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Contax N Digital vs Leica TL2

The Contax N Digital and the Leica TL2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2002 and July 2017. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the TL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (N Digital) and an APS-C (TL2) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 24.1 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 TL2
Contax N Digital Leica TL2
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Contax N mount lenses Leica T mount lenses
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 100-50,000
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0 LCD, 200k dots 3.7 LCD, 1230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
4 shutter flaps per second 7 shutter flaps per second
100 shots per battery charge250 shots per battery charge
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g 134 x 69 x 33 mm, 399 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Leica TL2? 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 physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Leica TL2 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The TL2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the N Digital is only available in black.

Size Contax N Digital vs Leica TL2
Compare N Digital versus TL2 top
Comparison N Digital or TL2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica TL2 is considerably smaller (56 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the TL2 is substantially lighter (60 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the TL2 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 power pack in the TL2 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also 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 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Contax N Digital 6.0 in 5.4 in 3.1 in 34.9 oz 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
 
Leica TL2 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Canon 10D 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Canon Rebel 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899i
 
Canon 1Ds 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Canon D60 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.2 oz 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
 
Fujifilm X-T20 4.6 in 3.3 in 1.6 in 13.5 oz 350 n Jan 2017 899 i
 
Fujifilm X-A3 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 12.0 oz 410 n Aug 2016 399i
 
Leica M10-P 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica CL 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica M10 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica TL 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Leica SL 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Leica M9 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Nikon D3400 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
 
Nikon D100 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Nikon D1X 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 TL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 74 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.

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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. 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. 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 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 TL2 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the TL2 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 Leica TL2 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the TL2 offers a higher resolution of 24.1 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 3.92μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the TL2 is much more recent (by 15 years and 4 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 TL2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica TL2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the TL2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20.1 inches or 76.4 x 51 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16.1 inches or 61.1 x 40.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.4 inches or 50.9 x 34 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 TL2 are ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (no boost).

N Digital versus TL2 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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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
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none........
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
 
Fujifilm X-T20 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p........
 
Fujifilm X-A3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none........
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The TL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the TL2 can use is 4K/30p.

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Feature comparison

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 TL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the TL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the Visoflex (Typ 020). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Contax N Digital and Leica TL2 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
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
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-T202360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-A3none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Leica M10-Poptical n 3.0 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica TLoptional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D1Xoptical 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 TL2 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 TL2 uses SDXC cards.

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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 TL2 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Contax N DigitalY-----FW---
 
Leica TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
 
Fujifilm X-T20YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-A3Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Leica M10-PY------Y--
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
 
Leica TLYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---

It is notable that the TL2 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 TL2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The TL2 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Contax N Digital better than the Leica TL2 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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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 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.
  • 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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Advantages of the Leica TL2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 98%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 200k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 591g or 60 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (250 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • 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 introduced into a lower priced category (74 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 15 years and 4 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TL2 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 7 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 07:16 TL2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Leica TL2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the N Digital or the TL2 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Contax N Digital.......... Feb 2002 7,399i
 
Leica TL2....4/5..4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Canon 10D..+ +..o.. Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Canon Rebel..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899i
 
Canon 1Ds..+ +...... Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Canon D60..+ +o.... Feb 2002 2,999i
 
Fujifilm X-T20+ +82/1005/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 899 i
 
Fujifilm X-A3..74/1004.5/5..4/5 Aug 2016 399i
 
Leica M10-P........4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica TL........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Leica SL..84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Nikon D3400+76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
 
Nikon D100..+ +oo.. Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Nikon D1X..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 5,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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.

Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers
Leica TL2:
Check Amazon price

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.

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    Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Leica TL2

    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 TL2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses Leica T mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 July 2017
    Launch Price USD 7,399 USD 1,950
    Sensor Specs Contax N Digital Leica TL2
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels 24.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3040 x 2008 pixels 6014 x 4014 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm 3.92 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 6.52 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 50,000 ISO
    Screen Specs Contax N Digital Leica TL2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.7inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots 1230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Contax N Digital Leica TL2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 7 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 TL2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector Firewire USB 3.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Contax N Digital Leica TL2
    Battery Type 4xAA BP-DC13
    Battery Life (CIPA)100 shots per charge250 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz) 399 g (14.1 oz)

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