Nikon faced some backlash following the announcement of its D800 DSLR, due both to the camera's potentially excessive 36.3-megapixel resolution and its relatively limited top sensitivity of ISO 25,600. Then, less than one month later, Canon revealed its own mid-range full-frame cam -- the 5D Mark III -- with a 22.3-megapixel sensor, and an option to shoot at ISO 102,400. Both models appeal to the same market of professional photographers, but with vastly different specs, which is the better pick? Low-light shooters will likely base part of that decision on high-ISO capabilities, and after reviewing samples from both cameras, there appears to be a winner.
DPReview spent some time with the D800, and we took the Canon for a spin last week. We scaled the D800 sample down to 22.3 megapixels to match the 5D, then pasted a 300-by-400 1:1 pixel section from each camera side-by-side in the image above. The D800 JPEG (on the left) appears to be the noisier of the two, which seems logical, considering that Nikon opted to boost the camera's resolution instead of its sensitivity. Still, the cam's top-ISO is quite usable, and if you plan to shoot in a studio setting or can live without a six-digit sensitivity, the D800 will likely suit you just fine. Hit up our source link for samples shot at the full ISO range, including full-res downloads, to make that call for yourself.
Update: We've replaced the Canon sample with a studio shot from DPReview, which provides a more accurate comparison. You can find images from both cameras at our source links below.