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: 03 Autofocus and continuous shooting

Nikon D810 release: Group Area AF

In addition to improved video functions, another notable upgrade from the D800 comes in the form of the D810’s autofocus.

The D810 shares the same autofocus system as the flagship Nikon D4s. The headline specifications are similar to the D800: a Multi-Cam 3500FX AF module with 51 AF points (including 15 cross-type sensors), low sensitivity down to -2EV and AF area-modes that offer single-point, 9-, 21-or 51-point Dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking and Auto-area AF.

SEE MORE: Nikon D4S review

New to the D810 (but introduced in the D4s) is Group-area AF mode. This uses 5 active AF points to autofocus; the camera uses the AF points directly above, below, to the left and to the right of the AF point you’ve selected.

Group-area AF mode enables the Nikon D4s to shoot continuously at 11 frames per second. While the D810 can’t match this phenomenal shooting speed, it can, according to Nikon, hit 5fps in full-frame FX mode and 7ps bursts in DX crop mode (the latter sees the resolution more than halved to 15.3MP images).

Additionally, the 7ps continuous shooting speed in DX crop mode can only be reached using when using optional MB-D12 battery pack and AA batteries. Using the EN-EL15 battery supplied with the D810, Nikon rates the continuous high speed shooting as 1-6fps.

The Canon 5D Mark III can reach 6fps in its full-frame mode (it doesn’t have a crop mode).

Like the D810, the Canon 5D Mark III features an identical AF system as a pro body. In this case, it’s the same 61-point AF system as the Canon EOS 1DX, offering up to 41 cross-type sensors (depending on the maximum aperture of the lens attached to the camera) and a sensitivity of -2EV for low-light autofocus.

SEE MORE: Master your camera’s autofocus – which AF points to use and when to use them

It features a wide range of AF area modes, including an AF point expansion setting that offers the same 5-point autofocus as the D810’s new Group-area AF mode.

However, the Nikon D810 offers f/8 autofocus with 11 of its AF sensors; the Canon 5D Mark III only has f/8 enabled on the centre AF point when firmware 1.2.1 or higher has been installed.

Wildlife photographers who regularly combine telephoto lenses with teleconverters and end up with effective maximum apertures of f/8 will find a lot to like about the Nikon D810.

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

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