I’m really excited to have reviewed both with Canon 5D Mark III and the D800.

I’m really excited to have reviewed both the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800. I have been shooting with both of these camera for awhile and have been taking them both everywhere I go trying them side by side in different lighting conditions, cloudy, mixed lighting, extreme low light, swimming pools, silhouettes, even time lapses, comparing skin tones, slow motion, landscapes, and pictures styles, and I think I have found some interesting stuff about these cameras that no one else is talking about.

I’ve been wanting to buy a full frame camera for awhile now and I have been waiting for the Canon 5D Mark III to come out, but now that Nikon has stepped up their game on the video side of things, so there are two cameras to consider now. Are you an amateur like me wanting to step up to a full frame? In this video comparison I will be talking about this from the amateur level.  This is by far my most thorough comparison I have ever done since I will be buying one of these cameras.

How They Are Similar

First off, both have pluses and minuses, they are both full frame, have dual card slots SD and CF, 100% view finder coverage, weather sealed body, both have a somewhat similar Continuous Shoot Speed, both have excellent auto focus systems, and both now have new headphone jacks.

Main Differences

Differences are: Nikon has a built-in flash and the Canon does not, the Nikon has uncompressed clean HDMI which is really nice for monitoring and recording which I will show later, the Canon does not. Nikon has 36 mega pixels and the Canon 22 mega pixels.

The 36 Mega Pixel Sensor!

First off we have to talk about Nikon’s 36mp sensor. You can get some amazing resolving power, looks at the kids on the hill, now let’s zoom in, amazing! I have not done any prints but if you are a landscape person I bet you’ll like this camera. I’m finding that on average the Nikon D800 RAW files are 2 to 3 times larger than Canon’s, so watch out for your hard drive. But on the flip side, the video using the All-I compression with the Canon is much larger than the typical Nikon mov file, Nikon is about ¼ the size of that of Canon’s. So 25MB mov file for the Nikon would be mean 100MB for the Canon.

I know a lot of my audience watches my videos on their phone or an Ipad so I will try to point out what to watch for. This video is in 1080p and available for download on Vimeo if you want to see it before Vimeo or YouTube compresses it.

Canon’s Insane High ISO Performance

Alright so all those mega pixels on the Nikon comes at a price, and that price is noise on the video side. Also when you are in video mode both cameras have equal 1080p resolution so that 36mp does not help in video mode. In fact I think that 36mp sensor on the D800 actually hurts it badly with the low light performance compared to the 5D3. In this shot which I would never even dream of attempting on my Canon Rebel, the 5D3  look very usable and the Nikon looks totally unusable. Now, I pretty much never shoot in the dark like this, but for example when I shot in a adventure rope place I was using ISO from about 1600 to 6400 the whole time because I was shooting for slow motion with a higher shutter speed. Even though it was not super low light it was amazing to shoot at high ISO’s and get great coverage. You can see here that the wall in the bar has a bit more noise from the Nikon at ISO 1600, and a bit more at 4000. And what is amazing is I was not even using the high ISO noise reduction which appears to help out slightly.
Canon 5D Mark III in Camera HDR - Tools By Tom Shop

Nikon’s Dynamic Range or Latitude

While Canon’s low light performance has me very excited in what I can shoot, I got equally excited what I saw from the D800, before I play you the up and down swipe of this next clip I am pausing it first right in the middle, see how the guy in the pool exposure on his skin and the tiles in the sun have a very matched exposure? Now watch this swipe, wow did you see that? Watch it again and look at the wall behind the girl, you can see into the shadows a lot better with the D800. Look at the dynamic range or I believe the correct term is latitude for video from the Nikon! Now look at the tree on the right and look at the shadows. Look at the my black shirt on the D800 and how you can see more detail on it.

Tomatoes in the Window - Canon 5D Mark III

I would rather have good looking flat image that I can grade from than an image where I have to try pulling some shadow detail out of it. To me the D800 has the perfect flat image, it is not super flat which is a bear to expose for and looks like crap on the display, it is just right for an amateur like myself.

OK, you are probably wondering settings I’m using, both cameras are set to a neutral picture style with the contrast turned all the way down.

Ok both of these are the Canon, on the left you can see Canon’s neutral style, and on the right is the CineStyle which is designed for the Mark II. Now on the right you can see I added contrast back into the shot to make it look more like the D800’s neutral style which I like. Here is the same thing but zoomed in 400%, while Cinestyle is doable, it comes at a cost of some slight noise on the right side. I would rather have Nikon’s image in terms of latitude right off the camera than spending a lot of time getting it right in post. Finally let’s compare the Cinestyle treated with the D800’s neutral style, I think I got them close and as you can see the 5D has more noise and it took more work to get there. Big win for Nikon here.

Canon 5D Mark III in Camera HDR

I also took a few photos from that night shoot, this first set is the RAW photos for both cameras, when I zoom in I have to give the level of detail to Nikon on this one, just look at the tiles on the roof. And this next set is both cameras in jpg mode, to see how the camera does with the compression, again the Nikon is the winner.

Also I have never been a fan on how Canon is more saturated in the reds, perhaps it gives it better skin tones but sometimes you need to grab a 2nd color corrector to fix over saturated shirts, I know my daughter red shirt is much more faded than what Canon is showing here.

White Balance Issues

Next we really have to talk about Nikon’s WB balance issues, since that is the biggest thing you will notice when comparing the two. The auto white balance on the Canon appears to be a far superior. While Canon tends to go more magenta, the Nikon goes way too far to the greens for my taste. I shot the same digital calibration target with both cameras and set a custom white, I noticed that the Nikon’s display had a green tint so I also did another shot but this time I shifted the white balance away from green. When I brought the shots in Lightroom and use the White balance eye-dropper tool the Canon was really close, but Nikon’s first shot was way too green and I had to correct for it, and the second shot from the Nikon was much closer. So as you are looking at these images that is why they look so different in terms of color.

When it comes down to it you can’t really shoot with both cameras on a project since it would be hell in post to match them.

I also took both cameras to the worst lighting place I know of, my girls gym. It has so many different types of nasty lights in it, ya the kind that if your shutter is too fast you get nasty yellow banding. I had no problem custom white balancing with the Canon but the D800 just couldn’t custom white balance correctly and I had to spend a long time changing both the Kelvin and the WB shift. Here are both after I finally got the D800 set somewhat correctly, but I still didn’t get it as well as the Canon.

I also gave my friend Jake Nielson who shoots weddings both Canon and the Nikon to play with for a while and he also had the same WB issues I was having with the greenish tint.

Sharpness Needs To Go Down

Before I talk about sharpness I want to tell you I have a 3 free bonus videos that are only on my site, such as 7 Tips for Getting Tack Sharp DSLR Video. So check them out.

Next we need to talk about Sharpness. I quickly found out that you need to turn the sharpening all the way down on the Nikon because of the aliasing, look at all these trees lighting up with aliasing, just plain nasty. If you are watching this on an iphone you might not be able to see this. So all my tests the sharpness was all the way down for both cameras and I added equal sharpen back in post.

In this shot you can see which one the clear winner is the Canon in terms of aliasing and moire.

I did a corporate video with the 5D, a lot of b-roll shots in the data center had metal mesh in the rack which normally would make this shot very difficult with older Canon cameras but I felt this footage was actually usable. You need to watch this in 1080 to really see what I am talking about.

In terms of which image has more sharpness even with in camera sharpening all the way down, I’m not sure I can comment on that since I was using two different lens in the same price range, I tried to use the same lens with an adapter but I had a scary experience with that so dropped that idea.

Awesome Auto Focus

I shot a lot of pictures with my girls on the swings at f1.4 behind them so they were moving in and out of focus a lot, and I gotta say the success rate for both were about the same, maybe the Canon was a little better. This shot I actually did while I was walking. I ran a focus speed test in low light, not so low that the Nikon Light Assist turned on, and they were about the same which is something I noticed just in general picture shooting. However I only tried a few of the advanced focusing modes so my conclusion on this are not that well defined.

The HDMI Advantage

Hands down the Nikon wins when it comes to monitoring or even recording the HDMI signal, I’m not sure someone at my level would record the signal externally, that does not fit with my run and gun style but I can say that since I am doing for collaborative videos, that having an external monitor situation is very nice. If you like you can watch that whole test here.

I’m mostly a RAW shooter, I don’t shoot sports that much so I hardly ever use just JPG. Using the same SD card and shooting RAW I tested how many photos I could take in a row and what the buffer was like, first up is the Nikon and it took 16 shots in 4 seconds. I could not take another shot for 2 minutes until the green light turned off which I think means the buffer cleared. Next up is the Canon, 15 shots in 5 seconds, a bit slower but listen, it keeps going and going, and then finally stops, but if I waited just a few seconds it would start up again on with the very slow shots every 3 seconds. Now I using a 2 year old class 6 card, so new cards might not have this issue, but I thought it was worth pointing it out.

Canon’s HDR

I loved the new HDR mode on the Canon which uses three shots, I really like the first two presets. It does an awesome job combining the images even handheld. I suck at using photomatix so for me this is a big win for the Canon. The Nikon’s HDR is OK but not as good as Canon’s HDR mode.
Eben G. Fine Park - In the Rafters

Preamp Noise – Call it a Tie but they both need to improve

The Canon wins ever so slightly on preamp noise over the D800, I will actually call it a tie. But when you compare it to a cheap $99 external device they are both still very noisy. If you like you can listen and watch that whole test here.

Rolling Shutter is a Joke

I almost don’t want to talk about rolling shutter since both are still really bad, how bad, just look how these $3k cameras compare to my iPhone. Ya, I not sure there much different.

For all these test I have used All-I compression, while I found that the IPB compression does a great job at creating small file sizes and works well up to ISO 1600, after that it become noisy.

If you punch in zoom a lot to focus then you will like the Canon much better because the Nikon has some weird refresh rate or jitter issue with the display which can be very distracting. You can watch that full test here.

The Nikon you can’t change the audio levels while recording like you can with the Canon.

A couple of minor items: Not a fan of the mode dial lock with the Canon and I’m also not a fan on how to switch modes on the Nikon either. And worse yet, I am not a fan of where they placed the video record button on the Nikon.

I shot with these cameras side by side a lot and I can tell you not only do the batteries last about the same for video they also recharge in about the same time as well.

Since the light leak issue has been fixed by Canon on the models now being shipped, I didn’t run any tests on this. However it sounds like they just used some black tape to fix the issue.

At the time I am publishing this video, Nikon has confirmed that the D800 has focus/viewfinder issues, I gotta say I never had any of those with my D800.


So in conclusion on the Canon side, having the aliasing issue fixed is nice and the low light performance is insane, I am really enjoying the headphone jack, but I wished they gave us 1080 at 60fps, and a tilt out screen.

For the Nikon I really like the amount of latitude I get from their neutral picture style, but I’m not crazy about the high ISO performance or the white balance issues.

Both camera are excellent, no need to swap if you already invested in one over the other in terms of glass. I’m really not that invested in Canon glass, I got this one for $100 and this one used for $250, I have not purchased any really good glass yet because I have been waiting for these full frame camera to come out to decide.

Before I tell you which I’m going to buy, if you want to help me make more videos like this please use the links off my site when you are buying equipment, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. For those worried about me upgrading to a full frame don’t worry I’m pretty confident that I will own the T2i or some form of a crop sensor for awhile.

Which One I am Going To Buy

After I had finished all my testing and I was heading out the other day to capture one of my girls activities, I grabbed the Canon instead of the Nikon, the main reason I grab it was the low light performance where I was headed, my style of shooting is mostly using available light, so for me I am going to buy the 5D3 since I can push ISO’s without worrying, and also I don’t have to worry deleting shots with nasty aliasing.

Mid-Air Adventures - Daisies

Also I just didn’t have time to play with the custom white balance on the Nikon. I loved the neutral style of the Nikon, but in the end I can come really close using the CineStyle. If I shot in control lighting situations where I didn’t have to push the ISO’s I would have picked the Nikon.

Lake Shore Swimming - Canon 5D Mark III

As for price the Canon is $500 more at $3500. That price really bothers me since I thought it would be around $2500 to $2700. It’s really hard for an amateur like me to justify the cost, but I have been doing more paid work lately so I guess that helps me justify the cost.

Bad Experience with the Cinevate Canon/Nikon Adapter

I used the Cinevate Canon/Nikon Adapter and half way through my review when I tried to use the apdapter the Nikon lens would not come off the Canon body! It was not a good experience, I was freaking out. I am guessing that adapter was not built for the 5D3. I finally got it off after a few phone calls and I really had to muscle it off which caused slight damage to the Nikon lens.

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5D Mark3
5D Mark III

Canon 5D Mark III

Nikon D800


Nikon D800


  • Dave, this is a brilliant assessment from a practitioner, the way you did your analysis is a benchmark as to how we all work daily and I think the outcome is the correct result.
    I’m going to follow you and get a Canon 5d111.
    I’ve been waiting for somebody to tell me what to do.. I’ve used the 5D M11 to since they came out and I am on my third one.. oh and by the way extensive timelapse kills the 5dm11 shutter.. thanks Mike

  • D, very professional and precise review. Besides the MKIII price, my advice is to stay with Canon for company’s historical reasons. I changed from Nikon about 15 years ago, because the autofocus innovations. And along the years, they looks like always invest in new technology. Thats why i invest my money in glasses now.
    Congrats for your professionalism.
    Hope see you in Brazil sometime!

  • Thanks for the review Dave.
    Low light, go Canon. Stills resolution, go Nikon.
    I already had decided for the 5D mkIII, only the cash seems to be fleeting 🙂

  • Wow – Dave – an excellent review of both!
    A VERY detailed review with important points.

    So, THANK YOU!

  • Dave you are the best!!!!! Great review on those two cameras.

    I really do think you’ve done the best reviews on those cameras. Well covered. Definitely Canon 5D3 is my next camera. I’m so disappointed in canon for not putting a flip screen on there, like you mention. Do you have any idea how much that helps. I shoot a 100% with it on my 60D, Great Help!!!

    Question: Do you think we’ll be able to use Magic Lantern on the 5DM3 in the future? That’s a great help also. My audio always come out clean.

  • Dave,
    Thanks for the great volume of information. As good of a review as I’ve ever heard.
    I don’t see you as a mere amateur since you were clearly talking way above my head.
    I think I’m going to wait to see if Canon and Nikon works on some of the issues you raised, then maybe I’ll go full frame.

    Great job!

  • I really dislike the greenish tint on my D700. Well known issue with Nikons. I just realized this and started re-editing old raw files, pulling up the magenta in the white balance. Much better.

  • Well done Dave, a really thorough review. Thanks for taking the time out for that.

    So when are you getting the Black Magic CC to test against your new MkIII?!?! 😉


  • hey dave

    cool video, keep up the good work!

    for the start video button placement – there is a function button on the front of the camera. you can set it to start video which works perfect!


  • Hey Dave! Been watching your channel for almost a year now, really comprehensive review! keep up the great work

  • Hi Dave, fantastic review, it’s nice to get a review from somebody that don’t just buy all new cameras that come out, but carefully evaluate and make a long term well thought through decision. It’s good to know the competition is so close now on feautures, price I think will make many peoples mind up. High ISO performance and less moire in the 5d mkIII looks great but out of reach at the current “pro video” price level they pushed it to. And when the time has come for the price drop then there might be the distant GH3 in the basket too 🙂

  • Dave: Love the approach to your review and the topics you discussed. A very approachable presentation of the information. As you know I own the D800 and I look forward to comparing notes over time.

  • Thanks for your video… one thing… you said you got (on the burst rate) 15 shots for canon in 5 seconds, (3 FPS)… it’s supposed to be able to do 6 FPS… I think it has 2 settings (high and low) for burst… can you comment on this? It would seem at 6FPS if it still only did 15, it would do that in a hair over 2 seconds.

  • @Awinphoto I picked the default burst speed for both since you can get higher rates if you add battery grips but since I didn’t have those I stuck with the default slowest speed.

    @Andy I think I am getting that camera at the end of July.

    @Randy and everyone else thanks!

  • did you use cine stile with the 5d?
    if not you aren’t getting the full latitude.

  • Good choice with the Canon 5D Mark III 🙂 Always love to watch your reviews. I think I will end up moving from the t2i to the 5d very soon also!

  • @Luke

    Ohhh….. if I only had the extra cash I’d be filling my cart also.

    Hey guys! Don’t forget to support Dave’s site if you buy from B&H!

  • Dave, great video and thank you. Concerning the D800 locking until the buffer is 100% cleared (2min), are we sure that’s correct? My D100, D300, D700 and now D4 all behave as you showed with the Canon. They all shot fast until the buffer was filled, and then slooooowed down. I would be amazed and shocked if the D800 behaved differently. Maybe a setting issue, or something with the older memory as you note.

  • nice, tho you should consider the D800E version for video (far sharper). and on a sidenote: if you compare ISO, then do it right. you didnt compare same iso, since ISO6400 on nikon is NOT the same as IS06400 on canon. (its actually lower on canon, bout 1/2stop)

  • Actually james, the DxO measurements of the ISO’s show that Canon’s is actually closer to norm than nikons, nikon being 1/3 ot 1/2 lower than canon and the norm. The differences in brightness would have more to do with metering and exposure, all things being equal

  • Totally agree with Harrogate. The green tinge is easy to cure but in essence it’s a fuji Kodak type thing. A major plus for documentarians is the smooth stop pull on the d800 rather than the. Clunky 1/3 stop change on the canon. I used the too side by side this week in the pitch dark nothing in them realy any darker and I would have needed infrared the grain on them both was un useable so back to 5000 and bounce a torch off the wall.
    Re sound levels it is possible to change whilst recording on the d800 but how often do recordists ride the levels any way by the time you’ve heard it it’s too late.
    Great review though
    I sent my mkiii back and went Nikon after many years with the mkii

  • One is always so keenly aware of your integrity. You always offer a carefully considered and helpful appraisal, and that’s great, but it’s the unaffected honesty of your posts that keeps one coming back for more.

    Thanks David

  • Canon already has had great a great high ISO camera, the Canon 5D MkII, which I own and have used for low light concert photography. I see no reason to buy a 5D MkIII when the sensor is basically the same old Canon design. In fact according to Vista Clues YouTube video where he extensively tested the MkII and MkII, he said the low light capability of the MKIII is practically undistinguishable from the MKII and even showed where the MKII had LESS NOISE!. Canon 5DMKII versus Canon 5DMKIII – Low Light Comparison

    I know the Nikon is not quite as good in low light, but the 800E offers my large format printing needs with better resolution and hence the bridge to MF that I was hoping for. I will keep my extensive collection of expensive Canon Glass, but I am adding an 800E to my equipment base. I simply can’t wait for a Canon high res camera. I’ll revisit purchasing a new low light camera in a few years when other engineering solutions become available. Hopefully this will be a Canon invention.

  • @Mike thanks for sharing the video about the noise. I was mostly talking about the noise in video mode, I found that the Nikon did great in low light.

  • Hi Dave, thanks a lot for your review, a really good one! Just a question about the moire issue seen with the D800: Actually the D800 has antialiasing filter and the D800E hasn’t the filter, the moire is anyway expected with the D800 due to what? The high pixel density at sensor level?

  • I have the same question about the moire issue, have seen this mentioned in other reviews of the D800E but not the D800

  • Dave,
    I got to say, excellent review of both these cameras.
    Your perspective is very much the same as 90% of the people preparing to purchase one of them. Very impressed with your review!

    I myself would prefer the Canon but as you said, both cameras have a lot to offer.

    I too am a little disappointed with the price and since there are other less expensive options for shooters coming out (Digital Bolex, Blackmagic Cinema) I will wait a little longer until the dust settles. My 7D is a great camera and it will hopefully be fulfilling my needs at least into the near future.

  • Hey Dace, is that a custom made plate at the beginning that holds both cameras on the same tripod?

  • Well done review. Already have the M3 so to see someone come to the same conclusions for purchasing it only reinforce mine.

    I think the D800 is a very good camera its just not one that has that all round capability that I need/want.

  • From your review, it seems like you never compared actual image quality for stills. It’s not quite clear though. Did you compare still image quality?

  • @Walt I really like the stills I took with the D800 they have more detail by far than the 5D3. If I was a landscape photographer I would pick the D800 in a heart beat.

  • Dave, I have been following you since you first started your blog, and I’ve got to say that you have come QUITE a long way my friend! This is an incredibly well done review, and I’m VERY happy you took a full 30+ days to play with both cameras in order to truly get a feel for their individual strengths and weaknesses! Job well done, MKIII it is for me as well! Keep up all your great work, all of us DSLR hobbyists sure appreciate it!

  • I like the valuable info you supply to your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and test once more here regularly. I’m somewhat sure I will learn plenty of new stuff proper right here! Good luck for the following!

  • Excellent Comp Dave.
    One thing you contemplated (or just mentioned) in your NAB video, are you considering changing your domain? Don’t hate me for it but if BlackMagic camera moves the DSLR crowd towards it I would hate you losing attention. Everything remains same for these cameras. So many brands change names, logos and when the quality is sustained they only benefit from it instead of losing. And since you are already a coder like me, I seriously suggest you think of a brand name and keep an idea as a fail same (like learnhdvideo.com which could initially redirect here, you can put a preview of “new” site so people are comfy in migrating), you can change username of channel later too. Just want you to keep an option open in your head.

  • Well, I had the chance to play for a week with the 5DIII, and I have to say I’m very dissapointed, yes they solved the moire issue (almost) at expense of sharpness, yes we can monitor audio, what audio? still unusable (same crap preamp as the II), yes it has a way better autofocus system,who use autofocus?
    I’ve been comparing footage from the mark II and III, and honestly, I prefer the footage from the II, it’s sharper. Conclusion, you can now buy a 5DII for a Grand, install Magic lantern and you have the same cam as III for 2Grands less.

  • I’ve been shooting for awhile but I’ve never had a full sensor camera. I currently shoot with a 40d. Will my current EF lenses work with the 5D Mark III?

  • I’m a D800 user and can tell you the white balance is actually extremely fast to alter. Just hold down a button and roll a dial. No need to go into any menus or anything.

    As for aliasing thats just down to how much sharper the D800 is.

    Glad you picked up on the dynamic range of the D800 Dave because nobody else seems to have noticed it that I’ve found and to me that range is everything.

    As for low light part of why the 5D looks getter in low light is because the blacks are already so crushed you can’t see the noise as clearly. You can’t compare the to ISO number to ISO number. You need to slip the values to really be fair because 1600 or 800 etc is much brighter on the D800 compared to the same value on the 5D. So naturally the D800 will appear noisier sooner.

    Good video but I recommend studying the D800’s method of white balancing further before knocking it.

    Also you left out in camera time-lapses video recording in the D800. Very cool feature.

    And through Nikons desktop software you can create your own camera profiles, save them and upload them to the D800. Thats a major feature that almost nobody knows about.



  • Hi Dave

    Thank you for your precise review, it really helps a lot.

    But I also have a question that Simon mention above, that the same number of the ISO in Nikon D800 is much brighter than the Canon 5DIII, will it be the ISO 800 in Nikon D800 is actually the same as ISO 1600 in Canon 5DIII? This is same in some other comparison videos too.

    I used Nikon F801 many years ago and stopped using the SLR camera when it all come to digital cameras, all these years I used the compact cameras and I found it cannot fulfil my needs esp no depth of field. So I wish to make a right choice to buy in my first DSLR camera, it is really hard to choose one of them.

    Thank you Dave, it is great.



  • As also mentioned, the DXO score show the canon is closer to normal ISO settings than the D800, however the difference, depending on the exact ISO is 1/3 of a stop at best with the d800 under. Any differences in exposure likely has more to do with the individual metering systems and metering modes being used. ISO wise they are, according to base tests, the same or similar enough to each other with the Nikon under exposing at best 1/3 under where it should be.

  • How can Canon and Nikon miss the standards.
    ISO has nothing to do with “Photography.”
    They are a standardization organization. Hence their name ISO=International Organization for Standardization. We have their guides in engineering, AutoCAD.

    Alex is right in referring to the brightness in stops. From what I understand ISO 600,700,etc was the type of film classes in 35mm.
    When we switched to DSLRs the ISO was converted to a digital term.

    I’m not sure whether the camera manufactures are still regulated by ISO or not?

    Just some thoughts.

  • From what I understand, ISO’s are supposed to be correct in the sensitity mark the represented value is suppose to hit. Camera manufacturers TRY to hit the mark with some closer than others. In these 2 cameras, the canon is closer to the mark than Nikon but some cameras can be off as much as a stop or more. DxO is supposed to be a good tool to gauge these but take it for what it’s worth. In the film days, photographers carried reciprocity charts so we know how much to compensate our exposure for the film we are using. Perhaps modern photographers need to carry charts for ISO and actual ISO

  • Thanks for the info Alex.
    I had not heard of the charts before.

    To bad they didn’t have a UL test or something. I guess that would drive up costs.

  • No problem John… DxO is one of those semi controversial tester sites where they standardize certain aspects and grade each thing. They have a track record for favoring Nikon for the last so many years but it is interesting nevertheless. They basically said the two cameras in the grand scheme are neck and neck with as little as 1/3 seperating the two in most areas. The d800 had better dynamic range from ISO 50-800. After that the canon had better DR. that’s basically parroting what this above test concluded as well. But yeah, ISO’s are supposed to be accurate as the meter drives the exposure and if the ISO is off, so could be the exposure. Also depending on the meter and system also affects exposure as well.

  • Hi Dave, Great Review, can you upload the original picture of the kids on the hill?


  • 🙂 🙂 Hey Dave. I saw that picture of you in the 80s. You look about the same, save for the hair color. 🙂
    (I only say that because you have a good sense of humor)

    You’ve come a long way into the DSLR realm.
    thanks for being a trail blazer.

  • Yes that’s the one.

    It’s always fun to see someone’s old photos.
    You inspired me to look through old pictures of mine tonight.


  • Great video dave, lot of work gone into this one. Also, thanks for getting back to me the other day, as promised here is the video I created featuring you and learningdslrvideo.com. hope you like it, thanks for all your work over the last two years.


    when my feature film is made I will be sure to give you a special thanks in the credit.

  • If you still have the D800 it would be interesting to see if an Expodisc would help with the white balance.

  • Good Stuff!
    I like to way you handle comparison in video..
    Good choice also…
    But big money for an amateur who asks clicks for his page and taking his kids shot…

  • Hey you got quite a few videos that are being ripped off. I’ve seen three people that have copied your YouTube videos (this one mainly) and posted them as their own.

    They appear to link to scams.

  • This balanced review is greatly appreciated. So well-written too.

    What exactly was the problem you faced with the mount conversion rings?

  • Mark,

    The terms ‘dynamic range’ and ‘latitude’ apply to both film and digital. They are not exclusive to either and they have different meanings. Dynamic range is the full range of data (in this case light sensitivity) that can be captured/produced by a device. Latitude is the range of discernible detail that is acceptable to the naked eye. Dynamic range tests would be done with a measurement instrument and latitude tests are done by direct observation.

  • Dave,
    what is the bar you use to mount both cameras. I have a small bar like that I use for audio, but I would love to be able to mount two cameras the way that you did.


  • Thanks for the video. I knew there was a reason why Canon limited the amount of pixels. The extra pixels and the amount of detail that can be achieved by the Nikon, though, were very tempting. I almost returned my MK3, but I have three L lenses and am more familiar with Canon. It reinforces my choice that you also chose the MK3.

  • very good, crazy i like video lessons, pay much attention to the testing equipment congratulations and thanks for help everyone…im from brazil, macapá-amapá city, i´m sorry my ingles is very very bad.


  • I have a question, I want to buy either a Nikon or Canon digital SLR that I can use for sports, landscapes, portraits film and the video would be secondary. I want professional quality pictures but don’t know enough about the digital cameras. I want to spend around $3500 dollar range, could you recommend? Thank you.

  • Dave, your “review” is a mess. I was always wondering did you mean still or video when reading it. Because for the stills (suppose we have similar glass on both) 5d mk 3 has the only advantage: FPS. Nikon is at least on par but usually better and much better in everything else: DR, High ISO, Color depth, etc.

  • Since I havent shoot a jpeg/fiddle w gray cards in 5 years nor do I use an in-camera hdr feature. Ill take that 36mp sensor(with goobs of DR) & stellar 14-24 and call it a day.

  • Im starting to suspect that many of these side by side comparisons are being done by people that have glossed over the camera instruction manual, its understandable since in the nikon its 475 pages long 🙂 First every site that has done measured testing has found that the D800 measured ISO performance it superior to the 5D by 1,5 stops. Any ISO value above that limit is simply a measure of the noise reduction algorithms. Second in video the 5d ISO settings seem to more of a guide rather than a true value since the nikon seems always to be 2 stops ahead in brightness ergo the brightness of the D800 at 1600 ISO seems to match the 5D at 6400! Ergo if you upsample the 5D or downsample the D800, its not even a competition. So please enough of the 5D better ISO, its simply false. Second in regards to WB RTFM! The WB in the nikon is adjustable in and infinite amount of ways, there is even 2 separate settings for the auto default one warmer the other cooler the bluer setting is essentially identical to canon’s. The third sillyness is speed, if you are willing to downgrade the nikon to the 5D’s inferior resolution they both shoot at 6 FPS. Add to that the significantly superior (albeit expensive) nikon trinity lenses, not mention Canons 15% higher price and there is simply zero reasons to choose the 5D over the D800 unless you are already invested on a lot ofCanon glass, ZERO.

  • @wised sounds like you did not like my side by side comparison. Like I said perhaps 5 or 6 times in the video I am just an amateur.

    You seem to have a lot of knowledge about ISO and WB performance then I do, can you show me all the tests that you have run and documented so I can learn from you? Please show me your tests to I can learn.

    Like I said at the end if you don’t like the tests I have done you can watch a professional like Philip Bloom instead of some amateur like myself that clearly doesn’t know how to read a manual.

  • Thank you from Russia. Very impressed with your site. Your review of the Canon vs Nikon was very professional.

  • Don’t need to stress that you’re an amateur so often.
    Certainly your “amateurism” is much more insightful and of practical use than many of the professionals out there.
    Thanks for the review. I’m upgrading to a full-frame soon after 5 years of crop sensors and this review might have tilted the balance for good…

  • very nice, i am following you and sticking to mark 3, i did think of switching to nikon for a while.

  • @Jou all you have to do is sign up for it (it is free and you will get the password emailed to you). See the upper right sidebar.

  • Hi Dave,
    Love your comparison video. I’m a mom just starting to get into DSLR photograhy. Very new to this. My main subjects are my kids (in all possible scenario from sports, to low light birthday parties, to beach vacations).
    Nikon is appealing for it’s high MP and Flash.
    What camera do you recommend for someone like myself? Non professional, all scenareos shooting, this camera will be it for a loong time.
    Is having a flash for beginner helpful or does it not matter? Can I get away with shooting in all these types of situations without a flash?

  • Hi, I have been following your site and blog which are
    Very interested but I noticed your Tshirts which are unique can you tell from were you buy them please?


  • @Paul I get them from several places, do a search on my site for t-shirt and you should find where I talk about them.

  • Hi Dave,
    I am an event photographer Canon user and i was exactly at that junction what to do since i had some thought’s of buying the Nikon D800 insted of keep going with canon,mostly because of the hi resolution of the Nikon D800 and also for the advantage of the details you get at the Nikon as it is shown in your video.bottom line I decided to stay with Canon and to buy the 5D MARK3.
    Your video took great part with my decision what to do.


  • I think you did a great job here but I have one issue with your comparison. I believe what you refer to as a white balance issue is just the difference in the way that Canon and Nikon render color. In the same way that Kodak and Fuji slide films had their color biasis, digital cameras do as well, and not just between companies but between different cameras from the same company. Whether it’s “wrong” or not is for the user to decide.

  • Hi Dave, your website is great! I have a doubt about 5D3 vs D800: I have to decide which one to buy for color-grading purpose.
    5D3: PROS are better low-light performance, high-ISO, and no moiré; CONS is the 8bit 4:2:0 H264 that is compressed and not so appropriate for color-grading.
    D800: PROS is the clean 8bit-HDMI-4:2:2 out that is better for color-grading (Decklink Shuttle2 you can record 4:2:2 uncompressed clips); CONS are moiré (perhaps) and high-ISO not brilliant performances.
    To decide the winner, I need to know a thing: in your opinion, where is the biggest difference: between the image quality of the two cameras, or between the results given by the two codecs (4:2:0-H264 vs 4:2:2-Uncompressed). In other words, image quality makes the difference, or the possibility to record uncompressed-clip makes the difference?
    Thanks a lot for your help.

  • I’m also comparing Canon 5D Mark III with Nikon D800, I have used both Canon 5d Mark II and Nikon D700. One thing that I have not found anyone mention on the web is the ability on the Canon 5d Mark II to take stills while recording Video, is this feature to take stills while recording also available on the Nikon D800? What card type to you need to use x400 or x600 or x1000 in D800 or Mark III?

  • You use sharp tv for naturel colors???and iphone???hehe and you struggle for this just to help us or is it a rival advertisement??

  • Thanks a lot! I’ve been drawn between the two and lately came to the same conclusion. I wish I could keep both, but that would be too impractical. I hope someday Nikon will make a full frame DSLR with better WB and custom settings, then I will completely enjoy its technical advancement.

  • If a person is “only” going to shoot photos with the cameras in the AUTO mode then which of the two would you choose? I like good quality photos but I don’t want to mess with ISO settings, depth of field, and other stuff – just interested in point and shoot with a camera equivalent to a goo 35mm camera.

  • If you can’t shoot successfully at 1600 ISO-which seems to be the case with the NIkon- then the camera is useless. It means you will only be able to shoot during the day. Even for an amateur that is VERY limited.

  • Kimberly,

    If you are looking to use the auto functions primarily, then go with the Canon. As the video suggested, the 5D MkIII has better auto white balance, as well as a more intuitive menu to work with.

    In addition, with the 6 fps and better auto-focus, the Canon makes a better all around camera to use.

    I love the Nikon D800, but beyond being a studio/landscape/stills, you’ll enjoy the greater versatility of the MkIII.

    Hope that helps,


  • I’ve been using the d800 for 6 months now shooting wedding, and the iso def goes passed 1600 successfully, i shoot at 4000/5000 in some church settings where flash is not allowed and receive very nice results with limited grain issues…

    @ Kimbely… You need to start using manual settings, it allows you to get much better control of your exposures 🙂

  • Great video. I’ve been shooting Canon (F1)since 1974 and have always be happy with them.I have the mkIII and am also pleased with it. I’m waiting to see what Canon will come out with for a higher megapixel camera – rumor has it a 3D! but who knows. My 1D mkII is now semi retired but served me will also.

  • Just a note about Canon’s HDR mode. Convenient as it is it doesn’t do the job a good HDR software can. Also there are times you may need 7 exposures to capture the scene. I still use it on occasion and use the 3 images in Photoshop’s merge mode.

  • Thanks for a great review, I have been struggling to choose between these two cameras. My main use is real estate photography and better low light and HDR on the Cannon made me go with the 5d. I have to say that I am very happy with the 5d, it is an amazing camera that allows an amateur like me to take fairly reasonable pictures and I love the HDR.

  • im little bit confused in buying nikon d3200 and canon 550d. it’ll b helpful if it is compared perfectly.. i tried to find the conclusion but none of the review has a perfect answer

  • Thanks for the really great review. You did a really great job of showing the pro and cons of each camera. And, yeah, I agree that White Balance on the Nikon is a pain. You can get it fixed in post processing. But, who wants to do PP? Also, your comment about the D800 will lock up after 15 shots for 2 minutes. I did a test using a Lexar Pro 1000x and after 28 seconds, the buffer had fully unloaded to the card the 15 raw images. Also, if I had wanted to, I could shoot intermittently while it was still writing to the card, similar to the Canon. Some of the cards perform better in one camera then in the other. I had purchased a Lexar card due to it’s performance in the Nikon. It rated higher than Sandisk and definitely higher than the Transcend.

  • Hello Dave. I really enjoy your videos,thanks for sharing your knowledge. I want to buy a DSLR camera for video filming also for taking photos(for documentay film making). The thing is,that i want to buy a professional camera,but i can’t decide which one to buy. I watched a lot of videos and did some researchers what would be the best for me. The price tag is also very important for me.So i came up with two models. Canon Eos 5d mark II (in my country cost about 2200$ body only) or Nikon D800 (about 2450$body only). 5d mark III starts from 3300$ that is too much for me right now. There is some features that i like in Nikon d800 but the big file sizes scares me. In this video you are comparing 5D mark III vs d800. How do you think which one is better in my situation. D800 or 5d mk III? Thanks 🙂

  • Dave,

    I’m curious about what memory format are you using to shoot on the 5Dm3? I’m upgrading from the T2i and want to know if I can use my class 10 SD card or if I need to invest in a faster CF card for video (not worried about burst stills). Is the SD card fast enough for both All-I and IPB video? Thanks for your help!

  • Anyone manage to use a Nikon Lens to Canon EF Body (5D3/6D) Adapter Ring without any issues?

    Heard lots of older Rings no problem on older bodies….

    if Yes pls feedback on which ring to use or what exactly to work around…