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Author Topic: Upgrading: Canon 5D mark III : or should I consider the Nikon D800 ?  (Read 15882 times)
The View
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« on: March 16, 2013, 02:30:11 AM »
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I'm just about to upgrade my Canon 5D mark II, and the logic successor would be the mark III (finally a good autofocus).

I stumbled about the great specs of the Nikon D800, so I want to see if this would be a better camera for me.

what I like about the Nikon D800:

1. The amazing dynamic range
2. Nikon shutters are usually faster, and syncing better with pocket wizards miniTT1 and TT5
3. The high detailed resolution
4. Great in shadows
5. I heard the video performance is even better than the 5D III.

I mostly shoot fashion (but with movement) and landscape. No sports (just like Mr. Churchill), no events, no weddings, no street photography.

What I think could be the downside of the Nikon D800:

1. I repeatedly read the autofocus is not very good (PDN review, review on B&H, online reviews): slow, particularly in low light, and imprecise, particularly on the left side - this would be a kill-it for me.
2. The Nikon lens line-up isn't so practical for me
3. I read that with that kind of resolution it's hard to shoot handheld or following people in motion (can't really believe it, or you needed a tripod with every MF)

What I like about the 5D mark III

1. Great autofocus - bye bye using only the central sensor for autofocusing on the mark ii, and then reframing.
2. Great high ISO
3. I read in PDN that the image quality has improved, comparing it with slide film (or is it only a boosted contrast?)
4. I generally like how Canon deals with color and how their sensors render images. I like that image character (can't say if Nikon's is so much different).
5. I like the Canon lens line-up.
6. Improved video.

What bugs me about the 5D mark III

1. Dynamic range is the same (or even slightly less if you believe DxO marks) as the mark II.
2. Shutter not faster than mark II, which gives less advantage with pocketwizards' hypersync than with a Canon.


This is a collection of information I found on the web and in print - I haven't shot with either camera.

I'd appreciate owners or ex-owners of the Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D mark III commenting.

Please do not reply if you do not own or haven't owned any of the two cameras.

Let this thread be about real working experience.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 02:36:05 AM by The View » Logged

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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 02:55:55 AM »
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Hi,

The dynamic range advantage is only for low ISO. Regarding shadows I don't know. In theory yes, but shadows are often dominated by lens flare anyway, IMHO. So if shadows is a problem consider the Nikon, but if not DR may not be a good reason.

Realizing the resolution advantage probably needs careful work.

Best regards
Erik



I'm just about to upgrade my Canon 5D mark II, and the logic successor would be the mark III (finally a good autofocus).

I stumbled about the great specs of the Nikon D800, so I want to see if this would be a better camera for me.

what I like about the Nikon D800:

1. The amazing dynamic range
2. Nikon shutters are usually faster, and syncing better with pocket wizards miniTT1 and TT5
3. The high detailed resolution
4. Great in shadows
5. I heard the video performance is even better than the 5D III.

I mostly shoot fashion (but with movement) and landscape. No sports (just like Mr. Churchill), no events, no weddings, no street photography.

What I think could be the downside of the Nikon D800:

1. I repeatedly read the autofocus is not very good (PDN review, review on B&H, online reviews): slow, particularly in low light, and imprecise, particularly on the left side - this would be a kill-it for me.
2. The Nikon lens line-up isn't so practical for me
3. I read that with that kind of resolution it's hard to shoot handheld or following people in motion (can't really believe it, or you needed a tripod with every MF)

What I like about the 5D mark III

1. Great autofocus - bye bye using only the central sensor for autofocusing on the mark ii, and then reframing.
2. Great high ISO
3. I read in PDN that the image quality has improved, comparing it with slide film (or is it only a boosted contrast?)
4. I generally like how Canon deals with color and how their sensors render images. I like that image character (can't say if Nikon's is so much different).
5. I like the Canon lens line-up.
6. Improved video.

What bugs me about the 5D mark III

1. Dynamic range is the same (or even slightly less if you believe DxO marks) as the mark II.
2. Shutter not faster than mark II, which gives less advantage with pocketwizards' hypersync than with a Canon.


This is a collection of information I found on the web and in print - I haven't shot with either camera.

I'd appreciate owners or ex-owners of the Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D mark III commenting.

Please do not reply if you do not own or haven't owned any of the two cameras.

Let this thread be about real working experience.
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MrSmith
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 04:49:52 AM »
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What lenses do you have? That had a big influence on when I considered swapping to Nikon, I didn't and I'm really pleased I went with the mkIII (have used a d800 since) there were too many gaps in the Nikon lenses for me although I would have liked the short zoom but my most used lenses are 24 and 90 ts-e and 70-200 2.8 and I sometimes hire the 1.2 primes.
If I had different lens requirements and didn't own many lenses then I would consider swapping but I didn't like the control layout or the workarounds needed for the Nikon live view. Plenty of people are happy with the d800 though so maybe hire one to try?
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Paul2660
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2013, 07:46:30 AM »
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Having shot both, and switching to Nikon after years of Canon use, here are a few thoughts.

1.  Dynamic range on the Nikon is next to amazing, easy 2.5 stops and 3 at times.  When pushed shadows at base iso are very clean.  In fact up to around iso 400 this holds true.  After 400 you will start to get diminished returns.

2.  Lens line, not sure on that as to my both companies are pretty much the same. 

3.  AF.  you are correct, the MKIII has a great AF, accurate tracking in AI servo mode and in deep deep shadows.  The D800 will have trouble in the shadows.  Not as bad as older Canon's I have used like the 1ds MKIII and 1ds MKII and 1D MKiv.  If you are after action, especially moving action, the Canon has a definite edge.

4.  High iso performance.  I owned the MKIII for about 1 month, and never found the high iso performance that impressive.  Others seem to.  I found the same issues as with all other Canon bodies I have used, with higher iso, the increase in Canon Blue red noise increases and makes the file very hard to use.  The only Canon I have tried without this is the 6D.  The Nikon does get noisy past 3200 but it's a more grain like noise, and is easier to clean up.

5.  Hand holding.  I do it all the time.  No problems just keep your shutter speed in check.  I have had problems with Nikon VR and movement.  I believe this is me not the tech.  Nikon's VR and Canon's IS do react a bit differently. 

6.  Best advise.  Rent them both,   www.lensrentals.com  They have both bodies and you can try them out.  Their rates are great.  Shot them side by side and then make the call.  I can assure you no two people will react the same as everyone has their own shooting styles and needs. 

I made the painful decision to move to Nikon last year. Painful due to amount of glass and bodies I owned.  I am a landscape, outdoor shooter and the DR of the  Nikon was what made the call for me.  It still impresses me with what you can get with a single frame.  Looking back, I have no regrets, I don't feel  Canon has yet to release anything with the DR of the D800. or D600. As I mentioned the 6D has some areas of impressive improvement but the AF is very basic.

Paul Caldwell
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Paul Caldwell
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CptZar
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 09:19:05 AM »
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That whole discussion about the dynamic range of the D800 is a little overrated. In landscape photography you will still get in situations, that none of the today available sensors will be able to record within the  true dynamic range. It then always comes down to some kind of photo merging. This can be done with Photoshop channels, blending of two or more exposures or even HDR. Actually I am presently working with HDR Efex Pro 2 and I am very impressed. The HDR processing is so good and subtle, that as far as I see it , the result looks absolutely natural. Anybody else has an opinion on that?

For the lenses. There are some lenses which are not in the Nikon line up and they are fantastic. The 17TS, 24TS, 85/1.2 and the 24-105. I use all of them and even if the sensor is better in the Nikon, it was just not enough for me.

The noise when pushing  the shadows of the 5DIII can be avoided by aggressive ETTR. In the RAW file there is 1.5 stop more available, than the jpg preview shows. So if you overexpose by 1 stop, you easily can pull that down in your RAW converter and the shadows will have no noise at all.

Print size? I print A2+ and a 5DIII is already overkill for that. I doubt that I will ever print on larger papers and I guess this is true for 99% of all amateurs. But sure I like it too, when i can zoom in.

In the end it comes down, to the fact that cameras are technical tools. One has to choose the fits best for the specific way he works with it. Megapixel, and Dynamic Range, are in the end just numbers. Actually there is some impressive young landscape photographers who are making amazing pictures with a 5DII, 24-105, and 70-200/f4.

Cheers

Jan
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Paul2660
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 09:22:01 AM »
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Actually the DR is not over rated, we can just agree to disagree.  You can forget HDR with a D800 in many cases, and really still need it on a MKIII due to shadow noise alone. 

Paul Caldwell
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Paul Caldwell
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TMARK
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2013, 09:47:26 AM »
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Test it out. The 5d3 is a much better camera than the 5d2, more like a 1 series.  AF works very well.

That being said, the D800 is well built, the AF issues are overblown, and the sensor is in my opinion much better than the 5d3 sensor. The AF is much better on the D800 than it is on the 5d2. All this talk about the D800 being a tripod only camera is BS. Especially for fashion under strobes.

Color response is different than Canon 5d series. Nikon NX or LR give the best results but it took me awhile to get my color where I want it.  The D800 files can be stretched like a MF file. The DR is really amazing. Shadows are super clean.

All that being said, and you want to stay with Canon, look at the 1dx.

I kept a few Canon lenses because I like them so much, but I found that Nikon's version or the Zeiss equivalent worked very well fo me. The Nikon 85 1.4d is fantastic. The manual focus AIs version is awesome too. The 135dc is better, in my opinion than the 135L. The Nikon 50s are all good. The ZF 35 f2 is my favorite lens, along with Hasselblad CF 80 and 150 with an adapter.

But I would try them out. That is the only way to tell.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2013, 10:39:40 AM »
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About the AF of the D800, it should be understood that it is the same module used on the D4, meaning it is good enough to please half of the world's top sports photographers.

What this means is that it is a high performance pro tool that requires a degree of studying to be mastered. I am mostly a tripod guy but had a few opportunities to improve my AF skills with lenses such as the Nikon 300f2.8 VR, 85mm f1.4 AF-S... And the AF keeps performing amazingly well for me in various levels of light.

So it seems to me that some real left AF sensor calibrations issues have been blown completely out of proportion. The 5DIII may be even better, I wouldn't know, but the AF of the D800 is simply totally amazing compared to all the other cameras I have owned, which includes the D3, the reference camera at the 2008 Olympics...

Cheers,
Bernard
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2013, 10:41:22 AM »
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What I think could be the downside of the Nikon D800:

1. I repeatedly read the autofocus is not very good (PDN review, review on B&H, online reviews): slow, particularly in low light, and imprecise, particularly on the left side - this would be a kill-it for me.
2. The Nikon lens line-up isn't so practical for me
3. I read that with that kind of resolution it's hard to shoot handheld or following people in motion (can't really believe it, or you needed a tripod with every MF)

1. I have had no real problems with the AF.
2. And there is also Samsung, Sigma, etc.
3. I use both a Pentax 645D and D800 handheld. This is a bit of a myth that you cannot handhold these cameras. I shoot the Pentax 645D much more and shoot at a 1/60 without a problem and can go down to an 1/8.
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The View
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2013, 01:56:34 PM »
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Thanks all of you for your replies!

I will keep reading on the posts in this thread and it's clear to me that, should I consider switching systems at this time, I'd have to test both cameras before doing so.


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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2013, 07:36:49 PM »
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I consider all previous posts to this one totally true for all counts. Yes, it is a dilemma once you consider another brand. I would consider the Nikon D800 if I din't have the Canon 24TS and 17TS. I use them a lot as my main trade these days is interior photography. Both are truly amazing. I'm just patiently waiting (sort of) for Canon megapixel camera and/or Canon Extended DR sensor.
I said sort of because I just sold the 5D3 and bought a 6D. For me it was a bit of an upgrade, which burnt my equipment-junkie side for another year.  Cheesy

Eduardo
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The View
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2013, 02:20:57 AM »
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I just checked out the Nikon lens line-up again.

Actually if you take the 2.8/24-70 and the 4/70-200 you have two top lenses covering a great range.

If time permits, I'll take the D800 for a spin next week with the 2.8/24-70.
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TMARK
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2013, 08:37:31 AM »
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I just checked out the Nikon lens line-up again.

Actually if you take the 2.8/24-70 and the 4/70-200 you have two top lenses covering a great range.

If time permits, I'll take the D800 for a spin next week with the 2.8/24-70.

When you process test Raws from the d800 look at the profile presets. In LR Camera Neutral is a flat file. This is always my starting point. 
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Conner999
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2013, 12:56:55 PM »
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No experience with the 5D3, but I'd give the 800 or 800e a hard look. Moved to Nikon a couple of years ago from Canon (1D, 1Ds, 1DS2, 5Dc) to pair of D3S's and now D3S and D800e.   The DR and maleability of the 800/e files in post is remarkable (for a DSLR). No issues with AF at all. Like TMark, I start with nice neutral low-contrast RAW file and shake & bake from there.
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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2013, 05:47:08 PM »
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TMARK,

 What is the portrait quality like - specifically burnout ? Can you point me to some samples?

Edmund
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« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2013, 09:32:52 PM »
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TMARK,

 What is the portrait quality like - specifically burnout ? Can you point me to some samples?

Edmund

Edmund, by burnout do you mean highlights blowing?  They fade to white, almost like film. Come to think of it, it is very rare that I have any blown highlights.

I'm on an iPad now and don't have samples. I'll post some tomorrow. My opinion on the D800e files for portraits is that it is the equal to the backs with the right lens. This is no immediately apparent after post, but I can bend the files as much as Leaf (22 and 75) and Phase (25 and 30+). It FEELs like more DR than the P30 and P25, and the files are not ultra sharp crunchy as they can be from the backs.

With out working a file I believe the D800 files look like any other high quality digital, maybe a bit worse in terms of out of the box color. Once you learn how it responds to color, lights, lenses, and realize the depth of the files, it's like a new world. It really does have a film like DR. I underexpose by at least a third of a stop and rarely lose highlights, and the shadows are so clean that pushing exposure up by a stop is not a problem. It's also great for B&W.

You asked about portraits. Daylight strobe sources give to my eye a file that is over saturated in the greens and red/oranges. I often tweak in PS or LR. Under high noon daylight, color is perfect, to my eye.  Unfortunately, I never shoot under high noon daylight full sun. Beautiful under tungsten. I usually get a very neutral flat conversion from raw in LR, camera neutral profile, then tweak in PS. This is where you notice the flexibility of the file.

Lenses matter here. I like the Canon 85 1.2 and 135 2 very much. However, the 135 DC is good. The 85 1.4 lenses are all good. I find myself using the Hass V 80 and 150 instead. Why?  These blad lenses render nicely and in a way are like Leica lenses in that they are sharp but without too much obvious contrast. A sharp and natural rendering that doesn't feel digital.

The AF works very well. People having problems are actually having hardware issues, I would guess. I wish the focusing screens were interchangeable and the prism were as good as the F3hp, F4, and F5. Other than these issues, this is the best digital camera I've ever owned, and I've had most of the pro 35mm cams.
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The View
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« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2013, 10:11:42 PM »
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When you process test Raws from the d800 look at the profile presets. In LR Camera Neutral is a flat file. This is always my starting point. 

Does LR give the best results for Nikon?

I'm still (and stubbornly) on Capture One Pro 7 because I like the processing quality (But Phase One is wearing me down with little bugs that crawl up the spine of my workflow).

I suppose the regular "film" recipe is similar to the LR Camera Neutral file.

But I can always also try processing it in Camera RAW.
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TMARK
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« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2013, 08:39:57 AM »
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Does LR give the best results for Nikon?

I'm still (and stubbornly) on Capture One Pro 7 because I like the processing quality (But Phase One is wearing me down with little bugs that crawl up the spine of my workflow).

I suppose the regular "film" recipe is similar to the LR Camera Neutral file.

But I can always also try processing it in Camera RAW.

NX gives the best looking file to my eyes, in terms of color.  C17 give the sharpest file, but the profile is, to my eyes, not great for portraits.  Looks great for landscape.  The C1 Film Standard has lots of contrast.  Depending on how I lit a scene, if using C1, I select Film Standard for flat lighting or linear for contrasty, hard light.  In LR I have Camera Neutral as my default.  This is a flater file, but I add contrast etc eitehr in LR or in PS.
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eronald
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« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2013, 08:20:02 PM »
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Edmund, by burnout do you mean highlights blowing?  They fade to white, almost like film. Come to think of it, it is very rare that I have any blown highlights.

Yes, portrait highlights blowing?

Edmund
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TMARK
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« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2013, 09:48:50 PM »
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Yes, portrait highlights blowing?

Edmund

Under controlled lighting highlights don't blow out. I set lights with a meter to get the ratios I want. I always shoot film when I shoot portraits alongside digital if I can, so setting ratios with a meter is important to me.

When highlights blow out they fade to white. It's as if all channels clip at the same time, so no abrupt red line at the transition point. It is, in this regard, better than P30 generation backs. It truly replaces film for me in many situations because the files can be so smooth yet sharp. In other words it is easy to get a file that looks like film, and also easy to get a digital crunchy file.

I think we are really at the point where the only reason to choose between MF, 35mm FF, or a Fuji/Leica RF compact is the look of the format and the functionality of the camera system. Just like in the film days.
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