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

Started May 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
nikhgan Senior Member • Posts: 1,552
Re: 5D3 compared to D800, 1DX [PART 1]

well, u are a canon user.

Just like me, a nikon user, finds the canon body confusing, both the buttons and menus. I prefer nikon more than cannon.

Your review is worth reading only if you are equally good at using both bodies. But now, your review is childish....

Guy Lerner wrote:

Hi guys,

NOTE - due to restrictions on this forum, this will have to be a post in two parts. Please see Part 2 for my 1DX impressions and sample images from the 5D3/D800. You can find it here:


So I finally got to play with the "mythical" D800 at a pro dealer in Sydney today. Ironically I was there for a Canon Professional presentation and camera cleaning, but the dealer's D800 rental camera (they only have one) was in store, and I got to spend about an hour scrutinising it alongside my 5D3.

I'll try summarise my very personal, unscientific and subjective observations here, so please, let's keep the trolling and fanboy comments to a minimum if we can?

By way of introduction, I'm a working professional wedding and portrait photographer. I currently own two 5D3 bodies, a 5D2, and a selection of Canon L zooms and primes.

First impressions

I've read so much about the D800 in these and other forums that when I finally held the camera, it felt oddly familiar. I spent a few minutes holding the D800 and 5D3 in each hand, and slowly looking over them side-by-side. To me:

  • Both cameras are clearly high-end, professional bodies. You won't be mistaking either one for a consumer DSLR. The D800 is solidly built, as I expected, as is the 5D3, as I already knew.

  • I can understand why the D800 has a built-in flash, but I still don't like it. Popping the flash up and down just confirmed my opinion about any DSLR with a built-in flash - it looks and feels cheap. I was thinking the D800's flash could be different, given the level of camera, but no. It may be useful, but it really tarnishes an otherwise professional-looking camera. In fact, if the 5D3 had a built-in flash I wouldn't have bought it.

  • The hinges and doors on both cameras are solid - and the 5D3's are a huge improvement on the 5D2, which always felt cheap. I prefer the 5D3's side covers to the plastic cover on the D800 - although the D800's is easier to open and close. I also prefer the 5D3's battery door; the D800's feels much flimsier, and likely to pop open unassisted (in fact I've read reports of this happening on some bodies).

  • I love the D800's LCD cover. Canon could learn something here.

  • Don't like the D800's smaller top LCD, and have never liked Nikon's LCD font.

  • Both rear LCDs are clear and vivid. Didn't notice any colour fringing on the D800 LCD, but I did have issues on its Live View, especially zoomed. More on this later.

  • Where's the Nikon viewfinder extension? A colleague and Nikon shooter says they're available as a special order item, but the squat round viewfinder is standard issue apparently. I think the 5D3's viewfinder is better than the 5D2's, not as good/extended as the 1-series, but much nicer than the D800's.

  • This is very subjective, but I much prefer Canon's industrial design aesthetic, and the D800 does nothing to change my opinion. Some may like the chunky, buttons-everywhere look of the D800 (and other Nikon's). It's certainly functional, I'll give it that. But side-by-side, the 5D3 looks like an iMac next to the D800's super-pimped gaming PC.

  • Some design elements baffled me on the D800. The control wheel on the front of the camera, below the on/off switch, took some getting used to. I kept switching the camera on and off while trying to change modes and functions. Also the diopter needed adjustment, and I found the adjustment wheel very stiff and finicky. It would be almost impossible to adjust with gloves (or if you chew your fingernails like I do).

Shooting and Live View

I managed to get some quality shooting time with the D800. I've included some samples (with comments) in Part 2 of this mini-review. My impressions:

  • Silent mode on the D800 is not silent. That said, neither is it silent on the 1DX (again more on that in Part 2). The 5D3's silent mode, to my mind, and for my uses, is worth the price of entry. It's really just that good.

  • Of course, Canon in its wisdom chose not to offer a silent timer mode, so setting both cameras on timer for the shootout test meant no silent mode. How difficult would this have been to implement Canon? Couldn't find a 2-second timer on the D800 - I'm sure it's there somewhere?

  • Speaking of silent mode, I was really, really surprised when I tried out the 1DX later in the session. Silent mode was, um, louder than the 5D3's normal shutter! I've heard so many 1-series users rave about the "pro" sound of the 1D bodies. I just don't get it. It sounded horrible. Sure - loud, solid and reassuring, if that's your thing. Next time you close a door on a luxury car, notice how silent and smooth it sounds. THAT's the sound you're after. Canon got it dead right on the 5D3. Nikon and Canon's other cameras - no cigar.

  • Live View - oh how I love thee. Except on the Nikon D800. I read that the D800 offers up an interpolated image when zooming in to Live View. I can confirm that's the case. I struggled to nail focus on the D800 using Live View, reverting to AF instead. The 5D3 by comparison is like a magnifying glass - sharp, clear and accurate. I have no idea why Nikon chose to implement Live View like this, and I don't get it. Why cripple such a powerful camera? This alone would be a deal breaker for me if I was in the market for a new camera system.

Please see Part 2 for my 1DX impression, image samples and conclusions...


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