Nikon D800e vs Canon 5dmkii Landscape Photography Comparison [UPDATED]

canon 5d mark2 v nikon D800e landscape photography comparison test

Which is better for landscape photography – the Nikon D800e or the Canon 5dmkii?  Thinking of upgrading from the Canon 5dmkii to the Nikon D800e?  Who knows?  Hopefully I will have the answers for you by the end of this test shoot! 

UPDATED 25 JULY: NOW WITH DYNAMIC RANGE COMPARISONS

[UPDATE BEGINS] When I first wrote this review I figured that the big story between the Canon 5d markii and the Nikon D800e was the headline grabbing resolution shootout.  Well, the resolution battle was indeed interesting, but not quite as blood-spattered and gory as I was hoping to be honest.  The D800e certainly out resolves the 5dii but it only matters once huge enlargements are made (important to me).

After shooting with the Nikon D800e for a while it became starkly apparent that it’s most usable great leap forward for landscape photography was actually it’s dynamic range performance.  The D800e is so good in this respect that I actually found myself penning (on my keyboard? :) another article entitled Are ND Filters Dead? – where I revealed the Nikon D800’s almost disconcerting ability to create terrific looking landscape images out of RAW files that would be little more than train-wreckage on other DSLR camera bodies. 

However, I am well aware that a placebo effect kicks in with new cameras – you find results that verify your preconceptions.  Maybe my trusty Canon 5d mkii would have been equally capable of rescuing highlights and opening up shadows as the D800. I decided, once again, to channel my newly discovered testing nerd personality and pit the Nikon D800e vs the Canon 5dmkii in a dynamic range fight club – here’s what I found:

Test Details: Both cameras were shot on aperture priority -1EV and they selected identical shooting settings of f/8, 1/250th @ ISO 100.  I then ran both RAW files through Lightroom 4 at identical synced settings – shadows +100 and exposure +.85.  I tested the shadow performance rather than highlight recovery, because I tend to actively avoid clipping highlights when photographing. I prefer blocked out shadows to blown highlights.

This is what we got with the Nikon D800e (another stunning test shot :-) :

Nikon D800e Dynamic Range Shadows Test.
Left Image: -1EV exposure compensation from camera.
Right Image: After +0.85 Exposure and +100 Shadows slider in Adobe Lightroom 4

And this is the Canon 5d mkii:

Canon 5d Markii Dynamic Range Shadows Test.
Left Image: -1EV exposure compensation from camera.
Right Image: After +0.85 Exposure and +100 Shadows slider in Adobe Lightroom 4

Look about the same to you?

Well take a gander at this 100% crop from the two cameras side by side (Canon 5d mkii on left and Nikon D800e on right)

100% Detail Comparison

Dynamic Range Shadows Test 100% Detail Comparison.
Left Image: -Canon 5d mkii after lightroom adjustments
Right Image: Nikon D800e after Adobe Lightroom 4 adjustments.

Now I remember why I never felt inclined to toss away my Singh Ray ND grad filters while I was shooting with the Canon 5d markii (or any other Nikon DSLR for that matter).  Compare the dark fence rails –  crazy colour noise and criss-cross patterns emerge on the Canon while the D800e looks like it could be pumped up another stop or two.  Wood patterns emerge from the murk on the D800 that are almost destroyed by colour noise on the Canon.

Compare the midtones on the leaves – the same story repeats itself.  Once again, it is not that the Canon 5d mkii is doing a bad job (noise reduction would tidy this up a bit) – it is that the D800e is doing a freakishly good job.  Not only does the Nikon D800/e deliver a significant bump in resolution it does so while re-writing the DSLR book on noise control and Dynamic Range – I didn’t think that pixels crammed this close together could do this.

For what it matters I personally proclaim the Nikon D800 to be the world’s best (and best value) landscape photography DSLR.  

[UPDATE ENDS]

Please take the time to read the rest of this report and view the image quality and resolution comparisons.

VIEW THE IMAGE QUALITY COMPARISONS>>>>>

READ: ARE ND FILTERS DEAD – D800 DYNAMIC RANGE LANDSCAPE EXAMPLES>>>

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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRii User Review – On Nikon D800e

Image

OK, I have been remiss.

After all my grizzling and whining about the delayed arrival of the Nikon D800e I have yet to post my impressions of the beast after owning it for about 6 weeks.

Let’s just say that the D800e is a whole new world of photographic goodness – I have just finished some side by side print tests with the Canon 5dmkii tonight and it is in a whole different league once you start making up-rezzed prints. More on that later this week.

I have started writing a comprehensive review of the D800e and as part of that process I have ended up testing some of our new lenses.

First out of the block is the stunning Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VRii. I have reviewed it from a landscape photography perspective and I am happy with the way it has turned out – I hope you enjoy it too – if so please share it about.

Cheers – Todd

My Wave – Looking For Creative Options When Photographing Nature

Abstract Wave Image Moeraki Beach, Otago New Zealand

Abstract Wave Image Moeraki Beach, Otago New Zealand

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON GOOGLE+

I don’t usually give away photo advice – nobody seems to ask for it – and I don’t know if I can articulate the advice that I want to give. Photography for me is a mindset combined with some craft – it is golf with a camera.

At the recent Queenstown Photowalk #qtphotowalk +Scott Kennedy remarked to me that if 25 people are pointing their cameras one way – he will be pointing his the other.

I consider this to be great creative advice, although I apply it metaphorically, rather than literally.

I think that there is a lot to be learned by shooting the really popular photographic scenes – they are a fantastic creative benchmark.

Once you find that you can shoot the big popular scenes as well as your photographic heroes have (euphemistically called emulation – it is actually copying) it is time to move on with your skill set.

After a while you will actually find yourself copying yourself – that gets quite de-motivating. That’s when it is time to :

  • Look within the scene
  • Look behind the scene
  • Twist the scene
  • Mess with the scene
  • Walk away from the scene
  • Find a new scene

The real lesson is to not follow the herd.

This image was made pre-Christmas. I was tired and on a sales trip and my day had ended at the incredibly photogenic Moeraki Boulders http://bit.ly/xEDumk.

I was feeling completely demotivated towards re-shooting the boulders so I drove 2 minutes down the road to another beach and spent an inspirational hour taking nothing but shots of dark waves and dark clouds. It was awesome.

Enjoy.

Cheers – Todd

PS
+Chase Jarvis writes fantastic posts on his blog about creativity – as most of you will be well aware. If not put him in your reading list.

Sunrise Portobello Harbour - Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand

Room A Thousand Years Wide

Sunrise Portobello Harbour - Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand

Sunrise Over Portobello Village - Otago Peninsula, New Zealand

This image was made just down the road from my old crib in Broad Bay on the Otago Peninsula.

I was going to entitle this post Cellulite Skies but for some reason the Soundgarden song title seemed more inspired :-)

Nikon D2x 

Nikkor 12-24mm

Singh-ray 3 stop grad

Polariser.

These days I would probably dispense with the grad filter and blend a couple of exposures in a situation such as this where the ridgelines are so complex and the range of tonality so deep.

Enjoy!

Cheers – Todd

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How To Photograph Reflections in Nature – Part 1 – ‘Get Down & Dirty’

This gallery contains 2 photos.

How To Photograph Reflections in Nature – Part 1 – ‘Get Down & Dirty’ This is part one of a series of tips on how to make visually stunning photos of reflections in your nature photography.  It is a follow … Continue reading

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The Power Of Reflection

This gallery contains 2 photos.

This is not another of my ‘psycho-babble’ photographic-mindset posts dedicated to the virtues of navel gazing and cosmic contemplation.  It is instead a quick discussion of the power of a reflection in landscape photography. The idea for this post came … Continue reading