Canon 5D MKIII
The Canon 5D MKIII performs better in low-light and high ISO. Sadly it has no clean HDMI out, which is a real bummer. The internal codec is at 90Mbps 4:2:0, which is not much. The available video samples look good, although it could be even better with clean HDMI output - but who is to bring clean HDMI to the 5d3? There are two possible ways:
a) Magic Lantern could bring clean HDMI output to the Canon 5D MK3, if it can be hacked, which is not clear as of now. Also, it will take some time, expect at least 6months to see any usable development (if at all).
b) Canon could release a firmware update to provide clean HDMI out. We could try and contact canon to tell them, that we demand clean HDMI out. Of course, it remains totally unclear if they will ever release such an update.
Although, the Canon 5D MK3 seems to have better Video capabilities, clean detail and no moire (or at least almost no moire) - which would not be fixed by HDMI out anyway. If there is the chance to crank up the codec to 180Mbit (with a hack by Vitaly Kiselev or Magic Lantern) we would see a definite winner in the battle.
The Nikon D800 performs quite well on paper, but in reality the Canon 5D MK3 performs better in low-light and high ISO. First samples of clean HDMI output and RAW Video (Apple ProRes) with the Nikon D800 are online - and they look great. Keep in mind that the Nikon D800 provides 8bit output (not 10bit), and the first RAW Video results are better than the internal codec Canon 5D MK3 Videos. Bundled with the Atomos Samurai and the Atomos h2s connect the Nikon D800 brings you high resolution 800×480 LCD (with focus peaking and zebras via latest firmware) plus 4:2:2 video. This is clearly the best setup we have as of today, maybe only topped by a D4+Samurai (c.f. mike kobal's results with the d800).
Still, the current discussion is about comparing apples to oranges, at least from watching actual results and comparing them:
Comparing photo/stills performance (via canonrumors forum)
1. At ISO100, the Nikon D800 has noticeably superior images out of the camera, due primarily to greater detail and dynamic range.
2. At ISO6400, the Canon 5DIII has noticeably superior images out of the camera, due primarily to significantly less noise.
bobatkins notes: The bottom line is that neither the D800 nor the EOS 5D MkIII sensor is "better". They are different. The Nikon sensor should have higher resolution which will be desirable for those making very large prints or who need to significantly crop their images. On the other hand the EOS 5D MkIII sensor will produce images with lower noise and higher dynamic range in lower light conditions where the use of higher ISO settings are desirable. For smaller prints at lower ISO settings (which is where most amateur photographers will be working most of the time), the sensor pixel count and noise characteristics won't matter.
Comparing video performace
Fact: Video doesn't need a high resolution sensor, it is all about the crop modes and sensor scaling, as outlined by eoshd, when we just look at the surface of the Nikon D800 vs Canon 5D MK3 debate.
BUT (as discussed on dvinfo) the Nikon D4 could be the real deal, beating both the D800 and the 5D3: It would seem to me that as a micro-budget filmmaker without access to as much lighting as one would like - the fatter pixels of the d4 would provide better low light shooting outside at night, dimly lit night interiors etc. When moving about with only a china ball and a c-stand I think I would want the sensor of the d4 on my side to maximize the lack of additional equipment. So while it seems like the d800 is better suited because of the price tag - my thoughts are that the d4 with one more crop setting than the d800 [fewer lenses], and better low light, and wireless control [small crew] that it is the d4 that will actually be the indie-filmmakers choice.
There is no clear winner to the war, and Canon could still turn around and release a firmware update that provides HDMI out. Further, the actual results of the D4 vs D800 have to be compared to crown the king of DSLR video.
In the meanwhile, it might be also worth to invest in a Canon 5D MKII still, since it is selling quite cheap those days (selling for $2,199.00 new) and can be used with RAW Video (HDMI) output with Magic Lantern Unified soon.
This post was written by nanofunk on March 21, 2012 and last edited on March 21, 2012
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