Contax N Digital vs Epson R-D1
The Contax N Digital and the Epson R-D1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2002 and March 2004. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the R-D1 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (N Digital) and an APS-C (R-D1) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Epson provides 6 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Contax N Digital||Epson R-D1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Rangefinder camera|
|Contax N mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor||6 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||no Video|
|ISO 50-1600||ISO 200-1600|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.0" LCD, 200k dots||2.0" LCD, 235k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second||1 shutter flaps per second|
|152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g||142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Epson R-D1? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Epson R-D1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Epson R-D1 is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the R-D1 is substantially lighter (37 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the R-D1 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.
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.
|Contax N Digital»||6.0 in||5.4 in||3.1 in||34.9 oz||100||n||Feb 2002||7,399||-||Contax N Digital|
|Epson R-D1«||5.6 in||3.5 in||1.6 in||21.9 oz||..||n||Mar 2004||2,999||-||Epson R-D1|
|Canon 10D« »||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999||-||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel« »||5.6 in||3.9 in||2.8 in||22.9 oz||400||n||Aug 2003||899||-||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60« »||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.2 oz||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999||-||Canon D60|
|Leica M10-P« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica SL« »||5.8 in||4.1 in||1.5 in||29.9 oz||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450||Leica SL|
|Leica X Vario« »||5.2 in||2.9 in||3.7 in||24.0 oz||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M9« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||-||Leica M9|
|Nikon D50« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.0 in||21.9 oz||400||n||Apr 2005||749||-||Nikon D50|
|Nikon D70s« »||5.5 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||24.0 oz||500||n||Apr 2005||899||-||Nikon D70s|
|Nikon D70« »||5.5 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||24.0 oz||400||n||Jan 2004||999||-||Nikon D70|
|Nikon D100« »||5.7 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||27.5 oz||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999||-||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X« »||6.2 in||6.0 in||3.3 in||38.8 oz||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999||-||Nikon D1X|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 R-D1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 59 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 Contax N Digital features a full frame sensor and the Epson R-D1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the R-D1 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 6.1MP, the N Digital offers a slightly higher resolution than the R-D1 (6MP), but the N Digital nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 11.90μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1) due to its larger sensor. However, the R-D1 is a much more recent model (by 2 years) than the N Digital, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Contax N Digital has a native sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Epson R-D1 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Contax N Digital»||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||-||-||-||-||-||Contax N Digital|
|Epson R-D1«||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||-||-||-||-||Epson R-D1|
|Canon 10D« »||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||-||21.1||10.9||571||57||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel« »||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||-||21.0||10.8||544||55||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds« »||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||-||21.8||11.0||954||63||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60« »||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||-||-||-||-||-||Canon D60|
|Leica M10-P« »||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||-||-||-||-||-||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10« »||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||-||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica SL« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88||Leica SL|
|Leica X Vario« »||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M9« »||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||-||22.5||11.7||884||69||Leica M9|
|Nikon D50« »||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||20.9||10.8||560||55||Nikon D50|
|Nikon D70s« »||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||20.4||10.3||529||50||Nikon D70s|
|Nikon D70« »||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||20.4||10.3||529||50||Nikon D70|
|Nikon D100« »||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||-||-||-||-||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X« »||APS-C||5.9||3008||1960||-||-||-||-||-||Nikon D1X|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The N Digital and the R-D1 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 Epson R-D1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Contax N Digital»||optical||Y||2.0||200||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n||Contax N Digital|
|Epson R-D1«||optical||n||2.0||235||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.0||n||n||Epson R-D1|
|Canon 10D« »||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel« »||optical||n||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds« »||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60« »||optical||Y||1.8||114||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon D60|
|Leica M10-P« »||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10« »||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica SL« »||4400||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Leica SL|
|Leica X Vario« »||-||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M9« »||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M9|
|Nikon D50« »||optical||n||2.0||130||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Nikon D50|
|Nikon D70s« »||optical||n||2.0||130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D70s|
|Nikon D70« »||optical||n||1.8||130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D70|
|Nikon D100« »||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X« »||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||1/16000s||3.0||n||n||Nikon D1X|
One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the R-D1 is 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.
The N Digital writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the R-D1 uses SDHC 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 Contax N Digital and Epson R-D1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Contax N Digital»||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-||Contax N Digital|
|Epson R-D1«||Y||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||Epson R-D1|
|Canon 10D« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-||Canon D60|
|Leica M10-P« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica SL« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-||Leica SL|
|Leica X Vario« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M9« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M9|
|Nikon D50« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D50|
|Nikon D70s« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D70s|
|Nikon D70« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.0||-||-||-||Nikon D70|
|Nikon D100« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-||Nikon D1X|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the N Digital and the R-D1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Contax and Epson. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Contax and Epson websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Contax N Digital or the Epson R-D1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages 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.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control 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 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).
Arguments in favor of the Epson R-D1:
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (235k vs 200k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (142x89mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 370g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (59 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the N Digital launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the N Digital is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 5 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 when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
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 N Digital or the R-D1 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Contax N Digital»||-||-||-||-||-||Feb 2002||7,399||-||Contax N Digital|
|Epson R-D1«||-||-||-||-||-||Mar 2004||2,999||-||Epson R-D1|
|Canon 10D« »||-||+ +||-||o||-||Feb 2003||1,999||-||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel« »||-||+ +||-||o||-||Aug 2003||899||-||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds« »||-||+ +||-||-||-||Sep 2002||8,999||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60« »||-||+ +||o||-||-||Feb 2002||2,999||-||Canon D60|
|Leica M10-P« »||-||-||-||-||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10« »||-||-||4/5||-||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica SL« »||-||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450||Leica SL|
|Leica X Vario« »||-||-||4/5||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M9« »||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||-||Sep 2009||7,999||-||Leica M9|
|Nikon D50« »||78/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749||-||Nikon D50|
|Nikon D70s« »||-||-||-||o||5/5||Apr 2005||899||-||Nikon D70s|
|Nikon D70« »||-||+ +||-||o||-||Jan 2004||999||-||Nikon D70|
|Nikon D100« »||-||+ +||o||o||-||Feb 2002||1,999||-||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X« »||-||+ +||-||o||-||Feb 2001||5,999||-||Nikon D1X|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 6D Mark II vs Epson R-D1
- Canon 7D vs Contax N Digital
- Canon D30 vs Contax N Digital
- Canon G1 X vs Contax N Digital
- Canon SX610 vs Epson R-D1
- Canon T100 vs Epson R-D1
- Contax N Digital vs Nikon D1X
- Contax N Digital vs Nikon D3S
- Contax N Digital vs Olympus TG-4
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic G3
- Contax N Digital vs Sony RX10 III
- Epson R-D1 vs Hasselblad X1D
Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Epson R-D1
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||Contax N Digital||Epson R-D1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Rangefinder camera|
|Camera Lens||Contax N mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2002||March 2004|
|Launch Price||USD 7399||USD 2999|
|Sensor Specs||Contax N Digital||Epson R-D1|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||23.7 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||369.72 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6.1 Megapixels||6 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3040 x 2008 pixels||3008 x 2000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.90 μm||7.85 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.71 MP/cm2||1.63 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||50-1600 ISO||200-1600 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Contax N Digital||Epson R-D1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0 inch||2.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||200k dots||235k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Contax N Digital||Epson R-D1|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||1 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Contax N Digital||Epson R-D1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB no|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Contax N Digital||Epson R-D1|
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
142 x 89 x 40 mm
(5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
|Camera Weight||990 g (34.9 oz)||620 g (21.9 oz)|
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