5D Mark III vs D800

For this D800 vs. 5D Mark III article 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?

D800 vs. 5D Mark III – Summary

Canon EOS 5D Mark IIINikon D800
5D Mark IIID800
MSRPUS: $3499, UK: £2999, EU: €3299US: $2999.95, UK: £2399.99, EU: €2829
Max resolution5760 x 38407360 x 4912
Image formatFull 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:H3:25:4, 3:2
Effective pixels22.3 megapixels36.3 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors23.4 megapixels36.8 megapixels
White balance presets612
Custom white balanceYes (1)Yes (5)
JPEG quality levelsFine, NormalFine, Normal, Basic
Autofocus assist lampby optional dedicated SpeedliteYes
Autofocus System61-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 DetectionUp to f/5.6Up 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)1,040,000921,000
Built-in flashNoYes (pop-up)
Continuous driveYes (6 fps)4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip
Self-timerYes (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 BracketingYes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis)Yes (2 to 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3)
HDMI uncompressed outNoYes
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
Shutter Durability150,000 cycles200,000 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

D800 vs. 5D Mark III – detailed comparison

And the full specification comparison:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III specificationsNikon D800 specifications
Price
MSRPUS: $3499, UK: £2999, EU: €3299US: $2999.95, UK: £2399.99, EU: €2829
Body type
Body typeMid-size SLRMid-size SLR
Body materialMagnesium alloyMagnesium alloy
Sensor
Max resolution5760 x 38407360 x 4912
Image formatFull 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 resolutionsLarge: 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:h3:25:4, 3:2
Effective pixels22.3 megapixels36.3 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors23.4 megapixels36.8 megapixels
Sensor sizeFull frame (36 x 24 mm)Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor typeCMOSCMOS
Dust-reduction system Self Cleaning Sensor UnitImage sensor cleaning
ProcessorDigic 5+Expeed 3
Color spacesRGB,Adobe RGBsRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayRGB Color Filter ArrayPrimary Color Filter
Image
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
White balance presets612
Custom white balanceYes (1)Yes (5)
Image stabilizationNoNo
Uncompressed formatRAW.NEF (RAW)
JPEG quality levelsFine, NormalFine, 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 lampby optional dedicated SpeedliteYes
Digital zoomNoNo
Manual focusYesYes
Autofocus System61-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 DetectionUp to f/5.6Up 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 mountCanon EF mountNikon F mount
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixedFixed
Screen size3.2″3.2″
Screen Resolution (dots)1,040,000921,000
Touch screenNoNo
Screen typeClear View II TFT LCDTFT Color LCD with 170 degrees wide-viewing angle
Live viewYesYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)Optical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100 %100 %
Viewfinder magnification0.71×0.7×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec1/8000 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 SensoriFCL metering with 63 zone dual-layer sensor91,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III
Built-in flashNoYes (pop-up)
Flash rangeNo12 m (at ISO 100)
Flash modesNoAuto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain, High-speed sync
Flash X sync speedNo1/250 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 flashYes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus Sync connector)Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Continuous driveYes (6 fps)4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip
Self-timerYes (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 BracketingYes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis)Yes (2 to 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3)
Videography features
FormatAVI, H.264 & MPEG-4 in MOV FormatH.264 & MPEG-4 in MOV Format
Uncompressed
MicrophoneBuilt-in Mono, External stereo microphone (optional)Built-in Mono, External stereo microphone (optional)
SpeakerMonoMono
Resolutions1920 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 outNoYes
Movie Max recording time 29 minutes 59 seconds29 minutes 59 seconds
Storage
Storage typesCompact Flash Type I (UDMA compatible), SD/SDHC/SDXCCompact Flash (Type I), SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant
Storage includedNoneNone
Connectivity
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
HDMIYes (HDMI mini)Yes (Mini Type C)
WirelessOptionalNone
Wi-Fi FunctionalityEye-Fi Compatible, WFT-E7Eye-Fi Compatible, WT-4A
Remote controlYes (Remote control with N3 type contact, Wireless Controller LC-5, Remote Controller RC-6)Yes (Optional, wired or wireless )
Physical
Environmentally sealedYesYes (Water and dust resistant)
Shutter Durability150,000 cycles200,000 cycles
BatteryBattery PackBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion LP-E6 rechargeable batteryLithium-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)
Dimensions152 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 sensorYesYes
Timelapse recordingYes (by cable and PC)Yes
GPSOptionalOptional
GPS notesWith optional GP-E2 unitGP-1

Each Camera Advantages:

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.

……….. 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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