PW

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.

Headline Specifications
Contax N Digital   Epson R-D1
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.

Body comparison

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.

Size Contax N Digital vs Epson R-D1
Compare N Digital versus R-D1 top
Comparison N Digital or R-D1 rear

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.

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
 
Epson R-D1« 5.6 in 3.5 in 1.6 in 21.9 oz .. n Mar 2004 2,999- i Epson R-D1
 
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 1Ds« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
 
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-P« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i i Leica M10-P
 
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
 
Leica SL« » 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450 i i Leica SL
 
Leica X Vario« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
 
Leica M9« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
 
Nikon D50« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 21.9 oz 400 n Apr 2005 749- i Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 400 n Jan 2004 999- i Nikon D70
 
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
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.

 

Sensor comparison

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.

Contax N Digital and Epson R-D1 sensor measures

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).

N Digital versus R-D1 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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
 
Epson R-D1« APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-----Epson R-D1
 
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 1Ds« » Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463Canon 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 3992-24.413.2213386Leica M10
 
Leica SL« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188Leica SL
 
Leica X Vario« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078Leica X Vario
 
Leica M9« » Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469Leica M9
 
Nikon D50« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.910.856055Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70
 
Nikon D100« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-----Nikon D100
 
Nikon D1X« » APS-C 5.9 3008 1960-----Nikon D1X
Neither the N Digital nor the R-D1 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

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.

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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
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.

 

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 Contax N Digital and Epson R-D1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
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« »YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--Leica SL
 
Leica X Vario« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---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.


Review summary

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.

ilogo

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).

ilogo

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.

N Digital 09:05 R-D1

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.

Expert reviews

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.

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
 
Epson R-D1«----- Mar 2004 2,999- i Epson R-D1
 
Canon 10D« »-+ +-o- Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
 
Canon Rebel« »-+ +-o- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
 
Canon 1Ds« »-+ +--- Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
 
Canon D60« »-+ +o-- Feb 2002 2,999- i Canon D60
 
Leica M10-P« »----4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i i Leica M10-P
 
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
 
Leica SL« »-84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450 i i Leica SL
 
Leica X Vario« »--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
 
Leica M9« »--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
 
Nikon D50« »78/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749- i Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« »---o5/5 Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« »-+ +-o- Jan 2004 999- i Nikon D70
 
Nikon D100« »-+ +oo- Feb 2002 1,999- i Nikon D100
 
Nikon D1X« »-+ +-o- Feb 2001 5,999- i 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.

Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers
Epson R-D1:
Check Ebay offers

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.

~

    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 Specifications
    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 Technology CCD CCD
    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
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.5x
    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%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x ..x
    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
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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
    Battery Type 4xAA EU-85
    Body Dimensions 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)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

    You are here Home  »  CAM-parator  »  Contax N Digital vs Epson R-D1