Canon 1D Mark III versus Nikon D3
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III and the Nikon D3 are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2007 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark III) and a full frame (D3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Canon 1D Mark III vs Nikon D3
The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark III and the Nikon D3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1D Mark III – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3 is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark III. Moreover, the D3 is markedly heavier (13 percent) than the 1D Mark III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark III) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ rgt)||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||YES||2007||4,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||45.9 oz||4300||YES||2007||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||YES||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||YES||2012||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||YES||2009||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||YES||2008||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.9 in||6.3 in||3.1 in||48.9 oz||1800||YES||2007||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||54.1 oz||1200||YES||2004||4,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||YES||2002||8,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||YES||2012||5,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||YES||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||YES||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||YES||2006||4,699||discont.||check|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1D Mark III was somewhat cheaper (by 10 percent) than the D3 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison: Canon 1D Mark III vs Nikon D3
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark III features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D3 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3 is 64 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 12.1MP, the D3 offers a higher resolution than the 1D Mark III (10.1MP), but the D3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.43μm versus 7.21μm for the 1D Mark III) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the 1D Mark III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D3 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 1D Mark III (overall score 10 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ rgt)||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||no||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||no||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||no||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||no||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||no||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||no||22.2||10.9||489||59|
Feature comparison: Canon 1D Mark III vs Nikon D3
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark III and the D3 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1D Mark III and Nikon D3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||6.0||no||no|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||3.9||no||no|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||230||fixed||no||8000||8.3||no||no|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||120||fixed||no||8000||3.0||no||no|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||921||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
Both the 1D Mark III and the D3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark IV, while the D3 was followed by the Nikon D4.
Review summary: Canon 1D Mark III vs Nikon D3
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 1D Mark III better than the Nikon D3 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D Mark III:
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 145g or 11 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2007).
Advantages of the Nikon D3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.1 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4300 versus 2200) out of a single battery charge.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (5 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3 is the clear winner of the contest (6 : 2 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1D Mark III or the D3 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ rgt)||-||-||-||reviewed||-||2007||4,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||-||HiRec||5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||83/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2012||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||-||5/5||-||2009||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||91/100||79/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||-||2008||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||4.5/5||-||-||2007||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||reviewed||-||2004||4,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||-||-||2002||8,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||2012||5,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||89/100||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||reviewed||-||2006||4,699||discont.||check|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
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