Contax N Digital vs Nikon D70
The Contax N Digital and the Nikon D70 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2002 and January 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (N Digital) and an APS-C (D70) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 6 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 Nikon D70? 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 Nikon D70 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 Nikon D70 is notably smaller (26 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the D70 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the D70 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 D70, there are third party battery grips available as optional accessories (see here on eBay).
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Contax N Digital||152 mm||138 mm||80 mm||990 g||100||n||Feb 2002||7,399|
|2.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|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 M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|8.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|9.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|10.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|11.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|12.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|13.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|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.|
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 D70 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 86 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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 D70 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D70 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.
With 6.1MP, the N Digital offers a slightly higher resolution than the D70 (6MP), but the N Digital nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 11.90μm versus 7.85μm for the D70) due to its larger sensor. However, the D70 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the N Digital, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Contax N Digital has a native sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D70 are ISO 200 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Contax N Digital||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||none||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|7.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|9.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|10.||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 D70 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 D70 (0.73x vs 0.50x), 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 D70 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Contax N Digital||optical||Y||2.0||200||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the D70 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the N Digital and the D70 write their files to Compact Flash 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 Nikon D70 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Contax N Digital||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the D70) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the N Digital and the D70 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D70 was replaced by the Nikon D70s, 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.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Contax N Digital or the Nikon D70 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
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 0.50x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (200k vs 130k dots).
- 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 on the market for longer (launched in February 2002).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D70:
- More compact: Is smaller (140x111mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 311g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 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 (86 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 10 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the N Digital is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 6 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 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 Nikon D70 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 D70 in practical situations. 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|1.||Contax N Digital||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2002||7,399|
|2.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|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 M10-P||..||..||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|8.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|9.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|10.||Leica M9||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|11.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|12.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|13.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|14.||Nikon D100||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|15.||Nikon D1X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|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. 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? 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.
Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Nikon D70
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||Nikon D70|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Contax N mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2002||January 2004|
|Launch Price||USD 7,399||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Contax N Digital||Nikon D70|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||23.7 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||369.72 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6.1 Megapixels||6 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3040 x 2008 pixels||3008 x 2000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.90 μm||7.85 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.71 MP/cm2||1.63 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||50 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 1,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||50|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||529|
|Screen Specs||Contax N Digital||Nikon D70|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||1.8inch|
|LCD Resolution||200k dots||130k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Contax N Digital||Nikon D70|
|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||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Contax N Digital||Nikon D70|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB 1.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Contax N Digital||Nikon D70|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||100 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
140 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||990 g (34.9 oz)||679 g (24.0 oz)|
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