From Canon 5D3 to Nikon D800/D600?

Started Sep 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Rumi Siddiqui
Rumi Siddiqui Regular Member • Posts: 201
From Canon 5D3 to Nikon D800/D600?

I am a Canon user, coming from the T2i, 7D, 5D2, and 5D3. I primarily shoot on location portraits, and event photography. I don't normally shoot landscapes, unless people are part of the composition. Several months back, I was divided between the 5D3 and D800; I ultimately decided the 5D3 was better suited for my needs.


I often shoot children and moving subjects, and the handheld capabilities of the 5D3, delivers exceptionally, well. For toddlers, I shoot a minimum shutter speed of 250 and up, to compensate for camera shake and subject movement. Additionally, the lowlight video quality is spectacular. However, after spending some considerable time with the 5D3, I have a few complaints.

1. While the autofocus system is quick and snappy, Canon omitted Face Detection from it's amazing 61 point autofocus. You'd expect more from a $3500 camera. Who wants to use live view for face detection?

2. I often get over blown highlights with Canon's metering system, and there seems to be a stark contrast with shadow detail. This is my biggest complaint. I’m constantly manually exposing for the brightest point, and readjusting my settings and flash accordingly. It would be nice, not having to do this virtually every time.

Noise/Grain handling: Canon does not have the pleasing films grains as I often see in Nikon images across the mid to high ISO spectrum. I love film grain, but not crappy noise. I prefer Nikon’s handling of it, as Canon tends soften the noise at the expense of detail.

4. White balance. Canon images tend to be a bit too warm for my liking. But this is easily fixed by making shifting the white balance settings.


My hands on experience with the D800 is extremely limited to about 20 minutes, and the confines of my local camera shop. My image critique is mainly based on hundreds flickr images and other online resources.

1. Many of the handheld D800 images had some kind of slight camera shake that was visible in the eyes, even noticeable when scaled down. Granted, I viewed many of these images on flickr and I don't know the shutter speeds used, but there was a consistency in this camera shake. I can tell the difference between camera shake and unsharpened images. Obviously more noticeable on non-VR lenses.

The 36MP file size is a little intimidating to my workflow; however, I have an 8-Core Mac Pro. I wouldn’t mind upgrading the memory to accommodate, but it’s still something to consider.

3. There are still overwhelming reported QC issues. You can deny it all you want, or downplay the ratio of ones with issues than not. Either way, it still creates an unsettling feeling of uncertainty.

4. The image quality is so detailed, it will reveal the slightest dust spec on your sensor, while demanding the highest quality glass.

D700x, D700s, D750

What I really want is something in between a D700 and D800. Or a revised D700 with Facial Recognition autofocus, and less than 36MP, with decent video functionality. While the D4 meets this criteria, it’s out of my budget.


My initial impressions of the D600 are limited to 2 hours, and the confines of Best Buy. I must also say, I'm not familiar with all the Nikon controls and layout, so there will be a bias coming from a Canon user.

5D3 vs. D600

While it’s apple and oranges, comparing a consumer camera (D600) to prosumer (5D3), but my circumstances call for it. I’m considering using this camera as a potential replacement or temporary alternative to the 5D3.

1. Ergonomically, the D600 felt small and a bit cramped, but somewhat acceptable. I think a battery grip will make it worthwhile.

2. It took me a while to figure out the layout and controls. ISO/Aperture/Shutter/Etc. Adjusting ISO, requires holding down a button at the back of the camera, while rotating a knob. The button layout felt very Canon Rebel to me. I prefer dedicated buttons for the primary manual settings, rather than multifunctional ones. With the smaller size, and semi-awkward button lay out, there is that feeling of consumer camera, versus prosumer. Hence, that what Nikon marketed it as in the first.

3. There’s no Facial Recognition in the view finder. Autofocus was decent, but there was something that I wasn't able to figure out. If it didn't autofocus correctly on the subject the first time, is there a way I can immediately move the back joystick, to the correct focus point? I messed around with the different autofocus modes, but was unsuccessful in finding this feature. This may potentially be a deal breaker.

4. Image Quality: There were no overblown highlights; exposure was spot on, and colors looked accurate..from what I saw on the 3.2 inch LCD. I was limited to the 24 - 85mm VR lens, that has a maximum varied open aperture of 3.5 to 4.5. I normally shoot at much wider apertures. I used the auto ISO setting in manual mode, and I limited it to 6400. Zooming into the images, I didn’t notice camera shake. Again, it’s difficult to really assess the true image quality, as I did not have an SD card to take home and review on my 30 inch Apple cinema display; but I liked what I saw on the LCD.

While the D600 has it's share of flaws, I am seriously considering it with a 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lens, and getting two SB910's further down the road. I figure this investment, will better serve me in the long run. I think I’d prefer the D600 compatibility across a wider selection of good primes, as opposed to the D800’s demanding of the absolute highest priced lenses.

Please give me your thoughts and recommendations. I only ask that you do not try and talk me out of sticking with Canon. My mind is made to switch to Nikon; it's a matter of choosing a model/glass that is best suited for my needs.

 Rumi Siddiqui's gear list:Rumi Siddiqui's gear list
Nikon D810 Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A +10 more
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