GEAR // Philip Bloom’s D4 vs D800 vs 5DmkIII Shootout

By Tim Wu on May 14, 2012 in Gear
Oh Philip Bloom… I’ve never actually seen anything you’ve shot, but you have a slider named after you and a British accent, so I’ll listen to you anyway. Below is his long-awaited (?) comparison of the Canon 5DmkII and Nikon’s new HDSLRs, the D4 and the D800: 

In case you don’t have 30 minutes to kill to watch the full review because it’s a Monday afternoon and you have like, a real job (PFFT), here are the results in a nutshell~  

Nikon D4 – $5995.95
- completely useless in video mode unless you’re shooting at 2.7x crop – FAIL

Nikon D800 – $2999.95
- produces the sharpest image of the three
- aliasing is worse than the 5DmkIII but better than the 5DmkII
- has clean HDMI out, allowing you to feed to an external recorder like the Sound Devices Pix240
- usable image up to 3200iso

Canon 5DMkIII – $3499.00
- images needs to be sharpened in post to compare to the D800
- performs the best when it comes to aliasing 
- ALL-I compression bests the Nikon’s at 90mb/sec
- usable image up to 6400iso

So you’ve got a mixed bag of pros and cons where no one camera stands out as THE MOST ULTIMATE CAMERA EVER CREATED. But then again, that’s electronics for ya. While you get a sharper image straight out of the camera with the D800, it’s at much lower bitrate than the Canon, which may screw you if you’re looking to do a lot in post. But then again, you could just go HDMI out of the Nikon into a recorder and get 220mb/sec Pro-res files, which would be miles better than the Canon. But then you suffer in low-light and aliasing performance. OH DECISIONS. 

There is something to be said though about where the industry stands when it comes to that question of “what camera should I buy?” My first HDSLR was that cute little Panasonic GH1, and I loved it. Especially with the bitrate hack, it was an awesome camera. But I ended up selling in lieu of the Canon 60D because, as much as I thought the GH1 was a better camera, Canons were what more people were using, and, more importantly, Canons were what clients were hiring.

If you’re looking to get a camera for your own personal use and make really really good looking sex tapes, then knock yourself out, get whatever camera you want. (I suggest Go-pros, they’re easy to hide) But if you’re working freelance, 9 times out of 10 clients are looking for Canon cameras. Whether it’s to work with B-cams or match something that’s already been shot. As a freelancer, the worst thing you can do is be a pain in the ass. And if you’re that guy who they and their editors have to make all these exceptions for because you’re shooting at a different codec or on different media or they have to rent rigs specifically for your camera body because the heights are different, chances are you’re not gonna get the job. 

BUT THE BIT-RATE IS HIGHER ON MY GH-13!!! Yeah, well, the number on my paycheck is higher, BOOM. Now bring me more cake.

Of course, things may change. I’m not saying don’t get anything other than Canon cameras. In a couple years, Brett Ratner may be shooting the Tower Heist/Rush Hour cross-over on that goddamn Black Magic Cinema Camera. WHO KNOWS? It’s just important to gauge where the industry is, especially if you’re looking to invest in a camera body with the intention of making it back in rentals~ 


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