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Contax N Digital vs Nikon D3000

The Contax N Digital and the Nikon D3000 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2002 and July 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (N Digital) and an APS-C (D3000) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 10 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 D3000
Contax N Digital Nikon D3000
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Contax N mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 10 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 200k dots 3.0 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
100 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g 126 x 97 x 64 mm, 536 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Nikon D3000? 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 D3000 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Contax N Digital vs Nikon D3000
Compare N Digital versus D3000 top
Comparison N Digital or D3000 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3000 is considerably smaller (42 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the D3000 is substantially lighter (46 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the D3000 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. In order to provide similar functionality for the D3000, there are third party battery grips available as optional accessories (see here on eBay).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
3.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
4.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
5.
 
Canon 1Ds 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1265 g 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
6.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
7.
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
8.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
9.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
10.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
11.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
12.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
13.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
14.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
15.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
16.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
17.
 
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.

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 D3000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 92 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.

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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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Contax N Digital features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D3000 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3000 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 D3000 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the D3000 offers a higher resolution of 10 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 6.11μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the D3000 is much more recent (by 7 years and 5 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 D3000 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3000 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 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 D3000 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

N Digital versus D3000 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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
1.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none........
2.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
3.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
4.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
5.
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
6.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
7.
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none........
8.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
9.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
10.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
11.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
12.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
13.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
14.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
15.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
16.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
17.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
Neither the N Digital nor the D3000 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

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The N Digital and the D3000 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 field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the N Digital has a higher magnification than the one of the D3000 (0.73x vs 0.53x), 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 Nikon D3000 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
1.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
2.
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
5.
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
6.
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Leica M10-Poptical n 3.0 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
8.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
9.
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
10.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
11.
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
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 D3000 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 D3000 uses SDHC 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 D3000 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 D3000Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
4.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
5.
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
6.
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
7.
 
Leica M10-PY------Y--
8.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
9.
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
10.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
17.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the D3000) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the N Digital and the D3000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3000 was replaced by the Nikon D3100, 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? Is the Contax N Digital better than the Nikon D3000 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Contax N Digital:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.53x).
  • 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 Nikon D3000:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 28%.
  • 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 (230k vs 200k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (126x97mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 454g or 46 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (92 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 5 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3000 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 7 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 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 07:09 D3000

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Nikon D3000 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the N Digital and the D3000 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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 D3000..+72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
3.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
4.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
5.
 
Canon 1Ds....+ +.... Sep 2002 8,999i
6.
 
Canon D60....+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
7.
 
Leica M10-P........4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
8.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
9.
 
Leica SL4/5..84/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
10.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
11.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
12.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
13.
 
Nikon D60..80/100+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
14.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
15.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
16.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
17.
 
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 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3000:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu 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 Nikon D3000

    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 D3000
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 July 2009
    Launch Price USD 7,399 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3000
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3040 x 2008 pixels 3872 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm 6.11 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 2.69 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 62
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 563
    Screen Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3000
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x 0.53x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3000
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3000
    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 Nikon D3000
    Battery Type 4xAA EN-EL9a
    Battery Life (CIPA)100 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    126 x 97 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz) 536 g (18.9 oz)

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