Contax N Digital vs Leica S-E Typ 006
The Contax N Digital and the Leica S-E (Typ 006) are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2002 and September 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (N Digital) and a medium format (S-E Typ 006) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 37.5 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Contax N Digital||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Contax N mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor||37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor|
|no Video||no Video|
|ISO 50-1,600||ISO 100-1,600|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.0 LCD, 200k dots||3.0 LCD, 922k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second||1.5 shutter flaps per second|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g||160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1260 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Leica S-E (Typ 006)? 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 S-E Typ 006 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 Leica S-E Typ 006 is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Contax N Digital. However, the S-E Typ 006 is markedly heavier (27 percent) than the N Digital. It is noteworthy in this context that the S-E Typ 006 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. In order to provide similar functionality for the S-E Typ 006, Leica provides the Multi-Function Handgrip S vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
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|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|Canon 10D||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Canon Rebel||5.6 in||3.9 in||2.8 in||22.9 oz||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|Canon 1Ds||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|Canon D60||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.2 oz||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999|
|Leica S3||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|Leica M10-P||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|Leica M10||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica SL||5.8 in||4.1 in||1.5 in||29.9 oz||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|Leica S Typ 007||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|Leica S Typ 006||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|Leica M9||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Leica S2||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||49.7 oz||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|Nikon D100||5.7 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||27.5 oz||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Nikon D1X||6.2 in||6.0 in||3.3 in||38.8 oz||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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The N Digital was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 percent) than the S-E Typ 006, 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. 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and 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 Leica S-E Typ 006 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S-E Typ 006 is 56 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 0.8. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 37.5MP, the S-E Typ 006 offers a higher resolution than the N Digital (6.1MP), but the S-E Typ 006 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). Yet, the S-E Typ 006 is a much more recent model (by 12 years and 6 months) than the N Digital, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S-E Typ 006 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica S-E Typ 006 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S-E Typ 006 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.5 x 25 inches or 95.3 x 63.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.7 inches or 63.5 x 42.3 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 S-E (Typ 006) are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). 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||none||..||..||..||..|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The N Digital and the S-E Typ 006 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 S-E Typ 006 offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the N Digital (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the S-E Typ 006 has a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.73x), 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 S-E Typ 006 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|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
The N Digital writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the S-E Typ 006 uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The S-E Typ 006 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the N Digital only has one slot.
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 S-E (Typ 006) and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Contax N Digital||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|Leica S Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
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 S-E Typ 006 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S-E Typ 006 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 007, 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? Which of the two cameras – the Contax N Digital or the Leica S-E Typ 006 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 270g or 21 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).
Advantages of the Leica S-E (Typ 006):
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.5 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 147%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.73x).
- 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 (922k vs 200k dots).
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More modern: Reflects 12 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 S-E Typ 006 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 7 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 S-E Typ 006 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the N Digital and the S-E Typ 006 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
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 (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|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|Canon 10D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Canon Rebel||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2003||899|
|Canon 1Ds||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|Canon D60||..||+ +||o||..||..||Feb 2002||2,999|
|Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|Leica M10-P||..||..||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica SL||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|Leica S Typ 007||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|Leica M9||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|Nikon D100||..||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Nikon D1X||..||+ +||..||o||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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, 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon M5 vs Contax N Digital
- Contax N Digital vs Fujifilm X100S
- Contax N Digital vs Nikon D7000
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic GF1
- Contax N Digital vs Sony NEX-5R
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Panasonic FZ82
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Panasonic G10
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Panasonic GX85
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Pentax K-3
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Sony A7S II
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Sony RX10
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Sony RX100 III
Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Leica S-E Typ 006
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 S-E Typ 006|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Contax N mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2002||September 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 7,399||USD 16,900|
|Sensor Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||45.0 x 30.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||1350 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||54.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6.1 Megapixels||37.5 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3040 x 2008 pixels||7500 x 5000 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 - 1,600 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||200k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||1.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Contax N Digital||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||990 g (34.9 oz)||1260 g (44.4 oz)|
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