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Archive 2012 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review

  
 
retrofocus
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p.3 #1 · p.3 #1 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Great review, very interesting, thanks, Fred! I also liked that you included some technical details plus tests about AA and Moire effects. Definitely sensor-wise, the D800 looks superb.


Apr 21, 2012 at 03:40 AM
RobDickinson
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p.3 #2 · p.3 #2 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


According to lensrental the d800 has about a 15% resolution advantage between f4 and f8 with a subset of lenses.

You would certainly exploit that if you had one.

The DR and low read noise are the real biggies.



Apr 21, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Tim Ashton
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p.3 #3 · p.3 #3 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Thanks Fred for your writeup.
Nikon really have to sit down and design something to compete with the Canon TSE and we could all retire to heaven.
The crazy thing is that if it werent for the D800 we would be just blown away by the 5D3, so the bottom line is it is a great time for all photographers

Tim



Apr 21, 2012 at 03:41 AM
dhphoto
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p.3 #4 · p.3 #4 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Tim Ashton wrote:
The crazy thing is that if it werent for the D800 we would be just blown away by the 5D3, so the bottom line is it is a great time for all photographers

Tim


Almost no increase in image quality in all the years since the 5DII was introduced doesn't blow me away, that's for sure, better body though the 5D3 may have it's the IQ that counts.

An easy Nikon win (for now)



Apr 21, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Ralph Conway
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p.3 #5 · p.3 #5 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Thank you very, very much Fred. And wonderfull pics you did to illustrate the review.

No doubth both cameras are fantastic and the D800s IQ at those low ISO values looks very impressive to me. I guess it is a great improvement for landscapers needs.
I myself very seldom push shadows. Insted I regulary have to shoot at ISO 3.200, often at 6.800, fiewer at ISO 12.600 and in some cases even at 25k. In all cases wide open. In the past I just did not do the image. It is possible now with acceptable (to me) results. As far I see, D800s advantadge in DR/(no) banding is eaten up about ISO 3200 by noise. And my print needs seldom overcome 30x45cm.

My favorite choice is still 5D II. But I see there is still space for improvement and Canon clearly did not focus un improven sensor capabilities.

I would love to see what a Nikon D750 at 20MP could do with a sensor based on this technology!

Ralph



Apr 21, 2012 at 05:46 AM
eosfun
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p.3 #6 · p.3 #6 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


As always great photos Fred thanks for sharing. And an interesting review. Your experience as a well respected landscape photographer makes well balanced conclusions on both cameras and their system meaningful and influential for the choices and buying decisions many (landscape) photographers have to make. Thanks again, this is also EOSfun


Apr 21, 2012 at 06:23 AM
dgdg
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p.3 #7 · p.3 #7 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Thanks Fred. Looks like I need to stick with my 5Dc for a while until I can take photos as good as yours and many others here. Then when I feel I am hitting the limit, I can upgrade! Sure wish I had AF tracking though for fast moving kids...


Apr 21, 2012 at 06:40 AM
Daan B
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p.3 #8 · p.3 #8 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


But, the build quality on this new Canon is impressive and its auto-focusing system is a terrific upgrade. Personally, I don't rely on the camera auto-focusing system, but if you shoot events, weddings, photojournalism or even sports, you should seriously consider this upgraded camera.

As far as I'm concerned, the big attraction is the incredible dynamic range. Especially in the 100-400 ISO range, which is critical for landscape photography. Nikon's ability to recover shadows and highlights without a noticeable penalty is a huge bonus.

To me this says that the 5D3 is the better option for event/PJ work and the D800 is the better option for landscape/studio work. Do you agree?



Apr 21, 2012 at 07:31 AM
thw2
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p.3 #9 · p.3 #9 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Daan B wrote:
To me this says that the 5D3 is the better option for event/PJ work and the D800 is the better option for landscape/studio work.


A camera that has poorly implemented live view is a serious no-no for landscape work. This is particularly true when precise focus is crucial for a high pixel count camera. I have zero experience with studio work so I cannot comment on it.

I am surprised Fred's copy of the 14-24 f/2.8 lens has poor corner performance. Not sure if the 36 MP sensor is finally revealing the lens weakness or Nikon QA is just as unreliable as Canon's.



Apr 21, 2012 at 08:29 AM
cameron12x
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p.3 #10 · p.3 #10 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


If one shoots a lot of video, the decision is also a complicated one:

https://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1106804

Not unexpectedly, it's pretty clear the D800 stomps both Canons at low ISO settings but it gets stomped by the Canons at higher ISO. The crossover appears to be at about ISO 800?

Pick your poison.




Apr 21, 2012 at 08:59 AM
thw2
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p.3 #11 · p.3 #11 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


snapsy wrote:
Here's a video I did about the issue:



Sorry, never got the chance to view your you-tube video until now. Guess increasing the in-camera sharpness is the way to work around this live-view problem. It's a workable solution as long as one shoots RAW only.



Apr 21, 2012 at 09:41 AM
AGeoJO
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p.3 #12 · p.3 #12 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Echoing others that already posted previously, this is a great review and frankly, due to the (slight) shortcomings of Nikkor lenses you used and the not-so-good Liveview of the D800, the review seems to be biased more towards the 5D Mark III and it shows that in the number of wornderful images taken with the 5D Mark III you included in the review. I realized that you are more familiar and as such, more comfortable with a Canon system.

One would be legally blind for not noticing the ability of the Exmor sensor if shadows are lifted. Whether it has any practical and tangible application in real life photography is still debatable. Some folks use it and consider that as the most important aspect while others do not see it that much, if any, in their real life photography. So, I don't want to dwell on it too much here but the difference is definitely there.

I looked at the images I took over the years and I came to the conclusion that I am actually less of a landscape photographer and for sure, I do not do any studio unless borrowed . So, I will keep on doing things that I have been doing and enjoy photography with my Canon gear. The 5D Mark III is the best what Canon offers currently although I fully realize that it can use some improvement in the sensor arena, but I love the camera for what it does and does it well. I will do my best to enjoy photography with it. Of course, this is my personal take and YMMV.

Of course, using better optics, as Fred demonstrated, and proper camera support, etc. helps quite a bit in improving and in getting the most out of the IQ. We live in the digital age, at least, in photography and post processing plays a significant role in this type of photography. Personally, I would not post any images, unless it is strictly for test/comparison purposes, without any PP of some sort. With that said, I don't mind using a noise reduction application to narrow the gap between the two sensors. Some folks may say, what can be done for one can be done for the other. True, but files from the 5D Mark III will benenfit more in that respect than those coming from the D800. So, if necessary, I use apply Dfine (or other similar noise reduction software) and I also try to squeeze every aspect by using DLO for selected images.

Fred, again, thanks for the review!

Joshua



Apr 21, 2012 at 09:43 AM
arbitrage
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p.3 #13 · p.3 #13 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


First off, great balanced review and amazing shots Fred

I think your review is a very concise and an accurate representation of how these cameras compare for landscape use and in general sensor differences.

I almost bought the D800 but then the 5D3 was announced and I just wanted to stick with my Canon glass (arguably Canon's saving grace for not losing a tonne of customers). I've been very happy with the 5D3 and shoot it alongside my 5D2 as a 2 camera setup. I think that the D800 obviously blows the Canon away with its EXMOR sensor. Those differences are staggering in your shadow comparisons. However, like you also mentioned exposing to the right helps a lot and you can still get a great DR out of the 5D3. Not enough for all situations but enough for most.

What bothers me is how the D800 has a couple of fairly serious usability handicaps. The LV and green screen issues are really a big issue for most modern landscape shooters even though the sensor is an absolute blessing for these same shooters.

Your review has also moved the 24 TSE mk2 to the top of my next purchase list, sharing that spot with the 600mk2. I think my 70-200f/2.8ISmkII will have to wait a while

I wanted to point out as a general helpful point that you can set the multi-controller to move the AF point and it will light up as you move it around. You do have to have activated metering or have pushed the AF selection button to have the camera "wake-up" but I think this is the exact same as on the 5Dmark2. You set this in the "Custom Controls" section in the 2nd menu of the CF menu (orange menu) or from the Q menu.

I have a question also about the Transcend 64GB UDMA7 card. I've been trying to decide if it is worth the money to buy one of the 1000X Lexar cards or try out the 64GB Transcend for a lot less money. Did you get 16 shots with the Transcend in the 5D3 buffer and 18 with the Lexar? I may stick to the cheaper option if that was the case.

Thanks again for the review.



Apr 21, 2012 at 09:55 AM
OwlsEyes
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p.3 #14 · p.3 #14 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Fred,
As many have already stated, this is one of the nicest reviews to date that compare these two cameras during real shooting situations. Your lack of familiarity with the Nikon system is forgiven given the objective and fair approach you've taken to this test. I've shot Nikon in the past but have been steeped in the Canon system for many years now. Like many, I am tempted by the high-res capabilities of the D800, but am now even more impressed given the ability to recover shadow detail. While the live view issues present one limitation, the gain in sensor technology is staggering.

It is likely that I will stick with my Canon gear, but I continue to question the wisdom of the 5D-3 price when compared to the D800. Had Canon maintained the $2700 price point, their offering would seem more appealing to me. Until I decide whether to stay or go, I'll hold off on the upgrades and wait for the supplies and prices of these bodies to stabilize.

great work on the review,
bruce

Edited on Apr 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM · View previous versions



Apr 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM
snapsy
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p.3 #15 · p.3 #15 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Ralph Conway wrote:
I would love to see what a Nikon D750 at 20MP could do with a sensor based on this technology!
Ralph


It would do exactly the same as the D800 but with lower resolution and slightly less DR.



Apr 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM
Peter Emmerson
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p.3 #16 · p.3 #16 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Thank you for the review. I have been shooting with Canon products since 2007 and have not seen noise like this, ( if I had taken a shot and the flash didn't fire I would sometimes try and rescue the file and I would see noise like this when pushing 3 - 4 stops, in the end I would discard the file ). I brought the files ( canon-mk3-2b.jpg + before2b, canon-mk3-2.jpg+before-shadow-push-2.jpg ) into photoshop to layer/ new adjustment layer and the histograms did not match at all. So I matched the images in terms of exposure and the Canon fared extremely well when readjusted files, the resolution looked better in some of the Canon which surprised me. I am wondering if there is a problem with the Canon camera that was used. I have personally tested the 5D MK III and not seen results like this. Would like to have access to the raw files if possible.

Peter



Apr 21, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Ralph Conway
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p.3 #17 · p.3 #17 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


snapsy wrote:
It would do exactly the same as the D800 but with lower resolution and slightly less DR.


Why less DR? I expected more. And I guess it would have less noise at higher ISO, too.



Apr 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM
rsg_1
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p.3 #18 · p.3 #18 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Hi Fred,

Thank you for the very nice review. It seems both cameras do their job quite well. I do wonder how well the Nikor 24mm PC-E lens would work on the D800 with its pop-up flash being an obstruction.



Apr 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM
matejphoto
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p.3 #19 · p.3 #19 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Great review!
I am a Canon shooter and I love my Canon lenses. I might buy the 5Dm3 for the better AF. But honestly, if D800 had a EF mount I would buy that instead.
I find this mostly interesting from historical perspective:
In 2007 Nikon introduced first FF camera (D3) while Canon has had digital FF for 5! years. In those times I would say Canon had way better sensors than everyone else.
5 years later Nikon/Sony has definitely surpassed Canon in sensor technology.
I am curious what next 5 years will bring.




Apr 21, 2012 at 11:25 AM
WesN
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p.3 #20 · p.3 #20 · Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 Review


Fred,

Excellent opening image!

I'm a Canon guy, but the D800 looks to be a fantastic camera. Competition is good for all of us.

Wes N.



Apr 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM
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