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Canon 5D Mark III versus Nikon D800


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Initial post: Mar 2, 2012 8:05:40 AM PST
Gatorowl says:
Just to kick off the inevitable discussion, DPreview has posted high-ISO samples from a pre-production 5DIII. They are very impressive. Although they are jpegs--and clearly Canon's noise reduction is working hard in some of these shots--the detail retention is amazing.

If these results hold up for production raw shots, then there my be a new low-light/high-ISO king in the entry-level full-frame market.

So, with Canon providing a camera ideal with sports/journalism and low-light shooting, and Nikon apparently targeting the high-res studio/landscape crowd with the D800, the question is whether these cameras are really competitors?

For me, I think I want both. How about you?

Posted on Mar 2, 2012 9:08:54 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 2, 2012 9:11:15 AM PST
aznpoet says:
Unless you are a successful pro who has at his/her disposal a slew of pro optics from both camps, most amateurs and even many pros alike usually have to stick to one or the other.

Aside from the clunky AF mechanism on 5D mk II, Canon did mostly right by it, giving comsumers an affordable FF body with HD video. Canon did and still does, have a better pulse on the high end consumer market. Nikon was slow to adopt HD video on their FF bodies and was stuck on 720p HD/24 when Canon did 1080p. Other than D3s, neither D700 nor D3X has video. Other than expensive D3X, Nikon users had no answer for the likes of 5D mk II. Better focusing and better high ISO performance, just no MPs. With 36mp D800, Nikon seems to have swung to other extreme, whereas, Canon has once again done right with 5D mk III by addressing the AF issues and improving ISO performance while maintaining a right balance of MPs and pixel size to create more well rounded camera. Nikon users wanting high frame rate and superior (meaning better than Canon) high ISO performance D700 update are left either fuming or scratching their collective heads with D800, wondering if Nikon will crank out something else. A D4/D3X-like sensor in a D800 body would go long ways toward satisfying that need, I think.

Also, with new Speedlite 600EX-RT, Canon once again has Nikon playing catch-up with built-in radio trigger. Not sure about the details but it sounds intriguing for multiple wireless flash set up use. While Nikons CLS is great, it does have limitations. But $600 plus for a flash, that's pricey ... how many do you need for your off-camera wireless set up??

I agree, it would be great to have both systems but I'm invested too much in Nikon gear to switch ...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 9:35:24 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 2, 2012 10:31:00 AM PST
Neo Lee says:
5D Mark III is an awesome upgrade from 5D Mark II. The huge improvement on native 100-25,600 ISO range and over 61-point AF are just amazing.

No real complaints but:

* Considering that the DIGIC V+ is more than 10 times faster than the DIGIC IV, Canon is playing it by not allowing 1080p/60 fps on 5D Mark III. Well in the press release, Canon says the extra processing power is used for eliminating moire patterns and false colors in video. That's awesome but there should be at least an option to pick between that and 1080p/60. I'm sure not everyone is going to need 60 fps video but if you're going to shoot slow-mo, music videos for instance (either by extending frames to 24 fps or by Twixtor), 60 progressive fps is important. [5D MkIII supports 60 fps at 720p though, yes *720p*]

* Approximately 100% viewfinder? I don't get the "approximate" part of it. Is that 99.99% or 99.99999%?

* 6 fps burst - Well Canon 7D does 8 fps. Wouldn't be nice to at least match the speed of a camera released in 2009?

Again, these aren't real complaints. Nice to have but deal with it.

Posted on Mar 2, 2012 11:05:28 AM PST
Gatorowl says:
It really is how you frame it. Yes, 6fps is less than 8fps (33%), but it's also 50% more than the 4fps of the MII. I suspect that Canon kept the fps down to maintain market separation between the MIII and the 1DX. I can live with it. I wouldn't be surprised if someone introduced a firmware tweak down the road that added one or two fps to the MIII.

The more I think about it, the more excited I get about the MIII's improvements in low-light shooting. To get clean shots with good DR at 12800 ISO at this price point is enough to make me drool!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 11:45:14 AM PST
The radio trigger in the new canon speedlight is very interesting. I expect they will release more products to support it in the not too distant future. Currently they have a transmitter, and their top of the line speedlight. Working professionals can go berzerk with that, but the rest of us are going to look at that pricetag. I hope next they will release a lower end radio reciever only speedlight, or better still a canon branded radio trigger I can attach to a monolight or an off brand speedlight. I know, unlikely.

I do think that this product indicates a serious re-think by canon though. This should signal that we need to watch what canon comes out with in the lighting area. We've heard for a long time that nikon's CLS system is way better than canons system. Canon wouldn't break out a radio trigger if they aren't updating their whole flash system. of course, they would do this just as I get my strobist kit nicely built up with four speedlights, and a bag of radio triggers, none of it canon, none of it even ttl.

Posted on Mar 2, 2012 11:55:58 AM PST
Canon took a big chance. Nikon did too, but I feel like Canon went a little farther on this one. They both put out cameras that really challenged the other companies strength. Nikon used to say "megapixels don't matter, it's image quality". Now canon has put out two very high end cameras that really take that statement and run with it. Not at the 12 MP level nikon has loved for so long, but at a level that canon seems to think is "right". Canon has been pushing megapixels for a long time, and clearly, Nikon jumped into that one with both feet, no looking back. Nikon can claim success, very clearly. I mean, it's a number, they have the megapixels. We don't know what customers want, but if it's megapixels, nikon has 'em. Canon is trying to make a better camera in a way that isn't as subject to measurement by a simple number, and at this point, with the 5d3 and the 1Dx not on the market yet, we don't know how well they did, or if that's what consumers want.

Canon may be challenging nikon in the speedlight game as well. I am sure nikon will bring something out to stay in that fight, but, how long will it take? I had not heard a radio trigger rumor for canon prior to a week ago, and new products don't happen fast.

I can say one thing for sure. It's a great time to be a photographer, there's some fantastic gear coming up, and the two dominant camera manufacturers are really pushing the envelope to provide us with more and more capable equipment. Compare what your brand was selling 6 or 8 years ago to the other sides current product at the same price level, and wow. I would take an entry level modern nikon over my rebel xt any day. I've been shooting canon since 1985, but todays entry nikon vs my much loved xt is no contest. And the T3i is similarly better to whatever entry level product nikon was selling in 1996.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 11:23:57 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 5, 2012 8:12:55 AM PST
® says:
5dm3 isn't too revolutionary spec wise, but I consider it a very balance camera. Specs wise it looks more like the Nikon d3x for half the price or a Sony Alpha A900 24.6MP for more money there. If nikon would wise up and drop the d3x to around $4,000 then that looks like a fair price. I understand the d3x has more pro features found in the D4 body, maybe take it out and call it the D400. So those complainers that don't want a d800's 36mp can get a d3x. It seem like the base price is going up for every new release. I read the complainers that say they are just re-buying a 5dm2 with a better AF metering system for 3,500. But for anybody new or coming from an aps-c that isn't an a problem. I would be happy to get a D800 if I can justify it, I might do the stupid and just buy it.

I might be eying some a used D700 or d3s for the right price.

Posted on Mar 2, 2012 11:39:45 PM PST
Prakash Heda says:
Mark III does not have AF while video
D800 whill have sharper pictures when light is good or controlled
D800 will have much better AF capability (as usual)
D800 can focus very well in low light, better than D700 (not sure if Mark III improved)
D800 can focus at F8 while Mark II can do 5.6
Noise might be low on Mark III due to 22Mp while Nikon D800 is suspected to better low light compare to D700 (unbelieveable but thats what all handson are suggesting)

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 12:30:58 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 12:38:21 AM PST
Neo Lee says:
"D800 can focus at F8 while Mark II can do 5.6"

Unless you have a lens that is physically f/8 max, it is not going to matter. The aperture control you set on your camera does not matter because the camera stops down only during exposure. The lens always opens up largest during auto-focusing.

Now list down the lenses that are physically f/8 max.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 4:24:52 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 5:11:01 AM PST
JDP says:
I still don't see too much improvement with the MarkIII over the MarkII. Nikon's Glass is much better than Canon! I've shot Canon before and while they are great cameras, they always feel too plastic and cheap for me! Now the MarkIII is $3500? Come on Canon! Canon dropped the ball on this one! I'll stick with the D800 and we'll see what Nikon will do with the true D700 replacement in the next year or two!

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 5:23:09 AM PST
Tom Martin says:
Neo Lee says: . . . Now list down the lenses that are physically f/8 max.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L with a 1.4X adapter
Canon 400mm f/5.6 L with a 1.4X adapter
Canon 500mm f/4 L with a 2X adapter
Canon 800mm f/5.6 L with a 1.4X adapter
etc.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 6:19:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 6:22:49 AM PST
Gatorowl says:
Tom hit it. Neo must not use tele adapters, or he'd know how many of us lust after the capability of using a 1.4x or 2.0x with longer tele lenses.

®, I'm a little confused by your comparison of the MIII with the D3x. The D3x is Nikon' high resolution camera. Both cameras have 22-24MP, but that's about where the comparison ends. The D3x is an expensive studio/landscape camera with good, but not great low-light performance, and it is definitely not a high-burst rate sports camera.

Nikon D3x users are actually very happy with the D800. The D3x was the high-res camera, and the D800 is definitely an improvement over that camera with, perhaps, lower build quality.

The Nikon users who are complaining about the D800 wanted a low cost (under $3000) camera that performed more like the D3s. They wanted that camera's incredible low-light capability with a burst rate in the 6-8 fps neighborhood. Ironically, these users would have preferred a camera with specs much like the MIII.

Frankly, Nikon has nothing to offer these users in the "affordable" (under $4k) range. The D700 has the desired performance, but its 12MP sensor falls far short of the 20-24MP these users want. The D3x has the resolution but not the improved low-light performance or burst rate. The D3s has the low-light performance but not the resolution. That leaves the D4, which has marginally better resolution at 16MP and great performance, but is targeted at the pro community with a commiserate pro-level price.

As I said before, the MIII does not compete with the D800.

So, I would not be surprised to see Nikon users in this market segment switch to Canon whereas, many Canon users who want resolution may switch to Nikon, or may consider a dual-system approach.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 6:36:10 AM PST
Neo Lee says:
@Tom

That gave me something to think about. Nikon D800 36MP with more crop-ability headroom and then ability to do AF with teleconverters on.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 6:38:17 AM PST
Gatorowl says:
I just saw that DPReview added their test chart for a production D4. I added the D7000--arguably one of the 2-3 best low-light crop-sensor camera available-- to the comparison.

What I observed looking at 12800 ISO shots:

* The D3s is still the best low-light camera out there.
* The D4 is good but trails the D3s noticeably at high-ISO
* The MII, with 6 additional MP, is pretty darn close to the D4 at high-ISO
* All three full-frame cameras blow away the crop-sensor equipped D7000

I'm hoping that the MIII's performance is close to that of the D3s and that the D800 is at least as good as the MII at high ISO.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 6:49:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 6:55:03 AM PST
Neo Lee says:
@Gatorowl

Well, I wasn't planning to use teleconverters, definitely not the 2X one, so they weren't on my mind. It crossed my mind many times though. I came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth it with FF + 1.4X teleconverter when you could just switch to a 1.6X APS-C body. FF + 2X teleconverter? I would rather go with APS-C + 1.4X teleconverter. If I were a sports or wild life photographer, 7D would be my choice.

This discussion brings it back on the table, and like I wrote a moment ago, "that gave me something to think about."

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 7:03:53 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 7:06:14 AM PST
Gatorowl says:
Neo,

I agree at least somewhat with your view. I learned the hard way that 2x tele's often result in an unacceptable loss in IQ. However, the 1.4x provides a nice balance.

The D800 provides interesting possibilities. Shooting in "crop" mode provides a 1.5x crop factor. So, it will be possible to use a tele converter with a zoom with variable aperture values. So, it would be possible to shoot with the D800 using Nikon's 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom and a 1.4x to get 560mm reach (or 840mm FF equivalence) with AF capability.

Thus, the D800 provides a lot of creative options.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 7:51:15 AM PST
T. Campbell says:
The 5D II is targeted more to the needs of photographers such as weddings and portraits. If you were doing a lot of action nature/wildlife shots with a long telephoto lens, then you'd probably use a 7D on the low end, or the new 1D X on the high end.

BTW, it's important to note that Canon does enlist well known professional photographers to solicit input and feedback on their REAL needs and these dictate and influence product design and direction.

I recall reading the articles on what should be in a 5D III and while there were some people who wanted more resolution, the VAST majority felt the 5D II already had more than enough resolution and what they wanted was a bett focusing system and even higher ISO / noise performance. Canon delivers the camera and.... well it has a better focusing system and 2 stops improvement on high ISO / and low noise. In other words, they're listening and delivering what they're customers are asking for. BTW, I watched the same thing happen with the G series.

You can ask for any spec and ding them for not delivering, but if they fail to deliver a feature you can conceive of but which nobody seriously asked for.... Then you're just complaining.

Stated differently, how many of those lens & tele-extender combinations do you actually own and shoot with (on any brand camera?. My longest lens is a 300mm f/2.8. It would support using a 2x tele-extender. BTW, I almost never use this lens.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 4:28:27 PM PST
For most shooters you're right, Neo. But some wildlife photographers - especially the bird folks - like to run a 400mm f4 lens with a 2x extender, which effectively produces an f8 max lens. It matters to them. I'm a wedding guy, so it's no concern of mine, but I do understand why some might complain.

BTW adding AF at f8 seems to be as simple as a firmware update. At least it's been suggested that this will be the case for the 1D-x.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 5:50:08 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2012 5:59:12 PM PST
This is a pointless conversation to have right now. Nobody knows anything. They know what they've been told by Canon and Nikon and little more than that. From where I sit, moaning about the MP count is stupid. It's the same resolution (more or less) than the D5100/D7000 on a FX body. I haven't heard anyone crying about how the T3i or D5100 have "too many MPs!"

On the flipside, all I hear is Canon talking points about the AF system, which everyone I know that uses both says the same thing, Nikon's is better but it's not like Canon's is horrible. In other words, personal preference.

I do not see the 5D M3 doing anything all that badly, or that well either. It's a more flexible camera but excels at nothing in particular. The D800 has weak(er) points for high speed action, but probably has no comparison at non-moving objects. They aren't really competing with each other. In the end, they both will take great pictures if you know what you're doing. Canon vs Nikon is getting sillier than Ford vs Chevy ever was. ISO, MP are silly talking points for the most part.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012 6:00:05 PM PST
"""
AF at f8 seems to be as simple as a firmware update
"""

I wouldn't hold out much hope. The wedge/prisms used in phase-detect focus are angled to pick off the light rays available at an f5.6 aperture (and the better ones have dual angles to also be able to pick off light rays from f2.8 or faster). The rays from an f8 aperture, passing through the wedges, may totally miss the phase-detect sensor cells behind (just as the split-image focuser of a manual focus film SLR would black out on one side or the other as narrow apertures unless the "sensor" [eye] were precisely centered on it -- at which point both halves tended to look rather dim.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2012 6:38:13 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 16, 2012 10:07:57 PM PDT
L. Lee says:
You should go to the website "the digital picture" before making sweeping assertions about glass. Look at the ISO crops from this site and you'll see that in almost all cases the premium Canon L glass is equal if not superior to Nikon.

Compare for example the latest 70-200mm f2.8 from both companies and you'll see a clear advantage in the sharpness and aberration control in the Canon lens. This lens is a mainstay of serious photographers. Nikon made an excellent lens. Canon got it perfect.

My observation is that a number of Nikon lenses exhibit a blueish color cast and blurring off axis. I read somewhere (so I may be corrected on this) that Nikon does in body chromatic aberration adjustments which mask the lesser quality of the some of their lenses.

Further in my company we use commercial optics in our optical readers which cost upwards of $500k each. We use Canon lenses there.

Look at the results. I studied optics from both companies carefully before deciding on Canon. Honestly the Nikon autofocus system has been superior for a number of years and the ergonomics of their camera bodies, flashes and feature set has been superior.

Their lead has now been cut in those department. Bodies come and go. But lenses are king and there we agree.

However your conclusions are questionable. BTW I own a 5d Mark II and 60D. A magnesium and a plastic body. Both of these cameras are well made, solid and reliable.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2012 9:15:25 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 5, 2012 8:07:51 AM PST
® says:
Most of your points are valid, not really disagreeing. The D3x is just over priced, and there is no reason Nikon can't just buy more sony 24mp sensor and sell them in a new body for cheap (maybe the number of ff bodies saturation) like the Sony A900 prices. Nikon went with that round of low ISO when they had similar sensor and AF on both the D3s and d700 last generation, they changed it this time around. All that did was cannibalize the D3s sale without bring anything different to the market. D3x could have been that difference, but it was priced wrong and should have been in the cheaper d700x body. Com'on professional landscape photographer don't need a super body and gizmo, they needed something lighter.

I think the complainers are just over reacting or in a shock and awe state. Once the dust settle people will be fine. All these spec numbers are hypothetical. Because FF bodies update are like every 2-3 years (not counting the minor ones "S" or "X"). So the 36mp of the D800 isn't that huge as time and technology moves forward (wasn't 22mp on the 5dm2 huge when it first came out years ago). People will get over the shock and awe of 36mp over time. They will buy/update their computer with more ram and more hhd spaces. To stay competitive in efficiency, staying up with the latest software release, not wasting billable hours; most firms I worked at update most people computer every 1.5 years. People hated Window Vista because it made people buy new faster computer when it first came out (the UI is another story). It is not like you can take Win7 (people like this version) and stick it on a Pentium 3 computer with 526mb of ram like XP can. The different between 4fps and 6 fps is not enough to get people switching. FPS (8-10 range) is critical for sport photography, and more of a bragging right specs that other genre of photography doesn't really rely on. Even photojournalist will just use whatever the highest FPS their camera can do. The really interesting active photojournalist region is in the Middle east. Elsewhere you can sip your coffee and shot with your camera without missing too many critical shots.

The price range is the closest comparison between the D800 and 5dm3 as were the d700 and 5dm2. D3s and 1Dm4 were close too, but one was aps-h so it wasn't a true apple to apple as it is now.

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 10:00:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2012 10:15:06 PM PST
R. Lee says:
@ l. Lee I been to that site before. Unless it's out of date, it's mostly canon info he has. The nikon looks a lot sharper in the center but has a halo at the edges and is brighter. The canon doesn't have the halos but not as sharp at the center and it is darker. But that's just my eyes, hard to tell by switching back and forth. Both systems Are great, I switch back and forth because they both offer something I like. The canon 70-200 does look sharper but all the nikon lens are distorted, the box is not square.

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 10:24:40 PM PST
Neo Lee says:
L. Lee, R. Lee and N. Lee. LOL...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2012 6:34:22 AM PST
R: The sony speedlight you linked to is an IR slave, not radio. Nikon, Canon, and the third parties all do IR remote flashes. All the pros then go out and buy radio triggers for their lights, because IR has issues. Canon's new product includes radio in their speedlight, and I think that will end up being a big deal. I think that's the most overlooked important thing in all these product announcements.
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  63
Total posts:  288
Initial post:  Mar 2, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 21, 2012

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