Yet Another 5D Mark III vs D800 Comparisons Round-up (5D3 clear winner regarding AF, ISO performance)

   

Let’s go into another round of what is starting to look as a Battle of the Giants.

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III vs Nikon’s D800. Both full-frame, the Nikon having a 36MP sensor, Canon a 22MP, and costing respectively $2,999 (Nikon) vs $3,499 (Canon). Announced and released more or less at the same time, these two cameras are heating up the discussion in dedicated forums and allover the web. Which one is better? Which camera has the better AF? Which one has better ISO performance, and so on and so forth.

It’s obviously never really an easy issue to compare cameras – do you prefer mere technical specification (are you engineering-oriented?), or do you like field-tests (do you prefer real-world performance analysis)? And it’s is even more difficult if the cameras you want to compare are similar, both the most advanced in their league, and perform both very good. Sure, the D800 has some features that make it shine out: lower price tag, high-res sensor, very good performance at lower ISOs (and more). The Canon, on the other side, comes with a sensor that has a surprisingly “low” resolution, given the high-res-sensors-run most camera manufactures have embraced (but then: 22MP is not low-res, it’s high resolution but not the MP champion the D800 is). The Canon shines out with an advanced Auto-Focus system, well controlled moire and aliasing, and very good high ISO performance. I don’t think you can state one is better than the other. Sure, they have different strengths (and weaknesses), and at the very end it is up to your preferences and needs. Are you mostly a studio shooter, do you need to make extreme crops, do you need a 36MP to earn your living (or simply have lots of Nikon lens)? – Then the D800 may be better suited for your needs. On the other hand, if you are a wedding photographer,  need a camera that adapts to many different situations, are you mainly shooting in low-light and (and have lotsa Canon lens)? – Then the 5D Mark III may be your choice of default. In this post I concentrate on the AF system and on noise performance. How do the cameras compare?

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EOS 5D Mark III video-review by Philip Bloom

I highly recommend this 19 minutes video-review of the EOS 5D Mark III by filmmaker and director Philip Bloom. There is also an accompanying  written review on his site. Well, he is not entirely satisfied by the EOS 5D Mark III (spoiler: resolution!). While it seems assessed that the EOS 5D Mark III improved sensibly regarding to moire, aliasing, and that sound recording (and workflow, for film-makers) is now much better than before, the big question everyone is raising is resolution. The EOS 5D Mark III with is conservative approach has “only” 22MP. P. Bloom writes:

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More EOS 5D Mark III ISO performance tests and comparisons (NEX 7, D800)

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III has such an amazing high ISO performance that I want to report more about this. It is, together with the advanced AF system and the fast burst rate, one of the features that make the 5D Mark III so much superior to its competitors (say…Nikon D800?). Ok ok, this is my opinion. :-)

Canon did the right thing when it did not put a high-res sensor in its new, year 2012, full-frame camera. Sailing upwind against the waves, Canon decided to keep a conservative resolution (22MP), to re-engineer the sensor and to update each and any system component. The result was a rock-solid performing camera, with (among other feats and tweaks) extended dynamic range, fast burst shooting, an advanced AF system, and an above-the-average ISO performance. I don’t think the 5D Mark III can be seen as a mere upgrade of the Mark II. It’s a new camera. Starting by the sensor, which got the gapless microlens technology of the EOS 1D X and has bigger photodiodes (more light) than its predecessor. Moreover, each photodiode has its own immediate noise processing of the transmitted signal. It’s the edge of imaging sensor technology, and Canon has always been one of the biggest innovators in this domain. Even Nikon knows this simple fact, that’s why they used a 5D Mark II to shot the D800 promo (click here). ;-)

Sony’s NEX 7 is not really in the same league as the EOS 5D Mark III, nevertheless I think a comparison of ISO performance is interesting. The NEX 7 is a great cam and we are curious to see how it performs compared to other new cameras, even if they have different sensor sizes (the NEX7 has an APS-C sized sensor). Mike Kobal did a extreme low-light (using candles!), high ISO test: 200-25600 on the 5D Mark III and up to 3200 on the NEX 7. How does the NEX 7 compare to Canon’s new EOS? See for yourself…

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Canon G1 X news round-up and a user experience

Ok, let’s talk a bit about the Powershot G1 X again. Let us start with DPreview’s review of the Powershot G1 X. But first, the basic specifications of the G1 X:

  • 14MP 1.5″ CMOS sensor (18.7 x 14mm)
  • 28-112mm F2.8-5.8 lens
  • Optical viewfinder
  • ISO 100-12,800
  • 3.0″, 920,000 dot swivelling LCD
  • Extensive manual control
  • 14-bit Raw shooting
  • 4.5fps continuous shooting (up to 6 frames)
  • 6.8Wh NB-10L battery rated at 250 shots (CIPA standard)
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Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Nikon D800, and the winner is…

…Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III!!

I compared tech specs of both cameras, and there is not much to investigate. The advantages of the EOS 5D Mark over Nikon’s D800 are evident

  • Light sensitivity: 25,600 vs 6,400 (2 f-stops more)
  • Auto Focus: more advanced (most advanced in this price category, and more cross-type focus points (41 vs 15, grabs focus in difficult situation where the D800 can’t)
  • Overall Auto Focus points: 61 vs 51 (more accuracy)
  • LCD screen: bigger, higher resolution (1,040k dots vs 921k dots, that’s 10% more)
  • ISO boost: 2 f-stops better (50-102,400 vs 100-25,600)
  • Shooting speed: 6 fps vs 4 fps (50% faster than the D800)
  • Video: more modes
    • Canon: 1920×1080 at 30/ 25/ 24 fps, 1280×720 at 60/ 50 fps and 640×480 at 30/ 25 fps
    • Nikon: 1920×1080 at 30/ 24 fps and 1280×720 at 60/ 30/ 24 fps
  • Video #2: NTSC or PAL
  • Video formats: MPEG-4 and H.264 vs H.264 only
  • Supported cards:
    • Canon: CompactFlash (CF Type I), CompactFlash (CF Type II), SD, SDHC, SDXC
    • Nikon: CompactFlash (CF Type I), SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Connections:
    • Canon: Proprietary, Accessory shoe, USB, HDMI, 3.5mm stereo audio, Flash Sync
    • Nikon: USB, HDMI mini, 3.5mm stereo audio
  • Size: 5D Mark III thinner (3″ vs 3.2″, 10%) and smaller (152x116x76mm vs 146x123x82mm, 10%)
  • EOS system family: more lenses

Now let’s see where Nikon’s D800 shines out:

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