Strategy Insight Creative

// Canon 5D MK iii vs. Nikon D800

This year’s DSLR video battle is well and truly underway with Canon’s latest release in it’s ever popular 5D Range – The MK iii. The MK iii has been released into direct competition with the impressive Nikon D800, both of which are due for release at the end of March. The competition is fierce, especially within the video market in which the 5D series has always led the way over Nikon.

The image quality of the MK iii seems impressive at first glance; the new 22.3mp full-frame sensor accompanied by the DIGIC 5+ processor seen in the Canon 1Dx has virtually eliminated the presence of moire and improved ‘jello’ artefacts which has been an infamous flaw of the MK ii. The full-frame sensor’s downscaling to 1080p is done very well (resembling footage recorded from the much more expensive C300), whereas the D800 has shown to do this badly in initial sample videos, with images appearing to be soft and also feature moire.

The MK iii does have it’s downsides, however; Canon have confirmed there will be no 10bit 4:2:2 HDMI output and the pre-release has shown to only output at 720p via HDMI. The D800 will output uncompressed 4:2:2 via HDMI at 176mbps which is hugely beneficial, but only at 1080i with no audio output. The native 24p and 30p formats have been discarded by Nikon which is disappointing and also hard to understand? The prospect  of having to sync audio from a separate camera if recording via HDMI creates an unnecessary inconvenience to the individual using the camera.

Here’s example footage of the D800’s HDMI-out performance:

The audio capabilities of both cameras has been improved by both Canon and Nikon. Both the cameras are now fitted with a headphone jack for monitoring audio; a significant step in the right direction and a feature that has needed to be addressed on DSLRs for some time. Both cameras also have manual audio controls and on-screen level meters.

Interestingly, when in video mode, the D800 has a 2.7x crop mode (similar to that of the Panasonic GH2), which means each lens has two focal lengths for greater range. The D800 also has a 1.7x crop mode that allows the resolution to closer match that of full HD (1962×1088 to be exact). This innovative aspect makes the D800 desirable to any film maker as it increases the ‘native’ range of each lens used. If you already have Nikon glass in your arsenal, you can fit these lenses to the MK iii very easily but not vice versa. This could be crucial for Canon and for many consumers in the market for either of these cameras.

Price-wise, the difference between the models is £600; with the MK iii retailing for £2999 and the D800 for £2399. In terms of video, from a personal point of view, it would be worth forking out the extra £500 for the Canon due to the superior image quality, codec and lens compatibility. It will interesting to see how the public will receive these after some real world testing is done.

Here are the two official promotional videos for each of the cameras:

Nikon – Joy Ride:

Canon – Radball:

 

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