5D Mark III vs D800

I decided to summarize the results from the comparison table at the top of the page, so it’s easier to see the differences.
The superior feature is highlighted in green. You can see the full specification comparison below the summary table. Have a look and tell me which features you think are more important for you?

ISO100-25600 (in 1/3-stop or 1 increments)
Expandable to ISO 50 – 102400.100 – 6400 (in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 increments)
Expandable to 50 – 25600

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Nikon D800
5D Mark III D800
MSRP US: $3499, UK: £2999, EU: €3299 US: $2999.95, UK: £2399.99, EU: €2829
Max resolution 5760 x 3840 7360 x 4912
Image format Full frame (equal to 35mm) • FX (Full frame)
• FX -1:2 format (30 x 20)
• FX – 5:4 format (30 x 24)
• DX (1.5x crop mode)
Image ratio W:H 3:2 5:4, 3:2
Effective pixels 22.3 megapixels 36.3 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 23.4 megapixels 36.8 megapixels
White balance presets 6 12
Custom white balance Yes (1) Yes (5)
JPEG quality levels Fine, Normal Fine, Normal, Basic
Autofocus assist lamp by optional dedicated Speedlite Yes
Autofocus System 61-point high-density reticular AF (up to 41 cross-type points) Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with 51-points (up to 15 cross-type points)
AF Detection Up to f/5.6 Up to f/8 (up to 9 cross-type sensors)
Detection Range +1 to +20 (at 73°F / 23°C with 50mm f/1.4 lens at ISO 100) -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100, 68°F/20°C)
Autofocus Sensitivity -2 to +18 (at 73°F/23°C and ISO 100) -2 to +19 EV (ISO 100, 20°C/68°F)
Screen Resolution (dots) 1,040,000 921,000
Built-in flash No Yes (pop-up)
Continuous drive Yes (6 fps) 4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip
Self-timer Yes (2 or 10 sec) Yes (2 to 20 sec, 1 to 9 exposures at intervals of 0.5, 1, 2 or 3 sec)
AE Bracketing ±3 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps) 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV
WB Bracketing Yes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis) Yes (2 to 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3)
HDMI uncompressed out No Yes
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec) USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
Shutter Durability 150,000 cycles 200,000 cycles
Weight (inc. batteries) 950 g (2.09 lb / 33.51 oz) 900 g (1.98 lb / 31.75 oz)

 

Results:
Canon 5D Mark III: 4 points
Nikon D800: 21 points

And the full specification comparison:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III specifications Nikon D800 specifications
Price
MSRP US: $3499, UK: £2999, EU: €3299 US: $2999.95, UK: £2399.99, EU: €2829
Body type
Body type Mid-size SLR Mid-size SLR
Body material Magnesium alloy Magnesium alloy
Sensor
Max resolution 5760 x 3840 7360 x 4912
Image format Full frame (equal to 35mm) • FX (Full frame)
• FX -1:2 format (30 x 20)
• FX – 5:4 format (30 x 24)
• DX (1.5x crop mode)
All resolutions Large: Approx. 22.10 mpx (5760 x 3840)
Medium: Approx. 9.80 mpx (3840 x 2560)
S1 (Small 1): Approx. 5.50 mpx (2880 x 1920)
S2 (Small 2): Approx. 2.50 mpx (1920 x 1280)
S3 (Small 3): Approx. 350,000 Pixels (720 x 480)
RAW: Approx. 22.10 mpx (5760 x 3840)
M-RAW: Approx. 10.50 mpx (3960 x 2640)
S-RAW: Approx. 5.50 mpx (2880 x 1920)
FX-format:
(L) 7,360 x 4,912
(M) 5,520 x 3,680
(S) 3,680 x 2,456
1:2 format (30 x 20):
(L) 6,144 x 4,080
(M) 4,608 x 3,056
(S) 3,072 x 2,040
5:4 format (30 x 24):
(L) 6,144 x 4,912
(M) 4,608 x 3,680
(S) 3,072 x 2,456
DX-format:
(L) 4,800 x 3,200
(M) 3,600 x 2,400
(S) 2,400 x 1,600
Image ratio w:h 3:2 5:4, 3:2
Effective pixels 22.3 megapixels 36.3 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 23.4 megapixels 36.8 megapixels
Sensor size Full frame (36 x 24 mm) Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor type CMOS CMOS
Dust-reduction system Self Cleaning Sensor Unit Image sensor cleaning
Processor Digic 5+ Expeed 3
Color space sRGB,Adobe RGB sRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter array RGB Color Filter Array Primary Color Filter
Image
ISO 100-25600 (in 1/3-stop or 1 increments)
Expandable to ISO 50 – 102400.
100 – 6400 (in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 increments)
Expandable to 50 – 25600
White balance presets 6 12
Custom white balance Yes (1) Yes (5)
Image stabilization No No
Uncompressed format RAW .NEF (RAW)
JPEG quality levels Fine, Normal Fine, Normal, Basic
File format • JPEG (Exif 2.3 [Exif Print] compliant)

• Design rule for Camera File system (2.0)
• RAW: RAW, sRAW1, sRAW2 (14bit)

• Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant

• NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressed

• TIFF (RGB)

• JPEG

Picture Control • Auto
• Standard
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Neutral
• Faithful
• Monochrome
• User Defined
• Landscape
• Monochrome
• Neutral
• Portrait
• Standard
• User-customizable Settings
• Vivid
Optics & Focus
Autofocus • Contrast Detect (sensor)
• Phase Detect
• Multi-area
• Selective single-point
• Single
• Continuous
• Face Detection
• Live View
• Phase Detect
• Multi-area
• Selective single-point
• Tracking
• Single
• Continuous
• Face Detection
• Live View
Autofocus assist lamp by optional dedicated Speedlite Yes
Digital zoom No No
Manual focus Yes Yes
Autofocus System 61-point high-density reticular AF (up to 41 cross-type points) Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with 51-points (up to 15 cross-type points)
AF Detection Up to f/5.6 Up to f/8 (up to 9 cross-type sensors)
Detection Range +1 to +20 (at 73°F / 23°C with 50mm f/1.4 lens at ISO 100) -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100, 68°F/20°C)
Autofocus Sensitivity -2 to +18 (at 73°F/23°C and ISO 100) -2 to +19 EV (ISO 100, 20°C/68°F)
Lens mount Canon EF mount Nikon F mount
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fixed Fixed
Screen size 3.2″ 3.2″
Screen Resolution (dots) 1,040,000 921,000
Touch screen No No
Screen type Clear View II TFT LCD TFT Color LCD with 170 degrees wide-viewing angle
Live view Yes Yes
Viewfinder type Optical (pentaprism) Optical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage 100 % 100 %
Viewfinder magnification 0.71× 0.7×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 30 sec 30 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec 1/8000 sec
Exposure modes • Auto+
• Program AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Aperture priority AE
• Manual (Stills and Movie)
• Custom (x3)
• Programmed auto with flexible program (P)
• Shutter-priority (S)
• Aperture priority (A)
• Manual (M)
Exposure Metering Sensor iFCL metering with 63 zone dual-layer sensor 91,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III
Built-in flash No Yes (pop-up)
Flash range No 12 m (at ISO 100)
Flash modes No Auto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain, High-speed sync
Flash X sync speed No 1/250 sec
Drive modes • Single
• High-speed continuous
• Low-speed continuous
• Silent
• Single Shooting and
• Self-timer
• S (single frame)
• CL (continuous low speed)
• CH (continuous high speed)
• Q (quiet shutter-release)
• MUP (mirror up)
• Self-timer
External flash Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus Sync connector) Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Continuous drive Yes (6 fps) 4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip
Self-timer Yes (2 or 10 sec) Yes (2 to 20 sec, 1 to 9 exposures at intervals of 0.5, 1, 2 or 3 sec)
Metering modes • Multi
• Center-weighted
• Spot
• Partial
• Multi
• Center-weighted
• Average
• Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps) ±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
AE Bracketing ±3 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps) 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV
WB Bracketing Yes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis) Yes (2 to 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3)
Videography features
Format AVI, H.264 & MPEG-4 in MOV Format H.264 & MPEG-4 in MOV Format
Uncompressed
Microphone Built-in Mono, External stereo microphone (optional) Built-in Mono, External stereo microphone (optional)
Speaker Mono Mono
Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps fps), 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps), 640 x 480 (25, 30 fps) 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps)
HDMI uncompressed out No Yes
Movie Max recording time 29 minutes 59 seconds 29 minutes 59 seconds
Storage
Storage types Compact Flash Type I (UDMA compatible), SD/SDHC/SDXC Compact Flash (Type I), SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant
Storage included None None
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec) USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
HDMI Yes (HDMI mini) Yes (Mini Type C)
Wireless Optional None
Wi-Fi Functionality Eye-Fi Compatible, WFT-E7 Eye-Fi Compatible, WT-4A
Remote control Yes (Remote control with N3 type contact, Wireless Controller LC-5, Remote Controller RC-6) Yes (Optional, wired or wireless )
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes Yes (Water and dust resistant)
Shutter Durability 150,000 cycles 200,000 cycles
Battery Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery description Lithium-Ion LP-E6 rechargeable battery Lithium-Ion EN-EL15 rechargeable battery
Battery Life (CIPA) Viewfinder Shooting:
At 73°F/ 23°C Approx. 950
At 32°F/ 0°C Approx. 850
Live View shooting:
At 73°F/23°C Approx. 200
At 32°FF/ 0°C Approx. 180
900 Battery Life (shots per charge)(CIPA)
Weight (inc. batteries) 950 g (2.09 lb / 33.51 oz) 900 g (1.98 lb / 31.75 oz)
Dimensions 152 x 116.4 x 76.4 mm (6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0″) 144.78 x 121.92 x 81.28 mm (5.75 x 4.84 x 3.23″)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes Yes
Timelapse recording Yes (by cable and PC) Yes
GPS Optional Optional
GPS notes With optional GP-E2 unit GP-1

 

It seems to me that the initial “WOW, 5D Mark III is all I wanted” is more like waves in shallow waters. Looking at the details and leaving emotion on a side, we can clearly see the winner. I’m not saying that 5D Mark III is not an excellent camera, or that it won’t deliver astonishing images. We simply compare the cameras according their specifications.
So what better has D800 to offer?

Resolution:
Having 1/3 more pixels opens big opportunities for the landscape & studio photographers aiming high details and precision.

Image ratio:
5D Mark III has only 3:2 image mode, while D800 adds 5:4 mode as well. In addition D800 has cropped FX mode (with 1.2x crop) and DX mode (1.5x crop)

White Balance presets.
D800 has 12 and 5DMarkIII has only 6. D800 also has 5 customizable WB presets vs. just one on the 5DMarkIII.

AF Detection:
D800 has up to f/8 (up to 9 cross-type sensors), while his rival goes only to f/5.6. This gives huge advantage for D800, when you shoot with f/4 lenses and uses a 2x teleconverter. On 5DMarkIII you can use only f/2.8 lenses with 2x teleconverter.

Autofocus Sensitivity:
-2 to +19 EV for the Nikon and -2 to +18 for the Canon

Built-in flash:
Yes vs.No

AE & WB Bracketing:
Again D800 has advantage having up to 9 frames with 1/3, 1/2 or 1 stop increments, 5DMarkIII has only 3 frames with 1/3 or 1/2 increments

USB:
D800 has USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec) and 5DMarkIII has the older USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec). Over 10 times faster transfer for your images and video! Bravo, Nikon!

Shutter Durability:
200,000 cycles vs. 150,000 cycles in advantage of D800. This means 1/4 longer shutter life for $500 cheaper camera!!!

 

What are 5DMarkIII advantages?

Iso:
ISO performance of 5DMarkIII is better at least on paper. We already saw the first samples, taken with the camera. It seems that NR is huge and causes not only noise cleaning, but smudging some of the details as well. Also D800 has the advantage to decrease the size image, which lead to noise reduction as well. I expect downsampled images from D800 to look better than both 5DMarkIII and Nikon D700.

Autofocus System:
5DMarkIII has 61-point AF with up to 41 cross-type points. D800 has Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with 51-points (up to 15 cross-type points)

Screen Resolution:
5DMarkIII has a slight advantage with a 1,040,000 dots 3.2″ screen. D800 has
921,000 dots on it’s 3.2″ screen. But Nikon included some innovations in this screen. It can self-adjust its brightness according to the ambient light, etc.

Continuous drive:
5DMarkIII can burst with 6fps, against 4fps for D800. The Nikon though has an option to get 6fps in DX mode, when battery grip is attached.

From all numbers and tables I can say one thing – Nikon innovates and Canon renovates! Most of the new features in 5DMarkIII are simply improvements over the previous MarkII. Yes they are important, but Nikon was already a step ahead about those. Now Nikon decided to blow away the DSLR market with such a MPx monster and we have to admit – in a very affordable price level.

Let’s wait until first cameras are available, and I’ll post a “part II”, with some real experience with these cameras behind.

 

……….. Some thoughts from other sites ……………………………………………

SonyAlphaRumors.com
“… I have to say I am surprised to see so little innovation inside the markIII. I mean, there are many small improvements and some more major improvements (like the new AF system). But I think the Nikon D800 (and D800E) did more…”

Mansurovs.com
“… Nikon definitely surprised everyone with its ultra high-resolution Nikon D800 announcement earlier this year. Featuring an impressive 36.3 MP sensor… Canon …decided to focus on image quality, autofocus features/performance and weather sealing – the three areas that have been receiving a lot of criticism from the Canon community for many years now…”

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