It has been a long road to get to this comparison between these two cameras.
Once again, a big thank you to ORMS for all the camera equipment used to make this post possible.
You can go to the previous post on the D800 Vs 5DMKII here, but on this epic journey, I have shot in studio and on location, with and without clients. I’ve shot and re-shot to make sure that I’m making as good assessment as I possibly can.
The rules have stayed the same unless indicated otherwise:
– Both cameras were set to the same ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.
– Lenses used were Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Nikkor, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM and Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR.
– Images are viewed and processed using Capture One Pro.
– The white balance and exposure, was the same as the previous test. Nikon and Canon have slightly different ways of interpreting the data, so there was always a discrepancy between readings, i.e, exposure readings were a third to a half a stop different for the same reading in Capture One Pro.
– Genre’s of photography were food and decor.
So, lets get started. First up was a shoot I did with House & Leisure Magazine where we shot an advertorial for Simonberg Cheese. Here I’m using a combination of the zoom lens or the macro for the close-up.
On screen size or A4, there is not much difference. It is when you start enlarging that things start to change. The D800 pics up more information, especially in the finer textures of the fabric. It also sees more detail on the leaves. But, there must be a but, there is a certain softness to the images which makes the Canon images, though smaller, appear sharper.
The next shot was basically the same as the test with the 5DMKII. This time I had a controlled light source, tungsten light diffused through a soft box. Another change I made was to make use of a AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II for the first shot (004). Canon’s first shot was done with a EF 70-200mm f/4L USM (017). The second shot with the Nikon was done with a AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR (014). The Canon’s second shot was done on the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (012).
Here was the start of something I discovered. Remembering that this is my opinion to which some may agree and others disagree, I found that the D800 is lens specific. What that means to me, is that certain lenses work better on the D800 than others, the 24-85mm f3.5 lens to my mind is not ideal for the D800. I could not get a sharp image using this lens on this shot. Also, the same “softness” on the D800 or the “sharpness” of the 5DMKIII occurs here too and this seemed to continue to be the trend of these two cameras throughout the testing.
I did this next shot including the 5DMKII into the test to see what the difference will be. All three cameras are set the same. ISO 100, 1sec, f11. None gave the same exposure. The 5DMKII had to be set to – 0.3, the 5DMKIII set to 0, and the D800 set to + 0.3 to give the same result.
The aim of this test was to show what happens in the shadows. The 5DMKII on the left has poor shadow detail compared to the other two cameras. Here, the D800 (on the right), shows clean shadows, but again, the camera is paired with the 24-85mm f3.5-f4.5 lens producing soft images. So, I decided to not use this lens again and used the 24-120mm f4 for future testing.
While I was swopping the lenses, the Nikon D600 arrived and I was given it for a few hours. Unfortunately, the software I use did not recognize the D600’s RAW files, (being brand new), so I did the shot on JPEG mode on both the D600 and the 5DMKIII. Using the macro lenses, shooting into the light, having the same ISO and aperture. I had different shutter speeds for the exposure as the light was daylight, diffused through a perspex sheet. What is immediately obvious, is the colour difference between these cameras. The Canon producing more saturated colours. Once you’ve looked past the colour, you also notice that the depth of field differs even-though both cameras are on f8. The Nikon 105mm macro producing less depth than the 100mm macro from Canon.
I can’t say that I had tested the D600 properly as I only had it for a short time. The test above was a quick test and it may not be a fair representation.
Comparisons are always subjective. The best thing in all this is to find what works best for you. The questions you need to ask are: What do you need? What is the primary work that your camera will be doing? Once these are answered, you can make a decision that is the right one for you.