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Nikon D810 versus Canon 5D Mark IV

The Nikon D810 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2014 and August 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 36.2 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 30.1 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: Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark IV

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D810 and the Canon 5D Mark IV. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures 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 D810 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark IV
Compare D810 versus 5D Mark IV top
Compare D810 and 5D Mark IV rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5D Mark IV is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Nikon D810. Moreover, the 5D Mark IV is markedly lighter (9 percent) than the D810. 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. Yet, since both cameras are based around a full frame sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D810) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D Mark IV).

Concerning battery life, the D810 gets 1200 shots out of its EN-EL15 battery, while the 5D Mark IV can take 900 images on a single charge of its LP-E6N power pack.

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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D810» 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 980 g 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Canon 5D Mark IV« 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Nikon D850« » 146 mm 124 mm 79 mm 1005 g 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D750« » 141 mm 113 mm 78 mm 750 g 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D4S« » 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i
Nikon D610« » 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon Df« » 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i
Nikon D800« » 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D800E« » 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299- i
Nikon D700« » 147 mm 123 mm 77 mm 1074 g 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i

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 D810 was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the 5D Mark IV 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: Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark IV

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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D810 and Canon 5D Mark IV sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Nikon D810 offers a higher resolution of 36.2 megapixel, compared with 30.1 MP of the Canon 5D Mark IV. 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 4.88μm versus 5.36μm for the 5D Mark IV). Moreover, it should be noted that the 5D Mark IV is much more recent (by 2 years and 2 months) than the D810, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D810 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

D810 versus 5D Mark IV MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the D810 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 5D Mark IV (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, 0.1 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D810» Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Canon 5D Mark IV« Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
Nikon D800E« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996
Nikon D700« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 5D Mark IV provides a better video resolution than the D810. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark IV

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D810 and the 5D Mark IV 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D810, the Canon 5D Mark IV, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D810»optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon 5D Mark IV«optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D800E« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n

The 5D Mark IV is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the D810 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D810 was succeeded by the Nikon D850.

Review summary: Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark IV

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D810 and the Canon 5D Mark IV? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D810:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 30.1MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 900) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2014).

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 1229k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D810 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (7 points each). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

D810 07:07 5D Mark IV

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D810 or the 5D Mark IV. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D810»-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Canon 5D Mark IV«HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i
Nikon D800« »HiRec82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D800E« »-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299- i
Nikon D700« »89/100HiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i

The review scores listed above should be treated 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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