Canon 1D Mark IV versus Nikon D3
The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the Nikon D3 are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2009 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark IV) and a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 16 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 MP.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Nikon D3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1D Mark IV – represents the basis or 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 considerably larger (103 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark IV. Moreover, the D3 is markedly heavier (6 percent) than the 1D Mark IV. 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 IV) 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ rgt)||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||YES||2009||4,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||YES||2007||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||YES||2016||5,999||latest||check|
|Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt)||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||YES||2011||6,799||discont.||check|
|Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt)||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||YES||2010||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt)||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||YES||2009||1,699||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||YES||2008||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||YES||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||156.6 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||YES||2007||4,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||157.6 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||YES||2004||7,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||YES||2012||5,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||YES||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||YES||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt)||157.5 mm||149.5 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||YES||2006||4,699||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark IV features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D3 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3 is 66 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 1D Mark IV offers a higher resolution of 16 megapixel, compared with 12.1 MP of the Nikon D3. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.70μm versus 8.43μm for the D3). However, it should be noted that the 1D Mark IV is much more recent (by 2 years and 1 month) than the D3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D3 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 1D Mark IV (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ rgt)||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||no||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66|
|Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.0||11.7||854||66|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||no||21.8||11.4||696||63|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||no||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|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|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 1D Mark IV indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D3 does not. The highest resolution format that the 1D Mark IV can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D Mark IV 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 IV 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 IV (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1620||fixed||YES||8000||16.0||no||no|
|Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||14.0||no||no|
|Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||no||8000||5.3||13||no|
|Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||3.9||no||no|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||6.3||13||no|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||230||fixed||no||8000||4.0||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 IV and the D3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D3 was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the 1D Mark IV does not have a direct successor.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark IV or the Nikon D3 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (16 vs 12.1MP) with a 15% higher linear resolution.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- More compact: Is smaller (156x157mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D3 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D3:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4300 versus 1500) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2007).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (4 points each). 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.
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 IV or the D3 handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||-||5/5||-||2009||4,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft)||-||HiRec||5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||5,999||latest||check|
|Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2011||6,799||discont.||check|
|Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100 Rec||79/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt)||93/100 HiRec||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||1,699||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||91/100||79/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||-||2008||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||reviewed||-||2007||4,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||-||-||2004||7,999||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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
- Canon 750D vs Pentax K-70
- Canon G7 X Mark II vs Olympus E-410
- Canon M vs Canon SL1
- Fujifilm X-T20 vs Canon 5D Mark IV
- Fujifilm X100F vs Panasonic TZ200
- Nikon D5500 vs Canon 1D C
- Nikon D810 vs Canon 5DS R
- Olympus E-M10 III vs Canon G5 X
- Olympus E-M10 III vs Sony A7 II
- Panasonic G9 vs Panasonic LX15
- Panasonic GX9 vs Panasonic GX800
- Sony A7R III vs Panasonic G5