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Canon 30D vs Contax N Digital

The Canon EOS 30D and the Contax N Digital are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2006 and February 2002. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (30D) and a full frame (N Digital) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 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 30D versus Contax N Digital
Canon 30D Contax N Digital
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
8.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 50-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.0 LCD, 200k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge100 shots per battery charge
144 x 106 x 74 mm, 785 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 30D 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

The physical size and weight of the Canon 30D and the Contax N Digital are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 30D vs Contax N Digital
Compare 30D versus N Digital top
Comparison 30D 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 (37 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the N Digital is markedly heavier (26 percent) than the 30D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 30D 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 30D, Canon provides the BG-E2N vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
2.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
6.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
8.
 
Canon 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
9.
 
Canon 350D 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
10.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
12.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
13.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
14.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
15.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
16.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
17.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 30D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 81 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 30D features an APS-C sensor and the Contax N Digital a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the N Digital is 156 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 30D and Contax N Digital sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 30D offers a higher resolution of 8.2 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 6.42μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the 30D is much more recent (by 3 years and 11 months) than the N Digital, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 30D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 30D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Contax N Digital are 15.2 x 10 inches or 38.6 x 25.5 cm for good quality, 12.2 x 8 inches or 30.9 x 20.4 cm for very good quality, and 10.1 x 6.7 inches or 25.7 x 17 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 30D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Contax N Digital are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

30D versus N Digital MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
2.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none........
3.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
4.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
5.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
6.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
7.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
8.
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
9.
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
10.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
11.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
12.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
13.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
14.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
15.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
16.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
17.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
Neither the 30D 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.
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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 30D 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 30D (0.73x vs 0.56x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 30D, the Contax N Digital, and comparable 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 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
5.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
7.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
8.
 
Canon 400Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 350Doptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon 300Doptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
13.
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
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 30D has one, while the N Digital does not. While the built-in flash of the 30D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 30D and the N Digital write their files to Compact Flash cards.

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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 30D 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 30DY-----2.0---
2.
 
Contax N DigitalY-----FW---
3.
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 50DY----mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
8.
 
Canon 400DY-----2.0---
9.
 
Canon 350DY-----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
11.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
12.
 
Canon 300DY-----1.1---
13.
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
14.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
17.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---

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

Both the 30D and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 30D was replaced by the Canon 40D, 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 30D better than the Contax N Digital or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 30D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (8.2 vs 6.1MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 200k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (144x106mm vs 152x138mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 205g or 21 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 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 (81 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 11 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Contax N Digital:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.56x).
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2002).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 30D is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 3 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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.

30D 10:03 N Digital

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 30D 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 30D 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
2.
 
Contax N Digital.......... Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 60D5/5+79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
6.
 
Canon 50D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
8.
 
Canon 400D..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
9.
 
Canon 350D..80/100+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
10.
 
Canon 20D....+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
12.
 
Canon 300D....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
13.
 
Canon D60....+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
14.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
15.
 
Nikon D200..+ ++ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
16.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
17.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 30D:
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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 30D 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 30D 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 2006 February 2002
    Launch Price USD 1,399 USD 7,399
    Sensor Specs Canon 30D Contax N Digital
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.5 x 15.0 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 337.5 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 8.2 Megapixels 6.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3504 x 2336 pixels 3040 x 2008 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.42 μm 11.90 μm
    Pixel Density 2.43 MP/cm2 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 50 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 59 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 736 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 30D Contax N Digital
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.56x 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 200k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 30D Contax N Digital
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 30D Contax N Digital
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 Firewire
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 30D Contax N Digital
    Battery Type BP-511A 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge100 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 144 x 106 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
    152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 785 g (27.7 oz) 990 g (34.9 oz)

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