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Contax N Digital vs Nikon D2X

The Contax N Digital and the Nikon D2X are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2002 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (N Digital) and an APS-C (D2X) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 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 Nikon D2X
Contax N Digital Nikon D2X
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Contax N mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 100-800 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 200k dots 2.5 LCD, 235k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
100 shots per battery charge3800 shots per battery charge
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g 158 x 150 x 86 mm, 1252 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Nikon D2X? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Nikon D2X 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.

Size Contax N Digital vs Nikon D2X
Compare N Digital versus D2X top
Comparison N Digital or D2X rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D2X is notably larger (13 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the D2X is markedly heavier (26 percent) than the N Digital. It is noteworthy in this context that the D2X 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, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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.
 
Nikon D2X 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
3.
 
Canon XC10 125 mm 102 mm 122 mm 1040 g 370 n Apr 2015 2,499i
4.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
5.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
6.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
7.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
8.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
9.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
11.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
12.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
13.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
14.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
15.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D2X was launched at a markedly lower price (by 32 percent) than the N Digital, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Contax N Digital features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D2X an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D2X 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 Nikon D2X sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the D2X offers a higher resolution of 12.2 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 5.52μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the D2X is much more recent (by 2 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 Nikon D2X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D2X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 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 Nikon D2X are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

N Digital versus D2X 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 2008none........
2.
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
3.
 
Canon XC10 1-inch 12.0 4000 30004K/30p........
4.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
5.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
6.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
7.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
8.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
9.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
10.
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
11.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
12.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
13.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
14.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
15.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
Neither the N Digital nor the D2X 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.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The N Digital and the D2X 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 D2X 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 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Contax N Digital and Nikon D2X in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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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
1.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
2.
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
3.
 
Canon XC10none n 3.0 1030 tilting Y 1/2000s 3.8 n Y
4.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 300Doptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
6.
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
8.
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
9.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
10.
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
11.
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
12.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
13.
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
16.
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the N Digital and the D2X write their files to Compact Flash 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 Nikon D2X 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
1.
 
Contax N DigitalY-----FW---
2.
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon XC10YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
5.
 
Canon 300DY-----1.1---
6.
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
7.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
8.
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
9.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
15.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-

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 D2X have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2X was replaced by the Nikon D2Xs, 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 Nikon websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Contax N Digital or the Nikon D2X – 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.

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Reasons to prefer 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.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.57x).
  • More compact: Is smaller (152x138mm vs 158x150mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 262g or 21 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).

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Advantages of the Nikon D2X:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 41%.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (235k vs 200k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3800 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (32 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D2X comes out slightly ahead of the N Digital (9 : 8 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.

N Digital 08:09 D2X

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Nikon D2X 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the N Digital and the D2X 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.

Expert reviews

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], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Contax N Digital.......... Feb 2002 7,399i
2.
 
Nikon D2X....+ +.... Sep 2004 4,999i
3.
 
Canon XC10....80/100.... Apr 2015 2,499i
4.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
5.
 
Canon 300D....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
6.
 
Canon D60....+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
7.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
8.
 
Leica SL4/5..84/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
9.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D3S5/5..89/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
11.
 
Nikon D3....+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
12.
 
Nikon D2Xs.......... Jun 2006 4,699i
13.
 
Nikon D200..+ ++ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
14.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
15.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ10004/5+ +82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899i
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 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.

Contax N Digital:
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Nikon D2X:
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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 Nikon D2X

    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 Nikon D2X
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 September 2004
    Launch Price USD 7,399 USD 4,999
    Sensor Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D2X
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 23.7 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 372.09 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3040 x 2008 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm 5.52 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 800 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.9
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 476
    Screen Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D2X
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x 0.57x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots 235k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D2X
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D2X
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D2X
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type 4xAA EN-EL4a
    Battery Life (CIPA)100 shots per charge3800 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    158 x 150 x 86 mm
    (6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz) 1252 g (44.2 oz)

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