Magic Lantern’s 5DmkIII Raw Hack – A Few Things To Consider

Canon 5dmkiii Continuous Raw

Incase you didn't hear the Canon EOS 5D Mark III has been hacked by those guys over at Magic Lantern to shoot Continuous Raw Video. 

This is very exciting news. The 5Dmkiii is now just as big of a game changer as the mkii was. Or is it?

A Few Things To Consider

Shooting raw 14-bit video straight to a CF card is going to be very awesome in many ways. It's also going to create a ripple through the market that will likely cause a huge price manipulation with many of the current video cameras out there. The cameras people seem to be talking about the most are the Black Magic Cinema and the C300.

I do still feel that it's a little too soon before we'll really know how big of a game changer this is. After all, it's barely tested. It could overheat and blow out the processors on 10% of the cameras that use it. Who knows. Plus, most of your average videographers simply do not have the resources or capabilities to effectively manage and edit offline with RAW files.

Although this is a game changer and a mind blower, I really don't think 99% of the people that have a 5Dmkiii will ever bother using this. It's just too much of a hassle shooting raw, and most people simply do not need the extra color information. Clean HDMI out is really good enough. The only application I can see it really being powerful is on shoots like 'Act of Valor,' where they bought several 5dmkiis as kind of throw away cameras, with the idea that the shooting conditions were going to be rough and wild and they were probably going to go through a lot of them. They'll also be nice for shooting things in the C.G. world like reflection plates, back plates, greenscreens etc. I believe they did some of this with the 5Dmkii on 'The Avengers.'

Canon 5dmkiii Continuous Raw Breakdown

The Pros

Raw video: It's obviously better. 14bit is better than 8bit or the new clean 10bit HDMI out.

-Shoot cropped 1:1:  This firmware does something very interesting that not that many people are talking about or realizing. It allows you to crop in on the sensor and actually shot true 1080p if you want. This allows you to use all the pixels in the cropped region of the sensor, rather than skipping horizontal lines like the current 5Ds do. This means you can have a much sharper image. You'd be sacrificing some DOF and creating a more telephoto image since you'd be optically cropping your sensor, but to some, that's ok. I personally wouldn't mind. This is why the Panasonic GH3 and C300 are so awesome. They use the entire sensor. You could probably even use the Speed Booster by Metabone.

-Shoot high resolutions. 1:1 at 2880 x 1320 or 3592 x 1320. This is great to be able to shoot in these high resolutions. Some are reporting dropped frames. This could get solved as cards get faster or the firmware gets improved. 

People will stop comparing the Nikon D800 to the 5Dmkiii and saying it's a better camera. 

The Cons

-Worflow: The biggest turn off to this is workflow. Currently the camera records single Raw files that you have to bring into Windows and run a command prompt to convert everything to DNGs. Then you have to bring those into After Effects to create an image sequence and from there you render out your Proxy or what ever format you want to work in. Not a huge deal but kind of annoying. Especially if you don't have a PC. 

-Currently there is no playback in camera: This will probalby get corrected later.

-Heat: Previously I mentioned being an issue, but it's not, since shooting raw uses very little processing power. 

-Rolling Shutter: The rolling shutter on the 5Dmkiii still sucks and is not fun to deal with. Especially if you're shooting action.

-File Sizes: 7MB a frame. You'll not only need to buy a lot of big CF cards. But you have to buy the new really fast ones. 1000x. Look to spend a few grand just on storage. Not to mention backup harddrives and raids.

-The Nikon D800 is no longer a better camera. 🙂

Final Thoughts

I think this is pretty cool and is really going to impact the industry more so than the consumer. People just won't use this much. The reason I'm excited is it might bring the price of other video cameras down. Canon won't be able to sell these 1DC and C300s with their ridiculous price tags anymore. I love that.

Andrew Reid at EOSHD says it's better quality than the C300. Although this is technically true, I would still rather have a C300. It's just a better video camera. And when you're only uploading your videos to youtube or vimeo as a terribly compressed 8-bit H264. Who cares right?  Or, have you tried watching Fast 5 even on blue-ray? Good lord the shadows fall apart and look awful in some of those scenes. And speaking of Fast 5, I like to compare cameras to cars. A Dodge Viper might have more horsepower than a BMW 335i. But it doesn't have traction control and I'd rather have the BMW as my daily driver. Both cars are cool, but built for different needs. Something I try to remember when comparing cameras. 

If you're wondering why Canon didn't implements this into the launch of the camera, it's fairly straight forward. For one, fast CF cards like the 665x and 1000x where barely on the market when the camera was released. And a large corporation like Canon isn't going to release product that runs only close to perfect. Having a camera that runs really hot, drops frames, and has a terrible workflow would be a PR disaster. They simply can't do it unless it works perfect. Look at the media flare up Canon got from the little light leak issue with the initial launch. They are top dog and face a lot of criticism for even the smallest mistakes.

If you want to read more details on this Magic Lantern 5dmkiii Raw hack check out Andrew is responsible for announcing this to the world. Thanks Andrew!

If you have a few more things to consider, leave them in the comments.


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