The Agony of Choice

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Apples or oranges?

That’s the ques­tion. When it comes to debat­ing the val­ue of one sys­tem over anoth­er, the Nikon vs. Canon feud is end­less. For many of their pre­vi­ous cam­era bod­ies, the com­par­i­son was pota­to poh-tah-toh, but when it comes to the Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D MkIII, it’s more apples and oranges. Grocery idioms aside, here’s how I see it.

It all boils down to one issue: Which do you val­ue more, high­er res­o­lu­tion or low­er noise? If you’re a stu­dio or land­scape pho­tog­ra­ph­er, then the extra megapix­els of the D800 would serve you well when you’re on a tri­pod, in con­trolled light, with unmov­ing (or slow-mov­ing) sub­jects. If you’re a sports or street pho­tog­ra­ph­er, then the faster frame rate (because of the small­er files) and the clean­er neg­a­tives at high­er ISOs (because of the few­er megapix­els) of the 5DMkIII would be cru­cial for cap­tur­ing fast-mov­ing sub­jects and/or low-light scenes.

If, on the oth­er hand, you’re a cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er, then the choice is even clear­er: The 5D MkIII’s low-light per­for­mance is an absolute cinch, plac­ing high­er on the list of pri­or­i­ties than the D800’s abil­i­ty to crop at full 1080 HD res­o­lu­tion or its abil­i­ty to export uncom­pressed HDMI.

Conclusion: My new cam­era body will be the Canon 5DMkIII with a Novoflex adap­tor. Alongside my exist­ing Nikon D700 and D7000, I’ll be all set. I don’t believe in sys­tems, but rather in select­ing the best tool for the job. And right now, the job is mak­ing films.

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