Ur-Leica Tamron Camera Ranking
Leica 1600mm Soligor Shutter count
A potelyt.com – Photography & Imaging Resources
ad
PW

Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-P3

The Contax N Digital and the Olympus PEN E-P3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2002 and June 2011. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the E-P3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (N Digital) and a Four Thirds (E-P3) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus 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 Olympus E-P3
Contax N Digital Olympus E-P3
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Contax N mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 200-12,800
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0 LCD, 200k dots 3.0 LCD, 614k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
4 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
100 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g 122 x 69 x 34 mm, 369 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Olympus PEN E-P3? 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 Olympus E-P3 are illustrated 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-P3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the N Digital is only available in black.

Size Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-P3
Compare N Digital versus E-P3 top
Comparison N Digital or E-P3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-P3 is considerably smaller (60 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the E-P3 is substantially lighter (63 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the E-P3 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

scroll hint
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.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
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 D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
12.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799i
17.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799i
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-P3 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.

ad

Sensor comparison

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 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 Olympus E-P3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-P3 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-P3 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Contax N Digital and Olympus E-P3 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-P3 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 4.29μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the E-P3 is much more recent (by 9 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.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-P3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-P3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 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 PEN E-P3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

N Digital versus E-P3 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

scroll hint
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.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
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 D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
12.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
13.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
16.
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
17.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-P3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P3 can use is 1080/60i.

ad

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 E-P3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-P3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-3. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Contax N Digital and Olympus E-P3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

scroll hint
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.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n 3.0 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
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 D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
13.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-P1none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
17.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y

One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the E-P3 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-P3 uses SDXC cards.

ad

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 Olympus PEN E-P3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

scroll hint
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.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo---mini2.0---
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 D100Y-----1.1---
12.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
13.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo---mini2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo---mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the E-P3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the N Digital and the E-P3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P3 was replaced by the Olympus E-P5, 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.

ad

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Contax N Digital and the Olympus E-P3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:

  • 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.
  • 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).

ilogo

Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-P3:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 38%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • 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 (614k vs 200k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More compact: Is smaller (122x69mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 621g or 63 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (330 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (89 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 9 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 E-P3 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 7 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

N Digital 07:13 E-P3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Olympus E-P3 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 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 E-P3 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 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.

scroll hint
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.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/10074/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
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 D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
12.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-P1..+66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799i
17.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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
Olympus E-P3:
Check Ebay offers

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

~
    loader

    Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-P3

    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 Olympus E-P3
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 7,399 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Contax N Digital Olympus E-P3
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3040 x 2008 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 12,800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 51
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 536
    Screen Specs Contax N Digital Olympus E-P3
    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 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots 614k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Contax N Digital Olympus E-P3
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Contax N Digital Olympus E-P3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Contax N Digital Olympus E-P3
    Battery Type 4xAA BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)100 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    122 x 69 x 34 mm
    (4.8 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz) 369 g (13.0 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

    You are here Home  »  CAM-parator  »  Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-P3

    Thanks for your vote!

    You rated this page 4 out of 5.


    Rating

    Any additional comment or suggestion for improvement would be welcome.


    If you like it, make sure you share it:

    • Mention this page to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
    • Bookmark it in your browser for future reference by pressing "Crtl" + "D".
    • Create a hyperlink by copying the text below into your web-project or discussion forum entry.

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to provide feedback. I appreciate it.