5D3 could be better than the D800 in every way.

Started Mar 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
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5D3 could be better than the D800 in every way.
Mar 20, 2012

Not all the tests are in, and many more tests will be done, but the 5D3 could potentially beat or equal the D800 on all accounts. Here is a summary of some of the threads in this forum:

High ISO - Preliminary RAW tests show that the 5D3 and D800 are equal with high ISO noise. Most people are saying that you cannot tell the difference or the difference is so little that it doesn't matter. Comparing the dpreview test shots between the 5D2 and the D800, the 5D3 could potentially have even better high ISO noise than the D800. The ability to shoot at 51k ISO and 102k ISO opens up worlds of possibilities especially as NR software improves. This camera is much more future-proof than the D800.

Low ISO - It looks like banding issues have been reduced to vertical banding with the 5D3 and even that can be solved by using debanding software.

FPS - The D800 with grip and special battery can get to 5 FPS, but that is still worse than what the 5D3 can do natively.

AutoFocus - While this category is completely up in the air, the 5D3 has a good chance of beating it's Nikon rival. It has more total AutoFocus points, more AF viewfinder coverage, more cross type points, and more diagonal cross type points. The AF system is based on the 1Dx which is a completely redesigned autofocus system. The D800 AF system is based on the old D3/D700 autofocus system which has not been drastically revamped. The 5D3 has a good chance of having better AF than the D800.

Resolution - A lot has been made of this point, but tests have shown that most people cannot even tell the difference between 5D3 files and D800 files. http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1032&thread=40951396 Given the hype around the D800's 36 megapixels, even in optimal conditions which would not normally exist in real life shooting, it is difficult to distinguish the files between the D800 and the 5D3 even at 100%. Also consider dpreview's D800 samples compared against the 5D2. The detail in the 5D2 is impressive compared to the D800 and in many cases there is no noticeable detail improvement.

Files Sizes - While many photographers do not care about file sizes, the 5D3 offers both mRAW and sRAW sizes while the D800 offers crop mode and different forms of compression and 12bit vs 14bit files in order to reduce file sizes. For many, the lack of sRAW will be a dealbreaker with regards to the D800. While the D800 offers smaller file sizes, even the 12bit lossy compression is a much larger file than the 5D3's mRAW.

Video - Preliminary video results show that the 5D3 video files are considerably better than the 5D2 video with regards to moire and even rolling shutter. While the D800 has not been put through all of the same tests, preliminary results are showing poor video results from the D4 which likely has the same video system as the D800.


The primary benefit of the D800 over the 5D3 which is resolution has been shown to have negligible real world benefits. The primary deficiency of Canon sensors which is high ISO noise has been solved and the current generation of Canon sensors match Nikon's high ISO noise. Many other specs are a toss up but shows considerable promise for the 5D3. Therefore the other elements of 5D3 prowess over Nikon come to the front such as FPS and file sizes.

More testing needs to be done, but the 5D3 has the potential to beat the D800 in every single category by which we measure DSLRs.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS-1D Nikon D3 Nikon D4 Nikon D800
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