Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-PL2
The Contax N Digital and the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2002 and January 2011. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the E-PL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (N Digital) and a Four Thirds (E-PL2) 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.
|Contax N Digital||Olympus E-PL2|
|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||720/30p Video|
|ISO 50-1,600||ISO 200-6,400|
|Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|2.0 LCD, 200k dots||3.0 LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|100 shots per battery charge||280 shots per battery charge|
|152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g||114 x 72 x 42 mm, 362 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Olympus PEN E-PL2? 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 Olympus E-PL2 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the N Digital is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL2 is considerably smaller (61 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the E-PL2 is substantially lighter (63 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the E-PL2 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 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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Contax N Digital||152 mm||138 mm||80 mm||990 g||100||n||Feb 2002||7,399|
|Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|Canon XC10||125 mm||102 mm||122 mm||1040 g||..||n||Apr 2015||2,499|
|Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Canon 300D||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|Canon D60||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||855 g||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999|
|Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Nikon D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999|
|Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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 E-PL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 92 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.
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. 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 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 Olympus E-PL2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL2 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-PL2 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PL2 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-PL2 is much more recent (by 8 years and 10 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-PL2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PL2 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-PL2 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Contax N Digital||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL2 can use is 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range 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-PL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Contax N Digital and Olympus E-PL2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|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 E-PL2 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-PL2 uses SDHC 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 Olympus PEN E-PL2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Contax N Digital||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the E-PL2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the N Digital and the E-PL2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL2 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL3, 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? Is there a clear favorite between the Contax N Digital and the Olympus E-PL2? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer 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).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL2:
- 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 720/30p 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 (460k vs 200k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (114x72mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 628g or 63 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (280 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 (92 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 10 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-PL2 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 7 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 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 Olympus E-PL2 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the N Digital or the E-PL2 perform in practice. 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Contax N Digital||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2002||7,399|
|Olympus E-PL2||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|Canon XC10||..||80/100||..||..||..||Apr 2015||2,499|
|Canon 10D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Canon 300D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2003||899|
|Canon D60||..||+ +||o||..||..||Feb 2002||2,999|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica SL||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|Leica M9||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Nikon D100||..||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Nikon D1X||..||+ +||..||o||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|Olympus XZ-2||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-P3||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Olympus E-PL1||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Panasonic FZ1000||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 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.
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.
- Canon 20D vs Olympus E-PL2
- Canon G1 X Mark III vs Olympus E-PL2
- Canon G16 vs Olympus E-PL2
- Canon R vs Contax N Digital
- Canon T2i vs Olympus E-PL2
- Contax N Digital vs Leica X2
- Contax N Digital vs Nikon D300S
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic ZS200
- Contax N Digital vs Panasonic ZS80
- Fujifilm X-Pro2 vs Olympus E-PL2
- Leica M9 vs Olympus E-PL2
- Leica V-LUX 4 vs Olympus E-PL2
Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-PL2
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-PL2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Contax N mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2002||January 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 7,399||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Contax N Digital||Olympus E-PL2|
|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||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||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||50 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||573|
|Screen Specs||Contax N Digital||Olympus E-PL2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||200k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Contax N Digital||Olympus E-PL2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|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||Olympus E-PL2|
|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-PL2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||100 shots per charge||280 shots per charge|
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
114 x 72 x 42 mm
(4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||990 g (34.9 oz)||362 g (12.8 oz)|
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