5D3 compared to D800, 1DX [PART 2]

Started May 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
Flat view
Guy Lerner Senior Member • Posts: 1,770
5D3 compared to D800, 1DX [PART 2]

I suggest you read Part 1 of this mini-review to make sense of the notes and samples below. You'll find it here:


Results and conclusions

This was never going to be an exhaustive test, more a test to affirm (or debunk) what I've read and seen about the D800 (and to a lesser extent the 1DX) compared to the 5D3, with which I'm getting more familiar with each day. You can glance at the samples in Part 2, but in summary:

  • The D800 really does have impressive resolution, although it's not of any value to my main line of work.

  • The D800 has impressive noise control. Even at actual size there's only a slight difference in noise between the 5D3 and D800 up to ISO 1600, and they're close enough at ISO 6400 to not make a difference in real world terms. Both produce very usable images up to 6400, and while I'd use the 5D3 at 12800 if I had to, I probably won't use it that often. From what I've seen (but didn't test), the D800 loses ground above ISO6400, but fair enough, it has 36MP! Neither camera is "clean" at these lofty heights.

  • I prefer Canon's colours OOC. Always have. One of the main reasons I stay with Canon.

  • The 5D3 seems to expose slightly darker at the same ISO and settings than the D800. More technically-minded readers can comment on the pros and cons better than me.

  • I can confirm the D800 has better dynamic range at base ISO. No surprise here. See the samples. That said, Lightroom 4 does an impressive job at reducing the colour and banding noise of a shot pushed 3 stops, significantly reducing the gap between the results at ISO 100 (at the slight loss in detail). I would be happy to push the 5D3 a couple of stops and still get very usable large prints at base ISO, but more often than not, I try to expose properly and keep heavy contrast in any scene to a minimum. If Canon can get it's next-generation sensors to the same read noise levels as the Sony sensors, we'd be that much closer to DSLR nirvana.

A footnote: the 1DX

I didn't get to put a card in the 1DX, but I did give it a good look-over, comparing it to the 5D3. I was quite surprised to find:

  • It felt very similar to the 5D3. In fact, cover the built-in grip, and you'd think the cameras were brothers. I've said from the day I bought it that the 5D3 feels like a shrunk 1-series, and I can now confirm it. Shutter mechanism and locking card/battery doors aside, I wouldn't hesitate to use the 5D3 in the same conditions as the 1DX. Of course, when it rains I use a rain cover, and when there's sand I use a plastic bag. But the 5D3 is a real departure from the "prosumer" build of the 5D2 and 5Dc - it's a big step up, and I'm quite surprised Canon took the risk to give it such an upgraded build for the price.

  • The 1DX is definitely quicker on the draw with AF. The 5D3 is fast, very fast, but the 1DX is instant. You can tell it's built for speed first, everything else second.

  • The AF module and viewfinder is the same in both cameras. Same display, same black AF squares. If you want a permanent red spot like me, wait for the firmware fix (it's coming). Again, kudos to Canon. The AF is worth a $1,000 premium on the 5D2 alone.

  • The shutter. What a letdown the 1DX's shutter is. Having got used to the amazing, incredible, did I say amazing silent shutter of the 5D3, I got excited to see the "S" mode on the 1DX shutter, only to release the shutter and "thunk". Double-check, yep, in "s" mode. "Thunk!". Turn to Canon rep with a puzzled look on my face. The 1DX shutter is completely different, built for speed and longevity, so sorry, no "silent" shutter. But I can always Live View...

  • With the logical and sensible Live View and Video Mode dial on the 5D3 I was hoping the 1DX would be similarly equipped. Nope. Live View is a single button, like the 5D2, and I couldn't tell exactly how to activate video recording. This is a still shooter's camera first and foremost, with video as an afterthought. Hope the 1DC fixes that, for $15000!


You can download high-res straight-from-RAW JPEG conversions of a few 5D3 and D800 files here:

5D3: http://guylerner.com/temp/5D3.zip
D800: http://guylerner.com/temp/D800.zip

Quick ISO 6400 test:

5D3 reduced

D800 reduced

5D3 100% crop

D800 100% crop

Quick ISO 100 push test:

5D3 underexposed 3 stops, reduced

D800 underexposed 3 stops, reduced

5D3 underexposed 100% crop

D800 underexposed 100% crop

5D3 underexposed 100% crop (with Lightroom 4 NR)

If you made it this far, thanks so much for reading. Hope you found it useful.

Canon EOS 5D Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS-1D Nikon D800
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
Flat view
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow