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Contax N Digital versus Canon SL2

The Contax N Digital and the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (labelled Canon 200D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2002 and June 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (N Digital) and an APS-C (SL2) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Contax N Digital vs Canon SL2

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Canon SL2. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the N Digital – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Contax N Digital vs Canon SL2
Compare N Digital versus SL2 top
Compare N Digital and SL2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SL2 is considerably smaller (46 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the SL2 is substantially lighter (54 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the SL2 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 the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Contax N Digital» 6.0 in 5.4 in 3.1 in 34.9 oz 100 n Feb 2002 7,399- i Contax N Digital
Canon SL2« 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon T7« » 5.1 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 16.8 oz 500 n Feb 2018 449 i i Canon T7
Canon G9 X Mark II« » 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.3 oz 235 n Jan 2017 529 i i Canon G9 X Mark II
Canon T7i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 18.8 oz 600 n Feb 2017 749 i i Canon T7i
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon XC10« » 4.9 in 4.0 in 4.8 in 36.7 oz .. n Apr 2015 2,499- i Canon XC10
Canon 10D« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Canon D60« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.2 oz 620 n Feb 2002 2,999- i Canon D60
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499 i i Nikon D3400
Nikon D100« » 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999- i Nikon D100
Nikon D1X« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999- i Nikon D1X
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Panasonic L1« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 93 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Contax N Digital vs Canon SL2

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

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Contax N Digital features a full frame sensor and the Canon SL2 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the SL2 is 62 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Contax N Digital and Canon SL2 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the SL2 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 6.1 MP of the N Digital. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the SL2 is much more recent (by 15 years and 4 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.

N Digital versus SL2 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Contax N Digital» Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008-----Contax N Digital
Canon SL2« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179Canon SL2
Canon T7« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p----Canon T7
Canon G9 X Mark II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.912.552265Canon G9 X Mark II
Canon T7i« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon T7i
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277Canon M5
Canon XC10« » 1-inch 12.0 4000 30004K/30p----Canon XC10
Canon 10D« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.110.957157Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Canon D60« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-----Canon D60
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386Leica M10
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Leica Digilux 3
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286Nikon D3400
Nikon D100« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-----Nikon D100
Nikon D1X« » APS-C 5.9 3008 1960-----Nikon D1X
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Olympus E-330
Panasonic L1« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Panasonic L1

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The SL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the SL2 can use is 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Contax N Digital vs Canon SL2

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The N Digital and the SL2 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Contax N Digital and Canon SL2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Contax N Digital»optical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n Contax N Digital
Canon SL2«optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon SL2
Canon T7« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon T7
Canon G9 X Mark II« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 8.2 Y Y Canon G9 X Mark II
Canon T7i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Canon T7i
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M5
Canon XC10« »- n 3.0 1030 tilting Y 2000 3.8 n Y Canon XC10
Canon 10D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Canon D60« »optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon D60
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n Leica M10
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Leica Digilux 3
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3400
Nikon D100« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D100
Nikon D1X« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 3.0 n n Nikon D1X
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
Panasonic L1« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L1

The SL2 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the N Digital has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the N Digital from Contax.

Review summary: Contax N Digital vs Canon SL2

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Contax N Digital and the Canon SL2? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Contax N Digital:

  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel SL2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 98%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
  • 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 (1040k vs 200k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (122x93mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 537g or 54 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (93 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 15 years and 4 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SL2 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 3 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.

N Digital 03:13 SL2

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the N Digital or the SL2. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Contax N Digital»----- Feb 2002 7,399- i Contax N Digital
Canon SL2«HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon T7« »rev-3.5/5-3.5/5 Feb 2018 449 i i Canon T7
Canon G9 X Mark II« »-75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 529 i i Canon G9 X Mark II
Canon T7i« »-80/1004.5/54/54/5 Feb 2017 749 i i Canon T7i
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon XC10« »-80/100--- Apr 2015 2,499- i Canon XC10
Canon 10D« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Canon D60« »-HiRecrev-- Feb 2002 2,999- i Canon D60
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica Digilux 3« »----- Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499 i i Nikon D3400
Nikon D100« »-HiRecrevrev- Feb 2002 1,999- i Nikon D100
Nikon D1X« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2001 5,999- i Nikon D1X
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Panasonic L1« »85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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