First hour with the Canon 5D mark III and Nikon D800

First hour with the Canon 5D mark III and Nikon D800


I will tell you everything I noticed as a photographer and ignore video for the moment. As a long time Nikon and Canon shooter – yup, you guessed it, I have no problems with polyphotogamy and there are no laws against enjoying everything from mirrorless to SLT with one or two DSLR’s on the side :) I feel right at home with the Nikon D800. Its good to be back!

Again, please remember, I am sharing my personal impressions here, your mileage may vary.
Size, appearance, handling
Built like tanks, both cameras handle equally well, are similar in size and weight and I would have no problems going back and forth between the two in a studio shoot.
Excellent on both, appears a little brighter on the 5D3 – this might be a lens issue though, 24 105mm/F4 on the 5D3, 24 120mm/F4 on the D800.
Mirror slap/silent shutter
The D800 is a little louder
click on the audio files to listen to the shutter sounds, first camera D800 (use your browser’s back button to return to this page)
Auto focus
The 5D3 seems to focus a tiny bit faster and nails it instantly, Nikon could have named their AF-S mode AF-SC mode, continuous auto-focus in single af mode, a double or triple take before it nails it, however, this behavior does not slow the D800 down while shooting and sometimes it even locks on faster then the 5D3. I would call it a draw for now, too early to tell. In case you are wondering how Fuji’s X Pro1 AF performance compares to these two cameras, well, its like comparing a stone bridge to Intel’s “Ivy Bridge”.
Sensor aspect ratios/raw options
I love the choice of aspect ratios and crop modes on the D800. Most of my assignments call for 4:5, rarely 2:3. I wish Canon would offer this option.
The 5D3 offers full raw, medium raw and small raw instead.
Continuous shooting/buffer depth:
When using a Sandisk Extreme SDHC Class 10 card, (click here for a great deal on a Sandisk 64GB SDXC card) the D800 will allow for approx 11 to 13 raw shots (full resolution) in continuous mode, the 5D3 approx 13 to 15. 4fps for the D800, 6fps for the 5D3 and 6fps for the D800 in DX mode with the MB-D12 battery pack. Neither will cut it as a sports camera.

The D800 will appeal to the Studio/commercial photographer with the occasional photo-journalistic assignment, the 5D3 will appeal to the location oriented commercial photographer, the photo journalist and the wedding photographer.

I am really looking forward to shoot with both cameras over the next two weeks and can’t wait to find out how the D800 fares shooting video, esp with clean, uncompressed HDMI out. After that I might revert to serial photogamy………….or just keep them both ;)

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8 thoughts on “First hour with the Canon 5D mark III and Nikon D800

  1. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Pete, haven’t shot enough video with the D800 yet, so far no problems, the 5D3 is def better in low light and the D800 is def sharper, planning to shoot more with the D800 over the next couple of weeks

  2. Pete

    Hi Mike,

    I picked up a 5D3, I love it – however I am a Nikon guy at heart but can’t afford both. My main questions are about video quality. I would say the 5D3 does better at high ISO but I like the colors and dynamic range of the D800. I guess they both have their +/- and in the end I went with the 5D3 ISO performence. You have any aliasing/moire issues with D800 so far? Who knows I may sell the 5D3 and pick up the D800 eventually. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  3. mike.kobal Post author

    Hey Juergen, I always shoot raw, jpegs aren’t doing those sensors justice. I have shot a fashion story with the 5D3 at low ISO and the files looked excellent, will post it soon, as for the D800 I have just been snapping around and the resolution is phenomenal, I did notice though the 24-120mm is not good enough anymore for this sensor, really a shame, since it is my favorite all round lens. All I can say for now, if you ever shot medium format this is very close to the quality and beyond anything we have seen in a 35mm sensor. I love the high dynamic range and color depth, haven’t shot in low light yet. I think in practical terms-there really isn’t much of a difference between the two except for resolution. And to make the most of it and not be disappointed, one has to get the best lenses.

  4. juergen

    All images I have seen from 5dMk3 in the web, the image samples were oversharpened and detail smudged , the colours a bit too punchy. On the other side, the image samples of d800 have sometimes been a little too flat .
    What is your impression ( I now, in RAW you can change everything you want )

  5. Pingback: EOS 5D Mark III, news and reviews round-up (vs D800, and free LR presets) | CanonWatch

  6. mike.kobal Post author

    yes, 6fps in DX mode, I really like the footage right out of the 5D3, haven’t had a chance to do a comparison yet, should be interesting…

  7. Stefan

    does the fps improve with batterygrip on? (or there isnt one yet?… if not there should be!)

    Looking forward to the uncompressed hdmi out although it still sounds like the 5dmk3’s video is still pretty excellent and nice for grading.

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