Canon EOS 5D Mark II vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Nikon D800

In 5D2, 5D3, D800 by planetmitch96 Comments

One of the first things people start doing when a new camera like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III is announced is compare it to other cameras in its class… so we knew you’d want that and we put together this table of detailed specs on these 3 cameras… the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and the Nikon D800.

We thought about throwing in the Canon EOS-1D X and the Nikon D4, but those are approximately $3,000 more so they’re in a different class.

For more on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III announcement, please see this planet5D coverage:

Canon EOS 5D Mark II vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Nikon D800

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CRITERIA

Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 5D Mark III

D 800

Price (body only US$)

$2,499

$3,499

$2,999

General/Photography Settings

Articulated LCD

no

no

no

LCD Size

3”

3.2” 1.04 million dots

3.2” 921,000 dots

Image Stabilization

Only on lenses

Only on lenses

Only on lenses

Max Resolution

7360 x 4912

Autofocus points

9 points

61

Cross points: 21@f6, 20@f4, 5@f2.8

51 AF points

Raw stills support

yes

yes

yes

AE Lock

yes

yes

yes

ISO Range

100-6400 (high ISO up to 25600) (low ISO – 50)

100-25,600 (expand to 50-102,400)

100 – 6400 (50 – 25600 with boost)

Maximum frames per sec

3.9

6

4 fps in FX format, max 6fps in DX

MicroAdjustment for lenses

yes

yes

yes

Metering

63 Zone Full Color 

Metering (same as 7D)

TTL exposure metering using 91k pixel RGB sensor

Sensor size

Full Frame

Full Frame

Full Frame

Sensor mp rating

21.1

22.3

36.8

Processor

Digic IV

DIGIC V +

Expeed 3

Lens mounts

Canon EOS EF only

Canon EOS EF

Nikon F

Weather Resistant

water and dust resistant

Better than 5D2, less than Canon EOS-1D X

water and dust resistant

Memory card

1 CF

One CF one SD 

one CF one SD

Popup Flash

no

no

yes

Weight (with battery)

810g (1.8lb)

900 g (1.98 lb / 31.75 oz)

Battery

LP-E6

LP-E6

MB-D12

Battery Grip

BG-E6

BG-E11

extra

Custom Functions

3 sets of memorized settings

yes

yes

Automatic sensor cleaning

yes

yes

yes

Viewfinder coverage

98%

100%

100%

Ethernet port

no

no

no

multi-exposure

no

yes (up to 9 exposures)

no

HDR in camera

no

yes (5 options)

yes

Horizon level

no

dual axis leveling

dual axis leveling

Face Detection

yes

yes

yes

GPS location

external

external device

external device

AE Bracket

3 frames

3, 5, 7 frames

(2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV steps)

Shutter life

150,000 actuations

150,000 actuations

200,000

Silent shooting

no

yes

yes

zoom in camera (not lens based)

no

no

no

Timelapse support

no

no

yes

Multifunction lock

no

yes

no

comparative playback 

no

yes

no

Video functions:

Video (1080)

29.97, 25 and 23.97

29.97, 25 and 23.97

29.97, 25 and 23.97

Video (720)

n/a

60, 50

60, 50, 30, 25 fps

Video (640)

30, 25

30, 25

24

Video (320)

n/a

n/a

n/a

Longest clip

approx 12 minutes

29 minutes 59 seconds

(split into 3 continuous clips)

29 minutes 59 seconds

NTSC / PAL

both

both

both

Microphone

internal mono only

internal mono only

internal mono only

Headphone Jack

no

yes

yes

Audio level control

yes – pre-recording only

yes + while recording

yes + while recording

Video autofocus

no

no

yes

Dedicated Video button

no

yes, programmable

yes

Video Recording format

H.264

H.264

H.264

Video compression

IPP

IPB or ALL-I

MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding

Uncompressed HDMI out

no

HDMI out but it is compressed

yes

Aperture control in video

no

yes

yes

Histogram in video

no

yes

no

Time code support

no

Rec Run and Free Run

no

Chromatic Aberration fix in video

no

yes

no

(cover photo credit: snap from Canon)



91 comments
Mak
Mak

Hi and thanks for this article. I'm between getting a 5D III and D800 with a Samyang and Tokina Lens kit for film purposes. I'm concerned about Nikon codecs and their compatiability with FCP Pro 7.0, Premiere Pro and even Avid. Canon is the industry trend but recently many TV stations like London Live in the UK have gone to Nikon D800's. Any opinions about codecs and issues with editing? File conversion? I notice both record H.264 files (youtube compatible).

Dimitris
Dimitris

Dxomark labs rates the Nikon D800 in there top list with rate 95 , it must be a hell of a DSLR

April Fose
April Fose

Did anyone see if the 5DMKIII can start/stop video recording with a remote trigger? The D800/D4 can have record start/stop put on the shutter release in video live view. So any thing plugged to Nikon's 10pin connector to trigger stills can also start/stop video recording. Useful for jibs, out of reach and POV cameras in weird places.

Chrispy
Chrispy

It's disappointing that the 5D MkIII does not autofocus during video. Is that just too hard to achieve or what?

Simon B
Simon B

Youve missed the point. This is a technical article with technical comments for the most part, except for the odd cliche that it's about the photos and not the camera. That's obvious. But this link is about cameras. We might buy a camera once every few years so if it's alright with you we'd like to discuss their merits?

Daniel
Daniel

I can't help imagining Canon and Nikon CEOs playing golf and laughing together while you all fight for, well, megapixels? Dynamic range? FPS? I'd rather go shoot.

Simon B
Simon B

This is an article on a new piece of equipment and this is the place to discuss the pros and cons while making comparisons. Theres nothing wrong with a spirited debate on the subject. We all learn from it and come out better informed and assuming the manufactures read these debates also they learn too. And for the hippies out there, that one that always turns up and says "Its not the camera but what you do with it" Barf! A pro hones his/her craft with the best tools they can giving them the confidence to get on with it.

Lubomir
Lubomir

neither 5dmk3 nor D800 nor ANY OTHER DSLR can be considered as professional video platform. They have too many limitations. They just can't cope with PROFESSIONAL cameras from Red, Arri, Panasonic, Sony and the likes despite DSLRs having larger sensor and "more megapixels". Yes, DSLR can be used to take some very nice "moving images" but they are not comparable to professional level and requirements. We have to accept one simple thing : DSLR can not replace, will not replace and is not intended to replace $20.000+ movie cameras with $20.000+ lens.

scooter
scooter

Go to "lens mounts". For the 5DmkII it says "Canon EOS EF only" which we all know. But for the 5DmkIII it says "Canon EOS EF" but omits the "only". What does that mean?

matt
matt

Pretty sure compressed HDMI does not exist, therefore I don't think the 5d III has it. The real question is color space, and cleanliness of the HDMI out, which does not appear to have been specified in any news I've seen so far this morning

Craig
Craig

Mitch, Thanks for your efforts in pulling together the table. It will be great if you have a chance to update based on feedback received here. I'm a amateur Nikon owner myself, and was looking at the D800. I wanted to wait for the mk3 to come out to see if there was going to be any major reason to consider switching platforms. I'm glad to see now that I don't need to lose any sleep stressing over it. Thanks for the continued good work.

gibbygoo
gibbygoo

I'm bummed about a few aspects, but for video productions, the BIGGEST issue is moire. Has it been exorcised down to Sony XDCAM levels? Is it still an "issue" like it seems to be with the D800? If you're buying the 5d3 for video, you'd be crazy to throw down $ without seeing solid evidence that this issue has been dealt with. Vimeo uploaders (who think they are filmmakers because they are shooting at f1.8 handheld) may not have to deal with moire so much, but video professionals know better. This is by far the biggest issue. If it's under control, the 5D3 could be a winner.

Jkon
Jkon

Even the big bro D4 is offering native ISO at 100-12800, yet 5DM3 have 25600, doubt its IQ at that high ISO

Todd
Todd

Can't wait until the popularity of it drives the price of the 5d2 down further... otherwise why pay for the 5d3 when you can use the same $3500 to buy both a 5d2 and a 7d, and have the best of both worlds?

Matt
Matt

Woah... put down your pitchforks and torches everyone. If you already knew this info, don't complain about not hearing about it. Thanks for posting this Mitch. No matter what's going on in life you didn't HAVE to take the time to do this. It is greatly appreciated.

Athos
Athos

Someone sent me this, but it sums up the reaction to the 5Dmk3: The Zacuto team is bummed. Vincent LaForet is bummed Phillip Bloom is bummed Atomos is really * Sound Devices is devastated Lucasfilm are totally bummed Cinedeck is depressed KiPro asks why? So far a total letdown. My favorite tweet from Shane Hurbut's gang: Vision Wrangler ‏ @VisionWrangler Breaking #5D3 News. 5D MKII owners can now upgrade to the 5D MKIII for under $1,000 : Just add a small silver stripe with a permanent marker

Andrew
Andrew

At the end of the day get the Camera brand you feel most comfortable with and try before you buy and spend as much money as you can afford and if you follow these simple rules you will have a camera to be proud of. Remember photography is about the photographs not the camera !! This said i am a Canon man but i do like the look of the Nikon's, Sony and the Fuji's. Everyone need to chill getting so hot and bothered about who has the better spec is a gross misuse of time and resources, just be happy with the camera you have.

guru
guru

There is no "Line skipping" column for video, Nikon still does video like that, so It is very important info, not to compare, but to be aware what "clean HDMI" is not that clean after all, someone will jump ship just for that option, and realize that 6 or 7 thousand dollars later :) Cannons ALL-I compression in conjuction with much more sensitive sensor will trump Nikons crippled HDMI out.

John
John

I'd be real surprised if the D700 didn't support multiple exposures given that Nikon DSLRs have had that feature for years, and Canon never have. As far as Timecode support, given that the D800 offers clean HDMI output, if you're recording to something like the Atomos Ninja straight to ProRes 4:2:2, you can get your timecoding feature. :)

Flavio Carnevale
Flavio Carnevale

Its so stupid to fight as canon vs nikon supporters. It seems that people looks much more at cameras than at photography. Maybe supporting one or the other and believing that they have the best, makes them feeling better photographers? that's the most stupid approach on photography I've ever seen. I knew awful photographers using the D4 and they do awful photography... and less equiped guys achieving excellence. All of us should be happy that the competition between Canon and Nikon forces them to do better, that means, for us, better equipment to use, or just a wider variety of options. What we should suffer is that when you get into a system, you stay in it, and, since on both sides you can find here and there better or worse characteristics (on lenses, AF, on cameras etc) it should be looked just as a limit... and not denied saying "no no, canon is better" or "no no, it's Nikon". If I had infinite possibilities, I would have had both Canon and Nikon using one or another according to my needs. Maybe supporters are not so well skilled to understand that differences between cameras are not just MP and that there's not an absolute winner for ALL photography situations?

Mike
Mike

Wow some of you guys ar jerks, this guy took his time to create a chart among other things like big events going on and what ever other personal duties he may have in his life that we don't know about. I would like to add , I'm not sure if the D800 has external GPS support, I was reading rumors that they decide to get rid of the connection since it's not an outdoor but more a studio camera. And I'm shocked as hell that the 5DM3 has compressed HDMI out.. is this for 100% confirmed ?

Christopher Dinnan
Christopher Dinnan

After looking forward to this update from Canon I now find myself disappointed and will be switching to the Nikon D800. the competition is just so much better, can't believe Canon thought this 'bump' would constitute a revision. Would have stayed if this new camera featured a swivel screen. I only use this type of gear for video.

Angara
Angara

what is the difference between BG-E6 vs BG-E11? I have BG- E6......does this work on 5D3?

nikonshooter
nikonshooter

gratz, canonusers, looks like a really good camera! is it now confirmed, that it has the 1D-X AF-system? i dont understand, why canon does not include a flash for wireless strobist-fun...

BJ
BJ

For me the only thing that mathers is de picture quality and sharpness. Not any -10k$ DSLR had the picture quality of the 5d2. Now we have a new winner..the 5D3. Canon on top of the image quality for some more years to come. So if you need a DSLR less than 10k$ and your main concern is image quality at all iso settings switch from nikon,sony to a Canon 5D3 + the mk2 lences. If you need all the fance video-camera options..buy a video camera. Again a winner for Canon for photo. 5D2 owns D700. 5D3 owns D800.

Nekojiru
Nekojiru

5Dm3 - HDMI out but it is compressed - WTF !!!!!!!!! WHY ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Nut
Nut

Why do you need autofucus on a dslr that uses DOF? Sounds like you better of making movies with your phone. A dslr will make very good movies. But it will never top a +20k$ videocamera with +20k* lenses. A photocamera is for taking photos..making movies with it is nice extra for family time or students.

Lakh420
Lakh420

Is it true D800 does autofocus during video? How well it's video autofocus work? If true, a definite plus over 5d MkIII.

Nut
Nut

Canon and Nikon CEOs playing golf ? You mean Canon CEO playing golf and nikon and Sony Ceo holding his bag? Market share 2010: 45% canon 30%nikon 15%sony. Now for 2011 it looks like sony is stealing a lot of market share from nikon.

Simon B
Simon B

So why aren't you out shooting than here?

Mike
Mike

Lubomir , I'll have to say your right and wrong.. The Canon 5D Mark II was used in two professional settings to replace cameras on set. One that everyone knows am sure. Is House not sure why they wanted to go Canon 5D MII they said the director liked the look which is bullshit and that it fit into the small size areas again bullshit since they film the show all the time with full size cams.. Another not so known is the newest Captain America movie. They used the 5DMII for a few secs mixed in with the footage to help get the shots that would have cost much much more had they needed to get the full sized cams rigged.. rather they just ducked taped 5D MarkII's and called it a day. All thats going on is back and forth nit picking because at this point these cameras are amazing and in the right hands you would never be able to tell if your watching footage shot on a red or a 5D Mark III/II. I know of a tv show filming right now with a few Canon D800's mind you they are using HDMI to capture in the format and settings they want but the camera is still a DSLR being used in place of a full size... I know i can't end the fan boy war but damn it at this point we are the ones who win. We can choose any camera that fits our needs and since they are so neck and neck and trying to out due each other we always have the best to pick from.

planetMitch
planetMitch

sorry - I just left out the 'only' - no EF-S

Nut
Nut

Now you have to choose: image quality 5d2 or good autofucus 7d. With the 5d3 you will (porbably) have the 2. So with the 5d3 you will have the "best of both worlds".

gibbygoo
gibbygoo

"Photography is about the photographs not the camera." Thanks. I'll keep that in mind when I try to shoot the next cover of our magazine with an iphone. Look, you're half right--it's about the photographs. But when you earn a living as a visual content producer, technology matters. Just the ability to crop an image can turn a good photo into a great one. It can create multiple layout options. It MATTERS. It matters MORE when the technology is in skilled hands, because skilled hands are the best way to exploit the advances of technology.

John
John

Clean HDMI has nothing to do with how the images are captured from the sensor, but the fact that it's uncompressed video output that you can record straight to 4:2:2 (which you can't do with Canon).

Nut
Nut

I agree with BJ. The image quality-sharpness-colors of the 5DII is the best around better than the D3X-D700-1dIV ... . Also the opinion of many photography magazines who gave a 100% for image quality. Now with the5d3 I guess the image quality will not be less. But what you need to tell is that the body is only 10% of the image qualiy, more important is the light/lense/photographer. As a travel photographer the new 5d3 wants me to buy this one. The MP overkill of the D800 is a big disadvantage in my case.

xa
xa

That just sounds crazy. As far as image quality goes, the d700 and the 5d mk2 are very close. I own both and I use them for very different reasons but unless you are a videographer, there really is no "clear" winner. It comes down to preference and practicality.

stve
stve

For image quality the Nikon D3X was the best. The Nikon D700 had better image quality than the 5D2 from iso 3200 & higher & better weatherproofing better build quality much better Autofocus. I would bet on the D800 having the better image quality at low iso's .It's much to early to jump to any conclusions until the reviews are in.

preston
preston

That's brand loyalty (aka fanboyism) is I ever saw it! Neither the 5D3 nor the D800 have been released to the public yet and you already know that 5D3 has better image quality at all iso settings? Pretty ridiculous jump to conclusions based on, let's see, oh yea, nothing. Many claimed 5DII beat D700 in image quality due to the higher resolution sensor, but now that the tables have turned we're seeing the argument that resolution is less important than picture quality "at all iso settings". Funny how that didn't matter for the 5DII vs D700 argument. .

planetMitch
planetMitch

My guess is because there will be a Cinema EOS DSLR

Peter
Peter

2010 was a great year for Canon, however as of the last quarter of 2011, Nikon was outselling Canon in the DSLR market.

planetMitch
planetMitch

Hey, don't scare away my readers! LOL - just teasing... tho I do want them to come back please (grin)

Daniel
Daniel

Funny lots of folks here are kinda aggressive... Sorry, man, it was not my intention to offend you. I just can't find all this clash to be important. It's pretty much nonsense to me. Childish, maybe. Sort of "my dad has a bigger penis than yours" kinda thing. I kept reading all the posts and, to be honest, learned nothing. You're damn right, I really should be out there shooting! (I went shooting before I wrote that and will shoot today, but it was pretty late at night then and I was almost sleeping on my keyboard...) Well, sorry if that offended you anyway. Hope you can enjoy more that criticize. Life's much better that way. Don't bother answering or cursing; I won't be back here to read. I'll be out there shooting! :) Good luck to you all with your cameras!

Joel K.
Joel K.

Clean often refers to the absence of any text overlays on the HDMI output. Some cameras output a good signal but contain camera information and are therefore not clean. In the D800's case it is both uncompressed 8 bit and clean AFAIK. The 5D III will be clean but compressed. $#!%!!! - lol.

Flavio Carnevale
Flavio Carnevale

When I choose a photo assistant I usually prefer Nikon-assistants since I have Canon. This because there's not an absolute best. I can tell you - and will invite you to demonstrate it, here, if you'll ever pass in Italy - that, for examples, D3x is excellent and I love to use it... but in many situations I prefer to use 5dMK2, since D3x or many other cameras (both Nikon or Canon) don't balance correctly colors. I know, you can say: ok, use manual balance. Right. But, as I told you, it depends on situations. Sometimes you can't... I hate supporting one or another brand, especially when it is not just to say: ok, lets use this or that, but just to say: I have a Nikon, I am better. I am sorry that, using a bran and having 10 lenses, 3-4 flashes, batteries, a couple body at least, it's not possible to switch easily to the other... maybe to come back next year. I read comparisons but just because it's a help to buy or not new equipment... so I prefer Canon vs canon or Nikon vs nikon comparisons. canon vs nikon can be just good for a new photographer or a less equiped one... to choose which brand fits better his needs (and his pockets)

gibbygoo
gibbygoo

I hope you're right, Mitch. It really is unbelievable the 5DIII can't do 4:2:2 and the Nikon CAN. Wow. Could be a deal breaker for me and anyone who does a fair amount of grading in post. My hunch is that Canon had now clue that Nikon would come out with a 4:2:2 camera.

Daniel
Daniel

Hey, Mitch, Just received some "your post has been replied to" warning by email... Sorry, man! It's not that I want to keep people from reading, and also not that I don't care about gear. (I'd love to own any of these cameras people are comparing/complaining about...) It's just that fighting about something you never shot with, comparing numbers, is a little too much for me. It's more like people are rooting for a specific brand than any other thing. (And I root for myself; couldn't care less about Canon or Nikon or any other brand; they can take care of themselves and their billion-dollar companies, and I can barely take care of myself and my hard-earned money...) Many folks here are trying to win the discussion, not learn from each other. Honestly, what have you learned from all the posts here? For me it's about listening, not talking. (I learn nothing by talking.) I sure read a lot before buying, compare specs and all that stuff (I don't have money to spare, so I try my best choosing), but I've found that FOR MYSELF I'd rather look at results and photographer's work and opinions than to compare numbers. Plus, I've learned that, like computers or phones, the best camera today is not that good anymore next year. If folks here are about numbers, whoa, ok, fine. I'm not one of you, that's all. Bottom line, huge sorry for all of you who took offense; absolutely no offense was intended. My first post was intended to be a joke, nothing more. No place for (bad?) humor here, though... LOL Sorry again! Hope people keep on reading... :)

Daniel
Daniel

(BTW, one of the thumbs up you got was from me! Totally agreed. Thanks for showing me all this gets me nowhere.)

Joel K.
Joel K.

Mitch was cool enough to email me the info that the 5D III video output is NOT CLEAN. Thanks! Given what Nikon is doing I'm pretty blown away that Canon has chosen this. I guess we'll have to see how their codec holds up, but I'm sure not pre-ordering now. Nikon went with a mega pixel density and lost some low light capability. Canon cripples the output. It's like Chinese water torture!! Can't wait to hear details on the Canon Cinema DSLR! I hope it's uncompressed and clean with a flipout LCD. A mini C300.

planetMitch
planetMitch

Thanks for the comment Joel, but in fact the 5D3 is not clean - it has the graphic overlays unfortunately. I expect the Cinema EOS HDSLR to be clean and uncompressed but we don't know when that is coming.

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  3. […] 5D instead of the love hate I had with the 5d2. Here's a nice comparison to the Nikon D800 too… Canon EOS 5D Mark II vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Nikon D800 | planet5D – HDSLR community Last edited by MLeeK; Today at 09:57 […]