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Nikon D800 vs. Canon 5D mk3


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#1 AndreaS73

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 07:07 AM

Hello to everyone,

I need an advice.

Iíve decided to up-grade from Olympus 4/3 system (E30, 8mm, 50mm, 12-60mm, 7-14mm, 2xInonZ240) to a Full Frame system.
I canít decide between D800 and 5Dmk3.

The lenses would be:

for D800: 15mmf2.8 Sigma, 16-35f4 Nikon, 105mmf2.8 Nikon

for 5Dmk3: 15mmf2.8 Sigma, 16-35f2.8 Canon, 100mmf2.8 Canon

Iím not very interested in videoÖ

Wich system should perform better underwater and why?

Thank a lot for every suggestion

#2 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 07:35 AM

Both would perform very well. You lens choices look good. Alex

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#3 loftus

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 07:36 AM

I think these are both two pretty incredible systems. It comes down to whether 6fps vs 4 fps is more important to you (Canon edge), vs higher resolution and dynamic range (Nikon edge). Finally I would handle both cameras and if possible housings as well, and see which you prefer from an ergonomic standpoint.
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#4 whitey

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 08:14 PM

Background: back in the day I used to annoy nikon/Kodak DSLR owners around here by telling them Canon was better. :P I recently bought a 5DMk3, and I still hate all things Nikon.

My advice - go the D800. It looks like a brilliant sensor from every test i've seen. I think the 5dmk3 will give you better video and better high iso, but personally think the new sony-built sensor trumps this.

Despite a recent serious investment in Canon glass, I'm seriously thinking of turning to the dark side and getting a D800E.

P.s. i've shot about 6000 frames so far with my 5dmk3 and i do love it...it's a good, well rounded package. it's just that if you want pixels and dynamic range it's not the best camera for the job right now.

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#5 divegypsy

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 09:22 PM

Dear Andre,

Before you spend so much money to move to a new system, I would ask suggest that you ask yourself several questions.

1. What would I be doing with the pictures that the upgrade makes necessary. You have said that you are not really interested in video. Do you want to make really large prints? Or try to sell images on the internet or through a photo agency? What is so unsatisfactory with your Olympus 4/3 system that its worth about $10,000 - $15,000 to "fix"? That is probably the ball park figure on a new camera body, new lenses, a new housing, new ports, and accessories. This figure does not include strobes. Would you get more enjoyment from this money using it to pay for three or four dive trips and "living" with your Olympus system.

2. Between Nikon and Canon, as Loftus has suggested, handling the cameras and potential housings in very important. If there is something about either camera or about a potential housing that doesn't seem quite comfortable, don't buy it because each time you go to take a picture, it will bug you and take some of the fun away. Something not yet mentioned in making your selection is whether you would like to use strobes that offer the TTL capability. Since the Canon 5DIII does not have a pop-up flash, you probably can't use an optical sync cord system. And in other cases, the manufacturers will tell you that in TTL, their strobes work better with Nikon cameras. When you go to choose a housing, look at the whole housing system. Do they have the really right ports for the lenses you want for your system? Does the housing maker offer a really good viewfinder? You will be looking through that viewfinder every time you shoot, with every lens.

You are not buying just a new camera. Look at all the pieces, the components very carefully as you make your decision.

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#6 Drew

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 03:56 PM

I've both cameras right now and they are almost different machines which happen to take pics.
The 5D3 is overall slightly more responsive in AF, card writing to clear buffer and fps among other things. The 16-35 f2.8 II is slightly sharper in the corners than the Nikkor version, plus it's f2.8 so it focuses better in lower light.
As Fred said, no flash on the 5D3 means the camera is also slightly more compact and so the housing is smaller and lighter as well. I like the fact that most of the essential controls can be actuated from the Q (INFO) menu, which is very beneficial to quickly changing parameters from metering to drive modes. I use it that way more often than the viewfinder. The 5D3 have fewer buttons for controls, relying on menus UI. I personally like this vs the plethora of buttons and dials on the D800.
For instance, the metering control is a small dial which is a pain to actuate topside. On a housing, for eg. Nauticam, it's a big dial on top so one has to lift the right hand to change modes. Then again, how often do you have to change metering modes? :P It's really nitpicking but that's the point of getting the pros and cons. One usually gets accustomed to these features and just work through it.
As Whitey says, the Nikon D800 is all about the sensor. The dynamic range from 100-400ISO is very wide. The ability to pull details from shadows and highlights in the 14bit RAW files is very impressive. The difference is visually noticeable, although it's not glaring, but still impressive. In most circumstances, the difference will be negligible, but those high contrast scenes will benefit a bit,especially in post. That's the main reason I'm evaluating the D800 with housing. 36mp is also nice to have to crop.
One more thing is the memory cards. With the 5D3, the CF slot is much faster than the SDHC slot. It's like the SDHC slot has a speed limit of 20MB/s, handicapping the 95MB/s cards. Hopefully they'll get a firmware upgrade to fix that. The CF card flies though, forcing me to upgrade my cards to squeeze the fps. The D800 SDHC slot is noticeably faster with the fastest cards.
I'm not sure which part of Ireland you're in but Loftus' suggestion on going out to test the cameras is a good one. That's probably the best way to evaluate the cameras.

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#7 davichin

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 11:17 PM

I have never touched any of them but I would go with nikon because of its better IQ, higher res and pop up flash (which allow us to shoot optical fiber strobes even in sTTL). Canonīs advantages are of the kind I rarely to never use: higher FPS and maybe better video. The one reason I would love to use a FF canon is owning an 8-15FE lens...
The nikon is cheaper, which also helps...

Edited by davichin, 27 May 2012 - 11:18 PM.

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#8 Drew

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 02:33 AM

Davide, the 8-15 is a nice lens. For FF it's really about 8 and 15mm. It's actually a great lens to have for reviewers too since one can use it for FF and APS-C.
The funny thing is actually Nikon pricing around the world is not the same. For instance, the official D800 in Singapore is actually HIGHER than the official 5D3 price! In HK, the official price difference is only $200 instead of $500! Street prices are even less obvious. I bought my 5D3 in Singapore because it's actually only US$3200.

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#9 loftus

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 03:30 AM

Davide, the 8-15 is a nice lens. For FF it's really about 8 and 15mm. It's actually a great lens to have for reviewers too since one can use it for FF and APS-C.
The funny thing is actually Nikon pricing around the world is not the same. For instance, the official D800 in Singapore is actually HIGHER than the official 5D3 price! In HK, the official price difference is only $200 instead of $500! Street prices are even less obvious. I bought my 5D3 in Singapore because it's actually only US$3200.

Funnily enough; the rumored upcoming D600, may be a better comparison to the 5D3, if specs are as rumored. Being closer in MP and frame rate, and at less than half the price. Obviously lesser focusing system etc than on the Canon, but will still be interesting.

The 5D3 have fewer buttons for controls, relying on menus UI. I personally like this vs the plethora of buttons and dials on the D800.

I think this is definitely a personal preference thing; I for one hate scrolling through menus, particularly underwater. As I am so used to where all my button positions are, being able to hold a button for any parameter with one hand and scroll through the numbers with the command or sub-command dial without ever taking my eye from the viewfinder is way preferable. Only occasionally use the Info screen, but it's there if I need it.

Edited by loftus, 28 May 2012 - 04:03 AM.

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#10 Tim S

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 06:38 AM

I have used both C & N systems topside. Basically they are quite comparable and the differences are not as much as one would like to believe.

However for underwater photography if you are used to TTL then you probably need one that has built-in flash, otherwise you have to shoot in manual.

The ergonomics design of C & N cameras is different as pointed out above. I belong to those who like button controls more than navigating through menus, both underwater and topside ...

Edited by Tim S, 28 May 2012 - 07:50 AM.

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#11 Ryan

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 07:38 AM

The 16-35 f2.8 II is slightly sharper in the corners than the Nikkor version, plus it's f2.8 so it focuses better in lower light.


Is this statement based on in air comparisons, or underwater? If underwater what dome and extension? Not a big deal, but doesn't match my findings so I'm curious.

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#12 Drew

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 08:41 AM

Hey Ryan, tested on a 5D2 behind Superdome and 60mm (35+25) extensions... and air too. Compared to a D700 behind Zen 230 and whatever extension recommended. To my eye, the extreme corners @ f8 are slightly better (neglibly so). The center is slight more so as well.

While I too like TTL via optical cords, one is only limited to Inon and S&S strobes for TTL via optical triggers. The use of the onboard strobe means one is limited to slower fps as the flash recycles. It's always a compromise somewhere.

I should also note that access to the multi-controller on the housing is the ONLY way to work the Q menu on the 5D3. Nauticam has catered for it and I know 2 other housing makers are planning to support it.

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