Contax N Digital vs Leica D-LUX 5
The Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2002 and September 2010. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the D-LUX 5 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (N Digital) and a 1/1.7-inch (D-LUX 5) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 10 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth measures 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 Leica D-LUX 5 is considerably smaller (66 percent) than the Contax N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the D-LUX 5 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the D-LUX 5 has a lens built in, whereas the N Digital is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Contax N Digital||152 mm||138 mm||80 mm||990 g||100||n||Feb 2002||7,399||ebay.com|
|2.||Leica D-LUX 5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Sep 2010||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon D60||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||855 g||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999||ebay.com|
|7.||Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995||amazon.com|
|9.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|10.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450||ebay.com|
|11.||Leica D-LUX 6||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Sep 2012||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Leica V-LUX 3||124 mm||81 mm||95 mm||540 g||410||n||Dec 2011||949||ebay.com|
|13.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica X1||124 mm||60 mm||32 mm||306 g||260||n||Sep 2009||1,995||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or 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 D-LUX 5 was launched at a lower price than the N Digital, despite having a lens built in. 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 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 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Contax N Digital features a full frame sensor and the Leica D-LUX 5 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the D-LUX 5 is 95 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 4.4. The sensor in the N Digital has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the D-LUX 5 offers a 4:3 aspect. The D-LUX 5 has the particularity of featuring a switch that allows to toggle between multiple aspect ratios, while maintaining the same field of view and full image resolution.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D-LUX 5 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 6.1 MP of the N Digital. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.14μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the D-LUX 5 is much more recent (by 8 years and 6 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.
The resolution advantage of the Leica D-LUX 5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D-LUX 5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Contax N Digital are 15.2 x 10 inches or 38.6 x 25.5 cm for good quality, 12.2 x 8 inches or 30.9 x 20.4 cm for very good quality, and 10.1 x 6.7 inches or 25.7 x 17 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Contax N Digital has a native sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica D-LUX 5 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-12800.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Contax N Digital||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||none||21.5||10.5||1283||59|
|2.||Leica D-LUX 5||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||19.5||10.4||-583||39|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|8.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||25.1||14.1||2739||93|
|9.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|10.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|11.||Leica D-LUX 6||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||1080/60p||19.8||10.8||-303||43|
|12.||Leica V-LUX 3||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||19.7||11.0||430||42|
|13.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D-LUX 5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the D-LUX 5 can use is 720/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the N Digital has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the D-LUX 5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the D-LUX 5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Contax N Digital and Leica D-LUX 5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Contax N Digital||optical||Y||2.0 / 200||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Leica D-LUX 5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon Rebel||optical||n||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Canon D60||optical||Y||1.8 / 114||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Fujifilm X10||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Leica D-LUX 6||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Leica V-LUX 3||202||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Leica X1||none||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D100||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D1X||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the D-LUX 5 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 D-LUX 5 uses SDXC 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 Leica D-LUX 5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Contax N Digital||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|2.||Leica D-LUX 5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 10D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon Rebel||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|7.||Fujifilm X10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica M10-P||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|9.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|10.||Leica SL||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Leica D-LUX 6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Leica V-LUX 3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Leica M9||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Leica X1||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D100||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D1X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the D-LUX 5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the N Digital and the D-LUX 5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D-LUX 5 was replaced by the Leica D-LUX 6, while the N Digital does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Contax and Leica websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5? Which camera is better? 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 framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).
Reasons to prefer the Leica D-LUX 5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Flexible image proportions: Has a multi-aspect sensor that allows for alternative image shapes.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/60p 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 (460k vs 200k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the N Digital requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x65mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the N Digital).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 6 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D-LUX 5 emerges as the winner of the match-up (14 : 12 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. 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the N Digital or the D-LUX 5. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Contax N Digital||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2002||7,399||ebay.com|
|2.||Leica D-LUX 5||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2010||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 10D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon Rebel||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon D60||..||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||2,999||ebay.com|
|7.||Fujifilm X10||..||..||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Leica M10-P||..||..||3/5||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995||amazon.com|
|9.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|10.||Leica SL||4/5||..||4/5||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450||ebay.com|
|11.||Leica D-LUX 6||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2012||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Leica V-LUX 3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Dec 2011||949||ebay.com|
|13.||Leica M9||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica X1||3/5||..||..||+||..||4/5||Sep 2009||1,995||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D100||..||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D1X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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 5DS R vs Contax N Digital
- Canon 90D vs Leica D-LUX 5
- Canon SX510 vs Contax N Digital
- Canon T2i vs Leica D-LUX 5
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic LX7
- Contax N Digital vs Ricoh GR III
- Contax N Digital vs Sigma fp
- Contax N Digital vs Sony A6500
- Leica D-LUX 5 vs Nikon D3500
- Leica D-LUX 5 vs Olympus TG-5
- Leica D-LUX 5 vs Panasonic S1
- Leica D-LUX 5 vs Sony A77
Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Leica D-LUX 5
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||Leica D-LUX 5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Contax N mount lenses||24-90mm f/2.0-3.3|
|Launch Date||February 2002||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 7,399||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica D-LUX 5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||7.85 x 5.89 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||46.2365 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||9.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6.1 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3040 x 2008 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.90 μm||2.14 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.71 MP/cm2||21.59 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||50 - 1,600 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 12,800 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica D-LUX 5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||200k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica D-LUX 5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica D-LUX 5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica D-LUX 5|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||100 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
110 x 65 x 43 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||990 g (34.9 oz)||271 g (9.6 oz)|
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