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Contax N Digital Comparison Review

The Contax N Digital is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was officially introduced in February 2002 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 6.1 megapixel.

camera

Is the Contax N Digital a good camera? The N Digital has a Camera Elo of 1062. This rating puts the N Digital below average of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the N Digital also ranks below average. – Well, the Contax N Digital is more than 19 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2002.

Headline Specifications
Contax N Digital
Digital single lens reflex
Contax N mount lenses
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video
ISO 50 - 1 600
Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 200k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second
100 shots per battery charge
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

The physical dimensions of the Contax N Digital relative to a credit card are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Contax N Digital vs credit card front
N Digital versus credit card top view
N Digital and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Contax N Digital alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible 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.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
2.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
3.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
4.
 
Canon 1Ds 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1265 g 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
5.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
6.
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
7.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
8.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
9.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
11.
 
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.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Contax N Digital was launched in the US market at a price of $7,399. 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.

Contax N Digital:
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Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

The Contax N Digital features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Contax N Digital among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Contax N Digital sensor measures

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 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.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none........
2.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
3.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
4.
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
5.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
6.
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none........
7.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
8.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
9.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
10.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
11.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........

It should be noted that unlike many modern cameras, the N Digital does not provide the possibility to capture videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the N Digital has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 95% and a magnification of 0.73x. The tables below summarize some of the other core capabilities of the 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
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.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y2.0 / 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
2.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
4.
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
5.
 
Canon D60optical Y1.8 / 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Leica M10-Poptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
7.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
8.
 
Leica SL4400 Y3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
9.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
10.
 
Nikon D100optical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n

One useful feature of the N Digital is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

Connection 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 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.
 
Contax N DigitalY- / ----FW---
2.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
3.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
4.
 
Canon 1DsY- / ----FW---
5.
 
Canon D60Y- / ----1.1---
6.
 
Leica M10-PY- / -----Y--
7.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
8.
 
Leica SLYstereo / monoYYfull3.0Y--
9.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D100Y- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Nikon D1XY- / ----FW---

Expert reviews

While the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the N Digital handle or 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).

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Review Scores
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Contax N Digital............ Feb 2002 7,399i
2.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
3.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
4.
 
Canon 1Ds......+ +.... Sep 2002 8,999i
5.
 
Canon D60......+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
6.
 
Leica M10-P....3/5....4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
7.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
8.
 
Leica SL4/5..4/584/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
9.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D100......+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
11.
 
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 assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Contax N Digital FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the N Digital.

What type of imaging sensor is used in the N Digital?

The camera features a CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the N Digital?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 1600.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Contax N Digital?

Contax does not publish a shutter rating for the N Digital. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 100 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 100 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The N Digital's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.

Camera to camera comparisons

If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Contax N Digital
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2002
    Launch Price USD 7 399
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3 040 x 2 008 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1 600 ISO
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Size 2.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    V-logging Friendliness No front-flip
    Touch Input No touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket
    USB Connector Firewire
    HDMI Port no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Battery Type 4xAA power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)100 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz)

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