5D3 owner rents a D800

Started Apr 28, 2012 | Discussions
Jeff Palmucci
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5D3 owner rents a D800
Apr 28, 2012

Well, after the awesome dxomark numbers of the D800, I went and rented one to compare against my 5D3. My impressions:

I really liked the idea of the Nikon's face recognition for autofocus. Seems like it would help a lot for concert photography. In practice, I don't think it is reliable enough. Doesn't nail the eyes. I'd stick to picking the focus point.

The metering on both cameras is definitely different. Surprisingly so. Sometimes the Nikon nails it, sometimes the Canon does. They are both pretty good. I haven't noticed one camera being consistently better than the other, just different. Surprising. The Nikon should be better.

Even though dxomark says high iso performance on the 5d3 is better (at 12800, where I'd like it), I can't tell the difference. After scaling down the Nikon image to the same size, the noise and DR look the same to me. Pretty instructive on how little difference a couple of ticks on the dxomark charts make.

The D800 does have slightly better detail, but less than you'd think, at least with the lenses I was using. (24-70 2.8 on both).

The D800 superiority in low ISO DR has been well documented. I went back through my photo library to pull up some shots where I thought that would have helped. However, when I found them, I realized that the 5d2 (which I had at the time) had enough DR that I still got the shot. (Maybe survivorship bias? I already deleted the shots that weren't acceptable?) This is still the one feature that I lust after the most.

I do remember times when the 3.9fps of my 5D2 was not enough, so I think the boost to 6fps is a worthwhile feature.

The AF systems on both are phenomenal. (I'm coming from a 5D2, so you can see my point of view.) On paper, the Nikon should be better at tracking with its metering sensor, and the Canon should be better at really wide (wider than f/1.8) apertures. In practice, they are both great. Maybe the Nikon jiggles a little more before locking on, but insignificantly so. (The 5d3 works way better on my Sigma 85mm f/1.4 than my 5d2 ever did.)

The JPEG engine on the 5D3 is awesome, but I mostly shoot raw. I did a concert on the 5D3 in JPEG + RAW. The final shots were about 50-50 jpeg vs raw. Not good enough to allow me to switch to JPEG.

Video: tracking AF on the Nikon is a gimmick. The focusing noise and jiggling around the focus point is too distracting. You are better off using the better high ISO capabilities of the Canon to get a larger DOF.

My conclusion: These cameras are both excellent. If I were starting from scratch, I'd probably go with the Nikon for the higher resolution and awesome low ISO dynamic range. As it is, 3 things are going to keep me using the Canon, in order of importance:

1) I have a lot of good Canon glass and it would be a real pain to switch (80% of the reason)
2) better frame rate (10%)
3) better video (10%)

Anyone have a suggestion on what else I should check before the D800 goes back on Monday?

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark III Nikon D800
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farcanal
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

I'm interested in the Sigma 85mm 1.4, but I've read mixed reviews, can you give some feedback (speed, accuracy, sharpness), much appreciated.

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Shotcents
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to farcanal, Apr 28, 2012

Good and honest comments. Thanks.

Robert

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cpkuntz
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Thanks for this mini review! Both cameras seem great. If Canon lowered its price by $700-$800, it would be winning this "battle". My 5D Mark III arrived on Thursday. Coming from a 7D, I'm am floored by the image quality that full frame brings. Absolutely floored. The Nikon's dynamic range would be nice to have, but I am happy with 22 megapixels (and the 5D Mark III dynamic range obviously destroys the 7D, so, again, I'm pretty happy right now).

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FranklinSq
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Jeff, fantastic comments! I personally prefer first-hand user experience to dxomark experiments.

I just have one question: I shoot jpeg only (I know I know, I'm not a very sophisticated person) and I am very curious about the jpeg engine on the 5Diii versus the D800. Would you be able to comment on that?

Many thanks!

Jeff Palmucci wrote:

Well, after the awesome dxomark numbers of the D800, I went and rented one to compare against my 5D3. My impressions:

I really liked the idea of the Nikon's face recognition for autofocus. Seems like it would help a lot for concert photography. In practice, I don't think it is reliable enough. Doesn't nail the eyes. I'd stick to picking the focus point.

The metering on both cameras is definitely different. Surprisingly so. Sometimes the Nikon nails it, sometimes the Canon does. They are both pretty good. I haven't noticed one camera being consistently better than the other, just different. Surprising. The Nikon should be better.

Even though dxomark says high iso performance on the 5d3 is better (at 12800, where I'd like it), I can't tell the difference. After scaling down the Nikon image to the same size, the noise and DR look the same to me. Pretty instructive on how little difference a couple of ticks on the dxomark charts make.

The D800 does have slightly better detail, but less than you'd think, at least with the lenses I was using. (24-70 2.8 on both).

The D800 superiority in low ISO DR has been well documented. I went back through my photo library to pull up some shots where I thought that would have helped. However, when I found them, I realized that the 5d2 (which I had at the time) had enough DR that I still got the shot. (Maybe survivorship bias? I already deleted the shots that weren't acceptable?) This is still the one feature that I lust after the most.

I do remember times when the 3.9fps of my 5D2 was not enough, so I think the boost to 6fps is a worthwhile feature.

The AF systems on both are phenomenal. (I'm coming from a 5D2, so you can see my point of view.) On paper, the Nikon should be better at tracking with its metering sensor, and the Canon should be better at really wide (wider than f/1.8) apertures. In practice, they are both great. Maybe the Nikon jiggles a little more before locking on, but insignificantly so. (The 5d3 works way better on my Sigma 85mm f/1.4 than my 5d2 ever did.)

The JPEG engine on the 5D3 is awesome, but I mostly shoot raw. I did a concert on the 5D3 in JPEG + RAW. The final shots were about 50-50 jpeg vs raw. Not good enough to allow me to switch to JPEG.

Video: tracking AF on the Nikon is a gimmick. The focusing noise and jiggling around the focus point is too distracting. You are better off using the better high ISO capabilities of the Canon to get a larger DOF.

My conclusion: These cameras are both excellent. If I were starting from scratch, I'd probably go with the Nikon for the higher resolution and awesome low ISO dynamic range. As it is, 3 things are going to keep me using the Canon, in order of importance:

1) I have a lot of good Canon glass and it would be a real pain to switch (80% of the reason)
2) better frame rate (10%)
3) better video (10%)

Anyone have a suggestion on what else I should check before the D800 goes back on Monday?

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Jeff Palmucci
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to farcanal, Apr 28, 2012

The Sigma is an awesome lens. I actually chose it over the Canon 1.2, not for cost, but for the faster focusing speed and the no-focus-by-wire.

Of course, with the 5D3, you really don't need manual focus.

One thing I noticed with the Sigma is that the flash metering doesn't work as well as with my Canon glass. I think they probably are not transmitting distance information to the body correctly.

Otherwise, highly recommended. It is my only non L lens.

farcanal wrote:

I'm interested in the Sigma 85mm 1.4, but I've read mixed reviews, can you give some feedback (speed, accuracy, sharpness), much appreciated.

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Jeff Palmucci
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to FranklinSq, Apr 28, 2012

If you only shoot JPEG, I highly recommend the 5D3. The noise reduction is almost (but not quite) as good as Topaz Denoise, straight out of the camera. I assume you are mostly interested in how the engine handles high ISO (the low iso dynamic range is lost when you save as JPEG).

You made me curious. I'll do some tests over the weekend.

FranklinSq wrote:

I just have one question: I shoot jpeg only (I know I know, I'm not a very sophisticated person) and I am very curious about the jpeg engine on the 5Diii versus the D800. Would you be able to comment on that?

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Peter 13
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Jeff Palmucci wrote:

Even though dxomark says high iso performance on the 5d3 is better (at 12800, where I'd like it), I can't tell the difference. After scaling down the Nikon image to the same size, the noise and DR look the same to me. Pretty instructive on how little difference a couple of ticks on the dxomark charts make.

Actually, DXO says that their high ISO performance is the same if normalized for the "true" ISO, and the D800 is slightly better at the manufacturer's ISO (25.2 vs 24 db).

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ak1999
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

I don't have either cameras but I do own 60D and D7000.

While the continuos CDAF may not of practical usel on the D7000, the Nikon is a lot quicker to acquire focus in single CDAF mode than the Canon one (

Is there any difference in focusing time acquisition in CDAF mode between 5D3 and D800?

Another difference is in flash system, the Nikon one gives more consistent results.
Did you try using 3D tracking mode on the Nikon?

BTW, I was trying to decide between these two cameras to go back to full frame DSLR but now I will wait and see what the rumored D600 will bring to the table.
Also can you verify for me if the X-sync speed on 5D3 is 1/200s?

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CalBoy87
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I got few questions and one mighty favor
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

First thanks for taking time to post it, very useful. Now, I am similar shoes, got 5DMKII with plenty of L primes, using MF most of the time. So I got couple questions for you.

1) how would you compare VF? Are the both look same, or is one bigger than other? How about easiness on MF on either? I know D800 has kinda rangefinder thingy in VF, showing during MF if focus is behind or in front of the object, but does it make any difference?

2) does it flashing red points all over in MKIII makes it more difficult or easier to use then single AF point blink in D800? Is any camera better in the regard of lighting up VF after focus is complete?
3) how noisy are the shutters? Is the sound more pleasant to you of either one?

Final request. As you mentioned no doubt about great DR in D800. Similarly to you I checked my shots and simply can't tell if any of them would look great/better if done with D800. I see plenty of shots from both, where the shot is push many stops and while Canon is showing banding, Nikon shows...nothing. That's said I would like to see shot, taken with both cameras with large DR, where the advantage of D800 seems obvious, without resorting to underexposing the shot by 3-4 stops and then recovering it in PP. So, if you have a chance to set both cameras with same settings and take picture with wide DR and just a usual settings. I just like to see in normal, everyday situation, where this DR may make a difference.

Sorry to ask you of you so many things, but is really rare to find someone having both, both cameras and unbiased approach. As of me, I am also tied to Canon by plenty of glass, but apart from that, I know, that in all of my photography, I am the weakest link. Also, I consider Canon glass to be bit better than Nikon (no F/1.2 lenses, no good 135 lens and expensive others). Nevertheless, this grass look mighty green...Thanks in advance, and if you won't find the time to perform such a test, no worry, you just might save me some money...

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Tom Melanson
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Thanks for posting. Nice thumbnail sketch of the two cameras.

One thing that is seldom mentioned is just how much better the body is on the III over the II. It's better in every way. The "skin" is grippier, the weather sealing is much better, and it feels like a slimmer one series.
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Clark666
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Does the Nikon have the f/8.0 AF limitation? I would like to use my f/4.0 lenses with a 2x converter but Canon won' t allow AF when I tried
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FranklinSq
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Jeff, you are absolutely correct, I shoot a lot of high ISO. Again, I understand that I could do much better in raw... But my wife and I literally take thousands of pictures of our son, and there are just not enough hours in the day for us to manipulate so many raw files. The pictures are mostly taken indoors, in the ISO 1600 to 3200 range, jpeg only.

I am very much looking forward to your findings. Thanks again!

Jeff Palmucci wrote:

If you only shoot JPEG, I highly recommend the 5D3. The noise reduction is almost (but not quite) as good as Topaz Denoise, straight out of the camera. I assume you are mostly interested in how the engine handles high ISO (the low iso dynamic range is lost when you save as JPEG).

You made me curious. I'll do some tests over the weekend.

FranklinSq wrote:

I just have one question: I shoot jpeg only (I know I know, I'm not a very sophisticated person) and I am very curious about the jpeg engine on the 5Diii versus the D800. Would you be able to comment on that?

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fredlord
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Thank you sir.
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Your unbiased impressions are most welcome.

I have the same questions as I expect many of us do. My considerable investment in Canon equipment is an important factor in any decisions regarding further purchases.

In truth, it isn't the resolution of the Nikon D800 that I find attractive. Furthermore, I wouldn't want to deal with the enormous file size produced.

The low ISO DR is the real MacGuffin in this instance. The enhanced (and lovely) Nikon D800 shadow detail is terribly alluring and if Nikon produces a suitable 24MP version (D600?) I may be swayed to act.

Incidentally, I switched from Nikon to Canon in 1978 because of pricing structure. The cost and ROI tables seemingly have turned as of now. Canon does need to respond appropriately or I may be out of there.

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PhilPreston3072
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Jeff Palmucci wrote:

Anyone have a suggestion on what else I should check before the D800 goes back on Monday?

Can you take portraits of the same person with both cams and post them up here? It would be good to do a comparison of the skintone renderings from each.

Understandably, each Camera Co. may like to emphasize certain colours or tones to give pics some oomph. But ideally, you want to start off with natural skintones to begin with, prior to any editing being done later.

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FranklinSq
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Re: 5D3 owner rents a D800
In reply to PhilPreston3072, Apr 28, 2012

+1

PhilPreston3072 wrote:

Jeff Palmucci wrote:

Anyone have a suggestion on what else I should check before the D800 goes back on Monday?

Can you take portraits of the same person with both cams and post them up here? It would be good to do a comparison of the skintone renderings from each.

Understandably, each Camera Co. may like to emphasize certain colours or tones to give pics some oomph. But ideally, you want to start off with natural skintones to begin with, prior to any editing being done later.

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SDRebel
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Canon's challenge is that you would buy the D800 but for ...
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Thanks to Nikon for raising the bar.

Canon has a real challenge on its hands.

First, there are the new buyers without an investment in glass.

Second, there are the professionals who need to show the client that the best and latest equipment is being used.

Third, there are those who follow the crowd.

From the reviews it sounds as though over the next six months there is going to be a significant shift to Nikon as the best of the best. Just as Nikon had to start meeting the Canon challenge several years ago, Canon will now have to up the ante.

That means that in a year or so, no matter how good the 5DIII is, many will be sorely tempted to upgrade.

Meanwhile, for many glass rules. And, few will suffer using the 5DIII while waiting.

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DVT80111
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But Canon is out-priced
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

of course $500 won't make us move to the other camp, but it is a tectonic shift in a long run.

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filmluvr
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Bust it and send it to Nikon
In reply to Jeff Palmucci, Apr 28, 2012

Jeff Palmucci wrote:

Anyone have a suggestion on what else I should check before the D800 goes back on Monday?

Bend a pin in the card socket and send it to El Segundo for repair. See if it comes back looking like a high school shop project. I'll never buy another Nikon product.

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olynik969
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Franklin - ditto me and jpeg!
In reply to FranklinSq, Apr 28, 2012

also interested in both jpeg engines. My history with both Nikon and Canon has seemed (to me) to favor Canon for ooc jpegs (by a considerable margin). Canon and olympus both IMHO are consistently better in this regard. That said, the D800 is obviously an awesome camera/sensor.

So looking for meg samples.
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