Canon 400D vs Contax N Digital
The Canon EOS 400D (called Canon XTi in some regions) and the Contax N Digital are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2006 and February 2002. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (400D) and a full frame (N Digital) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 400D 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 400D 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 successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
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 considerably larger (97 percent) than the Canon 400D. Moreover, the N Digital is substantially heavier (78 percent) than the 400D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 400D 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 400D, Canon provides the BG-E3 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|Canon 400D||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|Contax N Digital||152 mm||138 mm||80 mm||990 g||100||n||Feb 2002||7,399|
|Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|Canon 450D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Canon 300D||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|Canon D60||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||855 g||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999|
|Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 400D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 89 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.
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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 400D features an APS-C sensor and the Contax N Digital a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the N Digital is 163 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 400D offers a higher resolution of 10.1 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 5.71μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the 400D is much more recent (by 4 years and 5 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 400D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 400D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 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 400D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Contax N Digital are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|Contax N Digital||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||none||..||..||..||..|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 400D 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 400D (0.73x vs 0.49x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 400D and Contax N Digital along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Contax N Digital||optical||Y||2.0||200||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 400D has one, while the N Digital does not. While the built-in flash of the 400D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 400D and the N Digital write their files to Compact Flash cards.
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 400D and Contax N Digital and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Contax N Digital||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the 400D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 400D and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 400D was replaced by the Canon 450D, 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.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 400D better than the Contax N Digital or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 400D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (10.1 vs 6.1MP) with a 28% 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).
- More compact: Is smaller (127x84mm vs 152x138mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 434g or 44 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (370 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 (89 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 5 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.
Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.49x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- 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.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2002).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 400D emerges as the winner of the contest (9 : 7 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 400D 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 400D or the N Digital perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon 400D||+ +||+ +||o||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|Contax N Digital||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2002||7,399|
|Canon 750D||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon 760D||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|Canon 650D||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|Canon 1100D||80/100||69/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|Canon 550D||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|Canon 500D||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|Canon 450D||+ +||+ +||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|Canon 40D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 350D||80/100||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|Canon 10D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Canon 300D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2003||899|
|Canon D60||..||+ +||o||..||..||Feb 2002||2,999|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D100||..||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Nikon D1X||..||+ +||..||o||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Canon 400D 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 Model||Canon 400D||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||August 2006||February 2002|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 7,399|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 400D||Contax N Digital|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.2 x 14.8 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||328.56 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.7 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||6.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3888 x 2592 pixels||3040 x 2008 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.71 μm||11.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.07 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|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||664||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 400D||Contax N Digital|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||2.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||200k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 400D||Contax N Digital|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 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 400D||Contax N Digital|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||Firewire|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 400D||Contax N Digital|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||370 shots per charge||100 shots per charge|
127 x 84 x 65 mm
(5.0 x 3.3 x 2.6 in)
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||556 g (19.6 oz)||990 g (34.9 oz)|
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