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

Not that it took the actual release any verified information on either the Canon 5D Mark III or the Nikon D800 for internet goers to start drawing comparisons between the two, now that both cameras have been properly outed by their manufacturers, true comparisons can be drawn.

Canon 5D3 vs. Nikon D800

Both cameras have their strengths and weaknesses relative to each other and, as a result, will no doubt appeal to different types of photographers and enthusiasts. The Nikon D800 may appeal to those seeking a high megapixel count or the absence of an anti-aliasing filter (D800E), while the Canon 5D Mark III may win the hearts of low-light shooters and those looking for more rapid-fire shooting.

This list of reasons to choose one camera or the other, however, certainly doesn't end there. In reality, though, the reasons to pick one or the other rests solely with the individual making the buying decision. To aid in that decision, we've pulled the following side-by-side comparison of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 from our camera database, but have saved you the trouble of having to build the comparison yourself. We've also added the 5D Mark II to the mix, for those of you that want to compare the new 5D3 to its predecessor.

Canon 5D Mark II Nikon D800 Canon 5D Mark III
Device Image
Alternate Names Canon 5D Mk II Nikon D800 Canon 5D Mk III, Canon 5D3, Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Device Type DSLR DSLR DSLR
Aperture Priority (Av) Yes Yes Yes
Aperture Range
Audio Formats
Linear PCM
Linear PCM
Audio In / Mic Yes Yes Yes
Audio Out Yes Yes Yes
Auto Focus

9-point TTL-CT-SIR (1 Cross Type) + 6 AF Assist Points

  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View

51-point TTL phase detection via Nikon Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX (15 cross-type sensors; f/8 supported by 11 central sensors)

  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View

61-point high-density reticular AF (One to five cross-type AF points at f/2.8, 10 to 20 cross-type AF points at f/4, and 15 to 21 cross-type AF points at f/5.6.

  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Battery Power 7.2VDC, 1800mAh
Battery Standby
Battery Type Li-ion LP-E6 Li-ion EN-EL15 Battery Li-ion LP-E6
Compressed Formats JPEG
Continuous Drive Yes Yes Yes
Continuous Drive Rate 3.9 fps 4.6 fps 6.0 fps
Digital Viewfinder No No No
Digital Zoom No No No
Dimensions 152 x 114 x 75 mm (5.98 x 4.49 x 2.95 in) 146 x 123 x 81.5 mm (5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in.) 152 x 116 x 76 mm (5.98 x 4.57 x 2.99 in)
Display Colors
Display Resolution 920,000 pixels 921,000 pixels 1.04 million dot
Display Size 3.0 in 3.2 in. 3.2 inch
Display Type TFT TFT LCD Clear View II TFT LCD
Effective Megapixels 21.1 36.3 22.3
Exposure Comensation Manual, ±2 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments (can be combined with AEB) ±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps) ±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
Flash (Built-in) No Yes No
Flash (External) Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless + sync connector) Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector) Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Flash Modes Auto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain, High-speed sync
Flash Range 12 m
Focal Length (35mm equivalent)
Focal Length Multiplier 1.0 1.0 1.0
Focus Range
GPS No Yes No
HDMI Yes Yes Yes
ISO Settings Auto, ISO 100-6400 (in 1/3-stop or 1-stop increments), Extendable to 50, 12800, 25600 Auto, 100-6400 (expandable 50-25600) 100 - 25600 (Expandable to 50, 51200, 104200)
Image Stabilization No No No
Lens Thread/Mount Canon EF Nikon F mount EF
Live View Yes Yes Yes
Macro Focus Range
Manual Focus Yes No
Manufacturer Canon Nikon Canon
Max ISO 25600 6400 25600
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000
Memory Formats CF1, CF2, UDMA, Microdrive CF1, SD, SDHC, SDXC CF Type I, SD, SDHC, SDXC
Memory Included None None None
Metering 35-zone TTL full-aperture metering Multi, Center-weighted, Average, Spot Center-weighted, Spot, Evaluative, Partial (iFCL metering w/ 63 zone dual-layer sensor)
Min ISO 50 100 100
Min Shutter Speed 30 30 30
Optical Viewfinder Yes Yes Yes
Pixel Density
Processor Digic 4 Expeed 3 DIGIC 5+
Release Date Sep 17, 2008 Mar 30, 2012 Late March 2012
Release Year 2008 2012 2012
Remote Control Yes, N3 / RC-1 / RC-5 Yes, Optional wired or wireless Wireless Controller LC-5, Remote Controller RC-6, Remote control with N3 type contact
Self Timer Yes Yes Yes
Sensor Manufacturer Canon Sony Canon
Sensor Size 36mm x 24mm 35.9 x 24 mm (1.70") 36 x 24 mm
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS CMOS
Shutter Priority (Tv) Yes Yes Yes
Startup Time 0.1 sec 0.1 seconds
Total Pixels 22.0 36.8
USB USB 2.0 USB 3.0 2.0
Uncompressed Formats RAW, sRAW1, sRAW2 RAW (NEF, 12 bit or 14 bit) RAW, sRAW1, SRAW2 (14 bit)
Video / Movie Mode Yes Yes Yes
Video Formats
H.264
MOV
MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, MOV
Video Frame Rate 1920x1080 (30 fps), 1920x1080 (25 fps), 1920x1080 (24 fps), 640x480 (30 fps), 640x480 (25 fps) 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps) 29.97, 25, 23.976 fps (1080 HD), 59.94, 50 fps (720 HD), 25, 30 fps (SD)
Video Out Yes Yes Yes
Video Resolutions 1920x1080 (30 fps), 1920x1080 (25 fps), 1920x1080 (24 fps), 640x480 (30 fps), 640x480 (25 fps) 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps) 1920 x 1080 (1080 HD), 1280 x 720 (720 HD), 640 x 480 (SD)
Viewfinder Accuracy 98% 100 % 100%
Viewfinder Type Eye-level pentaprism Eye-level pentaprism TTL "Intelligent" Viewfinder
Weight 850 g (1.87 lbs) 900 g (1 lbs) 950 g (33.5 oz)
Wi-Fi No No Optional
Wide Zoom

Both the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800/E are available for pre-ordering, with high demand and long wait lists expected for both cameras. Check the table below for a list of retailers still accepting pre-orders for the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800.

Feel free to share your opinions on how these cameras stack up against each other in the comments below.

Tag: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 5D Mark III, News, Nikon D800