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Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mk iii ???

WickWick Member
edited April 2014 in the gear

I know there is a huge vested interest in this topic (a well invested one, as well), but I want to shoot some different stuff from the considered, lit, produced, medium format work I have been doing for the last 4 years or so.

To do that -and I'll mention specifics in a sec- I need a faster shutter speed, a higher clean ISO and the ability to shoot many frames/second. Plus, I want to produce some new video. I am coming from medium -and some large format -photography and lots of studio lighting I now happily drive/march into the field, courtesy of Honda and their killer small nearly noiseless generators.
And I have spent the better part of 2 days trying to learn all the info I can on Nikon and Canon.
I'm ready for a drink!

I am -through long use in the dark ages of film- a Nikon shooter beginning with an F1, but my friends who do shoot 35mm DSLR all continue to rave about the 5D mk iii. Even Ken Rockwell states the Canon 5D Mkiii is the best camera on the market, bar none.

Since I have a digital Hasselblad and all the extras, which I will always choose for editorial fashion, advertising, portraiture and architectural/scenic stuff, I now want a system I can use for the rest of the stuff... beyond my iPhone!

I want to shoot like Neil and Chase Jarvis, like my buddy Joe Henson, who recommended I post this here- to shoot the grab shots with perfect mood, exposure and aperture.
I want to stop snowboarders, skaters, bikers and skiers without using lights.
I want to snap candlelit dinners with people saying I love you.
I want to snap a bullet piercing a stainless sub zero fridge door, a cheetah out-running his handler and a hummingbird sipping sweet nectar whilst batting its wings faster than that bullet I mentioned above.

And I want to shut down the DOF to just the eyeballs in a long and pensive mood shot on a foggy early morning in Maine, to stop a Pipeline wave into the sum of every droplet, to shoot a sexy girl in a ball gown shaking the jitterbug on Bourbon Street two hours before dawn...

I'm a pro in that I try to make the major part of my living off my pictures, so longevity, reliability, availability and service are all important variables in my equation. If this blows up on a shoot can I get another back up nearby? Can I get it serviced roun heya and so forth.

I am quite price point aware but inevitably love owning killer gear.

I think I have narrowed my choice down to either a Nikon D800 or a Canon 5D mk iii.

I expect, if I really get into 35mm DSLR, I will eventually move to the bigger cameras (so consideration for building up is there), but for now, I want a do-it-all lens or two, several batteries and cards, and to start shooting happily tomorrow.

Waddya think?

Thank you very much for your thoughts, I really do appreciate it.

I am gonna buy soon, very soon.

Wick Beavers



  • WickWick Member
    sorry about the announcement factor...
  • Wick

    Sounds like you want a lot.
    Buy a Canon 1DX and f1.2 glass. Period.
  • ZenonZenon Member
    I don't know much about the Nikon or video as I never shoot it. The files are much larger on the Nikon. From what I have read the D800 is exceptional in low light and noise. I seen an image that had almost no exposure and was brought back to life and looked like a normal exposure. I have a 5D3 and to me it is great in low light and noise control so I have no real comparison. Again from what I have read Nikon takes the lead on this one.

    I believe Canon is better for video. My friend has the D800 and loves the IQ but chirps about the file sizes from time to time. For some reason he is reluctant to push the ISO. Still stuck in the film days. I keep pushing him to try it and kinda backs off in the real world.

    This might be a good source as well but gets a little nuts in the forums. You have to get through the chest beating and filter the info you need. You can post in both the Canon and Nikon forums.


    or.jpg 189.9K
  • as a 5d MK III owner, I love the camera. It is a joy to use....but you can push the files on the D800 MUCH more than the Canon files...MUCH more. Noise-they are the same. In all honesty, you can't go wrong with either one. If you can't get the job done with a D800, a MK III will not save the day. If you can't get the job done with a MK III, the D800 will not save the day

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited April 2014

    Hi Wick,

    I am going to have to question your choice of D800/5D MkIII and agree with Angelo's post above, get a Canon 1Dx and f1.2 glass, or, get a Nikon D4.


    Well, to get this:
    Wick said: hummingbird sipping sweet nectar whilst batting its wings faster than that bullet I mentioned above.
    I am afraid a D800 or Canon 5D MkIII won't cut the mustard, as there seems to be a contradiction in wanting those scenarios you outlined but you've 'narrowed' it down to the D800/5D MkIII, and the frame rate on those cameras won't match want you want.

    I am not knocking the cameras at all, the files from the 5D MkIII are outstanding, I am merely questioning the choice for the application.

    D800 does 4fps stock, will increase to around 6fps with the MB-D12 battery grip, nowhere near fast enough
    5D MkIII does 6fps stock, may increase with battery grip.

    Canon 1Dx does 12fps stock, or 14fps in Super High Speed Mode.
    Nikon D4 does 11fps.

    Also, in the D800, the file sizes for what you want to shoot are enormous, way beyond any normal printing, unless that is what you will be doing but you could print a poster the size of a brick wall with those, doubtful if you are going to do that.


  • WickWick Member
    Thanks all. I appreciate your advice!
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Yup, I'd have to agree. With your requirements, it will have to be either the Canon 1Dx or the Nikon D4s.
  • JerryJerry Member
    I've been using the D800 for half a year or so by now and a happy with it. BUT as the others have pointed out, it's NOT an action camera. Too slow FPS for that.

    Granted I've done some dog jump photos etc with pleasing results, but if action of any kind was my main aim I would suggest the D4s...
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