Canon SX610 vs Contax N Digital
The Canon PowerShot SX610 HS and the Contax N Digital are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2015 and February 2002. The SX610 is a fixed lens compact, while the N Digital is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX610) and a full frame (N Digital) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX610 HS 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX610 and the Contax N Digital. 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.
The SX610 can be obtained in three different colors (black, red, white), while the N Digital is only available in black.
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 (227 percent) than the Canon SX610. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX610 nor the N Digital are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX610 has a lens built in, whereas the N Digital is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
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.
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.
|1.||Canon SX610||105 mm||61 mm||27 mm||191 g||270||n||Jan 2015||249|
|2.||Contax N Digital||152 mm||138 mm||80 mm||990 g||100||n||Feb 2002||7,399|
|3.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|4.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|5.||Canon SX620||97 mm||57 mm||28 mm||182 g||295||n||May 2016||279|
|6.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|7.||Canon G9 X||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||209 g||220||n||Oct 2015||529|
|8.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|9.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|10.||Canon SX600||104 mm||61 mm||26 mm||188 g||290||n||Jan 2014||249|
|11.||Canon SX400||104 mm||69 mm||80 mm||313 g||190||n||Jul 2014||249|
|12.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|13.||Canon D60||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||855 g||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999|
|14.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|15.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|16.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|17.||Sony H300||128 mm||89 mm||92 mm||590 g||350||n||Feb 2014||219|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 SX610 was launched at a lower price than the N Digital, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 SX610 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Contax N Digital a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the N Digital is 2986 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the SX610 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the N Digital offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX610 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 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 1.18μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the SX610 is much more recent (by 12 years and 10 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. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX610 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Canon SX610 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX610 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 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 PowerShot SX610 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Contax N Digital are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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.
| DXO |
|2.||Contax N Digital||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||none||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|14.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|15.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|16.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The SX610 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the SX610 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the N Digital has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX610 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX610 and Contax N Digital along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Contax N Digital||optical||Y||2.0||200||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|7.||Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX610 has one, while the N Digital does not. While the built-in flash of the SX610 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The SX610 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the N Digital uses 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 PowerShot SX610 HS and Contax N Digital and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Contax N Digital||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon G9 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the SX610 offers wifi support, while the N Digital does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the SX610) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SX610 and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX610 was replaced by the Canon SX620, 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 there a clear favorite between the Canon SX610 and the Contax N Digital? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX610 HS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 6.1MP) with a 78% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- 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 (922k vs 200k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the N Digital requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (105x61mm vs 152x138mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the N Digital).
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (270 versus 100) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 12 years and 10 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.
Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- 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.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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 individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX610 comes out slightly ahead of the N Digital (15 : 14 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 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 SX610 and the Contax N Digital place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX610 or the N Digital perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
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.
|1.||Canon SX610||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||249|
|2.||Contax N Digital||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2002||7,399|
|3.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|4.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|5.||Canon SX620||..||..||..||..||4/5||May 2016||279|
|6.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|7.||Canon G9 X||3.5/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529|
|8.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|9.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|10.||Canon SX600||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2014||249|
|11.||Canon SX400||..||+||..||..||..||Jul 2014||249|
|12.||Canon 10D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|13.||Canon D60||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||2,999|
|14.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|15.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|16.||Leica M9||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|17.||Sony H300||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2014||219|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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 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.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon SX610 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 SX610||Contax N Digital|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||25-450mm f/3.8-6.9||Contax N mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2015||February 2002|
|Launch Price||USD 249||USD 7,399|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX610||Contax N Digital|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||6.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||3040 x 2008 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.18 μm||11.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||71.80 MP/cm2||0.71 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||50 - 1,600 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX610||Contax N Digital|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||200k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX610||Contax N Digital|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX610||Contax N Digital|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||Firewire|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon SX610||Contax N Digital|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||270 shots per charge||100 shots per charge|
105 x 61 x 27 mm
(4.1 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||191 g (6.7 oz)||990 g (34.9 oz)|
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