Full Frame Shootout: Review of Nikon D800, D4 and Canon 5DmkIII

ETHICS STATEMENT: I made this in my own time (and it took A LOT of time!) for the readers of my blog. I was not paid by any manufacturer to do this. The two Nikons were supplied to me on loan as review cameras by Nikon UK for this review. I have never and will never be paid by a manufacturer to review a product. My opinions are my own and always will be. There is a big plug for my site sponsor Kessler Crane for their new products below, as they damn well deserve it. Brilliant stuff! Read more on my ethics statement here. 

My BAFTA/ RAINDANCE winning documentary “How to start a revolution” is available to buy on Amazon. You can purchase it below.

I know I am a bit late to the party getting my reviews of the new Nikons out, but I have been on the road for almost 3 months. First in Australia and New Zealand and then in the US. I managed to get loan cameras from Nikon just before going to the US, so a big thanks to Nikon UK for helping me out there.

The full-frame look, for me, is a wonderful unique aesthetic. I already own three superb super 35mm video camera which all do a better job at shooting video than the three DSLRs in this test – I have the Sony FS100, F3 and Canon C300 (The Canon C300 was used to film this video) but their aesthetic is totally different. Very similar to crop-sensor DSLRs. Not a bad thing. Just different. Full-frame looks so unique that it is hard to quantify in words. Certainly, it can achieve much more shallow depth of field, which is a nice option to have in your box of tricks, but not one to use all the time!

The 5DMk II was the first full-frame DSLR to shoot usable HD video, and until the Mk III came out it was still the best. It was marred by image issues, in particular moire and aliasing, but it excelled in low light and had that UNIQUE aesthetic. It was and still is a great camera. The MkIII bettered it and it is reviewed fully here. That camera fixed the moire and aliasing issues and was enormously better in low light. Sharpness out of the camera was not great BUT could be improved a lot in post, unlike the MkII where sharpening just made the image look worse.

My first DSLR was a Nikon, and I have bought a lot of the video shooting ones. The D90, D3s, D7000, D5100. All disappointing in video. The D5100 the first to shoot 1080p 25p but with no proper manual control. The D7000 had no 1080p 25p and no onscreen metering. All of them suffered from disappointing images. I have wanted Nikon to bring out their own fantastic video shooting DSLR for such a long time, as they really have been playing catch up. It really has taken until the D800 for them to finally bring out a camera that is pretty damn good for shooting video!

I go into a lot of detail in the rather long video below. I hope it will entertain and inform you for its running length. I show resolution and image issue tests, show off the full frame aesthetic, discuss features, and demonstrate how they all compare in low light.

The one bit I missed out of the test was rolling shutter issues. They are all the same. Very difficult to tell them apart!

I didn’t do a dynamic range comparison as that is too damn tricky to get accurate without knowing how to get the best picture profiles for the D4 and D800. Too many chances of making a mistake.

The ProRes recorded footage looked great but to the compressed web eyes identical. Only when pushing hard in post does it really start to shine.

No 5DmkIII footage was sharpened (nor Nikon) in any of the shots. This is straight out of the camera. The MK3 would have looked way sharper had I done that.

Check out the “Kessler’s People” video at the bottom of this post. Shot for the review but I have made a little self contained version. It’s shot the D800 and Mk3. All have been graded in Colorista II and the Mk3 has around 25 sharpen on it in Premiere Pro CS6. 7 Shots are on the Mk3 the rest are D800. Can you tell which are which?! All shot with Zeiss ZF 50mm F1.4 and 35mm F1.4.

Huge thanks to TheMusicBed.Com for their excellent music, to Sarah Estela who shot all the links and helped out so much, and to all at Kessler Crane and the NY meet-up for being a part of the video.

The D800 anti-aliasing filter is available from Mosaic engineering by clicking the link below. A version for the 7D is out now too.

I will be taking a look at all the excellent new Kessler Crane products very soon, including their fantastic new quick release plates which adhere to the Arca standard size, the shuttle pod mini and their brilliant new low profile ball head (I did help design it!) for putting cameras on sliders easily but with excellent adjustment. You can check them all out here. 

The new quick release plate system
The new Kessler low profile ball head
Low profile ball head on slider caddy
ball head with new multi angle plate

You can help support my site by buying your cameras or gear through one of my affiliates. Without this help I wouldn’t be able to make this videos. It doesn’t cost you any more. Thanks!

Full Frame Shootout: Nikon D800 / D4 / Canon 5DmkIII from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Shot on the Canon C300


Sound Devices Pix 240

Kessler’s People:5DmkIII and Nikon D800 from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Shot as part of my “Full Frame Shootout” and expanded for a bit of fun. http://vimeo.com/42065372

I shot this on both the D800 and mk3. But which shots are which? Can you tell?

7 are on the Mk3 and 23 are on the D800.

You can visit Kessler Crane’s website here: http://www.kesslercrane.com/?Click=85

Music from www.themusicbed.com
Daniel Elsworth: Cardinal Wings

Read the review and more on my blog post here: www.philipbloom.net/?p=24958


  1. Stunning review! My next camera is definetly the Mark III! Would take the low light for the extra hasle of sharpening in post any day of the week! 🙂 Had a little chuckle when I heard about Christchurch’s rubbish hotel room, I hope the rest of your trip to NZ wasn’t as poor… After all it’s the best country in the world 🙂

    1. Applying sharpening in post is much easier using Adjustment layers in Premiere CS6. Siply make the layer as long as you want, and it will apply any effect you want to all of the clips underneath it

  2. I really enjoyed your review. Despite having just purchased an EOS 60D (right price point and I have legacy lenses). With this I will take my first faltering steps into video.

    If I may ask, what was the review footage shot on?

  3. Very informative indeed!
    Still, at these cameras’ price point, I wish you had elaborated more on the ‘unique aesthetics’ of full frame dslr video, compared to camcorders like the fs100, f3 an AF100/101, because, honestly, I don’t get it. Razor thin DOF seems more like a nuisance and distraction because it is so very hard to get it right. With my cheapo 550D, which is asp-c, I already struggle to get my f1.8 50mm shots in focus. You didn’t mention continuous AF, so I conclude none of the tested cameras has it.
    Doesn’t that make these cameras useless for any fast, ‘run and gun’ filming, homemovie or documentary making?

    1. While I agree that it is difficult to get some shots in focus without continuous AF, it’s by no means impossible. Check out my good friends videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/astripeleszebra?feature=results_main

      Everything we shoot is either on a 500D or a 60D (With the exception of our RED EPIC video, of course), and I would definitely say our style of shooting is ‘run and gun’ filming. Also, he went to Africa last summer to shoot a documentary (mostly with his 500D), and that final product won him a presidential scholarship of the arts.

      All I’m saying is that although these cameras do pose a challenge in certain areas and produce an image some aren’t used to, they’re not useless in any sense. They’re the only cameras that my friend and I could afford, and we’ve found ways to make them work, even alongside an EPIC.

  4. Excellent review Philip! Only question that I have is, would having an external recorder clean up some of the noise from the D800 in low light?

      1. But makes it a ton easier to grade. You really backpedal on this Phillip and its wrong. The difference in grading is tremendous if the D800/D4 is recorded externally, especially if already pre-compressed to PRORES or NxHD.
        I agree a 5.3 is much better in low light than a D800. I’d say the D4 destroys them both.

        I own both a 5.3 and a D800. The sharpness wins every time.

  5. Just watched some of your review again. That’s great you got to use the same lens for your detail tests, I had a bad experience with a lens adapter that once I put it on the Mark III with a Nikon lens, it won’t come off! After a few phone calls, I finally got it off the lens off the Canon body, but for the rest of the time I was too afraid to put it back on again.

    Since I was using different lenses in my comparison I couldn’t come to the conclusion that the D800 has a much sharper image to the Canon 5D3 even though that is what I was seeing on the screen.

    For an amateur like myself I was really enjoying the D800’s neutral picture style with the contrast all the way down, to me it had a lot more dynamic range (latitude) than the 5D3, I could really see into the shadows better on the D800. But in the end since I am an available light shooter (which means I am terrible at lighting), I went with the 5D3 because of it’s insane high ISO performance.


  6. Great review Philip.
    I am a Canon shooter because I use a lot of manual vintage lenses both for photography and for video that cannot be adapted to Nikon, so I have ordered the Mark III. However, from these initial tests I feel that the D800 has got the edge resolution wise. Also the Nikon full HD crop mode, and clean HDMI out are nice add ons the Canon doesn’t have. This, added with the steep European price tag of the Mark III compared to the D800 makes the Nikon a clear winner, unless you are stuck with EF glass….
    Only “hope” for Canon users is Magic Lantern. But then again, it is not released by Canon…

    Regarding the lowlight performance, from all the tests I have watched so far, it appears to me that both cameras perform quite similarly. However, the Canon appears to be almost one stop darker than the Nikon at the same ISO setting. And I think this is what makes the Canon less noisy at, say, 3200, because at this setting the Nikon image looks as bright (and noisy) as the Canon at ISO 6400…
    Looks like how ISOs compared between the older GH1 and the MarkII, where the GH1 was almost one stop brighter than the Mark II at the same ISO setting.
    Hence, I think that the Mark III doesn’t truly have the edge, even in lowlight.
    Have you noticed the same thing?

    1. Not really seen that.

      I did seem to under expose all the mk3 stuff in this test compared to the D800 that was probably it. The Mk3 is leagues better than the mk2 and d800 in low light. Not the D4 though.

      1. Nope. D4 is remarkable.
        I found the D800 MUCH sharper and I also agree that there seems to be some interesting ISO readings on the Canon. Not unlike labelling clothes a size smaller to make your customers feel less fat.
        Put the two cameras at the same ISO settings, then put the output up on a calibrated monitor.

        One of these things is not like the other.

        5D 3 is a lovely camera to use, but come on. In your ‘tell’ test below, I can pick them and that’s only on Vimeo. If you watch the output enough of these two cameras its very easy to tell them apart.

          1. Great review (as always)
            I was also hoping for the D4 to be at least as good as 5D3 and better (for me)
            because of the HDMI out and the fact that I have all Nikon G Series FX lenses
            already ! . .so no need for adapter etc. . . also I get photography jobs too and some
            of it’s improvements over my D700 would help.

            Have you spoken to Nikon at all – given that when I spoke to them
            they were very enthusiastic that you would be reviewing the D4 and D800 – or do
            you think that the sharpness issue with the D4 will be improved by firmware
            updates given it is the flagship body ?

            Anyway cheers for your endless supply of impartial reviews.

      2. Tested my Mark III against my partner’s D800 in lowlight.
        This just verified my doubts about the ISO ratings of the two cameras.
        The D800 is at least one stop brighter than the markIII at the same ISO, aperture, and shutter settings.
        And this effect is more pronounced at lower ISO settings. In a dimly lighted bar, @ ISO 1600, f 1.4 and shutter 1/50 the Mark III was nearly completely dark, whereas the D800 appeared to be almost brighter than the human eye :).
        Had to rais the ISO to 3200 and even more to see what I was able to see with the D800 @ ISO 1600.
        Naturally, the price to pay was more aparrent noise at the same ISO setting for the D800, compared to the Mark III. But then again, it is not the same true ISO setting.
        So after seeing this in many tests and verifying it myself, my conclusion is that both cameras are equally good performers in low light. Maybe the D800 has even more dynamic range. But the statement that the mark III being far more better in low light is definitely not true.

  7. Great and honest review. I’m left with the all too familiar feeling: I’ll wait for the next model to come out. : )
    The C300 delivers a beautiful image in this video and wins the review without even beeing reviewed. Wow. But what about AUDIO recording in the DSLRs, Mr. Bloom? Yes, we can monitor it now, so what does it actually sound like? Bad preamps and hiss is the feeling I get from other video samples. Do we still need an external recorder to get clean audio?

  8. Really, really great review. Looks like a damn lot of work indeed, but it’s great that you made it.

    Wow, the results are great in a way but also damn frustrating. Nikon has such a great chance to make it all right with the D800 (and the D4), grab a huge chunk of the market at the same time … they have no video business to lose. However I fear the inferiority of the D800 in low light will many Canon users stick with the 5D and buy the 5D3 instead.

    The 5D3 looks like the perfect compromise between the D800’s sharpness and the D4’s low light capabilities!

  9. Best review ever!
    I`m upgrading from a T2i to 5DmkIII or maybe the blackmagic cinema camera to start getting paid work here in Norway. The battle for me is the lack of sharpness out on mkIII. Hope so badly that magic lantern can do some magic things in this area!!!

    Definitely would be insanely cool if you could review the blackmagic cinema camera Philip!

    regardless… Thanks for so much help on a lot of things =)

  10. Awesome review Philip. It was a long wait but seeing as how it was shot in multi STATES, it only shows just how busy you are, so thanks for taking the time. But I do have to say that it still leaves me a little undecided, you’re right, why doesn’t anyone make a camera that can do it all for a low price. What’s wrong with wanting C300 quality with a low price tag. This review felt more like a showcase on how awesome the C300 is. Sigh….but the horribly crappy 720 60fps performance of the D800 may have me leaning towards the MK3. Though I really do like the lower price tag, clean HDMI and sharper image, the all around no hassle-ness of the MK3 may be best. Lets hope the MK3 comes with an update with clean HDMI. Also Philip, did you ever check out the D800’s crop mode?

  11. thanks for taking time for the review.
    Seems that Canon is still on top, (sharp can be fixed, not the noise…)
    As a AF100 owner (which i regret in low light situations)
    my needs is to buy a second one to have a DSLR for pictures (i just have Nikon lenses and some are electronic) and to experiment Time lapses in any kind of light.
    Is the D800 low light performance good enough for that, did you test this function ?

  12. Philip – Thanks for the wonderful review! I’ve had my D800 for a little while now and have actually found myself adding film grain (GorillaGrain) in low-light shots. All of them are great tools and I think it all comes down to what you’re going for in post! Check this out: https://vimeo.com/42038853

  13. Awesome review Philip! I love the angle in the hotel room…2 Philips is better than 1. The girl is cute too. I look forward to the FS700 next round…if only you would come to Hong Kong to shoot some footage…You’ve got a lot of fans here! We’ll take you to the hot spots!

  14. Phillip, I would have love to seen the ProRes footage you shot on the D800 with the Sound Devices unit. Was it a vast improvement?

    By the way, fantastic reviews. And good job keeping those cameras focused while inside a pub and while ingesting a handful of cocktails. I figured the shots would get progressively blurry as the night went on.


      1. Hi Philip,

        Thanks for a excellent review. You are the best reviewer!

        So if the footage is recorded on some kind of external recorder like Sound Devices can it be sharpened in post? And how it compares to 5D3’s sharpened footage.



  15. Thank you Philip for an excellent review. Can I ask – were the low light tests done with the moire filter on the d800 and post sharpening on the canon? I’m also curious to know whether it would be reasonable to use in camera sharpening with the canon for most shots, and switch to no sharpening when shooting obvious moire risky stuff?

      1. Thanks again Philip. So is that in camera sharpening on the 5d low light shots, or no sharpening? – they look surprisingly good either way. The trouble is, you can’t watch that footage too much, or you start falling in love with the girl!

  16. Thank you sooo much for this review! Everyone was waiting for this one and you delivered in full effect.

    Rolling shutter I expect on all of these but watching the shots made me curious about the difference in DR. Am i seeing a contrast difference in the D800 or is that the effect of the sharpness?

    Thanks for all the work you did on this.
    (P.S.-How many drinks does it take to get to the end of a Philip Bloom low light test?)

  17. Hi Philip, great job!
    And a suggestion for a next review, I’d love to see a comparison of the in camera compressed footage against the hdmi out, maybe an example of how much you can push it in grading before those compression artifacts start to look nasty, and how better the hdmi out version is.


  18. Thanks for the review. I got the MK3 after your last video. I couldn’t be happier with it. One of the less spoken features of the DSLR’s or at least the MK3 and MK2 is the weather proofing. That goes a long way when you’re shooting in rough environments. Thanks again

  19. Well, I love your British humour. Always did. Maybe ’cause I’m French.

    AND it’s a very interesting test.

    What else to ask ?
    Don’t know. Nothing I guess.

    Nice work !
    And thank you. 🙂


  20. great job here phillip. This cleared up all my questions about these cameras. Best test vid I’ve seen on your site since I started following your site in 2009. As always, thanks again for helping out the filmmaking community.

  21. Hi Philip! I am really grateful that I found your website and you’ve been really helpful with this reviews. I just recently started video about 8 months ago and landed a job ( an in-house videographer/editor of a new company here in Reno, NV) and was looking for ways to improve my craft. Your work inspires me in so many levels and the blogs/reviews/education that you do help me learn stuff that I didn’t even know. I wish you all the the best in your career & hope that I can meet you in person in the future!

    P.S: I really want to ask you a lot of questions on dslrs and video but I’ll just save it until next time when you are not as busy. Good day! 🙂

  22. Philip I know you said a few times you love Nikon camera for photography was wondering if you would write a blog post your love for Nikon as still camera. And also do you use your Canon cameras for stills or do you pull out the Nikons for stills?

  23. Thanks for the lovely review and for the time you spend doing it. I think the better camera is the MKiii because you can fix the shapness problem in PP CS6, the low light it´s great and clean. The Nikon problems can´t be totally fixed. Thanks again Phillip, it really helps to have more info about this cameras because thay are not a cheap investment.

    Amazing C300… Question: Is the c300 better than the fs100.

    From Pitrufquén, Chile, Southamerica.

  24. This review finally clarified my doubts about the D4’s advantages over the D800 and 5DmkIII. Such a shame its so good on paper. Thanks for doing this review.

  25. A fine effort as usual Phil. Our industry needs people like you who make the effort and find the time to do these reviews, much appreciated.

    However, I am concerned about the “skanky” motel you experienced in Christchurch…! Next time, and I hope there is a next time, let me book you into a far nicer establishment that will erase the memory of those cockroaches etc…

  26. Fantastic rhetorical question posed at the end… I wonder if c300, which is so amply displayed throughout, is the answer. I’ll be finding out myself when I pick one up next week.

  27. Anyone else going to miss grain??? -these cameras do too well. Even the D800 did an amazing job compared to what we had just a while back. I’d like to see how the moire/aliasing does in a more dynamic situation with these cameras. Bought a Canon a few years back and took it to a dance shoot, bit colored curtain hung up in the back with lights flashing. All the footage was not useable, just big waves of aliasing and it looked to soft to my eye. Got rid of the camera and scoffed the DSLR revolution (wrong job really). Anyone have a D800 and can attest to how it compares to Gen 1 Canon DSLRs? How diminished are these extreme artifacts?

    1. They’re still there.
      But all these new DSLRs miles better than previous DSLRs for video, unless you have a Mosaic filter in a 5D2.
      They do still have a lot of negatives (moire in the Nikons, softness in the 5D3) compared to actual cinema video cameras.

  28. Very nice Phillip! Very well produced. Any idea what your ISO on the C300 was for the Manhattan shots? It seemed a bit noisy. Just curious. Thanks! Keep up the great work.

  29. Forget about the cameras you reviewed, the C300 dynamic range is wonderful! – let’s hope the Blackmagic Cinema Camera can equal it! Thanks for the review, another excellent review and makes me appreciate my hacked GH2 even more.

  30. I wan’t the best low light video camera, (willing to sharpen each time no prob) best dynamic range (so to be grade-able), dslr (must be dual purpose for high fashion photography). mark III? 1dX? 1DC? Or mark iii plus another camera that’ll take canon mount adapter? I have about 20-25k to spend. I like the c300 and scarlet but dread two cameras for two purposes. prefer dslr. but i will do whatever’s necessary. black magic cam looks good too…

  31. Thank you very much for this excellent comparison.

    In a way, it follows what I found, although I could only play with them for half an hour each and both my D800, D4 and 5D3 were late prototypes. A car accidently trashed my €15k worth of photo gear, so having to start from scratch and as it’s yet impossible to get a production D800 for better testing, I was waiting for yours to make a decision.

    I believe the D800 is at this time the better camera for both stills and video, unless you need the 6fps of the 5D3. After my own pre-tests, the Nikon got quite close to a Hassy H4D, both in terms of Res and DR and it costs less than a MF lens (!). On the video side, the apparently better DR and significatively better resolution of the D800 (why is the 5D3 so soft?) puts it ahead of the Canon. The D800’s clean HDMI is the ice on the cake.

    Canon’s 5D3 is better at ultra high ISOs, but honestly people shouldn’t go beyond 800-1600 ISO in video, as they’d risk having blown-out practicals, which get way hotter than the key, always a sign of amateurism (not talking about you, you were only doing a test here). Higher sensibility DOESN’T mean you don’t have to light properly!

    Nikon has finally stroken gold. The D800 is a stellar photo camera. Then by (literally) sandwiching it just between a Ninja2 and a SoundDevices MixPre-D, you also get a lightweight and professional ProRes 422 220Mbit videocam with pro audio and external EVF, for just an overall €1,6k addition (Pix220 is also an alternative to those, but it’s just too heavy to stick it on top of the D800).

  32. Philip,
    As always mate, your videos are fascinating and engaging in a way that is similar to the DOF full frame argument. “YOU JUST CANNOT QUANTIFY IT IN WORDS” haha. I would like to know where you would stack a driftwood hacked GH2 in comparison to your c300/d800/5dmkiii/mkii/D4?

    1. The GH2 wins in resolution for sure. BUt that’s it! Still great for the price! But this is all about full frame cameras. We open up to GH2 then we open up to C300 etc again and then it becomes a bloated mess for me!

  33. Hi again Philip, I am travelling the world for seven weeks in June on long service leave, finishing up at Siggraph in August for work. I’m thinking about buying a new 5DmkIII duty free before I leave Australia. What are your thoughts on buying bodies/lenses/gear outside of the country you live in, for warranty purposes etc when you really need it?

  34. Philip: Do you find yourself looking at noise levels less on a pixel-peeping “Blah blah blah looks like it has 20% more/less noise” and just evaluating cameras, when it comes time for you to actually use them, as just pass/fail? It seems for me that I look at the current crop of bodies, figure out what the highest passing ISO is, and then go shoot.

    As far as my own view of the test goes, while the noise levels on the D800 are certainly higher than the 5D3 and D4, they’re acceptable up until the pushed HI ISOs which was pretty damn high. That said, the fact that with a $1200 Ninja this camera will shoot directly to cheap SSD/HDD drives, clean and in incredibly high quality, and save me hours of transcoding is a BIG deal when using DSLRs to shoot paying jobs with rapid turn-arounds. It’s one of those things that pays for itself the first time I am editing a project instead of waiting for a system to transcode. Granted, ProRes is in my workflow, and I know plenty of NLEs can work directly with H264, but I know all my footage will be graded or at the very least exchanged with other editors who use ProRes so it’s a no-brainer.

  35. Thank you Philip for another excellent review!
    Did you ever try the dx mode with your time with the camera?
    For me, I prefer a super35mm size sensor but would occasionally use full frame when needed.
    If the dx mode is bad, I would buy a FS100 instead as I’m not really a stills shooter.
    I have heard reports that the D800 is softer in dx mode, and would love to hear feedback from someone I trust.
    Thanks again,

  36. It’s been said Philip, but I must concur. This video is a watershed. As these cameras take their place in history; the most recent arrivals to the DSLR video category, this video will be the companion piece that gave us all the first taste (likely before most of us even touched any of them) and answered the questions on all of our minds. Your ‘non-scientific’ approach and no-nonsense shot comparisons are invaluable. The class with which this video was produced, the professionalism with which it was put together, and the subject matter will cement this video in a certain spot in history, standing up to multiple views, and it will stand the test of time well after these cameras become obsolete. Well done, and thank you.

  37. Can’t express enough how thankful I am that you put the time in to make these videos. I have been on the fence about the 5D3 and D800. This video really helped push me in the right direction for my next camera.

    Wonderful work, sir.
    If you had a donate button, I would buy you a beer.

  38. Just watched your video.

    I know it has nothing to do with the reviewed cameras but the music you chose is really great !
    With eyes closed I was able to see in my head images from my favorite movie (Garden State) which from me is a huge huuuuge compliment !!!

    Anyway, I have one question : the clean HDMI out on the D800 is 8 bit I assume ? So, with pciture profile tweaking, how does it handle color grading work ?

  39. I find some of the comments about the C300 kind of odd, especially in reference to a review about DSLR’s. Yes the C300 is a nice camera, it better be considering it’s roughly the price of a new car. Pretty much all of Canons new EOS C-series cameras coming out are all over 15 grand….all those cameras belong to a whole different level of pro film making gear than that of DSLR’s. I understand that some use these cameras just for the full frame look, others because of the flexibility of the small form factor, but for most part its an affordable way to get that pro level look. Sometimes it sounds like people don’t know the difference between $3000 and $20,000. If I could afford a c300, I wouldn’t even consider a DSLR to shoot video.

  40. It’s so difficult, but seeing this latest crop of DSLRs makes me want to wait longer before I buy one. I can’t help but feel that we’re on the verge of a serious step up in terms of effective video resolution from these sorts of cameras. I really love the idea of a DSLR, both as a stills camera and video camera–a true “all-arounder.” The trouble is, every other HD camcorder in my position just destroys these DSLRs for image sharpness, including my sub-$1k consumer camcorders. Now, I absolutely understand that sharpness is just one of many useful image qualities, but when I go from viewing Panasonic TM900 footage to what I see coming from a DSLR, it’s like I’ve taken my glasses off. 🙁

  41. Very nice review Phiip. One question, why not take the 5D MKIII all the way up to 25,600ISO? Having played around with it quite a bit I have to say that the noise level is rather impressive, and the color for that matter.

  42. Philip last time I called you the Indiana Jones of camera Geeks! – This time you’ve gone James Bond – multiple location changes – glamourous Miami – frogs in the swamp – then NY and partying with a beautiful young lady – I’m jealous!
    Seriously though, it makes the review much more interesting (Value Added)- nowadays when everyone’s posting, yours is always a cut above – not to mention the excellent info you provide.

    And may I say I feel your pain – you’re right, travel isn’t glamourous – I begin to go stir crazy after just 5 hours on a plane, never mind a 16 hour flight from Australia – frankly, I don’t think I could take it. How do do you keep from going bonkers?

      1. I have both. Slight edge to the D800, but not by much. They’re not run and gun low-light cameras.
        If you don’t know/can’t/won’t light, buy a C300. Failing that, a D4 or 5D3.

  43. When shooting the D4 in FX did you try increasing the sharpness in the set picture control menu? I have found bumping it up just 1 or 2 notches over default gets it much closer to the cx picture. More than that & its starts looking bad

    1. Exactly. Now THAT’s a video camera. Almost the perfect TV/web machine.

      So much material shot with DSLRs on primetime TV and in cinema (mainly as B/C cam) and this forum is full of people complaining that they are not perfect.

      You a serious cameraman? Buy a serious camera.

  44. Another excellent review by Philip!!! I watched it twice and really enjoy it. also the girl is so pretty.
    Just wonder which picture profile you use most for your C300? r u always using C-Log and graded in post? I shot alot of staff with C300, sometimes struggle to choose the best picture profile on camera when I don’t have time to do grading in post.
    also I always found horrible moire effect with C300 when filmming dense horizontal and vertical lines, such as brick wall or striped T-shirt. it is quit annoy as I thought C300 should be lot better in terms of avoiding moire. Is this same for your camera as well or just mine? Is that possible to improve through changing camera settings?

  45. Philip, great meeting you at MIM in NY. Regarding the MK3 footage during the low light test, the images you had at 6400 and 12800 iso looked a lot cleaner than what I’m getting at those iso ranges. Did you have in camera noise reduction turned on (High ISO speed NR setting)?


  46. It’s great to see so many impartial, unbiased reviews of kit that just cast aside that terrible fanboy taint you find on so many issues with camera equipment. It was refreshing to see that Nikon are perhaps starting to sort something out, in theory they have the bones of a good system if they can provide decent sharpness in one camera and a nifty low-light performance in another, so perhaps they’ll take a more serious stab at the HD video market in the future.

    The video was great, seems the 5D Mk3 was the overall winner but then they have been the market leaders, maybe Nikon can pool together something wonderful, if not then I’ll stick to shooting stills with them and shoot video on Canon!

    One thing that is purely a personal thing for me, I’m crazily OCD and seeing the first shot in Indiana with the non-symmetrical presentation of the camera strap on the D4 was grating! I almost skipped the video to something less invasive to my (and I’m willing to admit it) ridiculous perception of normality but I didn’t want to miss out on anything interesting!

    Anyway, keep it coming Philip!

  47. Hi Philip,
    Can’t see you mention this but what camera profile are you shooting on the Canon 5D ?
    I am guessing its not standard but are you using CineStyle or something else ?

    Great review though.. quite happy with the MKIII and it takes great pictures too.

      1. First time post here, and primarily a stills shooter.
        Good review Philip but I think you are being a tad harsh on the D4.
        I too am disappointed in the D4 video as I wanted it to be killer, but it is only the DX crop mode that really disappoints. Can anyone comment on whether the DX crop is as bad on the D800. If so, what is going on there Nikon, why did you excite everyone with that option to have it look so soft in comparison to FX and the native crop?
        I applaud you Philip for giving us a valid review by shooting on the same glass, but I don’t necessarily think that the neutral settings on Canon and Nikon are comparable having recently worked on a project using a D7000 and a 5D MkII together. They graded well together but only after using a MUCH flatter profile on the 5D mkII to match it up with the much more Neutral (IMHO) footage from the Nikon.
        I have not had a chance to get a hands on with a D800 yet but as with the D4 has anyone worked out if you can get audio meters and live histogram up on screen at the same time. As far as I can make out using the info button it is either / or.
        If Nikon are listening, it would have been great to have the DX option for more depth of field & extra reach on the same lens but the drop in quality is alarming & frankly unusable. I’m yet to find out if the 720p 60fps mode has the same issues.

  48. Thank you for the excellent review.

    I was wondering if you tried the same sharpening you used on the Mark III to the D4 image? As it worked for the Mark III sharpness issues, perhaps it will resolve them for the D4 as well.

  49. Hi Phillip, first, thanks for sharing this, great video!!

    My name ir Rodrigo Kashima and i’m from Brazil, we have a project called DSLR Brasil, in this project we make meetings and workshops for teaching about dslr and video technics, we are looking for videos to translate for portuguese language to turn accessible to Brazilian people.

    Do you have a email could i send to you more information about the project? my email is rodrigo@dslrbrasil.com.br

    Best Regards.

  50. Hi Philip!
    Just wonderin…… did you perform the tests with the grad ND on?
    Also… maybe you’ve done this on purpose but if a viewer scrolls to the midway section of the review, the video will still play from the beginning. Don’t mind lookin at your mug again but it could be an issue with playback…

  51. Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I see is this:

    D800 is much sharper than 5D3. If you want to fix this on the Canon, you have to do it in post, which is not the best option. And I doubt you can achieve the D800 results in that respect.

    5D3 seems to be better in low light but, as seen on the nofilmschool.com comparision, there is a catch: Canon is applying noise reduction on camera, and it cannot be turned off. Using Neatvideo with the Nikon shots make them look a lot better. Again, that is not the best option, just as it is not sharpening in post.

    D800 has some moire issues but, using the proper filter, they are pretty much removed. If you want sharpness on the Canon, you can take off the antialiasing filter, but that is a dangerous thing to do…

    What I see is that both cameras are very close to each other but, despite that, Canon seem to keep the favor of a majority. And I ask to myself, why?

  52. Another issue I have noticed with the Liveview of the Mark III, is that if you try to use a manual focusing lens, the liveview in the photo setting is darker than the liveview in the video setting. However, it is the video setting liveview that has accurate exposure. Therefore, it becomes far more difficult to use manual focus lenses, especially i dimly lighted ambients. The Mark II didn’t have this issue.
    Shooting stills in video mode is my most naive solution, but the photos are vertically cropped then.
    Is there any solution about that?

  53. Thank you for the great test. But I have one question about D4. After viewing samples it seemed to me, that video from D4 contains more than color noise than D3s (on ISO 25600< and more). What do you think about it? I could not find direct comparison of these cameras in the network..

    1. Both brands perform so poor in mixed light and you were not able to save their skin tones ! But let us say that one can avoid that! I wanted to say that I shot a short feature late april with the D800E. Aliasing and moire were not a problem. (I only had one moire problem but really not so bad) but I was facing such a high noise in the image at 800 ISO. Have you tried the D800E or you said it is not proper for filming only because you know about that filter. I would be courious to see if the sensor of both D800 and D800E perform the same in terms of noise.
      Here is an ungraded footage from that film only with the horrible youtube compression:

  54. dear philip,

    great review – that’s how tech reviews should be done – practical examples, facts and a good sum up by heart from a very experienced person who knows how to put the results in perspective. also the first review ever that made me laugh 🙂

    I go for the D4. because low light is what I am doing under stars.

    Have fun and enjoy.




  55. Hi Phillip,
    I like the review but with all of the pans and even some non movement of tripod shots there is calibration, that is there is a shake or smoothness lacking. The ripples of water jerk, the pan shakes or jerks.
    I use a Sony PDX10 P steady shot mini DV camera with a Miller fluid head tripod and I never get this shake – calibration. Is this a problem with DSLR cameras and using the video mode?
    I certainly dont see that any of the cameras are any goood at all from this perspective, which to me is very very important? What tripod did you use? Is this a problem with the files themselves?
    Also on another tangent my camera produces superb images, but its not HD, how can my non HD cam come up with such beautiful images which to me are far superior when its not even HD?


      1. The video is not smooth it has a very slight jerky motion, (There are very small stop start movements in the videos- this is often referred to as calibration)

  56. Cheers for the review, a great watch as always!

    Just wondering though, I know you mention at the end of the video that you wished there was one that did it all, but if it were your money and you had to buy one of them, which would you choose? 😀

  57. Philip,

    As always, just an awesome review and fully engaging!

    Quick question:

    After post-sharpening, do you believe the 5DIII can match the D800? At least from what I saw here I was a bit taken back as to just how soft the native 5DIII looked compared to the native D800. Sharpness in the end is quite important to me. I’m an editor at heart though so much of my work will see a fair amount of time in post. Any thoughts?



  58. Really great review! Thank you Philip. My husband suggested me to read this article and it really useful as a Nikon (film) and Canon (digital) user. As this point it really seems hard to ignore the fact I own all those prime AF lenses for my Canon and to go back to Nikon digital world…

    Looking forward to follow more from you.

    Katarina Kojic

  59. Hi Philip,

    Your videos are nothing but inspirational and there is always something memorable to learn…that is engraved forever in one’s memory….loved the review and was wondering if you remember the name of the track from The Music Bed, which you’ve used during the review in the bar in Manhattan.


  60. Hi Philip, as always great work. I want to ask, well… I need to ask, what would you recommend me to buy, the canon 5d mark iii or the sony fs 100, I mostly do weddings, but I also want to make some shortfilms and more professional video stuff. I´m not familiar with any of this cameras. Thank you so much in advance.

  61. I jumped from Nikon D600 to D4. I am a pro photographer. I want to share my opinion in using this camera. I am very impressed with the image quality generated by this camera. Great camera in low lighting something I need more than anything. I think spot metering in low lighting works much better than matrix for color rendering and overall exposure work. The focusing is very fast and in low light situation it works great. Love it.

    The unit has an incredible dynamic range. The ergonomics are excellent, and weight is less than my D600 with a Power Grip. I have shot images at 12,800 ISO with little or negligible noise, and at 50 ISO images need only minor post. I especially like the ability to Auto bracket at up to 3EV. This is great for HDR’s.

    I recommend this camera for professional photographer. I mean that Nikon has created a camera that does all the things a camera in this category should at this point in time with no glaring omissions. It is definitely a new benchmark for Nikon.

    I chose amazon for this purchase because of the great customer service I have gotten in the past, and this was certainly the case this time. http://amzn.to/RXF3Qh

  62. hi Phillip,
    great review as usual, your in depth creative site and sight have both
    long been an inspiration to me, thank you.
    I’ve just invested in a 5dmkiii and was hoping you could help me out with a technical query.
    Can the camera display a histogram whilst recording?
    I’ve tried every possible button combination and even with the histogram on the screen, when I press record the histogram is gone faster than a presidential telegram – refusing to return until I stop recording.
    Hopefully your answer will help me stop titting around with the menu’s and get shooting!
    cheers mate,

  63. hi there
    an amazing review as always …
    well since now we have budget FF cameras also in the market … so for an average APSC user thinking to upgrade which is a better option from perfect value for money … for an average amateur photographer … more into nature n landscape photography …
    i m using 60D with few basic landscape lenses ie fisheye, an 11-16mm f2.8 (both primarily are APSC lenses) n 2 FF lenses EF 50mm 1.8 n 70-300 IS USM … so in case i upgrade to full frame ill ve to buy new sets of glass for sure … so what is more logical camera for me??? … offocurse 5d3 n d800 r out of question for limited budget …
    on paper d600 is a winner … but 6D shines at high ISOs n low light AF sensitivity …

  64. very great! i was melting away there, while watching the low light test, how very sweet is that lady! gorgeous! the smile, the facial expression; it lightened up the night here (:
    combined with the music, it’s a little piece of/for hollywood 😀
    the dynamic in your voice is really great, in addition to this nice music it’s very well fitting into a larger frame then “just ” a review, wich was informative and everything BTW 😉 (e.g. the whispering “..wish it was sharper” in the summary) i consider this a highly quality shot, was actually fun watching it, never mind the content 😉
    i really needed to say this, sorry for annoying anybody..

  65. I’m a bit confused. If sharpness is so important, why do people shoot flat by removing sharpness in a picture profile on a Canon.

    If I were to choose a Nikon D800 and would like to shoot flat. Would I be potentially removing that sharpness?

    Unless, it’s two different types of sharpness we are referring to.

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