Quick Moiré comparison: Nikon D800E, Canon 5D mark III and the Sony Nex-7

Quick Moiré comparison: Nikon D800E, Canon 5D mark III and the Sony Nex-7

Once I realized the D800E would not enthrall every video scene with moiré I decided to explore it further. The first clips looked very promising, however, focus was on shallow depth of field and skin. When shooting stills, moiré and anti aliasing concerns across discussion forums are overblown topics. Of course it can occur and could be problematic. Especially when shooting fabrics, roof tiles, metal grids, more after the break

any subject with repeat patters can potentially trigger it. Fixing it in post can be frustrating or even impossible. The best solution? Catch it on the spot and correct it. Not a problem when shooting in the studio, as long as you have an attentive assistant who knows what to look for. It is much easier to get rid of moiré patterns by changing the camera and lighting angles then fixing it in post.
However, when shooting video with DSLR’s things get more complicated. Due to the down scaling process, chances for moire patterns and false colors increase dramatically. AA filters are optimized for still shooting, not low resolution video. Against all odds, this plays out favorably when looking at the video files from the D800E. Footage from the D800 and D800E appear to be indistinguishable.
I wish I still owned the Canon 5D mark II to include in this comparison, I am pretty sure it wouldn’t do any better then the Nikon D800E.
All three cameras are capable of producing great results as long as you keep their weak points in mind and work around it:

The clear winner for me is the Canon 5D mark III. Despite the overall softness right out of the camera (fixable in post to a certain degree), there are no aliasing and moire problems, records at a very descent variable bit-rate of 91megabits/sec in All-I mode and if that’s not enough, the 5D3 is also king after dark.

Taking Silver: The Nikon D800 and D800E produce much sharper files straight out of the camera (sharpening set to zero as on the 5D3), record at only 24mbps internally utilizing B frame compression (which seems to boost quality despite the low bitrate) and unlike the 5D3, allow us to record clean uncompressed 4:2:2 video via HDMI out using external recorders like the Ninja 2 (Canon’s internal bit-rate surpasses broadcast standard AVC Intra50-there really isn’t a need for an external recorder). however, we have to be a bit more careful when choosing our subjects to avoid potential moire and aliasing problems with the D800/E. We get to choose between FX (full frame) and DX (1.5x crop) mode for video, which is quite convenient, especially when shooting with primes. Low light performance is very impressive but not as good as with the 5D3.

And Bronze: The Nex-7 does a respectable job shooting video (we can almost get three Nex-7 bodies for the price of one D800E or 5D3), especially in good light and at 1080/24p at 24mbps, great dynamic range and flat profile with contrast turned all the way down, make it very gradable, it is also the only camera in this comparison to shoot 1080/60p, although at a low bit-rate of 28mpbs, slowing it down to 50% would result in an ultra low bit rate of 14mbps. Not bad if you are shooting your dog chasing squirrels, for anything more serious requiring slow motion I would reach for the Sony FS100 or, drool, the FS700.

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11 thoughts on “Quick Moiré comparison: Nikon D800E, Canon 5D mark III and the Sony Nex-7

  1. mike.kobal Post author

    Michal: footage looks pretty much the same from both cameras, it would be impossible to see the difference in a production

  2. Michal

    Hi Mike: I own nex 7 and I used to have 5N. Sold it because i missed EVF and better control – i didnt care about 24 or 16 MPX- and i know 5N is maybe a bit better for low light. but could you please tell me if you prefere 5n or 7 for video (i mean details, colours ..)? i sold my 5n and couldnt compare these two cams for a longer time.. thank you for your answer

  3. Bob Krist

    Mike: Not important, only if you have time, but I’d love to know if you have any strong preference between the NEX 7 and the NEX 5n for video work? Not stills, just the video quality, handling, etc. Many thanks, Bob

  4. Alex

    Hi Mike,
    I need a amazing camera that shoots great video broadcast quality and amazing stills, what the best options out there and which glass?
    5Dmkii mkiii D800 Nex7 XF105 cx1 or D4 ?

    Which for audio z4n ?


    Ps email if that gets your thoughts quicker, cheers mike !

  5. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Andrew, for shooting still images I would totally agree, primes are noticeably better, video I can’t detect a difference, the kit lens looks just like the Zeiss. Pretty sure this its a down sampling side effect. Take the 5d3 footage for example, the kit lens rates noticeably better then the Sony kit lens on photozone.de, shooting video however, produces the softest results.

  6. andrew00

    Thanks for the test Mike. I’ve found with the Sony that if you shoot with the flat/neutral profile then the video is pretty good, but once I forgot and used the standard profile and it was awful to grade and the image broke up quickly, maybe the others will too but still.

    Also, be interested to see a test used with prime lenses, as the Sony 18-55 kit lens you used is a noticeably less sharp at all apertures than, say, the Zeiss 24mm or the Sigma 30mm.

  7. Pingback: [Video] Moiré Comparison: Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Nikon D800 vs Sony NEX-7 | CanonWatch

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