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Canon EOS 5D Mark III Vs. Nikon D800 – Which Is Best?

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It’s been Canon EOS 5D MkIII fever over here for the past few days, and with the age old argument of Canon Vs. Nikon ever-present, I thought it was about time we put them up against each other for a head to head battle. I’ve compared all the key details below, and using only facts, not opinion, I’ve listed which one comes out on top.

My question to you is, which one will you be buying? Leave a comment below or on Facebook and join in on the discussion.

Check out more details about each camera here:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Vs. Nikon D800

 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Winner
Nikon D800
Megapixels22.3 Megapixel Full Frame CMOS sensorNikon36.3 Megapixel Full Frame CMOS sensor
ProcessorDiG!C 5+DrawExpeed 3
ISO100-25600 (expandable to 102400)Canon100 - 6400 (expandable to 50 - 25600)
Memory TypeCompact Flash, SDDrawCompact Flash, SD
Focus Points61 pointsCanon51 points
Frames Per Second6fpsCanon4fps in FX format, 6fps in DX
Viewfinder Coverage100%Draw100%
Screen Size3.2″ Draw3.2″
LiveviewYesDrawYes
Min Shutter Speed30 secDraw30 sec
Max Shutter Speed1/8000 secDraw1/8000 sec
Self Timer10 sec, 2 secNikon2 - 20 sec
Metering ModesEvaluative, Centre-weighted, Spot, PartialCanonMatrix, Centre-weighted, Spot
VideoFull HD Movie DrawFull HD Movie
ConnectivityUSB 2, HDMI, Mic Input, Wireless Remote (optional)DrawUSB 3, HDMI, Mic Input, 10-Pin Remote Terminal
Battery TypeLithium-IonDrawLithium-Ion
File FormatsAVI, RAW, H.264, MOV, MPEG-4DrawRAW, TIFF, JPEG, MPEG-4, H.264
Dimensions152 x 116 x 76mmDraw146 x 123 x 82 mm
Quiet Shutter ModeYesDrawYes
AF AssistOptionalNikonYes
Built-in Flash NoNikonYes
Battery Life950Canon850
Multiple ExposuresYes, up to 9CanonNo
HDR ModeYesDrawNo
Shutter Life150,000 ActuationsNikon200,000 Actuations
Time-lapse SupportNoNikonYes
Comparative PlaybackYesCanonNo
Price$3,499Nikon$2,999

Here’s the facts: Canon wins 7, Nikon wins 7, and there’s 14 draws. Pretty evenly matched, but which factors matter the most to you? And why is Canon $500 more expensive?

Nikon’s higher megapixels count is more important to me than Canon’s comparative playback, but Canon’s ISO range is more important to me than Nikon’s built in flash, so it really comes down to personal preference.

— — —

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Vs. Nikon D800 - Which Is Best?Thank you for reading my post, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

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Comments

29 thoughts on “Canon EOS 5D Mark III Vs. Nikon D800 – Which Is Best?

  1. Naomi

    Both are too much for my fragile bank account, so instead I finally made the switch as an ex-minolta/sony user to the mkII yesterday as at FOCUS they were doing a steal of a deal on the kit at £1999 couldn’t resist.

    Reply
      1. Naomi

        Sorry I should have explained! That is the kit with the 24-105L IS USM f4 everywhere else online that kit is currently £2259 down from £2499. So about £500 off the original price shaved off. Yeah they were selling the bodies at around £1299 there.

        Reply
  2. HAKKAN

    CANON 5D MARK III CLEARLY BETTER IN TERMS OF VIDEO. HIGH ISO, 5DII SUCCESS HISTORY, BETTER PROCESSOR. PLUS CANON BUILTS THEIR OWN PROCESSOR, UNLIKE NIKON….
    NO MATCH FOR CANON L LENSES ALSO.
    SURELY, I PREFER 5D MARK III vs D800…

    Reply
  3. DK

    Josh,

    Can you explain how D800 was able to make it to 36.3 MP without it being a MF camera? According to the specs both cameras have a 24mmx36mm sensor.

    Reply
    1. Josh Post author

      I’m afraid not, there must be some sort of witchcraft in there somewhere, but both brands have been cramming in more pixels every time they make a new camera, so it was bound to happen.

      Reply
  4. RE

    the Nikon D800 has working AF at f/8, with 9 cross-type sensors. The Canon 5D Mark III is limited to f/5.6. Nikon wins

    Reply
    1. Daniel

      If you use good glass, then you don’t need to worry about the working AF. For me canon wins! But it’s sill a mystery how Nikon was able to put 36.3 effective mp on a full frame sensor. I think that canon is a much more versatile camera, while nikon kinda replaces the digital medium format price.

      Reply
      1. Josh Post author

        I have to admit, that looking at the specs and the pricing, Nikon seems to be winning. That’s based purely on the body alone, and coming from a Canon user.

        Reply
  5. Laci

    I am not a pro, so a built-in flash has a great value to me. It is tempting to choose Canon given the wider ISO range, but above 6,400 it is hopeless anyway. For me Nikon seems to be the winning.
    Having said that my only concern is whether of not I will have to upgrade my iMac given the large file sizes. We’ll see.

    Reply
  6. Fern Trujillo

    Many are forgetting the IQ! Canons pixels are totally different than the previous sensors. The quality of the pixels may make the difference once we see production model image samples. The D800 may have more MP but their quality @ high ISO is being questioned. IF I wanted to handle files that size I would switch to MF. There is no way the quality of a 35mm sensor is going to match MF and the 36 MP may make the files too big to work with for most raw shooters such as myself.

    Most wedding/event photographers are looking for the following, better IQ @ High ISO, and the ability to focus in low light the 5DIII appears to deliver in both.

    Additionally as Josh said above, $500.00 is not going to break the bank for anyone with thousands invested in either systems glass..

    Reply
  7. Paul

    I think canon hit the nail with the 5d3. They’ve corrected everything wrong (I don’t even like using that word cause it’s such a great camera) with the 5d2.

    Yes it still is $500 dollars more than the D800, but how bout comparing it to a D800E, not so much different after all.

    Reply
  8. Nkosithandile

    As a wedding photographer I am more concerned with IQ & low light performance. The Canon 5D Mark III gives me both and the average image size I shoot in RAW format is about 15MB. I think Nikon lost the battle in the ISO range, for a camera priced at $2999 I expect a better ISO performance. The 36MP is immaterial to me as a wedding photographer. If I was shooting billboard size images then the 36MP would be a better option. In short, the choice of which camera will be determined by which lenses(Canon or Nikon) you already own and what kind of photography you do.

    Reply
    1. Josh Post author

      Yeah, I’d personally like to see a direct comparison of IQ at different ISO’s, because that’s what really matters.

      Reply
  9. GBRK

    It’s interesting that the D800 has time lapse photography. Some will find that feature very nice but I believe that the more usable feature for the creative photographer would be the multi-exposure feature of the 5DIII. As for the USB 3.0 speed of the Nikon that speed is only helpful if you have a computer that has USB 3.0 capability and then it’s only useful when you use the camera to download the files. I fine that most would rather remove the cards and transfer the files from the cards themselves.

    Reply
  10. Dimitrs

    Well after checking the photos samples in both canon and Nikon sites
    I don’t see much diference in high iso and there are some problems in. Canons samples it seems to me that Nikon has better dynamic range well I think the 36 mp makes the diference , I also see in canon they have use +2 EC so much for the IQ
    I think Nikon is better but lets wait when they will come to market

    Reply
  11. JP

    I am going for the D800 soon, unless I see lots of negative reviews in the coming weeks. In general it seems to be a camera that is going to last further into the future than the Canon. And I can never resist to get more for less. But I also think the Canon is a great camera, they just have bad luck this time with the truckload of megapixels the D800 has. We must admit our love in megapixels, otherwise we would not be buying either of these?

    Reply
  12. Dimitrs

    Sorry both they have HDR mode
    Just for me I will get Nikon the price of canon mark 3 is 3200 euros for Nikon is 2650 euros

    Reply
  13. ERIC

    I was a Nikon shooter for over 20 years,i don’t have any issues with the quality of the products,but they service department is not that great,my F 4′s broke down during a shoot in ny they wore under warranty the answer was “we can not help you,it will take a week to get you your equipment replaced”A buddy of mine knew a canon rep,we call him,by next day 7:oo am the fedex truck was knocking on my door,Sr your Canon delivery is here.they sent Me 2 EOS 1 N bodies,8 lenses that i requested + 2 flashes.I got my shooting done,i was so happy,i wanted to keep all the canon gear.the canon rep,i cant sell you this one because this is emergency gear that we use for this situations but i can get you a Canon dealer near you to have it ready for you asap.That my friends is what i call service and a company that stand behind their products,in 20 years Nikon never did anything like that for me,not even a T-shirt.And Canon did that for me,i was not even a client of them.i BEEN A FEW TIMES AT CANON FOR SEVICE,THEY CLEAN THE SENSORS FREE AND THE REPAIRS I JUST WAIT FOR THEM DONE THE SAME DAY.I WILL GO FOR CANON.SORRY NIKON GUYS FOR SWITCHING TO CANON

    Reply
  14. davidjewels

    The Nikon D800 was able to make it to 36MP because it has more of them although they are smaller in size. That’s why they fit into the same size sensor. Foe me the ‘Movie continuous Mode’ feature and the Uncompressed HDMI out video makes the Nikon D8oo the choice for me although I’m a Canon shooter. Since I recently sold off the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Canon 5D Mark II and all my Canon lenses to finance a very expensive timepiece, I now don’t have any cameras or lenses, making it easy for me to make the switch. I might end up with the Nikon D4 because it also has uncompressed HDMI video out and the build is more rugged, plus it’s cheaper than the Canon 1DX.

    Reply

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