PW

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 revealed to the public, 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 sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 24 MP.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Canon SL2 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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).

Contax N Digital vs Canon SL2 front
N Digital versus SL2 top view
N Digital and SL2 rear side
Body view (N Digital on the left)

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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Contax N Digital (⇒ rgt) 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 no 2002 7,399discont. check
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft) 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 no 2017 549 latest check
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 no 2017 899 latest check
Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 no 2017 499 latest check
Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 112 mm 68 mm 45 mm 390 g 295 no 2017 779 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 116 mm 89 mm 61 mm 427 g 295 no 2016 979 latest check
Canon XC10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 102 mm 122 mm 1040 g .. no 2015 2,499 latest check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 no 2013 549discont. check
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 no 2003 1,999discont. check
Canon Rebel (⇒ lft | rgt) 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 no 2003 899discont. check
Canon D60 (⇒ lft | rgt) 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 no 2002 2,999discont. check
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 no 2017 6,595 latest check
Leica SL (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 YES 2015 7,450 latest check
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 no 2006 1,499discont. check
Nikon D100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 no 2002 1,999discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 no 2006 999discont. check
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 no 2006 999discont. check

The listed 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

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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
Sensor size

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
Sensor resolution

For most 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Contax N Digital (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008 no - - - -
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.4 1041 79
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p .. .. .. ..
Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.5 12.9 1272 78
Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p .. .. .. ..
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.4 12.4 1262 77
Canon XC10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 12.0 4000 3000 4K/30p - - - -
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.8 11.3 843 63
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 6.3 3072 2048 no 21.1 10.9 571 57
Canon Rebel (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 6.3 3072 2048 no 21.0 10.8 544 55
Canon D60 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 6.3 3072 2048 no - - - -
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992 no 24.4 13.2 2133 86
Leica SL (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 25.0 13.4 1821 88
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Nikon D100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 6.0 3008 2000 no - - - -
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -

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

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Contax N Digital, the Canon SL2, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Contax N Digital (⇒ rgt) optical YES 2.0 200 fixed no 8000 4.0 no no
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 9.8 no
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 6.0 12 no
Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 6.1 5 no
Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 no
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 no
Canon XC10 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1030 tilting YES 2000 3.8 no YES
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.9 9.4 no
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 1.8 118 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no
Canon Rebel (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 1.8 118 fixed no 4000 2.5 13 no
Canon D60 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 1.8 114 fixed no 4000 3.0 12 no
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1037 fixed no 4000 5.0 no no
Leica SL (⇒ lft | rgt) 4400 YES 3.0 1040 fixed YES 8000 11.0 no no
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no
Nikon D100 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 1.8 118 fixed no 4000 3.0 11 no
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 tilting no 4000 3.0 13 no
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no

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.

Summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Contax N Digital or the Canon SL2 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


logo checkmark

Reasons to prefer 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).

logo checkmark

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 relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points.

N Digital 03:13 SL2

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the N Digital and the SL2 in practical situations. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Contax N Digital (⇒ rgt) - - - - - 2002 7,399discont. check
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2017 549 latest check
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 .. 4/5 2017 899 latest check
Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec .. 4/5 .. 3.5/5 2017 499 latest check
Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2017 779 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 979 latest check
Canon XC10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 - - - 2015 2,499 latest check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 78/100 Gold 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 549discont. check
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2003 1,999discont. check
Canon Rebel (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2003 899discont. check
Canon D60 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec reviewed - - 2002 2,999discont. check
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4.5/5 2017 6,595 latest check
Leica SL (⇒ lft | rgt) - 84/100 4.5/5 4/5 4/5 2015 7,450 latest check
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2006 1,499discont. check
Nikon D100 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2002 1,999discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec reviewed 3.5/5 - 2006 999discont. check
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec - reviewed 3.5/5 2006 999discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Other comparisons

If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

vs