Canon 5D MK III vs Nikon D610 Comparison Series

04 May 2014

Introduction and the Nikon Nikkor 14-24mm vs Canon 16-35mm L II

This year we have some new photography kit so we decided to undertake some comparisons between the cameras and lenses. These tests are not necessarily between Canon and Nikon kit that is designed to compete by the manufacturers however we still felt that the tests were interesting to carry out.

The kit on test is:

This first set of tests attempted to benchmark this kit in optimal conditions. The cameras were tripod mounted, approximately 50cm away from each other, in bright conditions. For metering we opted to use identical settings on both cameras. We’ve kept ISO 100 at all  times and matched shutter speed, aperture, focal length and trigger time for each shot, although the triggering was manual so there was some room for error. All photos were taken in uncompressed RAWs and compared without modification in Lightroom 5 using entirely default settings and the cameras' automatic white balance settings. Autofocus was left on at all times, using single focus points in the center of the shot.

Test photo in full

In each test we started on f8 as a generic ‘optimal’ aperture, then compared that with the widest available aperture to both lenses and f22.

Wide angle lens comparison at 16mm

The first test pitched the 14-24mm Nikkor against the 16-35mm Canon at 24mm and 16mm, and f2.8, f8 and f22. These lenses are direct competitors between Canon and Nikon, though of course the cameras are not intended as direct market competitors.

In each of these comparisons the Nikon D610 is on the left and the Canon 5D mk iii image is on the right.

At f8 there is little to choose between the images, however the Nikon (left) appears to capture slightly less light in like for like exposures. We will investigate this particular trend in a later test. As a rule the slightly darker images do look a little better and the unadjusted photos look a little better off the Nikon.

Nikon Nikor 14-24mm vs Canon 16-35mm. 16mm at f8

At f2.8 the Nikon (left) showed notable degradation as compared with the Canon. The sharpness on the Canon was comparable to its performance at f8 but the Nikon had lost a lot of detail. The changes were pronounced enough that we want to retest this controlling for any focus issues that may have arisen.

Nikon Nikor 14-24mm vs Canon 16-35mm. 16mm at f2.8

At f22 the images are hard to tell apart. The sharpness is excellent throughout both images, indeed at this aperture the lenses appear to be very close to the performance at f8. Again the Nikon (left) is slightly darker and fractionally sharper.

Nikon Nikor 14-24mm vs Canon 16-35mm. 16mm at f22

Wide angle lens comparison at 24mm

At f8 the images were again very close. The theme of the Canon (right) being a little lighter than the Nikon D610 continue. Overall there’s nearly nothing to choose between them.

Nikon Nikor 14-24mm vs Canon 16-35mm. 24mm at f8

At f2.8 the it was the Canon’s turn to show noticeably worse results (right). We aim to run further tests with these lenses at f2.8 to see if these results are reproducible.

Nikon Nikor 14-24mm vs Canon 16-35mm. 24mm at f8

Finally at f22 we return to form with the two cameras producing sharp results. In both of these tests we were impressed with the lens’ performance at f22 with them barely degrading at all from their performance at f8. Close analysis with the full resolution images gave us the impression that the Nikon (left) is slightly sharper in these shots.

Nikon Nikor 14-24mm vs Canon 16-35mm. 24mm at f22


The two lenses gave equitable results in most areas except for at f2.8 where the degradation requires further tests. The Nikon appears to capture slightly darker images at like for like exposures and in the scene we were capturing resulted in nicer colours, particularly in the lake. At the most fine grained level the two cameras and lenses showed near identical results.

Next time:

Our next tests cover our general purpose kit / zoom lenses.


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