film film advance

    As for liquid crystal display the rear at size about of 2 inches,
    small EPSON logograph enters into liquid crystal panel lower part. As
    for the EPSON logograph in the exhibition machine at only these 2
    places, furthermore as for the liquid crystal panel because it is
    possible, to turn over, if the liquid crystal surface has not appeared
    in the table, being EPSON make you do not understand. When you turn
    over, because the electronic operation button hides, it stops
    completely insisting the fact that it is the digital camera.
    Furthermore, product name logograph was not stamped. Furthermore, also
    the electronic dial was visible in position of the film rewind lever.

    As for liquid crystal panel rear about 2 inches. As for small EPSON
    logograph charm. If the liquid crystal is turned over, "the digital
    camera it seems," it becomes not to go out

    So far, if as for the digital camera of range finder type
    there is no thing which is sold and the knitting machine is formally
    announced, it probably becomes the worldwide first real range finder
    type digital camera. It is the camera whose hobby characteristic is
    high very, but when you think of that recently the old camera has
    become popular, it may become funny existence. In order to check, the
    focus of the old lens in such as old camera city, perhaps the maniac
    who carries about this product large number reaches the point where it

    Furthermore price, altogether there is no either announcement of the
    sensor and the number etc. of pixels which have been used. Simply,
    because the lenses for 135 format are used, as for using the sensor
    above APS-C size you probably will not be wrong. With the valid line,
    adoption around the SONY make 6.1 Mega pixel sensors which do outside
    sales at APS-C size is powerful.

    [ Honda elegance one, ITmedia ]
  10. hal


    EPSON has developed substantial expertise in the area of microlens arrays. They use them
    to "straighten out" randomly oriented light from metal halide lamps in there LCD
    projectors. It is why they are so small and bright.

    Makes sense to me that they grafted their microlens array onto a CCD and stuck it in a VC

    We can only hope!!!!!!!!
  11. Definately Bessa derivitive from the lens mount to the top cover etc etc
  12. This is a joke.... folks... even the frame-counter-to-advance-lever position has been grafted back.

    If I didn't know better (and I dont) I'd say its all photoshop illusion....
  13. Film advance lever to still cock shutter?

    What is the funny dial on top. Are those ISO settings?

    Still no longer RF base length.

    I like the idea, but I can't wait until digital cameras come into their won and assume the shape that best befits their physical engineering requirements and ergonomics.

    These "Horseless carriages" look odd.
  14. grg


    Pics of the subject camera.<p>
    <img src="http://www.itmedia.co.jp/pcupdate/articles/0402/13/mn_epson1.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.itmedia.co.jp/pcupdate/articles/0402/13/mn_epson3.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.itmedia.co.jp/pcupdate/articles/0402/13/mn_epson4.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.itmedia.co.jp/pcupdate/articles/0402/13/mn_epson5.jpg">
  15. Looks pretty credible--the pictures look just odd enough not to have been invented
    to fulfill expectations. The advance lever cocking the shutter--of course. Why not?
    The exposure meter on top? Weird, but perhaps sensible enough if you want to get
    something to stick in the case to show the investors. I'm tentatively... eager!
  16. grg


    <img src="http://www.leica-camera.com/discus_e/messages/3/48348.jpg">
  17. It is sitting in a glass case in the Epson booth in Las Vegas at this moment
    with a sign that says, "More information in March." I got a call from a friend at
    PMA this afternoon who told me not to buy a digicam, my digital rangefinder
    was on the way.

  18. Too bad the English "translation" wasn't done properly. So far it might as well be from TheOnion.com as anywhere else.
  19. This is the result of what happened when your Leica M camera and your Nikon D100 rubbed up against each other in your camera bag on a hot steamy night.
  20. Neither Cosina nor Epson is responsible for the dire translation above. Following is my rough version:
    In PMA 2004, now running in Las Vegas, Seiko Epson is showing a rangefinder digital camera with a Leica M lens mount. Absolutely nothing is being divulged about the specifications, etc., but a full announcement will be made in mid March.
    The product is in a glass case, and is on show in an akuriru [does this mean perspex? I forget] case together with an old Hektor, etc., by Leitz. [Either I misunderstand or this is poorly written.] The design closely resembles that of the Bessa-R; the finder in particular gives the impression of being identical. . .
    Sorry, no, that's enough for now. I'm bored. Anyway, the article has little more seemingly intelligent guesses about what's inside the perspex/glass box, mixed with some journalistic speculation. Well, the writer could see it more closely than we can, and says that what to me looks like a rev counter cum fuel gauge is indeed a fuel er I mean battery gauge, plus plus.
    Contrary to one speculation above, there is not the slightest suggestion in the article that the camera can be used for film as well as CCD.
  21. Not to get my hopes up....but I HAVE MY HOPES UP!

  22. Sure is ugly as hell! <g>
  23. Normally I would expect this sort of thing to pop up on April 1. But who knows.

    It seems a little well done to be a hoax. Maybe it's just someone's joke at their PMA booth.
  24. While I don't think the whole idea is a joke, I am a bit puzzled by the
    collapsible lenses. I've a feeling that few people use collapsible lenses
    where they can't be collapsed, and most such lenses can't be collapsed
    into a regular, olde-worlde Bessa R as they'd collide with some of the
    mechanical/optical gubbins within. Could the Epson Digi-Bessa have less
    internal gubbins than the Cosina Bessa? (Well, yes, if it's just an empty
  25. My impression: pix don't look like previous Photoshopped hoax images I've seen before, and if it's a real mockup but a hoax, somebody went to an awful lot of expense just to play a joke.

    Maybe this camera explains Leica's sudden about-face on the digital M issue, just as the Hexar RF quickly brought about an end to Leica's story that an electronically-controlled shutter with AE was "impossible without significantly altering the existing M body dimensions". The important thing is that the Japanese, who are largely responsible for keeping the Leica and rangefinders in general alive, are thinking along rational lines, that there is a need for a digital platform to utilize the existing M and LTM lenses, rather than walking around in a dream world spouting about how film will be around forever.
  26. "Akuriru" means acrylic.

    Well, I tend to agree with Jay. Too elaborate to be a joke.
  27. Well, on a recent thread I said I'd bet I could take $100,000 and spend a month with a couple of borrowed Cosina engineers and come up with something like this...

    Looks like Epson beat me to it.

    There are 3 needle-guages in the circular indentation where the shutter speed dial "used to be" beside the hump for the rangefinder. The Leica_forum is speculating they read-out remaining battery power and remaining chip space (plus something or other else). Looks like they were pirated from the top of the old Nikon Ti premium P&S. Kinda cool - a 21st century digicam, with an instrument panel out of a 1938 DC-3.

    Wind lever to cock the shutter - still a necessity for a camera not based on a model with a built-in motor, even if the rest is electronic. Hey - you suppose it works with the Cosina trigger-wind? A "Leicavit" digital ?!

    Also notice that most of the back (not just the LCD) has a flippable hinge so that you can turn it inside-out and hide/ignore the LCD, and ALSO all the buttons, while shooting. Molto coolo.

    They showed the collapsible lenses just to prove this will take digital pictures even with a 1930's Hektor. Whether it will actually collapse or not is immaterial - you don't make photographs with it collapsed.

    I want to have diner with the "injinerus" who thought this up - I like brains that think this way!
  28. I can't believe they were able to turn that cheap Cosina body into a digital rangefinder. (Wonder what kind of pictures it takes? I mean output.) Has to go down as the most versatile camera chasis of all time. Hats off to Cosina, Epson, or whoever. The believing will be in the seeing, however - and the using.
  29. My spies tell me that the circular display on the top plate is, in fact, a GPS/altimeter/anemometer masquerading as a light meter/exposure counter.

    The somewhat bulging camera back contains a collision-triggered airbag, which comes into play when you drop your new BEEPLE (BEssa/EPson/LEica).

    And a film advance lever? Come on guys! It's a thumb-powered internal battery charger. Eat your heart out Duracell!

  30. Pity it isn't branded "Voigtländer"; if it were, it would qualify for free tune-ups in Cosina's main (and I think only) showroom, in Asakusa (Tokyo) -- surely the world's unlikeliest, least pretentious and most affably run camera showroom. All the same, yes, I want one. But then perhaps I'm wearing a pancake on my head.
  31. According to a post on the LUG, the film-wind lever cocks the shutter and the rewind knob pages you through the views of your snaps on the LCD.

    Another report (with more pictures). Maybe this really is what startled Leica into making their announcement.
  32. I total agree with Peter, isnt it strange how Leica announced out of the blue it will come up with a Digital M in a couple of years, I think they got wind of this camera this week and rushed out their own announcement so that some of their customers will hold off for their version to come out.
  33. They probably sent out word to their unbiased and trustworthy shill to think up a way to poison it like with the Hexar RF, just to buy some time.
  34. as i have said before, leica derives about 50% of its income, but nearly 65% of its gross profits in the M line from lens sales (the margins are better). ANY M mount is great news for leica as it will sustain demand for its M lenses. i think this is the best of all possible worlds for leica -- they make the lenses for someone else's body. i thought it would have to be accomplished via an adapter. but if someone want to build an M camera, even better.

    this product may be the thing that saves leica, by sustaining demand for its core products during this very difficult transitional period when digital is maturing in the marketplace and people are excited about buying the new technology. i think once the dust settles, there will be continued strong demand for film cameras in the high end prosumer market, and leica will be able to keep making the classic M line for years. a bessa M would tide them over nicely, until classic M camera demand resumes (or even increases once people see that film is not disappearing).

    further, even if you believe that leica can ONLY survive by producing a digital M, the bessa product will convince people that such a product is possible, and that it is only a matter of time until leica produces it. as a result, they will not jump ship.

    however you slice it, it's great news.
  35. "I can't believe they were able to turn that cheap Cosina body into a digital rangefinder." Sounds like you've been listening to the Leica engineers a little too much. I agree with Jay that this looks too well done to be a Photoshop creation. I know this is just a mock-up at this point, but it looks very compelling and I love the way that you can hide the LCD away. It's amazing what can be done with a little effort and imagination. Not sure what APS-C is, but it sounds like a 1.5X multiplier. If this isn't vaporware and is available before the end of the year, Leica had better not take two years to come up with one of their own. They'll have lost an awful lot of market share by then. This would also have a seriously negative effect on the Digilux 2. If this is real, why spend $2K on a 5mp D2 with an electronic viewfinder and be limited to one (probably very good) lens when you can use your existing glass with this camera? I'd guess it will be about 6mp and I'll be shocked if it costs more than $1,000. Yes, yes, I know it isn't a Leica and the rangefinder base is still short. I owned an R for a year before going digital and really liked shooting it. I hope they use the R2 metal chasis if this gets built (much more solid feel than the R's plastic housing.) Looks like the CV people may be about to hit another home run. If Leica isn't careful, it could deal a serious blow to their corporate health.
  36. Josh,

    I don't think it is a joke. It could be a "testing of the waters". Like the concept cars at auto shows. If there is enough interest then they will go ahead with it. Otherwise it goes in to the vaporware bin.

    Well it looks like we might know something in a month or so.
  37. Minolta's new dSLR also employs an 'APS sized' 6 megapixel sensor. I am really speculating here, but the it is possible that both of these use the same sensor array. Or it could be purely coincidence that I've heard the term APS in relation to digicams twice in the last two days??
  38. It is probably a little more than a testing of the waters. My guess the camera shown probably doesn't work but Cosina/Epsom whatever is probably pretty far down the road and this is how it will look based on them pretty much solving the problems necessary to use existing Leica M lenses on a digital rangefinder body. Of course all of those VC lenses with LTM to M adapters would also work. Even if it has a relatively small sensor VC has all of the wide and ultra wide lenses available at reasonable prices to satisfy the average M shooter. I would guess the price somewhere between $750-1000. This does not bode well for Leica if in 2+ years their version is above 3 or 4 thousand dollars.
  39. I don't agree. The M7 sold well despite being twice the price and having half the features of a Hexar RF. Never underestimate the power of that Red Dot over rational thought when it comes to Leicaphiles.
  40. First, it really needs to be a tad taller in real life, for the batteries. Second I don't see a card slot any where in the pictures.

    FYI, the APC film size sensor is the same size as the one in the D30/D60/10D/DRebel and digital Nikons (the consume ones), give or take a millimeter or so.

    BTW, Stephen of Cameraquest hinted about this many months ago, about a NEW Bessa that had unique features for any rangefinder ever made.

  41. Stephen Gandy also said it would be 35mm film based camera, or at least that's what he said he was told.

    I wonder what the two buttons on the back side are? I don't think they are there on a regular Bessa. Are they on/off switches, maybe a spot meter?

    I personally like the retro dial on top.

    I hope it's under a $1000, but I kind of doubt it. Mr. K has supposedly said that getting AE in a Bessa for $1000 was tough.

    Might Cosina/Voigtlander try to go upscale with this?

    With a 1.5 factor
    15mm=22mm eq
    21mm=32mm eq
    25mm=38mm eq

    How about a Black and white only sensor?
  42. Gerry.

    weather this is real or not (and considering it is at Epson's booth in PMA it it at worse a work in progress) some things can be derrived form the photo. There LCD clearly swings out from the body and trun around like the Canon G3. I imaging if they actually did have a real rangefinder in there, many users would want to LCD out of the way. If this uses SD (a new trend in cameras) it would be easy to slip a memory slot in there (take a look at where they cram these slots in some the the camdorders). The last point of the camera not being tall enough to accept a battery was unexpected. You can make a battery in practically any shape. And I see a nice big (and probably hollow hand grip on the right side, where that battery would fit just fine (and like all other cameras the battery dorr will be at the bottom.

    Now this is all being said with the asumption that this is real. Let's hope it is.

    As for leica.. If Epson designed a way to use M lenses on the cosina, you can bet that Leica will be 2nd in line ;)
  43. gerald widen , feb 13, 2004; 10:23 a.m.
    >Even if it has a relatively small sensor VC has all of the wide
    >and ultra wide lenses available at reasonable prices to satisfy
    >the average M shooter.

    For many shooters, including myself, 35mm is their std focal length. The APS-C has a crop factor of 1.5. This means that I would need a 23mm lens to use with this camera. CV makes a 21 and 25 BUT the problem is that they are slow (f4). If this camera hits the market with an APS-sized sensor, I hope Kobayashi-san will roll out a 21 or 25 lens with at at least a 2.8 aperture.
    I've been wanting a 21 for my Bessa R, anyway. ;-)
    - lars
  44. The top plate dials are interesting. I'm guessing:

    left crescent = white balance setting
    bottom crescent = battery meter
    right crescent = quality (Normal, High, Raw)
    outer dial = # of shots currently on card?

    On shutter speed dial:

    left numbers = manual shutter speeds (includes B)
    right numbers = AE and exposure compensation (new for Bessa RFs)
    ISO wheel = sets sensor sensitivity

    Looks like a power switch above the wind lever.

    My guess is that the wind lever is indeed to cock the
    shutter, since the shutter is obviously related to the
    mechanical Bessa shutters.

    Aperture still set manually on the lens.

    The back swivels to protect the LCD.
  45. Well, whatever it turns out to be, I hope the when it shows up in the US, it will be an official import and not gray market, cuz I’ll definitely want the manufacturer’s EXTENDED warranty on this Frankenstein’s Monster ;-)
  46. Definitely not a joke. It's not April yet! ;)
  47. "Stephen Gandy also said it would be 35mm film based camera, or at least that's what he said he was told."

    This still holds true. This new digital camera will be labeled Epson and is in addition to the camera Stephen was referring to. Stephen said the new camera would be a Voigtlander and mechanical. If you read all the posts there is still a new Voigtlander rangefinder camera on the drawing board different to what its currently available new today. Odds on it will be a CL type camera, thats my guess anyways.
  48. camera is for real. Hope the body is reasonably priced and has easy to use controlls and no shutter lag. I'd rather have it than a D slr if it is done right.

  49. I like it. Its high rez, manual and has the class and feel of a Leica. Short of a
    full frame 4"x5" digital back that doesn’t exist and I would be unaffordable any
    way its the only digital I am interested in. How much, when and where can I
    get one.

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