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Canon XT vs Contax N Digital

The Canon EOS Rebel XT (called Canon 350D in some regions) and the Contax N Digital are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2005 and February 2002. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (XT) and a full frame (N Digital) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8 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 XT
versus
Contax N Digital
Canon XT   Contax N Digital
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
8 MP, APS-C Sensor 6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 50-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8 LCD, 115k 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
400 shots per battery charge100 shots per battery charge
127 x 94 x 64 mm, 540 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 Rebel XT 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 XT 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The XT can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the N Digital is only available in black.

Size Canon XT vs Contax N Digital
Compare XT versus N Digital top
Comparison XT 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 considerably larger (76 percent) than the Canon XT. Moreover, the N Digital is substantially heavier (83 percent) than the XT. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XT 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 XT, Canon provides the BG-E3 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 would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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 XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
2.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon 77D 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 n Feb 2017 899 i
4.
 
Canon T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
5.
 
Canon T6s 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
6.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
8.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
9.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
10.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
11.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
12.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
13.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
14.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
15.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
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 XT was launched at a markedly lower price (by 88 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.

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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon XT 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.

Canon XT and Contax N Digital sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon XT offers a higher resolution of 8 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 6.41μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the XT is much more recent (by 2 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 XT implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the XT for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 13.8 x 9.2 inches or 35.1 x 23.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 11.5 x 7.7 inches or 29.3 x 19.5 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 Rebel XT 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).

XT versus N Digital MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
2.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none21.510.5128359
3.
 
Canon 77D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178
4.
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
5.
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
6.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
7.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
8.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
9.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
10.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
11.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
12.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
13.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
14.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
15.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none20.39.830147
16.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.49.939448
17.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
Neither the XT 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 XT 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 XT (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 XT and Contax N Digital along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/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 XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y2.0 / 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 77Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon T6ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon T6soptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon T4ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
8.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
9.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Canon 300Doptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
14.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
15.
 
Canon D60optical Y1.8 / 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D100optical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n

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

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the XT 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 Rebel XT 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Contax N DigitalY- / ----FW---
3.
 
Canon 77DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon T6iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon T6sYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon T4iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
12.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
13.
 
Canon 300DY- / ----1.1---
14.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
15.
 
Canon D60Y- / ----1.1---
16.
 
Nikon D100Y- / ----1.1---
17.
 
Nikon D1XY- / ----FW---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the XT) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the XT and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XT was replaced by the Canon Xti, 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 what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon XT or the Contax N Digital – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

ilogo

Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel XT:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (8 vs 6.1MP) with a 14% higher linear resolution.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 152x138mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 450g or 45 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 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 (88 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of 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 0.49x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • 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 115k 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.
  • 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 N Digital is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 7 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 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.

XT 07:13 N Digital

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon XT 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 XT 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
2.
 
Contax N Digital............ Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon 77D4.5/5..4/582/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i
4.
 
Canon T6i5/5....75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
5.
 
Canon T6s5/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
6.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
8.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
9.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
10.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
11.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
12.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
13.
 
Canon 300D......+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
14.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
15.
 
Canon D60......+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
16.
 
Nikon D100......+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
17.
 
Nikon D1X......+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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 XT:
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 XT 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 XT 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 2005 February 2002
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 7,399
    Sensor Specs Canon XT Contax N Digital
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    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
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 8 Megapixels 6.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3456 x 2304 pixels 3040 x 2008 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.41 μm 11.90 μm
    Pixel Density 2.42 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) 60 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 637 ..
    Screen Specs Canon XT Contax N Digital
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.49x 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 115k dots 200k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon XT 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 XT Contax N Digital
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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 XT Contax N Digital
    Battery Type NB-2LH 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge100 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 127 x 94 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 540 g (19.0 oz) 990 g (34.9 oz)

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