Nikon D800 vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Nikon D800


Canon EOS 5D Mark III



Reasons to buy the Nikon D800

Low noise at high ISO
Low light performance
2,853 ISO
Great image quality
Overall image quality
Wide dynamic range
Dynamic range
14.4 EV
High true resolution
True resolution
36.2 MP

Reasons to buy the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Light sensitivity
High ISO
25,600 ISO
Shutter lag
Barely any delay taking photos
120 ms shutter lag
Focus points
Many focus points
Cross type focus points
Many cross-type focus points

Items often bought with the Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III


Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Nikon D800.


Advantages of the Canon 5D Mark III

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Cross type focus points
Significantly more cross-type focus points
41 vs 15
Grab focus in difficult situations
Light sensitivity
Better maximum light sensitivity
25,600 ISO vs 6,400 ISO
The 5D Mark III's maximum light sensitivity is 4 f-stops better
Shutter lag
Significantly less shutter lag
120 ms vs 209 ms
More than 40% less delay when taking photos
Screen resolution
Higher resolution screen
1,040k dots vs 921k dots
More than 10% higher resolution screen
Continuous shooting
Shoots faster
6 fps vs 4 fps
50% faster continuous shooting
Focus points
More focus points
61 vs 51
Set focus accurately within the frame
Light sensitivity (boost)
Better boost ISO
102,400 ISO vs 25,600 ISO
The 5D Mark III's boost ISO is 4 f-stops better
Viewfinder size
Slightly larger viewfinder
0.71x vs 0.70x
Almost the same
3" vs 3.2"
Around 10% thinner
152×116×76 mm vs 146×123×82 mm
Around 10% smaller
Slightly lighter
950 g vs 1,000 g
Around 10% lighter
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Learn more about
the Canon 5D Mark III

Advantages of the Nikon D800

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Dynamic range
More dynamic range
14.4 EV vs 11.7 EV
1.3 f-stops more dynamic range
Overall image quality
Significantly better image quality
95.0 vs 81.0
Around 20% better image quality
Low light performance
Lower noise at high ISO
2,853 ISO vs 2,293 ISO
The D800 has a slight edge (0.3 f-stops) in low-noise, high-ISO performance
True resolution
Significantly higher true resolution
36.2 MP vs 22.3 MP
Capture more than 60% more detail in your photos
Color depth
Better color depth
25.3 bits vs 24 bits
Distinguishes 1.3 more bits of color
Startup delay
Less startup delay
200 ms vs 500 ms
2.5x less delay when turning on
Built-in focus motor
Has a built-in focus motor
Yes vs No
Autofocuses with all autofocus lenses
Built-in flash
Built-in flash
Yes vs No
A built-in flash is useful for taking indoor shots where there is little light
Lens availability
Slightly more lenses available
171 lenses vs 165 lenses
Almost the same
Nikon D800 Learn more about
the Nikon D800


Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent pro DSLRs, and ignoring price

Snapsort Recommends
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS 5D Mark III 83
        You save
        90 Nikon D800 Nikon D800
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              Compared to recent DSLRs

              Common Strengths
              Low light performance Relatively low noise at high ISO Help
              5D Mark III2,293 ISO
              D8002,853 ISO
              Screen size Larger than average screens Help
              Viewfinder size Above average viewfinder size Help
              5D Mark III0.71x
              Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
              Shoot in extreme weather
              Focus points Many focus points Help
              5D Mark III61
              Viewfinder Both have pentaprism viewfinders Help
              Storage slots Multiple storage slots Help
              Viewfinder coverage Above average viewfinder coverage Help
              Fastest shutter speed Fast max shutter speeds Help
              1/8000 of a second
              Common Weaknesses
              Weight Heavy Help
              5D Mark III950 g
              D8001,000 g
              Lowest price Very expensive Help
              5D Mark III$2,239.99
              Size Large Help
              5D Mark III152×116×76 mm
              D800146×123×82 mm
              Screen flips out No flip-out screens Help
              Less flexible
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons
              Image stabilization No image stabilization Help
              Risk of blur

              Compared to recent pro DSLRs

              Common Strengths

              Snapsort is not aware of any interesting strengths shared by these two products.

              Common Weaknesses
              Continuous shooting Slow continuous shooting Help
              5D Mark III6 fps
              D8004 fps




              Shared Competitors



              Nikon D750

              Nikon D750

              Pro DSLR

              $1,585 - $1,997 body only

              $2,125 - $2,697 with 24-120mm lens

              Screen resolution Has a slightly higher resolution screen
              Screen flips out Has a screen which flips out
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Nikon D810

              Nikon D810

              Pro DSLR

              $2,419 - $2,997 body only

              $3,697 with 24-120mm lens

              Screen resolution Has a slightly higher resolution screen
              Thickness Is thicker
              Canon EOS 6D

              Canon EOS 6D

              Pro DSLR

              $1,269 - $1,399 body only

              $1,799 with 24-105mm lens

              Size Is slightly smaller
              GPS Has a built-in GPS
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Storage slots Has fewer storage slots
              Canon EOS 5DS

              Canon EOS 5DS

              Pro DSLR

              $3,699 body only

              $3,830 with 50mm lens

              True resolution Takes significantly higher resolution photos
              Lowest price Is slightly more expensive
              Storage slots Has fewer storage slots
              Nikon D610

              Nikon D610

              Pro DSLR

              $1,174 - $1,497 body only

              $1,649 - $1,997 with 24-85mm lens

              Lowest price Is slightly less expensive
              Weight Is slightly lighter
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D7200

              Nikon D7200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $979 - $1,197 body only

              $1,235 - $1,497 with 18-140mm lens

              Screen resolution Has a slightly higher resolution screen
              Lens availability Significantly more lenses available
              Shutter lag Has slightly more shutter lag
              Viewfinder size Slightly smaller viewfinder
              Canon EOS 5D Mark II

              Canon EOS 5D Mark II

              Pro DSLR

              $1,500 body only

              $3,200 with 24-105mm lens

              Lowest price Is slightly less expensive
              Storage slots Has fewer storage slots
              Viewfinder coverage Slightly less viewfinder coverage

              Canon EOS 5D Mark III Competitors



              Canon EOS 7D Mark II

              Canon EOS 7D Mark II

              Pro DSLR

              $1,399 - $1,699 body only

              $1,679 - $1,849 with 18-135mm lens

              Continuous shooting Shoots significantly faster
              Cross type focus points Significantly more cross-type focus points
              Low light performance Significantly more noise at high ISO
              Overall image quality Worse image quality

              Nikon D800 Competitors



              Nikon D600

              Nikon D600

              Pro DSLR

              $1,357 body only

              $1,781 with 24-85mm lens

              Continuous shooting Shoots faster
              Low light performance Slightly lower noise at high ISO
              True resolution Significantly lower true resolution
              Shutter lag More shutter lag


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


              Canon EOS 5D Mark III
              EOS 5D Mark III

              Report a correction
              Nikon D800

              Report a correction

              Showing 25 comments

              D800 (9:48 PM, January 04, 2015)
              Yep, I sold my 5DMKIII and bought a D800 for one reason only. Shooting landsacpes at base ISO i need the better dynamic range of the Nikon. 2,5 EV is substantial. Could not be happier!! :-)
              Avatar for milind milind (3:57 PM, October 02, 2014)

              Nikon D800 Absulutliy awesome..
              Very good photo capture and look like this onbody and friendly use.and better than photography..
              Avatar for Snix Snix (0:05 PM, August 05, 2014)
              and here i thought they said the picture quality were about the same, but the canon lenses got shitty bokeh compared to the nikon counterpart, the only difference between them that made the canon one win, was that it had a better build quality like people comparing Iphone and Samsung, they both are about the same but Iphone "win" because it is made of aluminium.

              nikon have an 85mm F/1.4, works great. i dont know where you did pull all that information from, but right now you sound like a silly fanboy.

              prove your photography instead of crying your gear is better, if your gear is better and you still preform worse than the nikon guy, does that make you a shitty photographer or was your gear just too bad?
              Avatar for Snix Snix (11:52 AM, August 05, 2014)
              shutter speed of d800 is a bit slow? what?.... care to explain yourself? or did your "customers" need 1/16000 shutter speed?
              alvindhonny (7:18 PM, April 11, 2014)
              you know what if just some of dslr can be under water that will be great
              the best underwater camera is still nikon1 AW1
              godzillaser (5:57 PM, February 17, 2014)
              Avatar for Robert Isha Robert Isha (7:01 AM, January 02, 2014)
              i like how the 5d mark 3 feels in the hand..the d800e is all plastic and I've had one and end up selling it..36 mesa pixels will only show you how bad nikon lenses are..and i have tried most of them..please don't tell me to use 85 1.4 at f2.8 or f5.6..if i am paying $1800 for a lens i wanna use it at the biggest aperture..the only lens that showed the true 36 mega pixels of d800e was the zeiss 135 f2 after i tried it..i knew that nikon lenses can't keep up with mega pixels only zeiss I'm going to buy 5d mark 3 and canon 135 f2 or maybe go for the 6d and zeiss 135 f2
              Avatar for Yoan Yoan (4:40 PM, October 18, 2013)
              2 more stops of Boost ISO doesn't mean that the overall high ISO quality is 2 stops better. In fact the DXO measuring confirm the opposite.
              Andy B (8:08 PM, October 04, 2013)
              Well i also a camera salesman, and i would 100% say the nikon is the best choice, so it is very personal
              Avatar for Shari Shari (7:58 PM, September 30, 2013)
              THANK YOU FOR THIS! Super helpful. :)
              meo (0:46 AM, September 26, 2013)
              Right about the noise
              Camera seller (0:26 PM, September 18, 2013)
              This comparison looks a bit odd...I tried the cameras my self and Canon has Lower noise at high ISO. Plus we had to refund several customers. They were complaining that the shutter speed of D800 is a bit slow. I agree! I am a seller and trust me, Canon is a better choice...
              Avatar for Satyam Joshi Satyam Joshi (10:47 AM, August 31, 2013)
              I'll go for the DSLR which has higher low light capability !..may be more than 2000 and still grain-noise doesn't appear !
              The Miz (0:46 PM, August 21, 2013)
              This is a review site. You don't have to agree or defend it so why get your knickers in a twist about it. If your any sort of a good photographer you would know to test them out yourself and make up your own mind and not decide on the decision of some one else.

              Quite simply put stop crying about a review site and do the adult thing and go test them yourself. You sound ridiculous.
              Avatar for David B David B (9:52 PM, May 10, 2013)
              Canon's professional lens lineup in general is just better than Nikon's currently, and it is a fact. go to dpreview, lensrentals and others and read reviews. Canon's 70-200 F/2.8 IS II is the best 70-200 on planet by far (see dpreview review and conclusion). Canon's 24-70L II is the best and sharpest 24-70L II on planet currently. So these two lenses that are breadwinners for 99% of wedding photogs Canon wins. Add to it lenses in Canon's lineup that Nikon does not have alternative..... like my 85L II 1.2 which is SHARP at 1.2. Nikon has nothing on it. The only thing Nikon has on Canon is 14-24 F/2.8 which is an amazing wdeangle landscape lens. Now if you shoot landscapes, go to national parks, etc, then D800e with 14-24 is a better choice. Anything else, including low light, skin colors, video at 55mps rate, etc, 5DM3 wins. I sold D800 and got 5DM3 and could not be happier. Just one person's opinion.
              Avatar for Jacob Surland Jacob Surland (8:17 AM, May 01, 2013)
              If you choose a camera brand, you also buy into each company's lens line up. I have changed from Canon 5D Mark III to Nikon D800 because of the lens line up. Nikon has better Wide angle Lenses, than Canon has, like the Nikkor 14-24mm. If you combined that with the fact, that the Nikon D800 sensor quite dramatically out performs the Canon 5D Mark III sensor in terms of Dynamic Range, should make it an obvious choice for any Landscape photographer to select a Nikon D800. If you do a little calculation, and compare a single shot from the D800 with a -2 to +2 auto exposure bracketing (for HDR) shot of the Canon 5D Mark III, the Nikon D800 is only 1,3 EV step from covering the same Dynamic range. You are able to recover a lot more details from the shadows and high lights on a D800 than you can with a 5D Mark III.

              But for any low light situation requiring high ISO's I would pick the Canon 5D Mark III. In a real life the Canon 5D Mark III is so much better at high ISOs than Nikon D800.

              --Jacob Surland,
              Avatar for marhaz marhaz (5:16 PM, February 27, 2013)
              Ratings of lenses and actually using lenses are completely different things. Both companies have great lenses, although the canon L lens series does have a more prestigious and recognizable name, and that's because of the quality.
              Avatar for marhaz marhaz (5:14 PM, February 27, 2013)
              I agree, you're used to Nikon menus. I love the canon interface, and have trouble with the Nikon interface simply because I am used to canon.
              Avatar for marhaz marhaz (5:10 PM, February 27, 2013)
              The new firmware for the 5d will include a clean hdmi out. Should be in April. Also, I'm a film maker, and in no scenario would I EVER want continuous autofocus in video. These dslrs just can't have decent af in video mode. They aren't good, are noisy, and spend too much time searching for focus. That being said, I still would never use af video mode.
              I would like to see 1080 @60fps, but in all honesty, I would only use it for slow motion, which shouldn't be often anyways. Bigger resolution helps with huge prints, so yes that is good, but you also suffer from noise, which for a film maker is a big advantage concerning the 5D. It really is how you intend to use the camera, both are fantastic machines.
              Avatar for Jonathan Jonathan (1:31 AM, October 23, 2012)
              Gotta say I can't agree with that. I've shot Canon my whole life pretty much, and recently picked a D90 and I felt the same way that you did for about 2 hours, then I had the system figured out. The Canon system is fine, the Nikon system is fine, they're just different. I would note that even though I've shot Canon forever, I like Nikons in general, and it seems like they have a lot of extras that Canons don't, i.e., time lapse type feature, more bracketing, etc... Still, Canon 7D offers the best FPS in class for sports shooters and I do think Canon generally has better glass.
              Mole (4:12 AM, July 24, 2012)
              I used to trust you guys. I visit this site like more than a year ago and every day i find more and more issues in the way you present the information about the cameras, the comparisons you make and the veracity of your reviews... I'm kind of disappointed. I'm a Nikon user, but definitely 5D Mark III has things D800 doesn't. Off corse, that goes in detriment of price which is higher in Canon. Nikons achievement is to make excellent cameras at lower prices... but this time the prices are not as different as they were with D7000 and 7D. 

              I defended this site before... now it will be difficult when my counter Canon user friends start making their point
              Theredrider78 (11:31 PM, June 24, 2012)
              Canon users should really consider using Nikons. :D
              Theredrider78 (11:39 PM, May 20, 2012)
              'Canon has the best lenses'!?!?  Pffffttt.  Doubt it!  Are you comparing your old film lenses to your modern digital Canon lenses?  Go to DXO mark and check lens ratings.
              Cedricbrand (7:39 PM, May 20, 2012)
               I'm Nikon fan and on film i shot nikon, change to canon digital. From now on they will be comming together the cameras so start thinkin about the lenses! Canon has the best lenses out there as a overall pro package so you can stick to canon.  Start spending money on proper pro lenses and stop the camera chase. In 5 years they will be close ii speed and image quality.
              Avatar for memmener memmener (9:08 PM, April 26, 2012)
              "Slightly more lenses available 
              125 lenses vs 121". 
              First, there are only about 74 lenses listed on Canon's website, and 76 listed on Nikon's website.  
              Second, those 74 lenses includes many EF-S lenses which can't be mounted on full frame Canon bodies.
              Nikon cropped sensor lenses CAN be mounted on full frame bodies. 
              On the D800, mounting a cropped sensor lens can still give you 15 megapixel pictures since the camera simply uses a portion of the 
              sensor the same size as a APS-C sensor.
              You can even mount legacy manual focus lenses, since the Nikon mount haven't been changed in decades, since before autofocus was introduced.

              Also, the D800 shutter has been tested up to 200,000 cycles, compared to only 150,000 for 5DMkIII. 50,000 more pictures in its life time!