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Canon 50D vs Contax N Digital

The Canon EOS 50D and the Contax N Digital are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and February 2002. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (50D) and a full frame (N Digital) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 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.

Headline Specifications
Canon 50D versus Contax N Digital
Canon 50D Contax N Digital
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 50-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 2.0 LCD, 200k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.3 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
800 shots per battery charge100 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 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 50D 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 50D 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 50D vs Contax N Digital
Compare 50D versus N Digital top
Comparison 50D 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 (33 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the N Digital is markedly heavier (20 percent) than the 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, while the N Digital does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 50D, Canon provides the BG-E2N 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. 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.

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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 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon 90D 141 mm 105 mm 77 mm 701 g 1300 Y Aug 2019 1,199 i
4.
 
Canon 80D 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
5.
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
6.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
7.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
8.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
9.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
12.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
13.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
14.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
15.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
16.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
17.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 50D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 82 percent) than the N Digital, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 50D features an APS-C sensor and the Contax N Digital a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the N Digital is 160 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 50D and Contax N Digital sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 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 4.69μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the 50D is much more recent (by 6 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 50D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 50D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 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 50D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Contax N Digital are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

50D 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
2.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none........
3.
 
Canon 90D APS-C 32.3 6960 46404K/30p........
4.
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
5.
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
6.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
7.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
8.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
9.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
10.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
11.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
12.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
13.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
14.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
15.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
16.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
17.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
The 50D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The N Digital lacks this capability. 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 50D 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 50D (0.73x vs 0.59x), 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 50D 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 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
2.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 90Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 11.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 80Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
8.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
10.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
13.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
16.
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
17.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 50D has one, while the N Digital does not. While the built-in flash of the 50D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 50D 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 50D 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 50DY----mini2.0---
2.
 
Contax N DigitalY-----FW---
3.
 
Canon 90DYstereomonoYYmini2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon 80DYstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 7D IIYstereomonoYYmini3.0---
6.
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
12.
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
13.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
14.
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
15.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
16.
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
17.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---

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

Both the 50D and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 50D was replaced by the Canon 60D, 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 how do things add up? Is the Canon 50D better than the Contax N Digital or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 50D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 6.1MP) with a 57% higher linear resolution.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 200k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (146x108mm vs 152x138mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 168g or 17 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 100) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (82 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 5 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.59x).
  • 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 50D is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

50D 11:03 N Digital

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 50D 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 50D or the N Digital perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 50D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Contax N Digital.......... Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon 90D4/5+85/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2019 1,199 i
4.
 
Canon 80D4/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
5.
 
Canon 7D II4.5/5+84/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
6.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
7.
 
Canon 60D5/5+79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
8.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
9.
 
Canon T1i..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
12.
 
Canon 20D....+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
13.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
14.
 
Canon D60....+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
15.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
16.
 
Leica SL4/5..84/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
17.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.

Canon 50D:
Check Ebay offers
Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 50D 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 50D 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 2008 February 2002
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 7,399
    Sensor Specs Canon 50D Contax N Digital
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 6.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 3040 x 2008 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 11.90 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 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
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.4 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 696 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 50D Contax N Digital
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 200k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 50D Contax N Digital
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.3 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 50D Contax N Digital
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 Firewire
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 50D Contax N Digital
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-511A 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)800 shots per charge100 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 990 g (34.9 oz)

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