Contax N Digital vs YI M1
The Contax N Digital and the YI M1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2002 and September 2016. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (N Digital) and a Four Thirds (M1) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the YI provides 20.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Contax N Digital||YI M1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Contax N mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor||20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 50-1600||ISO 100-25600|
|Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|2.0" LCD, 200k dots||3.0" LCD, 1040k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed touchscreen|
|4 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|100 shots per battery charge||450 shots per battery charge|
|152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g||114 x 64 x 34 mm, 281 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the YI M1? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the YI M1. 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), 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 YI M1 is considerably smaller (65 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the M1 is substantially lighter (72 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the M1 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 power pack in the M1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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»||6.0 in||5.4 in||3.1 in||34.9 oz||100||n||Feb 2002||7,399||Contax N Digital|
|YI M1«||4.5 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.9 oz||450||n||Sep 2016||349||YI M1|
|Canon SX730« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.6 in||10.6 oz||250||n||Apr 2017||399||Canon SX730|
|Canon 10D« »||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel« »||5.6 in||3.9 in||2.8 in||22.9 oz||400||n||Aug 2003||899||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60« »||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.2 oz||620||n||Feb 2002||2,999||Canon D60|
|Fujifilm X-A3« »||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.6 in||12.0 oz||410||n||Aug 2016||399||Fujifilm X-A3|
|Leica M10-P« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica SL« »||5.8 in||4.1 in||1.5 in||29.9 oz||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450||Leica SL|
|Leica M9« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||Leica M9|
|Nikon 1 J5« »||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||8.1 oz||250||n||Apr 2015||399||Nikon 1 J5|
|Nikon D100« »||5.7 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||27.5 oz||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X« »||6.2 in||6.0 in||3.3 in||38.8 oz||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999||Nikon D1X|
|Panasonic GX850« »||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||210||n||Jan 2017||549||Panasonic GX850|
|Panasonic GF7« »||4.2 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||9.4 oz||230||n||Jan 2015||499||Panasonic GF7|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 M1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 95 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. 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 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 YI M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the M1 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 M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the M1 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 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 3.34μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the M1 is much more recent (by 14 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 YI M1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inch or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inch or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inch or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Contax N Digital are 15.2 x 10 inch or 38.6 x 25.5 cm for good quality, 12.2 x 8 inch or 30.9 x 20.4 cm for very good quality, and 10.1 x 6.7 inch 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 YI M1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (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.
|Contax N Digital||Full Frame||6.1||3040||2008||none||..||..||..||..||Contax N Digital|
|YI M1||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||YI M1|
|Canon SX730||1/2.3||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX730|
|Canon 10D||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||none||21.1||10.9||571||57||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||none||21.0||10.8||544||55||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||none||..||..||..||..||Canon D60|
|Fujifilm X-A3||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X-A3|
|Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88||Leica SL|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69||Leica M9|
|Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65||Nikon 1 J5|
|Nikon D100||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||none||..||..||..||..||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X||APS-C||5.9||3008||1960||none||..||..||..||..||Nikon D1X|
|Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73||Panasonic GX850|
|Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic GF7|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The M1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the M1 can use is 4K/30p.
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 M1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Contax N Digital, the YI M1, and comparable cameras.
|Contax N Digital||optical||Y||2.0||200||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n||Contax N Digital|
|YI M1||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||YI M1|
|Canon SX730||none||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9||Y||Y||Canon SX730|
|Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel||optical||n||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60||optical||Y||1.8||114||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon D60|
|Fujifilm X-A3||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Fujifilm X-A3|
|Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Leica SL|
|Leica M9||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M9|
|Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n||Nikon 1 J5|
|Nikon D100||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||1/16000s||3.0||n||n||Nikon D1X|
|Panasonic GX850||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||10.0||Y||n||Panasonic GX850|
|Panasonic GF7||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||5.8||Y||n||Panasonic GF7|
One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the M1 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 YI M1 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The N Digital writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the M1 uses SDXC 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 YI M1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Contax N Digital||Y||none||none||-||-||none||FW||-||-||-||Contax N Digital|
|YI M1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||YI M1|
|Canon SX730||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon SX730|
|Canon 10D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 10D|
|Canon Rebel||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon Rebel|
|Canon 1Ds||Y||none||none||-||-||none||FW||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Canon D60||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon D60|
|Fujifilm X-A3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Fujifilm X-A3|
|Leica M10-P||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica SL||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-||Leica SL|
|Leica M9||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M9|
|Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Nikon 1 J5|
|Nikon D100||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Nikon D100|
|Nikon D1X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||FW||-||-||-||Nikon D1X|
|Panasonic GX850||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Panasonic GX850|
|Panasonic GF7||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GF7|
It is notable that the M1 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the N Digital does not offer wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the M1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The M1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of YI. In contrast, the N Digital has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the N Digital from Contax. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Contax and YI websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Contax N Digital better than the YI M1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
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.
- 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 YI M1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 78%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/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 (1040k vs 200k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (114x64mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 709g or 72 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (450 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (95 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 14 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 M1 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 6 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 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 YI M1 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the N Digital or the M1 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 why expert reviews are important. 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.
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 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 YI M1
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||YI M1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Contax N mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2002||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 7399||USD 349|
|Sensor Specs||Contax N Digital||YI M1|
|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||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3040 x 2008 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.90 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.71 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||50-1600 ISO||100-25600 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Contax N Digital||YI M1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||200k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Contax N Digital||YI M1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000/s||1/4000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Contax N Digital||YI M1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Contax N Digital||YI M1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||100 shots per charge||450 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
152 x 138 x 80 mm
(6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
114 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||990 g (34.9 oz)||281 g (9.9 oz)|
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