Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-300
The Contax N Digital and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were announced, 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 a Four Thirds (E-300) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 8 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 Olympus Evolt E-300? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Olympus E-300 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 width, height and depth 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 Olympus E-300 is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the E-300 is substantially lighter (37 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the E-300 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 E-300, Olympus provides the HLD-3 vertical grip as an optional accessory (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.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|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.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|12.||Nikon D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999|
|14.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|15.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|16.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|17.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 E-300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 89 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 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 Olympus E-300 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-300 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the N Digital has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-300 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-300 offers a higher resolution of 8 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 5.30μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the E-300 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 Olympus E-300 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-300 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 13.1 x 9.8 inches or 33.2 x 24.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 10.9 x 8.2 inches or 27.6 x 20.7 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 Olympus Evolt E-300 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Contax N Digital||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||none||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||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|
|11.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The N Digital and the E-300 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 E-300 (0.73x vs 0.5x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Contax N Digital, the Olympus E-300, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Contax N Digital||optical||Y||2.0 / 200||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|2.||Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon Rebel||optical||n||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon D60||optical||Y||1.8 / 114||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|8.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|9.||Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|10.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n|
|11.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5 / 207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D100||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D1X||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||3.0||n||n|
|14.||Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5 / 215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|15.||Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|16.||Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|17.||Olympus E-1||optical||Y||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the E-300 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 E-300 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-300 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 Olympus Evolt E-300 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Contax N Digital||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-300||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 10D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon Rebel||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 1Ds||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica M10-P||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|8.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|9.||Leica SL||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Leica M9||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D100||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D1X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-330||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-400||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-500||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the E-300) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the N Digital and the E-300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-300 was replaced by the Olympus E-330, 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 Olympus websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Contax N Digital or the Olympus E-300 – 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.
Arguments in favor of 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 0.5x).
- 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 134k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2.5 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).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus Evolt E-300:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (8 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 12%.
- More compact: Is smaller (147x85mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 366g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (89 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 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 N Digital is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Olympus E-300 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 E-300 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.
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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.||Olympus E-300||..||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|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||..||..||3/5||..||..||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||..||4/5||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|10.||Leica M9||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|11.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|12.||Nikon D100||..||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D1X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|14.||Olympus E-330||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|15.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|16.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|17.||Olympus E-1||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|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. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1Ds vs Olympus E-300
- Canon SL3 vs Contax N Digital
- Canon T4i vs Contax N Digital
- Canon T6s vs Contax N Digital
- Contax N Digital vs Fujifilm X-H1
- Contax N Digital vs Nikon D810
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic S1R
- Fujifilm X-T3 vs Olympus E-300
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-300
- Olympus E-300 vs Sony A6300
- Olympus E-300 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Olympus E-300 vs Sony NEX-5T
Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-300
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||Olympus E-300|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Contax N mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2002||September 2004|
|Launch Price||USD 7,399||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Contax N Digital||Olympus E-300|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6.1 Megapixels||8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3040 x 2008 pixels||3264 x 2448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.90 μm||5.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.71 MP/cm2||3.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||50 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Contax N Digital||Olympus E-300|
|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||134k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Contax N Digital||Olympus E-300|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Contax N Digital||Olympus E-300|
|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||Olympus E-300|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||100 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
147 x 85 x 64 mm
(5.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||990 g (34.9 oz)||624 g (22.0 oz)|
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