4K Galaxy NOTE 3 V.S. Canon 5D Mark III – Video Comparison

Photographer and videographer Alec Weinstein (from marsmining) was in the market for a new smartphone. He realized that the new Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Note 3 both have 4K video recording capabilities and decided to compare those to his 1080p 5D MKIII pro DSLR – the results are extremely interesting.

What is better – an almost $4000 pro camera (and lens) or a $550 Samsung Galaxy Note III smartphone – when it comes to shooting high res video?

The almost obvious answer would be the Canon – well, after watching this video we are not 100% sure any more. Here are a few notes we have after watching this video (make sure you try and find out which image was taken with what camera – and why do you think that before reading further):

  • You can definitely see the difference in resolution between both cameras – even when not watching it on a 4K screen and in 100% magnification (there are simply more details and the image is sharper on the Samsung).
  • The Samsung small sensor can’t really keep up with dynamic range of the 5D MKIII – you can see it in the highlights in several examples.
  • There is way shallower depth of field in the 5D MKIII (although these examples where made so you are less likely to notice that – we did anyway – and you should too).
  • Non of these examples are in low light or difficult lighting conditions – if they were – the Samsung would probably fail – big time (again small sensor can’t keep up with a Full Frame one).

At the end of the day this is more of an eye opener for us about 4K (and maybe for you as well) – even one shot on a “simple” cameraphone. We have seen video samples coming from the 4K Panasonic GH4 and it looks amazing – but it was a highly edited video and it was not compared to anything.

Do keep in mind that even if you buy a 4K camera now – editing your material is still a serious pain. You will need a very (very) powerful computer to do this (our 4 core computer takes its time encoding 1080p so we don’t even want to think what will happen with 4K video). And most people don’t have screens that support 4K playback so its more of an investment into the future – but its still nice to see what is waiting for us.

More guides and comparisons of photographic gear can be found on our photography gear guides – here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of LensVid.com. He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.


  1. OMG, What an absolutely asinine comparison. The guy put a cheap ass
    lens on the Mark III. First buy a good Canon L lens and learn to use a

    1. Bro, are you serious? A “cheap ass” lens still outperforms an even worse and cheaper lens on a cell phone camera. A “cheap ass” lens works just fine in 99% of cases, and 99% of the viewers of your images/videos wouldn’t be able to tell or notice the difference between it and an L lens unless explicitly told.

      1. Actually if you read and have used a DSLR before, you know that a cheap DSLR and an expensive lens = great results. The opposite is not true. Crappy lenses are crappy and have lots of issues not only including distortion.

  2. Bro, your video/article isn’t even credible because of such a lack of knowledge you display. You say, and I quote, “There is way more depth of field in the 5D MKIII”. Bro, I’m pretty sure anyone who has every touched a DSLR knows that in comparative scenes with the same relative aperture, the 5D3 would have LESS depth of field, and therefore, a shallower area of focus, than a cell phone because of the vast difference in size (the 5d3’s sensor is much larger, hence, a smaller depth of field).

    I could go on about the other problems in the video, but I think most viewers will at least have some knowledge of sensors/cameras/photography/videography and be able to notice the errors. I’ll just go ahead and point another one out. You saying that the 5D3 is near the end of its usable lifeline is laughable. There are still a large number of years before 4K is so widely adopted that 1080p is today’s 480p. Until that day occurs, and it is quite a number of years before it will happen, the 5D3 is very capable, especially when you consider the better dynamic range, the better low light performance, and the shallower depth of field that it can produce (even though somehow you mind-boggingly stated that it was larger).

    1. We of course meant shallower DOF (we fixed that). The video was not done by us but by Alec Weinstein – all complaints about lack of focus etc. should be aimed at him.

      We believe that a lot of people completely missed the point here – what you see in the video is the fact that 4K – even on a very tiny sensor with a cheap lens can give you more details than a 1080p $3k camera with a half decent lens. Even more interesting – you do not need a 4K display to see that or even 100% magnification – its pretty clear as it is (and even if the effect will be less obvious with a better lens/sharper focus on the 5D MKIII – it seems to still be the case). To us this seems interesting enough to publish here – and it seems that quite a few people agree (this has so far been the most popular video in the past 30 days on the site).

  3. VK and Whoopsie have completely missed the point. It’s a bloody cellphone!
    It’s amazing – considering.

    1. The thing is that It’s camcorder level stuff, nothing you’d need the larger sensor of the 5dIII for, if he were doing anything in low light or creative at longer focal lengths/closer to subject, we’d have unfortunately been able to see the difference immediately and there’d have been no article. The lack of sharpness seen in the 5d’s shots, which are downsampled from 22mp, suggests to me that either he’s stopped right down and diffraction has started to impact on the image, or that the focus is just plain wrong in most of the shots.I suspect that my <£200 phone would produce sharper results from its 720p output than his 5d did.

  4. The 5D MKIII either isn’t focused properly or its being used at >F16 and is suffering from diffraction

  5. Pingback: ETCentric
  6. Sorry, but unless I can download the final post-processed files I can’t take this test seriously. YouTube compresses and process the hell out of the videos. That’s why many pro shooters use Vimeo, which doesn’t compress much and also allows others to download the original and the compressed videos.

    Can I download it anywhere?

  7. I’m sort of stunned, ignoring the 4k image I do not believe that a top end professional camera could create such soft photos. 4K has a place when the image is truly huge (massive TV’s 42″+, LCD/DLP projectors), and as a big movie fan I’ll be moving into it when the price is right and 100+Gb blu-rays are available.

    But at 1080P today I can see a lot more detail on the average movie then was displayed on these Canon pictures, is the 5D really that bad?

    I have to keep looking at the images again, they really are very poor, I would expect better from my Lumia 900 with its generic 8MP camera, and that has a fairly mediocre camera by todays standards (the optics are decent at least, but the aging Nikon I brought off a friend blows it away, as it should do).

    But for the images from the note 3 on their own, they are very good. The one way I could pick the phone out though was in the shaking, I guess the Note 3 does not have any IOS, so in low light (indoors especially) the images are going to be very poor, which is where a casual camera is most likely to be used (at least for me, from experience I could have had a lot more good photo’s if I could either manage my Nikon light levels better (my fault!) or had IOS to help me 😉 ).

  8. Facts are facts and to the people who will be viewing a final image or video they do not care if it was a Canon5DMarkIII or a Samsung Note 3 phone. They only see what they see.

    I own a Canon 7D, and a 5DMarkIII and there is no doubt even with a stellar set up on both my Note 3 crushed doing the same test as what was done in that video using both cameras and shooting video.

    That’s how I found this topic after doing a search because I was so blown away by footage I shot prior to my own test and wanted to see a Note 3 vs Canon 7D & 5DMark III, and I filmed in 1080p with the Note 3, not 4k for my original project prior to my own 4k test.

    Amazing phone. Great article, awesome video, and much butthurt from 5dMarkIII owners who are denial lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *