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Canon 10D vs Contax N Digital

The Canon EOS 10D and the Contax N Digital are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2003 and February 2002. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (10D) and a full frame (N Digital) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixels, whereas the Contax provides 6.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 10D
versus
Contax N Digital
Canon 10D   Contax N Digital
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
6.3 MP, APS-C Sensor 6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 50-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8 LCD, 118k dots 2.0 LCD, 200k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
500 shots per battery charge100 shots per battery charge
150 x 107 x 75 mm, 850 g 152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 10D and the Contax N Digital? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 10D and the Contax N Digital is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 10D vs Contax N Digital
Compare 10D versus N Digital top
Comparison 10D or N Digital rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Contax N Digital is notably larger (31 percent) than the Canon 10D. Moreover, the N Digital is markedly heavier (16 percent) than the 10D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 10D nor the N Digital are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

As can be seen in the images above, the N Digital has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the 10D, Canon provides the BG-ED3 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999 i
2.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399 i
3.
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
4.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199 i
5.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399 i
6.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699 i
7.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299 i
8.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399 i
9.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499 i
10.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899 i
11.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999 i
12.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999 i
13.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 10D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 73 percent) than the N Digital, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 10D features an APS-C sensor and the Contax N Digital a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the N Digital is 152 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 10D and Contax N Digital sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 10D offers a higher resolution of 6.3 megapixels, compared with 6.1 MP of the Contax N Digital. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 7.38μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the 10D is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the N Digital, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

The Canon EOS 10D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Contax N Digital are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

10D versus N Digital MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.9571 57
2.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none...... ..
3.
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.81082 70
4.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.6926 68
5.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.5813 66
6.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.7854 66
7.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.3703 64
8.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.8736 59
9.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.0721 62
10.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.8544 55
11.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none...... ..
12.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none...... ..
13.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none...... ..
Neither the 10D nor the N Digital offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 10D and the N Digital are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the N Digital has a higher magnification than the one of the 10D (0.73x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 10D and Contax N Digital in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
6.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
8.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon 300Doptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 10D has one, while the N Digital does not. While the built-in flash of the 10D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 10D and the N Digital write their files to Compact Flash cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 10D and Contax N Digital and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
2.
 
Contax N DigitalY-----FW---
3.
 
Canon 7D IIYstereomonoYYmini3.0---
4.
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
8.
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
9.
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
10.
 
Canon 300DY-----1.1---
11.
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
12.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
13.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 10D and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 10D was replaced by the Canon 20D, while the N Digital does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Contax websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 10D and the Contax N Digital? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 10D:

  • More compact: Is smaller (150x107mm vs 152x138mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 140g or 14 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 100) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (73 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the N Digital).

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Reasons to prefer the Contax N Digital:

  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.55x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (200k vs 118k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2002).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the N Digital is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

10D 06:11 N Digital

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 10D and the Contax N Digital place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 10D and the N Digital in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999 i
2.
 
Contax N Digital.......... Feb 2002 7,399 i
3.
 
Canon 7D II4.5/5+84/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
4.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199 i
5.
 
Canon 60D5/5+79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399 i
6.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699 i
7.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299 i
8.
 
Canon 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399 i
9.
 
Canon 20D....+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499 i
10.
 
Canon 300D....+ +.... Aug 2003 899 i
11.
 
Canon D60....+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999 i
12.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999 i
13.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 10D:
Check Ebay offers
Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon 10D vs Contax N Digital

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 10D Contax N Digital
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2003 February 2002
    Launch Price USD 1,999 USD 7,399
    Sensor Specs Canon 10D Contax N Digital
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.7 x 15.1 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 342.77 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27.3 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6.3 Megapixels 6.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3072 x 2048 pixels 3040 x 2008 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.38 μm 11.90 μm
    Pixel Density 1.84 MP/cm2 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 50 - 1,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 57 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.1 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.9 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 571 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 10D Contax N Digital
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.55x 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 118k dots 200k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 10D Contax N Digital
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 10D Contax N Digital
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 1.1 Firewire
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 10D Contax N Digital
    Battery Type BP-511 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge100 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 150 x 107 x 75 mm
    (5.9 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
    152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 850 g (30.0 oz) 990 g (34.9 oz)

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