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Contax N Digital vs Leica M Typ 262

The Contax N Digital and the Leica M (Typ 262) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2002 and November 2015. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the M Typ 262 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 23.7 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
versus
Leica M Typ 262
Contax N Digital   Leica M Typ 262
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Contax N mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 23.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 200-6,400
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 200k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g 139 x 80 x 42 mm, 680 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Leica M (Typ 262)? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Leica M Typ 262. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M Typ 262 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the N Digital is only available in black.

Size Contax N Digital vs Leica M Typ 262
Compare N Digital versus M Typ 262 top
Comparison N Digital or M Typ 262 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M Typ 262 is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the M Typ 262 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the N Digital. It is noteworthy in this context that the M Typ 262 is splash and dust-proof, while the N Digital does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
2.
 
Leica M Typ 262 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Nov 2015 5,195i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
4.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
5.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
6.
 
Canon 1Ds 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1265 g 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
7.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Jun 2019 3,999 i
9.
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
10.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249i
12.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
14.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
15.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
16.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The M Typ 262 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the M Typ 262 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Contax N Digital and Leica M Typ 262 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the M Typ 262 offers a higher resolution of 23.7 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 6.01μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the M Typ 262 is much more recent (by 13 years and 8 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. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M Typ 262 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica M Typ 262 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M Typ 262 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 29.8 x 19.9 inches or 75.6 x 50.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 23.8 x 15.9 inches or 60.5 x 40.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 19.8 x 13.3 inches or 50.4 x 33.7 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 M (Typ 262) are ISO 200 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

N Digital versus M Typ 262 MP

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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none21.510.5128359
2.
 
Leica M Typ 262 Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976none24.813.7247890
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
4.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
5.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
6.
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
7.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none20.39.830147
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p25.214.2282194
9.
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none25.114.1273993
10.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
12.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
14.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
15.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.49.939448
16.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
Neither the N Digital nor the M Typ 262 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 variety of features. The N Digital and the M Typ 262 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 viewfinder in the M Typ 262 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the N Digital (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the N Digital has a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.68x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Contax N Digital and Leica M Typ 262 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/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
1.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y2.0 / 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
2.
 
Leica M Typ 262optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y3.2 / 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
4.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
6.
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
7.
 
Canon D60optical Y1.8 / 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
9.
 
Leica M10-Poptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
10.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y
12.
 
Leica SL4400 Y3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
14.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D100optical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n

One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the M Typ 262 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 M Typ 262 uses SDXC 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 Leica M (Typ 262) and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Contax N DigitalY- / ----FW---
2.
 
Leica M Typ 262Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmono / monoYYmini3.0---
4.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
5.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
6.
 
Canon 1DsY- / ----FW---
7.
 
Canon D60Y- / ----1.1---
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240Ymono / ----2.0---
9.
 
Leica M10-PY- / -----Y--
10.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Leica SLYstereo / monoYYfull3.0Y--
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereo / mono---2.0---
14.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D100Y- / ----1.1---
16.
 
Nikon D1XY- / ----FW---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the M Typ 262) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the N Digital and the M Typ 262 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M Typ 262 was replaced by the Leica M10, 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.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Contax N Digital and the Leica M Typ 262? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Contax N Digital:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.68x).
  • 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 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • 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).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica M (Typ 262):

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (23.7 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 96%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • 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 (921k vs 200k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 310g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 13 years and 8 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M Typ 262 emerges as the winner of the match-up (11 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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 08:11 M Typ 262

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 M Typ 262. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Contax N Digital............ Feb 2002 7,399i
2.
 
Leica M Typ 262............ Nov 2015 5,195i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II....4.5/589/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
4.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
5.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
6.
 
Canon 1Ds......+ +.... Sep 2002 8,999i
7.
 
Canon D60......+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240............ Jun 2019 3,999 i
9.
 
Leica M10-P....3/5....4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
10.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 1165/5....80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249i
12.
 
Leica SL4/5..4/584/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
13.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5......4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
14.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
15.
 
Nikon D100......+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
16.
 
Nikon D1X......+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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.

Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M Typ 262:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Leica M Typ 262

    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 Leica M Typ 262
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 November 2015
    Launch Price USD 7,399 USD 5,195
    Sensor Specs Contax N Digital Leica M Typ 262
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 35.8 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 855.62 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 43 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels 23.7 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3040 x 2008 pixels 5952 x 3976 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm 6.01 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 2.77 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Screen Specs Contax N Digital Leica M Typ 262
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x 0.68x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Contax N Digital Leica M Typ 262
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Contax N Digital Leica M Typ 262
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Contax N Digital Leica M Typ 262
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type 4xAA BP-SCL2
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    139 x 80 x 42 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz) 680 g (24.0 oz)

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