[Video] Canon 5DM3, 5DM2, and Nikon D800 Low-Light Video Test

Who's got who beat is a big deal for those who are debating where to put their next $3000 -- and rightly so. So if you're interested in shooting video on any of the newest and hotly debated DSLRs out there, check out this low-light, high-ISO video test. The winner is crystal clear -- literally.

SPOILER ALERT: So if that 5D Mark III doesn't impress you, I don't know what will.

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Both cameras should have the same exposure (brightness) of video at any ISO (when both set to the same iso of course) !!! The difference should be only noise. I am a canon user and canon fan but I don´t like that when one side or the other is cheating in tests. Maybe Nikon is really not that good as Canon but this test doesn´t show reality. And why the hell he turned off noise reduction on Nikon? And nobody know if there was no post-proccesing after.

Thanks for iso comparison.
Right now I'm fighting  to get a clean sound with my 5dm2k.
I've tried several external mics, but it seems, that there is always too much hiss noice when recording directly to the camera.
When using the same mics on my Zoom H4, I have much less noise.
I would love to see a thorough test of the noise in Canon 5d mk2 when recording sound.IS it possible to get an acceptable noise level recording directly to the camera?

My Nikon D7000 doesn't even get that much noise in the high ISO unless processed that way, or NR is off...This test is biased to Canon, no way it's legit...

No way in hell would the ranges would be that different. Someone take it upon themselves to film a proper test that isn't biased to Canon please? Thanks. 

Jens Marklund's picture

Anyone else fell in love?

if you watch carefully those videos are different. with dark background in canon version and light in nikon's.
you can't take it serious.

Exactly...This test is a total joke. 

troy's picture

Your right, the Nikon would look even worse with the dark background because this is where the noise shows most. 

Are Canon paying you guys for this? The Nikon D800 kicks the Canon's ass in low light.

We're actually sponsored simultaneously by both Nikon and Canon. 

Christopher Hoffmann's picture

 That was a joke post, right????   :)

Moose's picture

I don't shoot much video so sorry if this is a n00b question, but....why was the D800 noticeably brighter at each ISO?  Was the D800 set to 1/50 while the 5Ds at 1/60th or something like that? 

Michael Tapp's picture

The dynamic range of the 5DM3 is impressive too.

Why is the color balance different between the 5DM2 & the 5DM3? Did they use different picture profiles.

Why is everyone surprised at this? I am Nikon guy and I fully expected the D800 to get smoked by the 5D3 when it came to video. What makes the D800 so good for stills also makes it pretty horrible for video. The D800 is having to bin huge amounts of pixels to get down to 1080p where as the 5D3 is not only binning less pixels but also has larger pixels in its cmos sensenor. In terms of video the D800 is basically a D7000 due to the pixel destiny being almost the same and having to bin pixels to get to 1080. On a similar note if you are shooting on the 1080 crop mode offered in the D4 I am pretty sure that would smoke the 5d3 and the D800. In this mode you are not binning pixels and you are able to make use of the larger pixels found in the D4 sensor. 

Christopher Hoffmann's picture

 A test I'd love to see...

Michael Kormos's picture

Stanley Kubrick would've just used a f/0.7 lens instead for candle-lit scenes like these :-)

i shoot video at iso 2500 or even 5000 a lot on my mk3.. in most situations, iso 5000 looks pretty damn good blown up full-screen on my computer monitor.  best low-light camera i've ever owned.  this also gives me more flexibility when choosing my f-stop.  in certain conditions, i'm very comfortable putting my iso at 2500, and shooting with a slower zoom lens, whereas before i would have had to put on a prime lens, opened up, and shot at a lower iso.. love this camera

thats all fine a dandy but it seems to me that with the nikon you only need be at iso 600 and the lighting is perfect. with the cannon you need to boost it to 10,000 before you get the lighting to be sufficient. so if the nikon looks great at 600 where the cannon needts to be at 10,000 i dont see to big of problem

I have done my own testings last week, D800 and 5DmkIII. And a light meter, Sekonic L308-S.
Just to test the real ISO on each body. Both 50mmf/1,4 at 5,6. Speed was the only variation.
Interesting results - (DXO will have to explain how they do their own testings...)
The D800 proved to fare between a third or a half of a stop under the real ISO value (1600 displayed = 1000/1250 real ISO)
The 5Dmk3 was between ONE and 1,3 stop under... How can it be ? Is Canon cheating ? 
This video test could prove something : ISO 800 is as bright on the Nikon as ISO 1600 on the Canon. 
Exactly what my own testing (on stills though) showed. We even changed lenses several times to exclude lens variability. Same thing. 
So... My conclusion is... Whatever ! I don't give a damn about brands or numbers. Both are incredible cameras - If I were rich, I'd get the Canon for video, the Nikon for stills, the Canon's AF & body and the Nikon's ergonomics. 
OK.... Back to my Holga now.

wow.... I am super proud of my 5D mkII!!!!! dangit.... never tried it at so high ISOs before... going to now!!!

DnN Photography's picture

This video proves that I'd rather just keep my 5DII

Have a close look at the high ISO's...see how the sharpness seem to drop on the Canons as the ISO is increased and the Nikon stay sharp? That is a clear indication that noise reduction is active on the Canons.

Impressive! I so want a 5DM3. But the D800 is impressive in it's own right. Still a hard choice.

Ken Yee's picture

I agree w/ the comments on Vimeo...Looks like the D800 exposed for her face while the 5D exposed for the candle, so it's a flawed comparison already.
That said, the D800 looks good only up to about ISO3200...how high do you really need to shoot in dim conditions (worst you've encountered)?  Is ISO3200 enough like it is for still photography?

I think the Nikon can do better :d

Pixyst's picture

While I don't know the parameters for this test, I can only make assumptions. I am amazed at the kinds of conclusions some people here arrive at based on the evidence that appears to have been presented. 

I assume that the illumination of the scene has been kept constant throughout the test (as that is the only condition under which it makes any sense). There would appear to be some discrepancy between both Nikon's and Canon's definition of ISO (at least as it relates to video) if the subtext is to be believed.  

Looking at the images, the Nikon shows enough brightness in the scene to render the colors clearly from ISO 1000, while the Canons need to be at ISO 2500 before we can get equivalent color/brightness. The only logical conclusion is that these two ratings on the respective cameras are equivalent. If ISO 1000 on a Nikon D800 renders a brighter clearer scene than ISO 2500 on a Canon 5D MkIII, does it require an advanced degree in rocket science to figure out which machine is outperforming the other?

Wow...and I thought I was an amateur. What's the goal of such a test? The light sensitivities are obviously not the same. Whatever...

Am I the only one who has an issue with the method of testing here?
Why not expose for a gray card (proper exposure) for all the ISO settings.
In the first few, the picture is so dark that you can't see anything.
On the higher ISO's it's over exposed.

D800 seems incredibly noisy while it seems to be one stop more sensitive than Canon's settings.
And as Patrick mentioned earlier, use Nikon to get the best out of your models!
Canon makes them bored out of their minds! ;)

To be exact, D800 exposure is more or less the proper at ISO 3200.
5D mk2 exposes properly at ISO 5000and Mk3 at ISO 6400.

All I can see is that the Nikon girl smiles more.

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