Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs. Nikon D800 Comparison

After much waiting, Canon finally unveiled the EOS 5D Mark III last week, marking the 25th anniversary of the EOS system. The all-new EOS 5D Mark III has got upgraded from its predecessor 5D Mark II and sports several new features.

However, with the release of the Mark III, Canon expects to give tough competitions to its rivals. The on-going rivalry between Canon and Nikon is nothing new. Both the companies have recently upgraded their high-end version of cameras with Nikon replacing the D700 with the D800, while Canon replacing its EOS 5D Mark II with the EOS 5D Mark III.

Both the cameras have their own pros and cons, but none of them stand out of the box when it comes to originality or something new. All I can say is that both the cameras have been enhanced a lot in terms of features and specs.

BUY/Pre-Order: Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Nikon Cameras

Nevertheless, we’d still want to compare what each of the cameras have in different, particularly when it comes to features and technical specifications. Here’s a comparison of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs. Nikon D800

Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs. Nikon D800

Nikon definitely surprised every photography and camera enthusiasts on earth when it released its D800. The Nikon D800 sports a massive 36 million pixel sensor with a huge jump from the 12.1 MP sensor in the Nikon D3, which was released in 2007.

Certainly, everyone expected that Canon would release its next camera with a similar sensor in order to compete head-to-head against the D800. However, Canon decided to play a completely different game by releasing the EOS 5D Mark III with a 21 million pixel low-resolution sensor, focusing on better image equality and noise reduction characteristics along with improved features on AF features/performance and weather sealing.

The reason being is that Canon has been receiving a lot of criticism from the Canon community for over several years on these areas, and that isf why Canon decided to listen to what its community has been saying. It is definitely a smart move from Canon specifically with the autofocus features and performance.

Most of the  users from the community are stating that the EOS 5D Mark II should have sported the features what the EOS 5D Mark III currently has. I agree to some extent, but when it comes to image quality, I disagree with the statement.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has significantly improved in its autofocus features by introducing 61 points – a big upgrade from the Mark II, which only has 9 autofocus points along with 6 assist autofocus points. However, the Nikon D800 offers 51 AF points, with 15 cross-type sensors.

Nikon has improved the D800 video features a lot, especially with the options to shoot at different frame sizes for different focal length and depth of field effects, as well as 50p and 60p slow-motion capabilities. The video offerings in the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the D800 are pretty much the same, since both have the capability to shoot full HD videos.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs. Nikon 800

Here’s a full specification comparison of the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III –


Camera Feature







Nikon D800







Canon 5D Mark III






Sensor Resolution

36.3 Million

22.3 Million

Sensor Type



Sensor Size



Dust Reduction / Sensor Cleaning



Image Size

7360 x 4912

5760 x 3840

Image Processor



Viewfinder Type



Viewfinder Coverage



Viewfinder Magnification



Storage Media

1x Compact Flash and 1x SD

1x Compact Flash and 1x SD

Continuous Shooting Speed

4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip


Max Shutter Speed

1/8000 to 30 sec

1/8000 to 30 sec

Shutter Durability

200,000 cycles

150,000 cycles

Exposure Metering Sensor

91,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III

iFCL metering with 63 zone dual-layer sensor

Base ISO

ISO 100

ISO 100

Native ISO Sensitivity

ISO 100-6,400

ISO 100-25,600

Boosted ISO Sensitivity

ISO 50, ISO 12,800-25,600

ISO 50, ISO 51,200-102,400

Autofocus System

Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with 51-points (up to 15 cross-type points)

61-point high-density reticular AF (up to 41 cross-type points)
AF Detection

Up to f/8 (up to 9 cross-type sensors)

Up to f/5.6

Built-in Flash



AF Assist


No, only with external flash

Video Output

H.264/MPEG-4 in MOV Format

AVI, H.264/MPEG-4 in MOV Format

Uncompressed Video Output

Yes (HDMI)


Video Maximum Resolution

1920×1080 (1080p) @ 30p

1920×1080 (1080p) @ 30p

Audio Recording

Built-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)

Built-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)

LCD Size

3.2 diagonal TFT-LCD

3.2 diagonal TFT-LCD

LCD Resolution

921,000 dots

1,040,000 dots

Exposure Compensation

±5 EV in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV increments

±5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments


2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV

±3 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments

HDR Support



Built-in GPS



Wi-Fi Functionality

Eye-Fi Compatible, WT-4A

Eye-Fi Compatible, WFT-E7


EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery

LP-E6 Lithium-ion Battery

Battery Life

850 shots (CIPA)

950 shots (CIPA)

Battery Charger

MH-25 Quick Charger

LC-E6 Charger

Weather Sealed Body



USB Version



Camera Construction

Magnesium Alloy

Magnesium Alloy


144.78 x 121.92 x 81.28mm

152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm




MSRP Price



BUY/Pre-Order: Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Nikon Cameras

Published by

Joel Fernandes

Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr.He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte.Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.

  • Dee J

    I appreciate your basic comparison of the 2 cameras, however, I have to take issue with your “overall” statement that “none of them stand out of the box when it comes to originality or something new”.

    Until the D800, I haven’t seen any semi-pro digital cameras offer 36mp resolution or uncompressed HDMI out. I believe this would be considered “standing out AND something new.” I own a Canon 5D mark ll and have been using Canon cameras for years. Kudos to Nikon though for taking a different road. Nikon has, for many years, been a less pixels, higher ISO implemented camera company. I don’t think many saw this coming from Nikon and I’m anxious to see how it plays out.

    I think anyone who compares these 2 cameras and minimizes Nikons technical leap with the D800 is shortsighted indeed.

    And yes, I have ordered the D800.

  • Alex

    sorry, but you say Canon “listened” to it’s customers. No it didn’t – it screwed them over with a dire AF system in the 5D2 (originally released on the 5D in 2005) because it didn’t want to cannibalize sales of higher end models. In the 5D3 it had no choice to update the AF system given that it was 7 YEARS old. Only bit of good news on the AF, is that 1DX and 5D3 share the same AF system

  • Greg S

    This round I must say I am torn. Canon with better high ISO, Nikon with AF to f/8. What I do like about the Nikon is cropped lenses are still aprox. 15 megapixel. I also like that I wouldn’t be taking a step backwards in ISO for equivalent prints. The D800 at the same print size will at least equal a D700 in the ISO range I use. Whereas, in good light the res means I have cropping levarage I’ve never had. However, the FPS and the idea of even better ISO mean the Canon is also appealing. Very exciting times.

    • John

      yup. It is the battle of the two camera giant. Very hard to decide which one to buy.

    • John

      Yup. It is the battle of the two camera giants. Hard to decide which one to buy.

  • analisando essa comparação, a nikon leva vantagem em varios aspectos, além de ser mais barata.

  • JF

    I use both Canon and Nikon camera for pics and vids and i really think that Canon is a much better specialized camera for vidéo filming. More adapted. Also Canon cams are doing a much better job in low light condition. I use à 7D AND a D7000.

    • neory cheung

      yeah , go Canon. though nikon has bigger MP , not enough for me to switch from using canon to nikon … i;ve ordered canon 5d mark III .. n waiting forward to have it in hand ^_^

  • Dimitris

    Dxo mark labs rates Nikon D800 in there top of there list wiht score 95!!!!!!!
    it mast be a hell? of a camera

  • Dimitris

    Dxomark labs rates Nikon D800 in the top of the list
    with score 95 !!!
    it mustu be a hell of a camera