Canon G15 vs Nikon D800
The Canon PowerShot G15 and the Nikon D800 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and February 2012. The G15 is a fixed lens compact, while the D800 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G15) and a full frame (D800) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 36.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G15 and the Nikon D800? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon G15 and the Nikon D800. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D800 is considerably larger (121 percent) than the Canon G15. It is noteworthy in this context that the D800 is splash and dust-proof, while the G15 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G15 has a lens built in, whereas the D800 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D800 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|2.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|3.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|4.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|5.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|6.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|7.||Canon G12||112 mm||76 mm||48 mm||401 g||370||n||Sep 2010||499|
|8.||Fujifilm X20||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||353 g||270||n||Jan 2013||599|
|9.||Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599|
|10.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|11.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|12.||Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|13.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|14.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|15.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|17.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The G15 was launched at a lower price than the D800, despite having a lens built in. 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.
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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 G15 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Nikon D800 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D800 is 1905 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the G15 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D800 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 36.2MP, the D800 offers a higher resolution than the G15 (12MP), but the D800 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 1.89μm for the G15) due to its larger sensor. However, the G15 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the D800, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D800 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D800 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon G15 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot G15 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D800 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 D800 offers substantially better image quality than the G15 (overall score 49 points higher). The advantage is based on 5.4 bits higher color depth, 2.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 4.1 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.
|2.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|10.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|11.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|13.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|14.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|15.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D800 provides a faster frame rate than the G15. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The G15 and the D800 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 G15 and Nikon D800 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon G15||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Nikon D800||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon SX60||922||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/2000s||6.4/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon S120||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||Y||1/2000s||12.1/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX50||202||n||3.0 / 461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon G12||optical||n||2.8 / 461||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.1/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Fujifilm X20||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Fujifilm X10||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Nikon D850||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon P7800||921||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D800E||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Panasonic FZ150||202||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the D800, but is missing on the G15 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The Nikon D800 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The G15 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D800 uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The D800 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the G15 only has one slot. The D800 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the G15 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot G15 and Nikon D800 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon G15||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D800||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon SX60||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Canon S120||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Canon SX50||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon G12||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Fujifilm X20||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Fujifilm X10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D850||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Nikon P7800||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D800E||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic FZ150||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D800 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The G15 does not feature such a mic input.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D800 (unlike the G15) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the G15 and the D800 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D800 was replaced by the Nikon D810, while the G15 was followed by the Canon G16. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon G15 better than the Nikon D800 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot G15:
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D800 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (107x76mm vs 146x123mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D800).
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the D800).
Advantages of the Nikon D800:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 77%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (49 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (5.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (4.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/24p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (900 versus 350) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2012).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D800 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 6 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. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G15 and the Nikon D800 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
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 G15 or the D800 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 provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon G15||4/5||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|2.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|3.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|4.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|5.||Canon S120||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449|
|6.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|7.||Canon G12||4/5||+||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||499|
|8.||Fujifilm X20||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2013||599|
|9.||Fujifilm X10||..||..||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599|
|10.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||5/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|11.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|12.||Nikon P7800||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|13.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|14.||Nikon D800E||..||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|15.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|17.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
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.
Specifications: Canon G15 vs Nikon D800
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon G15||Nikon D800|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||28-140mm f/1.8-2.8||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 2,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon G15||Nikon D800|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.6 x 5.7 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||43.32 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.5 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.89 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||27.70 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||46||95|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||19.9||25.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||14.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||165||2853|
|Screen Specs||Canon G15||Nikon D800|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||80%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon G15||Nikon D800|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2.1 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon G15||Nikon D800|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon G15||Nikon D800|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||900 shots per charge|
107 x 76 x 40 mm
(4.2 x 3.0 x 1.6 in)
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||352 g (12.4 oz)||1000 g (35.3 oz)|
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