Nikon Df versus Canon 5D Mark III
The Nikon Df and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2013 and March 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.2 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 22.1 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 Df vs Canon 5D Mark III
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon Df and the Canon 5D Mark III. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 Df – 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 Canon 5D Mark III is notably larger (11 percent) than the Nikon Df. Moreover, the 5D Mark III is markedly heavier (25 percent) than the Df. 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 (Df) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D Mark III).
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|
|Nikon Df»||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.6 in||26.8 oz||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Canon 5D Mark III«||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499||-|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||5.9 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||31.4 oz||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 5DS R« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 6D« »||5.7 in||4.4 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||-|
|Nikon D850« »||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D750« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D810« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||-|
|Nikon D4S« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499||-|
|Nikon D610« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D4« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||-|
|Nikon D600« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||-|
|Nikon D800« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999||-|
|Nikon D800E« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299||-|
|Nikon D700« »||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||-|
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 Df was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 21 percent) than the 5D Mark III, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 Df vs Canon 5D Mark III
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. 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 more expensive and 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.
With 22.1MP, the 5D Mark III offers a higher resolution than the Df (16.2MP), but the 5D Mark III has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.25μm versus 7.29μm for the Df). It is noteworthy in this context that the Df is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the 5D 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 review, the Df has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 5D Mark III (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 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.
|Nikon Df»||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||-||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|Canon 5D Mark III«||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Canon 5DS R« »||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon 5DS« »||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Canon 6D« »||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Nikon D850« »||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Nikon D750« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Nikon D810« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Nikon D4S« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|Nikon D610« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon D4« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|Nikon D600« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|Nikon D800« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|Nikon D800E« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|Nikon D700« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||-||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 5D Mark III indeed provides for movie recording, while the Df does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark III can use is 1080/30p.
Feature comparison: Nikon Df vs Canon 5D Mark III
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The Df and the 5D Mark III 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 Df, the Canon 5D Mark III, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Canon 5D Mark III«||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||6.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||7.0||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 6D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||4000||4.5||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||3.9||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 D810« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||4000||5.0||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 D4« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n|
|Nikon D600« »||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||4000||5.5||Y||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 Df is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 5D Mark III has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 5D Mark III was succeeded by the Canon 5D Mark IV.
Review summary: Nikon Df vs Canon 5D Mark III
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon Df or the Canon 5D Mark III – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon Df:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 190g or 20 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1400 versus 950) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (21 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the 5D Mark III).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (22.1 vs 16.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 17%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2012).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Df emerges as the winner of the contest (7 : 5 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 says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the Df and the 5D Mark III in practical situations. 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 following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Nikon Df»||-||81/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Canon 5D Mark III«||HiRec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499||-|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 5DS R« »||Rec||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS« »||Rec||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 6D« »||HiRec||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||-||Sep 2008||3,499||-|
|Nikon D850« »||HiRec||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D750« »||HiRec||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D810« »||-||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299||-|
|Nikon D4S« »||-||-||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499||-|
|Nikon D610« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D4« »||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||-|
|Nikon D600« »||HiRec||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||-|
|Nikon D800« »||HiRec||82/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999||-|
|Nikon D800E« »||-||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299||-|
|Nikon D700« »||89/100||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||-|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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