Contax N Digital vs Leica M10
The Contax N Digital and the Leica M10 (Typ 3656) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2002 and January 2017. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the M10 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 23.8 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 M10 (Typ 3656)? 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 Leica M10 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M10 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the N Digital is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M10 is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the M10 is markedly lighter (33 percent) than the N Digital. It is noteworthy in this context that the M10 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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|
|2.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|3.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|4.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|6.||Canon D60||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||855 g||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Jun 2019||3,999|
|8.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|9.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|11.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|13.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|14.||Nikon D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|15.||Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999|
|Notes: 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 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 M10 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 11 percent) than the N Digital, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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 M10 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.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the M10 offers a higher resolution of 23.8 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 6.00μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the M10 is much more recent (by 14 years and 10 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 M10 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica M10 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M10 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 29.8 x 20 inches or 75.6 x 50.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 23.8 x 16 inches or 60.5 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 19.8 x 13.3 inches or 50.4 x 33.8 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 M10 (Typ 3656) are ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (no boost).
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.
|1.||Contax N Digital||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||none||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|11.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|13.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The N Digital and the M10 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same magnification (0.73x), but the one in the M10 has a wider field of view (100%) than the finder in the N Digital (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Contax N Digital, the Leica M10, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Contax N Digital||optical||Y||2.0 / 200||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|2.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon Rebel||optical||n||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon D60||optical||Y||1.8 / 114||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|8.||Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|9.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|11.||Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|13.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D100||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D1X||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||3.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the M10 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 Leica M10 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The N Digital writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the M10 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 M10 (Typ 3656) 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 M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon 10D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon Rebel||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica M10-P||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|9.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Leica SL||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Leica M9||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D100||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D1X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
It is notable that the M10 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the N Digital does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the M10) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The M10 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the N Digital has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the N Digital from Contax. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Contax N Digital or the Leica M10 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- 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.
- 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 M10 (Typ 3656):
- More detail: Has more megapixels (23.8 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 97%.
- 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 (1037k vs 200k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 330g or 33 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (210 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (11 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 14 years and 10 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M10 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 M10 perform in practice. 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 why expert reviews are important. 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|
|2.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|3.||Canon 10D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|4.||Canon Rebel||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|6.||Canon D60||..||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||2,999|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2019||3,999|
|8.||Leica M10-P||..||..||3/5||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|9.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|11.||Leica SL||4/5||..||4/5||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||4/5||..||..||..||4/5||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|13.||Leica M9||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|14.||Nikon D100||..||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|15.||Nikon D1X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Leica M10
- Canon 6D Mark II vs Leica M10
- Canon G9 X vs Contax N Digital
- Canon SX510 vs Contax N Digital
- Contax N Digital vs Olympus TG-5
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic FZ100
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic GH4
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic GH5s
- Fujifilm XP130 vs Leica M10
- Leica M10 vs Olympus E-P7
- Leica M10 vs Panasonic G1
- Leica M10 vs Sony HX350
Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Leica M10
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 M10|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Rangefinder camera|
|Camera Lens||Contax N mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2002||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 7,399||USD 6,595|
|Sensor Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica M10|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||6.1 Megapixels||23.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3040 x 2008 pixels||5952 x 3992 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.90 μm||6.00 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.71 MP/cm2||2.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||50 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 50,000 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||86|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||2133|
|Screen Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica M10|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||200k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica M10|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Manual Focus|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|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 M10|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||Firewire||no USB|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica M10|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||100 shots per charge||210 shots per charge|
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
139 x 80 x 39 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||990 g (34.9 oz)||660 g (23.3 oz)|
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