Nikon D810 vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III comparison: full-frame DSLRs go head to head

Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III comparison: full-frame DSLRs go head-to-head

Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III comparison: 02 Video

Canon DSLRs: Canon EOS 5D Mark III review

When it comes to shooting video with an ‘HD-SLR’, Nikon still has some catching up to do compared with Canon’s foot-in-the-door of the film industry. Is the Nikon D810 the camera to do that?

On paper, the Nikon D810 is Nikon’s best DSLR for video recording. There’s a good argument to be made that the D810 has the potential to be the best DSLR for video full stop.

Although, naturally, Canon has yet to show its hand with the 5D Mark IV or 7D successor…

The D810 can shoot Full HD 1080p at 60, 50, 30, 25 and 24fps. The fastest frame rates offered by both the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III when recording 1080p is 30fps.

Like the D800, the D810’s Multi-area D-Movie mode can record FX- and DX-format movies using H.264/MPEG-4 compression.

Audio recording gets an upgrade though, with a built-in stereo microphone; the D800/E only offers built-in mono recording, as does the Canon 5D Mark III.

SEE MORE: 49 seriously good Canon DSLR tips, tricks, shortcuts and time-savers

Welcome as it is, if you’re serious about shooting video on a DSLR then you’re unlikely to be high-fiving Nikon for this upgrade as this simply enables you to pick up camera operating noise in two channels. An external microphone is always a better option.

Audio monitoring is offered by the D810, as it is in the 5D Mark III, and there are new wide and voice frequency ranges available for fine-tuning the audio recording.

The D810 offers flexibility in terms of ISO setting. Auto ISO Adjust is available when shooting video in Program, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority (from ISO 64 to Hi 2), although you can manually set the upper ISO limit.

Using D-Movie in Manual exposure mode gives you the same control over Auto ISO, but also enables you to set the ISO manually from ISO 64 to 12800 in either 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps, with additional options up to ISO 51200 equivalent.

Auto ISO is available when shooting movies in any of the P, A, S, M modes on the Canon 5D Mark III, as well as manual ISO setting for the latter.

The D810’s zebra pattern mode is a welcome new addition, something that can only be added to the Canon 5D Mark III using the Magic Lantern firmware hack – and invalidating your warranty at the same time.

Zebra mode displays stripes over areas that will be overexposed in a video, and something that camcorder users have come to rely on a standard feature for getting good exposures.

SEE MORE: 10 essential tips for editing DSLR video

The D810 can simultaneously record movie footage to both memory card (compressed) and an external recorder (uncompressed), but the 5D Mark III has offered this function since Canon released the firmware update version 1.2.1.

Another new feature of the D810 that will appeal to filmmakers is the new Flat Picture Control. This results might look uninspiring when played back on the D810, but this flat profile offers  a wider dynamic range that offers more flexibility when colour grading during post-production.

For similar results, Canon 5D Mark III filmmakers can use the Neutral Picture Style setting or add the Technicolor CineStyle colour profile instead.

While the D810 gets Power Aperture control, to enable smooth depth of field adjustments, the 5D Mark III has Silent Control for adjusting movie function such as aperture and ISO using the rear touchpad. Canon’s STM (Stepper Motor) lenses are also designed to offer silent focusing during movie shooting too.

Given Nikon’s focus on video functions with the D810, 4K video recording seems a curious omission. While the majority of us don’t need 4K shooting now, it would have offered a degree of futureproofing for professional filmmakers.

We may be a year away from the release of a Canon 5D Mark IV, but that’s certain to offer 4K video.

Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III comparison: 01 Sensor resolution and ISO
Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III comparison: 02 Video
Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III: 03 Autofocus and continuous shooting
Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III comparison: 04 Image processor and metering
Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III comparison: 05 Design and build quality
Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III comparison: 06 Price
Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark III comparison: our conclusion


44 essential digital camera tips and tricks
Full-frame DSLR: do you really need one?
How to set up your DSLR for video recording
77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

  • eXalos

    Max expandable ISO on the Mark iii is 102400 not 25600, pretty epic fail for a “review”

  • Thanks for pointing the typo out – 25600 is the maximum native ISO in the Mark III’s Creative Zone modes