• 35mm 861.6mm2
  • 36.3 megapixels
  • ISO 64 - 12,800
  • 35mm 864.0mm2
  • 30.4 megapixels
  • ISO 100 - 32,000

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Comparison Review

In the Nikon and Canon worlds, the D810 and 5D Mark IV occupy the same space: high-megapixel, technically advanced full-frame cameras for enthusiasts and professionals alike. The Canon 5D Mark IV is significantly more expensive than the Nikon D810, however, this is explained in part because Canon's model offers newer features and is a much more recent camera than Nikon's offering.

Design

Both cameras offer a similarly-sized shooting platform, with both cameras weighing about two pounds. The Nikon D810 is just slightly larger and weighs slightly more -- 34.9 ounces compared to the 31.4 ounces of the 5D Mark IV. The LCD screens of both cameras are 3.2" diagonally and both cameras' screen are fixed in place -- no tilt or articulating design -- but the 5D Mark IV offers a better experience, with touchscreen functionality and a screen that also has 75% more pixels than that of the D810.

Without delving too deeply, both cameras offer a wide array of controls. These are advanced cameras, and the photographer is expected to be aware of the implications of how each setting is used. The Canon 5D Mark IV does include an "automatic" operation, which could be useful if you were to ask someone unfamiliar with the camera to use it. The Nikon D810 offers no such feature.

Both cameras offer a variety of connectivity options for transferring data, video and audio: USB-3 is the data transfer standard, and both offer HDMI video out in the form of a type C mini-HDMI port. The Nikon D810 offers a 10-pin expansion terminal for various accessories while the Canon does not; the Canon 5D Mark IV offers wireless, NFC and built-in GPS.

The Nikon D810 includes a built-in pop-up flash with a guide number of 12; the Canon 5D Mark IV has none. The flash sync speed of the Nikon D810 is 1/250s, while for the Canon 5D Mark IV,it's 1/200s.

Both cameras offer dual memory card slots, being able to accept a CompactFlash card (up to UDMA7) and an SD card (up to UHS-I).

Shooting performance

The resolution of the Nikon D810 is slightly higher, at 36.2 megapixels, offering a maximum image size of 7360 x 4912 pixels. The sensor of the Canon 5D Mark IV is 30.1 megapixels, creating a maximum image size of 6720 x 4480 pixels. Despite the fact that the Nikon sensor packs more pixels into the same surface area (36mm x 24mm), according to DxO it is able to capture a greater dynamic range when compared to the Canon sensor (14.8 stops, compared to 13.6 stops). In the same testing, the Canon sensor has a slightly greater maximum effective ISO score when compared to the Nikon (2995 vs 2893 ISO).

In terms of raw shooting power, the Canon 5D Mark IV can shoot faster, at 7 frames per second compared to the 5 frames per second of the Nikon D810. When shooting in the JPEG format, the Canon 5D Mark IV can shoot until the cows come home, with the buffer clearing faster than the images can be shot. With the Nikon D810, you can shoot 57 images before the camera will lag behind its ability to write the images to the memory card. It's a slightly different story when shooting RAW; the Nikon D810 can shoot 23 images in RAW before needing to pause to write out the buffer; the Canon 5D Mark IV can shoot 19. And when shooting in 5D IV's new Dual Pixel RAW mode, the buffer can only shoot 7 images before needing to be written out.

The 5D Mark IV offers a much more advanced autofocus system than the D810. In the 5D Mark IV, there are 61 autofocus sensors, 41 of which are the cross-type sensor; in the Nikon D810, there are 51 autofocus points, but only 15 are cross-type. In addition, Canon has innovated in its autofocus technology by providing dual-pixel CMOS autofocus, essentially providing phase-detect style autofocus while in live-view. By contrast, the Nikon D810 is still using comparatively antiquated contrast detection autofocus technology while in live view, which results in slower AF in live view.

Between the two cameras, the Nikon D810 offers more shots per battery charge. Under standardized CIPA testing, the Canon 5D Mark IV can manage approximately 900 shots on a fully-charged battery, compared to a much greater 1,200 shots with the fully-charged Nikon D810; when using live view, the Canon 5D Mark IV offers only 300 shots (the Nikon D810 wasn't tested to get a comparable result).

Image Quality

Nikon has elected to go without an Optical Low-Pass Filter on the D810, which has been used traditionally to soften the image slightly and reduce the incidence of moiré. The tradeoff is to produce sharper images, especially when the camera is used at its lower ISO settings. As ISO is increased, this sharpness is hampered by increased noise, so generally, this advantage is only present when you use an ISO speed less than ISO 1,600.

Otherwise, both cameras can capture excellent images with many options for fine-tuning contrast, saturation and hue.

Here's a summary of the file sizes produced by the cameras:

Nikon D810 Canon 5D Mark IV
Uncompressed 14-bit RAW
73.2 MB
RAW
36.8 MB
Uncompressed 12-bit RAW
55.9 MB
Dual Pixel RAW
66.9 MB
Uncompressed 12-bit sRAW
27.8 MB
mRAW
27.7 MB
Compressed 12-bit RAW
29.2 MB
sRAW
18.9 MB

 

At this point, the Canon 5D Mark IV begins to show how much newer it is than the Nikon D810, offering a Dual Pixel RAW mode that allows the photographer to do some intriguing post-processing work, at the expense of essentially combining two photographs into one and hence doubling the file size of the image.

Features

Of the two cameras, the Canon 5D Mark IV offers better options for connectivity, including NFC (near field communication) and Wi-Fi connections. The Nikon D810 offers only a wired USB connection, unless you add the optional UT-1 communications unit and the WT-5A wireless adapter. If getting your photos off your camera without a wire is important to you, the 5D Mark IV is the obvious choice in this regard. The 5D Mark IV also offers an integrated GPS; with the Nikon D810, you can capture GPS data with every shot, but you'll need a separate GPS attachment.

Both cameras can shoot Full HD video at up to 60 frames per second, and both are limited to a maximum shooting time of 29 minutes and 59 seconds. Canon's 5D series achieved and maintains a popularity as an excellent video shooter, and the 5D Mark IV maintains this technical superiority over the Nikon D810 with its inclusion 4K video at up to 30 frames per second and faster live view autofocus. However, the codec used to create this 4K video is Motion-JPEG, which will result in huge file sizes (it encodes at 500 Mbits/second).

Both cameras use the PCM codec to encode audio during movie capture, can accept external microphones, and offer a headphone jack to monitor audio.

Conclusion

The Nikon D810 is slightly less expensive at this point in the product cycle, and is the iterative result of a tried-and-true shooting platform since the initial design (the D800) launched in 2012. The D810 was released two years later, and is overdue for a replacement, especially when you consider the comparative advancements by Canon.

The Canon 5D Mark IV is the fourth iteration in the 5D series, beginning first as Canon's high-megapixel camera, and achieving prominence as the indie movie shooter's favorite camera in the form of the 5D Mark II. The Mark III and IV models have continuously improved in this area, and the camera as a whole has become the showcase model for Canon's latest technology.

Both the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Nikon D810 are extremely capable cameras, offering a wide array of features that will allow any photographer to customize their shooting experience to their liking. If you are looking for a DSLR to shoot 4K video, the Canon is the current leader in this area; for shooting stills, the Nikon produces slightly better and larger images.

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Differences

Nikon D810 advantages over Canon 5D Mark IV

  • Less expensive
    $3297 vs $3949
    Save money for lenses or accessories
  • Longer stills battery life
    More info 1200 vs 900 shots
    Capture more photos
  • Internal flash
    Internal flash vs None
    Useful in a pinch for fill flash
  • More pixels
    36.3 vs 30.4 megapixels
    Higher resolution photos
  • Lacks anti-aliasing filter
    No Filter vs Filter
    Enjoy sharper photos

Canon 5D Mark IV advantages over Nikon D810

  • Shoot 4K video
    4K (DCI) vs 1080p
    Make sure you have a fast computer
  • Touchscreen
    Touch vs No touch
    Interact with your camera just like your smartphone
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
    Wi-Fi vs None
    Share your photos wirelessly
  • NFC
    Yes vs No
    Simplifies pairing your camera with supported phones
  • Built-in GPS
    GPS vs None
    Geotag your photos
  • On-sensor phase detect
    Yes vs No
    Usually improves live view and video AF performance
  • More cross-type AF points
    41 vs 15
    Cross-type AF points improve autofocus performance
  • Newer
    14 months vs 3 years old
    Newer cameras often support more advanced features
  • Higher-res screen
    540k vs 307k pixels
    More detail on the screen lets you judge focus and composition
  • Has anti-aliasing filter
    Filter vs No Filter
    Reduces unsightly moiré in photos
  • Faster JPEG shooting
    7.0 fps vs 5.1 fps
    Faster JPEG shooting (burst mode)
  • Bigger JPEG buffer
    Unlimited vs 57 shots
    Take more JPEG shots before waiting (burst mode)
  • Faster RAW shooting
    7.0 fps vs 5.1 fps
    Faster RAW shooting in burst mode
  • Slow-motion videos
    Yes vs No
    Shoot slow-motion videos
  • Higher extended ISO
    102400 vs 51200 ISO
    Higher extended ISO can give more low-light flexibility

Similarities

Common Strengths

  • Eye-level viewfinder
    Both provide
    You'll be able to frame photos even when the sun is out
  • Top deck display
    Both provide
    Check settings with a screen on top of the camera
  • External Mic Jack
    Both provide
    Improved sound fidelity when shooting video
  • Pentaprism viewfinder
    Both provide
    Much better viewfinder picture fidelity
  • HDMI out
    Both provide
    Use an external screen to monitor or review video
  • Hot shoe
    Both provide
    Off-camera flashes open new possibilities
  • Dual card slots
    Both provide
    Gives you more storage flexibility
  • Headphone jack
    Both provide
    Monitor audio recording while you shoot video
  • Bulb shutter
    Both provide
    Hold the shutter open manually for long exposures

Common Weaknesses

  • Focus peaking
    Neither provide
    Your camera will highlight what's in focus
  • Tilt-swivel screen
    Neither provide
    Tilt and swivel the screen for maximum shooting flexibility
  • In-Camera Image Stabilization
    Neither provide
    Reduces the effects of camera shake at slower shutter speeds
  • In-camera panoramas
    Neither provide
    Stitches multiple shots into a panoramic photo
  • Tiltable Screen
    Neither provide
    Tilt the screen for shooting flexbility
  • Built-in Bluetooth
    Neither provide
    Always-on wireless connectivity

User reviews

The Competition

Compared to Canon 5D Mark III

Nikon D810
Canon 5D Mark III
  • $2797
  • 35mm
  • Higher effective ISO
  • More dynamic range
  • $2899
  • 35mm
  • Bigger pixels
  • More cross-type AF points
Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5D Mark III
  • $3199
  • 35mm
  • Shoot 4K video
  • Touchscreen
  • $2899
  • 35mm
  • Less expensive
  • Bigger pixels

Compared to Sony A99

Nikon D810
Sony A99
  • $2797
  • 35mm
  • Lens selection
  • Fast startup
  • $1998
  • 35mm
  • Less expensive
  • Tilt-swivel screen
Canon 5D Mark IV
Sony A99
  • $3199
  • 35mm
  • Lens selection
  • Shoot 4K video
  • $1998
  • 35mm
  • Focus peaking
  • Less expensive

Compared to Canon 5DS

Nikon D810
Canon 5DS
  • $2797
  • 35mm
  • Bigger pixels
  • Higher effective ISO
  • $3499
  • 35mm
  • More cross-type AF points
  • More pixels
Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS
  • $3199
  • 35mm
  • Bigger pixels
  • Shoot 4K video
  • $3499
  • 35mm
  • More pixels

Compared to Canon 5DS R

Nikon D810
Canon 5DS R
  • $2797
  • 35mm
  • Bigger pixels
  • Higher effective ISO
  • $3699
  • 35mm
  • More cross-type AF points
  • More pixels
Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS R
  • $3199
  • 35mm
  • Bigger pixels
  • Shoot 4K video
  • $3699
  • 35mm
  • More pixels
  • Lacks anti-aliasing filter

Compared to Pentax K-1

Nikon D810
Pentax K-1
  • $2797
  • 35mm
  • Fast startup
  • Longer stills battery life
  • $1897
  • 35mm
  • Less expensive
  • Focus peaking
Canon 5D Mark IV
Pentax K-1
  • $3199
  • 35mm
  • Shoot 4K video
  • Touchscreen
  • $1897
  • 35mm
  • Less expensive
  • Focus peaking

Review Excerpt

  • Handles even better than its predecessors; Absolutely spectacular images from the 36-megapixel image sensor; Unusually wide sensitivity range for its resolution; Improved performance and buffer depths; Improved video feature set; Impressive low-light autofocus

  • Prone to moire and false color with some subjects; No longer available with a low-pass filter; Demands excellent lenses for the best detail; White balance tends warm under tungsten lighting

  • Superb image quality from RAW files; Improved dynamic range; Excellent high ISO performance; Fast 7fps burst rate with unlimited JPEG buffer; High-quality cinema 4K video; Built-in Wi-Fi; Dual Pixel CMOS AF is very good.

  • JPEG files look soft at default settings; 1/200s flash sync; 4K video codec is cumbersome; 29:59 continuous video recording limit.

Nikon D810 vs Canon 5D Mark IV Discussion

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