The F%^&ing Nikon D800 vs. Canon 5D mkIII Shootout Part II

This is part 2 of my previous test. It is even more idiotic, but I find the results very interesting, particularly for stills shooters. Pedantic analysis below.

Test 7: Got Bits?

This is my favorite test. I might have to come up with a normalized (repeatable) version of this. Because I think this test, more than the others, shows the quality of the image for processing. I do a lot of post, and frequently I say to myself “I just wish this was cleaner, or those colors still looked right [despite being pushed around].” The underwater picture earlier on for example was mine, and I had to run such strong noise reduction on it that there’s barely anything left.

I think both of the cameras performed very well, and very similar to each other, until we get into the darks. Then obviously the Nikon holds on better. I also checked them on the higher highlights (out the window) to see how they did, but it was essentially the same as my lighter sign, so I ommitted it from the video.

In case it’s not clear: Both signs had the camera brand printed full black on the paper, and the text underneath printed to be barely visible at all to the naked eye. Furthermore the words “BEEZ” and “DEEZ” were printed with each letter in a different solid color, to see if color really threw things off. It’s kind-of a poor man’s contrast test chart.

Test 8: Stills ISO

This one was pretty straightforward. We jacked the ISO, we shot some comparisons. I think this is where the real upset comes. There are still people out there smack-talking Nikon’s 36 megapixel chip because we’ve all come to expect high megapixel counts to mean a noisy image. It’s simply not the case, and it definitely gets the edge over the 5D3 in this case. And the Canon is no slouch! We’re talking about a couple of the most sensitive cameras on the planet here. Great stuff from both.

Winners & Losers:

“But Kevin, you didn’t test the video codecs, but Kevin, you didn’t mention the crop mode focus points color this or that whatever! But Kevin the weights you gave these things are arbitrary! But Kevin, you talk about some things like ‘weathersealing’ that you didn’t actually test and so it’s just hearsay!”

I know. The idea was to convey an overall sense of how the cameras stack up, as per the stuff that matters to me and most shooters (but not all), and to not bore everyone to tears by getting into the minutae. I already start to snooze by the time we get to the end. And yes, the weights are arbitrarily chosen by me. But it’s my video and I’m trying to suggest how important I think they are. Clean ISOs for example, is very important, but they were nearly identical in stills so it gets a light weight. In video they’re hugely different so it’s a heavier weight. It’s also a way of visualizing what camera might be right for YOU by imagining the meter without a couple of the words or with a couple weighted differently. e.g. If price is no object, the Nikon gets a modest win for stills and gets majorly clobbered for video. We’re all different shooters. And while this segment is seriously flawed scientifically-speaking, I felt it would still be useful for a lot of people.

If you have thoughts about other important things I missed or misrepresented, comment-away; this isn’t conclusive. But I think it’s a good way of getting people up-to-speed quickly on the discussion.

Visible Spectrum:


I did go on later to do some rudimentary tests involving the visible spectrum, and the cameras are great (as expected from most modern cameras) so there isn’t really much of a need for a serious version of this test any more.