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Magic Lantern is Working on the 5D Mark III After Canon Firmware Update

Canon recently announced a firmware update for the Canon 5D Mark III, and that led the way for the great folks at Magic Lantern to begin porting their hack. Already a big hit on the Mark II and other Canon cameras, Magic Lantern could open up specific features many believe Canon should have included in the first place. Chuck Westfall has said that the 5D Mark III and the 1D X might never get a full, clean HDMI, mainly because Canon (obviously) puts more money and attention into the video features on their expensive video-centric Cinema EOS line (though he also says they are always listening to consumers). Most of all, they want to keep the two product lines separate, and possibly the only hope for this feature (and others like it) is for something like Magic Lantern to unlock the hidden power of the camera.

One of Magic Lantern’s first big developments was the ability to give better audio by disabling automatic gain control. Later in its lifespan, a host of other features were unlocked, including increased bitrate, peaking, and false color. I know there are plenty more features offered by ML, but these were some of the biggest and most requested by people who were used to having these options on a real video camera. While the 5D Mark II didn’t really need increased bitrates, on the opposite end of the spectrum, using decreased bitrates, the camera could shoot for much longer without worrying about the 12 minute take limit. All of these features and more were also available to other Canon models, like the Canon T2i and Canon 60D, but the 7D was never able to be hacked. Thankfully, this will not be the case with the 5D Mark III, as the first firmware update has already given the ML people the ability to begin writing their own code.


Personally, I think it would be very interesting to see how high the internal bitrate could be taken – even though there is certainly a point of diminishing returns – just like we’ve seen with the GH2 hack. The bigger limiting factor other than bitrate is the internal color space – and if the HDMI could be unlocked to give a full 1080p signal, we could be recording with much higher bitrates and have a better color sampling like 4:2:2. DSLR footage can only be pushed so far, but if we could use the HDMI port to get a full, clean signal, we can really see what the camera is capable of. Below is the first image proving that the camera has been hacked.

Which features would you guys like to see with Magic Lantern on the 5D Mark III?

Link: 5D Mark III Firmware – Magic Lantern

[via EOSHD]

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  • A part of me can’t help but feel that Canon actually want the ML guys on board in light of the recent BMD product release that was inevitably going to hurt their sales.

  • Can you get magic lantern to capture 1080p/60p+?

  • Apparently the codecs on the 5D3 are just fine. The intentional crippling is via the crude 3×3 pixel binning downscaling algorithm that makes the resolution unrecoverable by mere bitrate changes. If they can replace that with a proper (is it bicubic?) downscaling algorithm and enable 4:2:2 the camera may well outperform the C300 even at current bitrates. At least as far as I have gleaned from the comments of people who understand these things.

    The binning approach at least uses every pixel on the sensor, giving it more light capturing ability than the 5D2 line skipping did (and D800 still does, even with its “clean” HDMI out). And I think they may be rotating the binning offset to blur the image a bit and prevent moire and aliasing. But I doubt anyone would in 2012 intentionally design a video camera around such a crude approach unless they had a more expensive product to defend from cannibalism. Companies like Blackmagic show that such strategies are simply not sustainable, and hopefully Magic Lantern will save Canon from itself.

    Canon and Panasonic should consider it a profound dishonor that a few gaijin hackers can make their flagship products work better than their own development staffs can. The answer is not locking out the hackers; it’s unshackling the staff and insisting they take the technology to its limit at every price level as opposed to internal protectionism.

    • I totally agree with your comment about the unsustainability of protecting yourself from cannibalization. In fact, I don’t think Black Magic “shows” that it’s unsustainable, it MAKES it unsustainable. With technology moving so fast, it’s only a matter of time before low priced digital cinema cameras get “good enough”. There will come a time when recording in a low compression codec at 4k is common place among cameras hovering around $5000. Not tomorrow, not next year, but maybe 3-5 years from now. If anything, the digital Bolex and Black Magic camera prove there is tremendous interest in a lower end camera that emphasizes good recording format.

      As Steve Jobs said: “If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will,”

      The real question is, does Canon care? Are they even interested in getting into that kind of market, much less contribute to making it happen in a concerted way. Or are they more interested in charging as much as they can for as little tech as they can to get as much money out of this “new” market segment that they can?

      The thing about Canon is that, as an entity, their goals are completely different from Red, Arri, and Black Magic Designs. Their goal is to maximize profit, minimize cost. Now that is a common goal across ALL companies, but it isn’t what drives every company. What I mean is, a company can say “We want to make money, and we’re good at making cameras, so let’s get in this new market.” or they can say “We want to make the best camera we can, and make some money along the way.” Big difference.

      Strong evidence of this is the confusion around the pricing of the C300. They had the production line and cost for that camera nailed down a long time ago. Then comes the November 3rd event, someone asked how much it cost, a Canon exec said 20k, the internet reeled, and they lowered it to 16k. That tells me something about the mentality behind setting that price.

      Bottom line: Canon is not going to come through for the lower-end filmmakers. Their corporate culture doesn’t allow it. As long as they have a market for selling cameras at $16000-$35000, they’re not going to sell it at $5000. You’re better off sending emails to Black Magic or even putting your hopes on Nikon, since they don’t have a high-end market to protect.

    • I agree. However i think it’s not a matter of programming capability with Panasonic and Canon, so much as I do the protection of their more expensive, video cameras.. Did i say more expensive? Lol.

      Canon crippled the successor to the DSLR that started a revolution in fimmaking to protect and pave the way for a 4k dslr camera that nobody can afford, or would buy anyway… And why would they? It’s as much as a new car… Who the hell has money like that these days in the independent community? Much less, who would rent a DSLR with mjpeg compression when they can rent a Scarlet package with Raw? Or screw it, buy a Blackmagic cinema camera with 2.5k raw for 500$ less than the 5d3?

      They may not go bankrupt, but they obviously looked at what the indie film community had endorsed in the 5d2, and capitalized by saying, “here, no more moire or aliasing…now shut up and stop filming cats at f1.2.”. -and then created 2 cameras with a $12,000 gap between the 2 of them. I think a lot of people are looking at it like, “thanks assholes.”. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be looking at when the Mosaic filter for the D800 comes out, or a Blackmagic camera. The demands are pretty simple. Clean out, no moire, aliasing, good low light, etc.. Blackmagic did this for $500 less. Is full frame that important?

  • The ALL-I codec is crap compared to IPB – lots of noise in shadows at even the lowest ISO – but I hope Canon will address this in a firmware update.

  • People are still talking about the Mk III for video? Why bother?

  • damnit! what about a magic lantern hack for the D800!

    NIKON, WAKE UP!

  • if Nikon wants to cash in, they should make the rumored D600 their version of the GH2. unassuming, yet extremely hackable.

  • SlowerFisherman on 04.28.12 @ 12:24PM

    Internal 10 or 8bit DNxHD & ProRes would be awesome !!

  • Does anyone know what the cost difference would be between the M3′s rolling shutter and one that’s global? Is that close to happening? Everyone complains about the video quality, and as far as I’m concerned and where I kinda started out filming stuff, the 5d M2 is still amazing in my book, I just can’t deal with rolling shutter issues any longer. When can we expect to see rolling shutter taken out back behind the shed and hit over the head with a comically large but totally practical butcher’s mallet?

    • It’s becoming less of a cost difference and more of a performance difference. Some sensors can actually be set to be rolling or global, but the performance when switched to global is usually less than desired, as dynamic range drops and signal to noise ratio gets worse. So until they can be made better we’ll be stuck with rolling shutters. You could always get a camera with a CCD if it bothers you enough – something like the Digital Bolex or the Ikonoskop camera.

      The Vision Research (Phantom) cameras use global shutters, but if you were to use them as everyday cameras they don’t compare very favorably to RED or Arri’s offerings at similar price points.

      • Thanks, Joe! What are the odds of the rolling shutter affect at least being less noticeable? Are we a ways away? In the original reviews of the MK3, I heard that the rolling shutter issue was barely noticeable, if at all. Only to find out weeks later that it’s just as bad as the MK2. When, in your opinion, would you think that’ll get to where it’s barely noticeable?

        Thanks again.

        • I think it will be awhile – improving the rolling shutter is actually a cost issue – because the sensor must be engineered to read faster. I would think the next generation of DSLRs (3-5 years from now) will be improved in the area of rolling shutter. In higher-end models it is barely noticeable, for example the C300 has arguably the best rolling shutter performance of any rolling shutter CMOS sensor camera – but it’s $16,000 for the body.

          I wouldn’t expect it to be completely removed in DSLRs though. Again, these are still cameras first, so improving rolling shutter is last on their list of concerns. It’s much more likely you’ll be seeing a lower cost video-centric CMOS camera with almost no rolling shutter sooner than a DSLR with no rolling shutter. Rolling shutter isn’t very noticeable on the FS100 – and that camera (and future models) should come down in price significantly over the next couple years, to the point where it will make sense to move to one of those models if you’re serious about video.

          • If my wallet were more serious about video, I’d go that route. Until then, I’m rocking 5d’s till the wheels fall off. Real talk.

            Thanks so much for your replies, even though it’s painfully obvious you have no clue what you’re talking about. :) Keep up the great work, dude!

          • An attempt at humor on my part. They need “Kidding” font or something!

            • Not the first or last time that humor will be lost in translation on the internet. No worries!

  • Where’s the love for us 7D users?!? Those dual processors must be capable of video magic if Canon won’t let anyone get around the firmware update security measures. Still holding on to my 7D for now and holding my breath until either Magic Lantern or Canon themselves unlock the full potential of what I still think is the best of the APS-C cameras…. (turning blue…)

  • I’m stunned that the ML guys have managed to hack the 5D3 so quickly. They honestly never cease to astound me. I can’t imagine filming on DSLR without ML now, with the huge range of features they’ve added. It’s a total game-changer, and having it on the 5D3 could be incredible.

  • A little off topic, but can someone point me in the direction of ML that works with the latest Canon firmware on the 5D MKII? I’ve waded through the wiki and can’t seem to find a definitive answer. Thanks guys!

  • john jeffreys on 04.28.12 @ 8:00PM

    The best part about ML is how you can set the HDMI out to 720×480 constantly so it wont downscale from 1080 to 480 and go black for a few seconds when you hit record.

  • At first, I think all we’re getting is a port of unified ML, which is awesome in itself: zebras, histogram, waveform, peaking, zoom-in for focus while recording, custom cropmarks… I can’t imagine shooting without these on my old Canon

    Then, later on, some new things may appear, specifically for the 5D3: higher bitrate (but probably still VBR), and maybe software deactivation of the OLPF filter (it must have a stills mode and a video mode, controlled electronically: otherwise, given how strong it is in video mode, high resoltion stills would be terribly soft)

    • I wouldn’t bet on things like 1080p60, 1.6x crop mode, etc: ML has never been able to change the way in which the camera processes the image, except for the not-really-successful Qscale parameter

  • If there was a firmware hack that enabled raw video, 2.5k, 13 stops dr, and prores/dnxhd recording, the camera would still be $1500 overpriced

    • Lol. Yep.

    • Different tools, for different fools.

      Plus that $1500 you “saved” will most likely be spent on SSD’s and V locks just to keep the damn thing running. Not to mention it looks like a toaster with a lens mount.

      • Even if vlock bat solutions and ssds were $1500 which is ridiculous, you still get DAVINCI RESOLVE a $1000 program for free, and you get

        “Different Tools for different fools”
        Please tell me what the 5d mark iii is the right tool for.

        Its obviously not narrative filmmaking, BDM is 13stops, RAW, prores dnxhd codecs,vectorscopes, waveforms, and histograms.
        Its obviously not videography, fs100 xlr ports, more DR, sharper, longer record times, peaking, and only $500 more used.
        I guess all that is left is the guy that an extra $500 on a camera will literally break the bank. And that guy shouldn’t be spending the majority of their money on the camera body, they would be better off buying a 7d or a gh2 and building out the rest of their kit.

  • I’d like to install ML on my Mk II but all the links for Mk II firmware lead to 2.1.2. Anyone know where I might find 2.0.9 so I can downgrade? Thanks!

  • Spoke too soon, missed Joe’s link above. Thanks!

  • Hey Magic Lantern!, guys how about getting the 5D Mark II unified hack working first?

  • I think there needs to be a resampling hack more than anything. The detail in canon DSLR’s suck, the line skipping method produces a soft image and its really not a true HD image. If this can be overcome then DSLR’s will be able to compete with the C100/300. Maybe grouping megapixels together to make a single megapixel would overcome the issue?

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