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Contax N Digital vs Panasonic L10

The Contax N Digital and the Panasonic Lumix DMC- L10 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2002 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (N Digital) and a Four Thirds (L10) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic 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 Panasonic L10
Contax N Digital Panasonic L10
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Contax N mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 200k dots 2.5 LCD, 207k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
100 shots per battery charge450 shots per battery charge
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g 135 x 96 x 78 mm, 556 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Panasonic Lumix DMC- L10? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Panasonic L10. 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.

Size Contax N Digital vs Panasonic L10
Compare N Digital versus L10 top
Comparison N Digital or L10 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L10 is considerably smaller (38 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the L10 is substantially lighter (44 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the L10 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.

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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.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
3.
 
Canon XC10 125 mm 102 mm 122 mm 1040 g 370 n Apr 2015 2,499i
4.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
5.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
6.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
7.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
8.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
9.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
11.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
12.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
14.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
15.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899i
16.
 
Panasonic G1 124 mm 84 mm 45 mm 360 g 410 n Sep 2008 599i
17.
 
Panasonic L1 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999i
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 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 L10 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 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 Panasonic L10 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the L10 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 L10 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Contax N Digital and Panasonic L10 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the L10 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 4.74μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the L10 is much more recent (by 5 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 Panasonic L10 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the L10 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC- L10 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

N Digital versus L10 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
3.
 
Canon XC10 1-inch 12.0 4000 30004K/30p........
4.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
5.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
6.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
7.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
8.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
9.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
10.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
11.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
12.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
13.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
14.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
15.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
16.
 
Panasonic G1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000none21.110.346353
17.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
The L10 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The N Digital lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The N Digital and the L10 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 L10 (0.73x vs 0.46x), 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 Panasonic L10 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.
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon XC10none n 3.0 1030 tilting Y 1/2000s 3.8 n Y
4.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 300Doptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
6.
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
8.
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
9.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
10.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
12.
 
Olympus E-420optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-520optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-410optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic G11440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Panasonic L1optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the L10 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 L10 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the N Digital does not have a selfie-screen.

The N Digital writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the L10 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC- L10 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.
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon XC10YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
5.
 
Canon 300DY-----1.1---
6.
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
7.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
8.
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
9.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
11.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
12.
 
Olympus E-420Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-520Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-410Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic FZ1000YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Panasonic G1Y----mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic L1Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the L10) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the N Digital and the L10 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Contax and Panasonic. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Contax and Panasonic websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Contax N Digital and the Panasonic L10? Which camera is better? 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 0.46x).
  • 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC- L10:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More compact: Is smaller (135x96mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 434g or 44 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (450 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 5 years and 6 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the L10 emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 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 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.

N Digital 07:10 L10

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Panasonic L10 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 L10 in practical situations. 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.

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.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
3.
 
Canon XC10....80/100.... Apr 2015 2,499i
4.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
5.
 
Canon 300D....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
6.
 
Canon D60....+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
7.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
8.
 
Leica SL4/5..84/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
9.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
10.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
11.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
12.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
14.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
15.
 
Panasonic FZ10004/5+ +82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899i
16.
 
Panasonic G1..+ +70/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599i
17.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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 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
Panasonic L10:
Check Ebay offers

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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Panasonic L10

    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 Panasonic L10
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 August 2007
    Launch Price USD 7,399 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Contax N Digital Panasonic L10
    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 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3040 x 2008 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 4.44 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
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.8
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 429
    Screen Specs Contax N Digital Panasonic L10
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x 0.46x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots 207k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Contax N Digital Panasonic L10
    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 Panasonic L10
    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 Panasonic L10
    Battery Type 4xAA DMW-BLA13
    Battery Life (CIPA)100 shots per charge450 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    135 x 96 x 78 mm
    (5.3 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz) 556 g (19.6 oz)

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