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Did Canon Just Give the New T4i Clean HDMI Out?

06.22.12 @ 6:01PM Tags : , , ,

Yes and no. One of the most requested features from Canon for its popular DSLRs is the ability to record the HDMI feed coming out of the camera. Nikon has delivered on this feature request, and the D800 and D4 both deliver a clean HDMI feed without any text that allows you to bypass the internal codec and get a clean 1080p 8-bit 4:2:2 image. The first reviews for the Canon T4i were with pre-production cameras, and some had been reporting that the HDMI was completely clean. This could have been chalked up to beta firmware, but now there are real production cameras in the wild and we have a final verdict on whether or not we can record that signal.

Sebastian over at cinema5D had posted that Johnnie Behiri was using the camera and had confirmed that the HDMI was clean. There were issues, however, and the image wasn’t quite working correctly. He was using a pre-production camera so I didn’t think it made sense to post until people were able to test this using final cameras. Johnnie posted this video of footage (which looks rather nice, and recorded in-camera):

We now have word from online rental company Hire a Camera that the HDMI is indeed clean. Unfortunately, that’s where the excitement ends, because the image does not fill the entire screen. Much like the 5D Mark III issue I had talked about in my review, the T4i does not fill the entire screen in liveview mode (but I would assume that it does in playback mode since this is the way that the Mark III works). Here is what the T4i can produce from its HDMI while recording:

Unfortunately that red dot is on screen, so it must be cropped out if you want that final image to be usable. What’s the final resolution after cropping? Much lower than 1080p — 1527 by 868. Also of note, that if anything is changed during recording, the overlays come back on screen and would certainly ruin the recording. The only question that remains is what that final signal is — whether we’ve got progressive or interlaced.

I don’t think anyone really expected this feature to make its way into bottom-end camera, but it would have been quite the selling point. It seems like all of the new cameras from Canon should be able to output the entire 1080p image while recording, but it’s possible that the image processors can’t handle anything above that window-boxed image. The 1D X should be capable since the 1D C can do it (and they are virtually identical internally), but that camera has been intentionally crippled and does not have clean overlays and a full 1080p signal. What does Canon gain from crippling these cameras? For one thing, it seems that their video and photo divisions are trying not to step on each others’ toes, and there’s no question that the margins are far higher on video products.

The only hope that we have is for hackers like Magic Lantern to find the code for full 1080p out of the HDMI and enable it, while also removing the overlays. We should know sometime in the next 6-12 months if this is a possibility as Canon will surely release at least one firmware update for the T4i. At the moment, Magic Lantern for the 5D Mark III is in its infancy, but we will know soon enough if that window-boxed 1080p signal can be made full screen and recorded.

What do you think, would you have bought a T4i just for the ability to record the full 1080p HDMI signal? Let us know in the comments.

[via cinema5D & Hire a Camera]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 56 COMMENTS

  • I would have. It wouldn’t be my primary camera, but getting a clean solid codec as a b-cam for interviews or whatever would have been one less pain in the ass. I still use my t2i as a b-cam for interviews. timelapse cam when I am packing light so it would have been a natural upgrade, then throw a hyperdeck shuttle and you keep moving up.

  • Too bad they didn’t bother to fix any of the more severe problems with the camera, like moire, aliasing and a crappy codec. Even HDMI out doesn’t fix the first two.

    Pass. Let’s see what Panasonic has in store with the GH3.

    • I doubt we’ll see much of an improvement. There wasn’t a gigantic improvement in image quality from the GH1 to the GH2, so I would expect the same in the GH3. Unless they make a pro version which is more expensive, I also don’t think we’ll see uncompressed HDMI. Panasonic would be smart to make two lines with the higher end GH series – make one video-centric and the other photo-centric. If anything they should lower the megapixel count and improve noise performance – at some point with that size sensor noise reduction can only get so good.

      • In fact the gh3 does not need to be radically different from the gh2 because the latter is already very good. It is already high resolution with near to no aliasing and moire. With higher end mirrorless camera like the olympus om-d and fuji model, we can expect a bit higher model to compete from Panasonic. It is highly likely that we will get a better built weather sealed metal body because the latest 12-35 mm 2.8 lens is weather sealed.

        Now in terms of image quality, a 1 to 2 stop better low light and DR would really make the gh3 a very very good video camera. My only fear, is that they get into the megapixel race that could ruin everything.

    • john jeffreys on 06.22.12 @ 7:54PM

      Dawg, you bash Canon cameras in every article like this, with the same exact reasoning and m4/3 fanboy logic. Do you work for Panasonic or something?

      • We’re not going to play the personal insult game.

      • …why would my reasoning change if we’re talking about the same model? Look – I put up with the Canon DSLRs for too long because of the overwhelming attention paid to them on most video blogs. I’m just providing some perspective for others who might not be aware that there are alternatives. For a lot of us who have used DSLRs, adding a touch screen and a limited autofocus are not exactly noteworthy improvements.

        And is an ad hominem attack really the best response you can provide?

      • I thought Joe had a 7D. He brings up very valid points, I’m sure he’s not secretly advertising for Panasonic. :D

        • He was referring to what Hummer was saying, but I was saying that I don’t like seeing the comments turn into personal attacks against other users, so I’ll delete comments if I have to. Either way I don’t own a 7D, I was just borrowing one for NAB. I have owned cameras from every major company at one point or another, and in the past two years I’ve had a D90, GH1, and 5D Mark II – so I’m certainly impartial to manufacturers – though I do like my Nikon lenses.

          • You delete comments in NFS? I didn’t know that… I don’t like that neither.

            • We moderate like any site or forum – but we’ve only done it on rare occasions for racial slurs or for derogatory comments that have gotten out of hand. Look around though, 99% of everything that’s written gets through, and we usually respond to comments rather than removing them. I assume if you don’t like that you’d also prefer we leave the porn and spam comments as well – of which we get quite a few every day?

          • You assume wrong. What’s the hostility for anyway? I just said I don’t like the fact that comments are being removed, that’s all. Besides, how would I be able to reailze 99% of the comments go through by just looking around? I don’t know how many are being taken out.

            Spam is not the same thing, you know that, don’t treat me like an idiot, please. Most forums where deletion of comments is done by moderators have a set of rules so you know it beforehand.

            Seems to me you guys don’t like any criticism, most of the times you take it like an attack when it’s not. I remember the awful comment section on the RED vs Canon post. I thought it was wisely deactivated by you. That’s fair to me: all comments go through or none go through. Or having a clear behaviour protocol. Just my POV.

            I like that you reply to the comments and I know you do it all the time, I also understand that dealing with fanatics is almost impossible. I was just giving my opinion, not attacking you.

            • I didn’t take it personally (even though I might have responded in that tone), but you made it seem like we are censoring, and I just wanted to make it clear that we do not censor for the sake of censorship. We don’t sensor criticism – in fact you can find plenty of it in the comments section. I just wanted to make it clear that moderating is a necessary evil on the internet where people say whatever they feel like saying, regardless of the consequences. As for the rules, just to be clear, we do have a comment policy that sits right above the comments section:

              “COMMENT POLICY

              We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers… whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don’t have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!”

              The problem with criticism is that most don’t understand how to be constructive about it. I’ll also happily disagree with someone, I think discourse is good. It becomes a problem when it is overly negative and personal – which thankfully has been rare on this site. I also want to make it clear that you shouldn’t be afraid to say anything in the comments, but this is, above all, a site for growing and learning, and we encourage positive criticism over negativity for the sake of it.

          • I agree man, thanks for taking the time to reply. I know you don’t censor and your (as well as the other writer’s) articles always have a serious well informed and unbiased tone, which is why I keep reading them.

            Keep the good work

  • If someone asked me would I recommend this as an introductory camera, then my answer is yes. Its a more than great first camera or if you are in the ultra low budget range and want a 2nd camera to support the 5D that you worked your butt off to get then yes again. I personally like the GH2 but im always concerned about switching companies in mid stream unless it’s moving up to say the Black Magic cam. (color/WB differences and all) Dave Dougdale pointed this out beautifully with his MKIII vs D800 review. ( )

  • Can someone please present evidence that the problem with Canon DSLR video is _not_ in the downscaling? So we can give this “clean HDMI” a rest?

    I think the codec is fine. The problems are all in the downscaling as far as I know. Which means, it wouldn’t buy you anything, and indeed would just waste vast amounts of storage and defeat the purpose of DSLRs as video cameras (size and portability as important factors) if Canon did concede and give you the coveted clean HDMI. You would have an uncompressed, perfect recording of miserable downscaling. And Magic Lantern et al. have not been able to replace the awful downscaling; that is baked into the hardware it seems and that is where you should direct your Canon ire.

    Unless, again, someone is willing and able to present evidence that the primary damage is done at the codec. I’m waiting…

    • Yes, the downscaling is a problem, but DSLR footage tends to break down a lot more quickly because of the codec during grading. If you’ve worked with straight ProRes footage out of any camera, you’ll know that it holds up a lot better to grading. Being able to record that clean HDMI would also give you the ability to do more significant noise reduction without the image falling apart.

      While Canon does need to fix this downscaling issue, having a clean codec would do wonders for pushing the final image and keeping integrity. Being softer than other camera systems is not an inherently bad thing, but when footage is going to the web, the less compression you start with, the better the final image will look. Sharpness is important, but it’s less important than a clean image with a good color space.

      • Again, I mean no offense, but demonstrate your point and you will be a net.hero….

        • Well since it’s impossible to get a full 1080p clean signal that’s going to be difficult, but there is a very clear difference between footage that is graded with the internal codec or graded with ProRes – I’ve seen this in my testing with the D800. The D800 actually has a better codec than most of the Canon DSLRs because it has B frames.

          I’m not saying all will be forgiven when they do this, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t want better downscaling, but it would be better than nothing. Look at it this way, if it was such a good codec, why didn’t they use it in the C300? Why does the C300 use a completely different codec (MPEG-2 4:2:2 at 50mbps)? If they’d put that codec in the DSLRs, the clean HDMI wouldn’t do much better than the internal codec – but they didn’t.

          • Well exactly, if the image has already been destroyed by awful downscaling there’s nothing a better codec can do. The C300 has a better codec because it has a better downscaler. (The exasperation there is 4K is unreachable even though it may be “in there somewhere.”)

            So the clean HDMI would buy you nothing until that downscaler is upgraded. You can’t unbake the cake.

            • The C300 has a better codec because people wouldn’t want to pay $16,000 for a camera with the same codec as a DSLR. The reason for that should be pretty clear, that 50mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2 offers a significant improvement over the H.264 implementation in the Canon DSLRs. The $3,000 Canon XF100 (1/3″) has that same codec as the $16,000 C300. That’s a pretty big discrepancy. The DSLRs could handle a better codec, and we would be better off for it, but Canon has chosen to separate their video and photo line. Video gets the good stuff, clean outputs, better codec, etc. Photo gets let the leftovers for video features. I can’t say I blame them for doing it, but the reason Canon doesn’t allow these things on DSLRs is because they are protecting their other line. If it offered no quality improvement, they would enable it.

          • I completely agree Canon is engaging in crippleware, but to do so in the era of hacks they had to do it at the downscaler. Because ML or someone could probably make the HDMI out work clean but they can’t get to the downscaler (as far as I know). So that was the place to cripple the DSLR line.

            And the reason I harp on it is because the worst of all scenarios would be all the users demanding clean HDMI, clean HDMI, and Canon finally capitulates and gives them clean HDMI (a simple firmware upgrade would do it) and everyone then runs out and buys Ninjas. Then, lo and behold, we have the ability to make a perfect recording of an awfully downscaled image, and the indie cine world has learned the hard way that the codec is only as good as what’s sent into it, and Canon already ruined the image to protect its cine line’s margins.

            So let’s determine exactly what we want and campaign for that. The clean HDMI campaign is misguided as far as I know. We had a massive aliasing and moire campaign that gave us the 5D3, which sure enough, got rid of those, but did not increase actual resolution much. We should identify and make plain exactly what Canon is doing to hobble our low-budget aspirations and demand they make those changes.

            The codec on the 5D3 is likely just fine, it isn’t even being exercised because the image input is so low-res due to the intentionally crude downscaler. How do we know that it’s the downscaler and not the sensor? Look at the stunning resolution in 10x live view and compare that with what you get recorded. The sensor is fine, the codec is fine, it’s the downscaling. Demand better downscaling and we might get somewhere with them. Only then would clean HDMI capability have a chance to buy you something.

            (Of course better then spending thousands working around your DSLR’s limitations with add-ons like the Ninja, may as well cough up for the C300 and be done with it. It’s not that expensive a system overall.)

            • I think you’ll find the newest post about the 1D X pretty interesting in that regard – seems Canon is able to downscale correctly, but you’ve got to pay for it.

  • Can someone please make a video (or post link if something like that is done already) of shooting 2 identical shots with different codecs and showing how Canon is breaking in color grading whereas prores is much better, I do not want the “On the web everything looks the same” logic. It doesn’t :)

    • Since none of the Canon DSLRs have a full 1080p HDMI that would be impossible. The 1D C priced at $15,000 will be the first – so it’s not exactly in the price range of most people. Honestly color fidelity is extremely important for compression, and starting with the most color information possible will lead to a better looking compressed file.

      Though I’m sure there are videos showing people who’ve used Magic Lantern to record the HDMI – but it’s not going to be a full 1080p.

    • It’s true that the lack of clean hdmi makes it inherently impossible to do an A-B color grading comparison. That said, I believe the usefulness of the clean hdmi signal can be illustrated by considering the principle concept. We know the dynamic range of a shot matters in color grading and evidence can be found on the web; Technicolor’s cinestyle provides more dynamic range and there are videos out there showing how much more grading can be done to the footage before noise makes it go to shit. We know clean hdmi has more dynamic range (more color information), so we can reason that a clean hdmi signal would make for more flexible, cleaner color grading. Whether it makes enough of a difference to care is up to each individual user and their aims for the footage, but it can’t be argued that it would be a serious improvement in post capability. I’m a total noob with dslrs and film in general, and even I noticed how much more play I had color grading footage that I used magic lantern to overclock the bitrate on versus the stuff I shot without it (shot straight because I didn’t see much of difference in quality initially).

  • Ramona Laska on 06.23.12 @ 3:24AM

    Typical Canon…

  • “…that camera has been intentionally crippled and does not have clean overlays and a full 1080p signal…” Maybe it’s the punctuation in this sentence or I’m just reading it wrong. Are you saying the 1dx doesn’t have a “proper” full 1080p? and what are clean overlays anyway? Sorry if this is noob-ish but hey nofilmschool is my film school :)

    • I’m interested (and concerned) because I’m also a photographer so the 1dx seems to be quite ideal in a ‘best of both worlds’ kind of way

      • The 1D X, like the Mark III, will not output a clean HDMI signal that can be recorded using an external recorder. It will record 1080p internally just fine.

        • Aaah thanks for clarifying that! I think the D800 is my final choice: clean hdmi, great stills, not so bad in low light, fairly priced etc

          • and now I wake up to find this and have to rethink. You are quite the blogger Mr Marine :)

            • Well, there is a $3,800 price difference between the two – you could buy an entire set of lenses and get them cine modded with that extra money. If you like the full frame look, the D800 is a far better buy over the 1D X, I’d rather take a little aliasing than have to pay that much more for a camera body with sharp 1080p. The D800 image is very nice at lower ISOs when you’re recording out of the HDMI – like I’ve said in the past it’s the best image I’ve ever seen coming out of a DSLR. I think the only thing that would steer me in another direction is if I had tons of Canon lenses.

              Here’s a bit of advice though – don’t drive yourself crazy, because there will always be another better camera around the corner. Get a camera that you can be happy with, shoot with it, and if a new one comes out that you really want, you can always sell the old one for 60-75% of what you paid for it.

        • Thanks for the advice good sir. I also watched Mr Bloom’s full frame shootout and theere the d800 didn’t have much aliasing on the 1080p; It was only apparent in 720 mode which is hardly a concern for me. One thing that has always baffled me is the “real 1080p” debate. I wish there was a chart or just a way to tell how close to true 1080 different DSLR’s were. And if hey r not true 1080 res, what r they? Pretend 1080?

          BTW, I Meant to reply below ur last reply but seems we’ve run out of threaded replies. How many times have I used reply in this reply? ;))

          • Oh, It comes below ur last after all. Nevermind my last statement then. Thanks

          • Yes someday the commenting system will be improved in that regard, but it works for now. As for the D800, I would say it’s on par or slightly better than the Mark II – I haven’t noticed it too much in my own shooting.

            People like Barry Green ( ) have done test charts (I’ve actually done a few but I’m not sure if I’m happy with the results). We’ll never get a straight answer from Canon regarding how they get to 1080p, but basically it’s like this: most single sensor cameras (like DSLRs), cannot have a color for every pixel, so information must be interpolated and you’ll end up with less resolved detail than you started with. You should go back through the archives to read about bayer patterns, but on top of that, these DSLRs have to take a 4000 or 5000 pixel image and scale it down to 1920 x 1080. The less efficient this is done, the less resolution you will perceive in the end.

            They all have a final physical output of 1920 x 1080, but that doesn’t mean you can perceive 1000 lines of resolution or more. If you look at a resolution chart ( ), you’ll see that there are lines. Resolution is measured in Lines Per Picture Height, or LPH, and when you shoot one of these charts with a camera, you simply look at how many separate lines you can see before they are blurred together. Aliasing and moire can make an image appear sharper in real life, but on a chart they will not render many of those lines correctly. This has been one of the benefits of DSLRs, they appear sharper than they are thanks to aliasing and moire but they actually don’t resolve that much on a resolution chart. Any of the large sensor video cameras will resolve close to 1000 lines or more – like the FS100. I would say the D800 is closer to 1000 than the Mark III, but I don’t want to put a specific number on it since I’m not a camera technician.

          • Great exhaustive answer! Thanks for taking the time Joe!

  • I love Dslr, started my career with them like many others with my own 5D MkII but, I get the feeling it’s time for me to move on.
    So Joe, any chance you’ll get a Black Magic Camera and do some juicy tests for us mate?

  • Even if Canon were to give us clean HDMI out, it’s hardly usable, since their mini-HDMI plug is very likely going to be the point of failure. I used it before when my 7D was mounted to a jib (only for monitoring, not recording) and it was far from dependable…

    • shaun wilson on 06.23.12 @ 8:15AM

      Richard I had the same problem on a 7D jib mount and my DIY work-around was to simply gaffer the cable in place then secure it with an industrial rubber band. It looks like amateur hour but it worked a treat.

  • shaun wilson on 06.23.12 @ 8:05AM

    I shot some material last week outdoors on a 550D at 720 50p in soft daylight with a 35m Zeiss Prime at f1.4/100 shutter/ 100 ISO then upscaled the files to 1080 using streamclip during a transcode to ProResHQ. Playing this back on a Full HD 32 monitor was remarkably clean and saw no evidence of upscaling or artefacting – no one in the room could pick it was upscaled so was surprised that it held up so well, and I mean, my jaw was dropping that a bottom-feeder camera could pull off something so clear – given this, one thought is to shoot with the 650D/T4i using HDMI out at 720p to a 4.2.2 or 4.4.4 recorder then upscaling in post. Yeah I know its not perfect but Im telling you, what I saw coming out as an upscaled,transcoded, 2nd gen files was incredible when considering the master files were only 4.2.0. What this offers to those of us who would love to shoot on a Genesis or RED but cant afford it now potentially have options to shoot on low cost cameras while getting a decent 4.2.2 picture out of the workflow providing the DP shoots around the camera limitations (and there are quite a few…) Okay, you can now flame me for going bottom ender evangelical :)

    • Well, that’s a neat story, but upscaling is just inventing digital information. It’s clarity speaks to the power of the upscaling software you used, not the Canon.

  • Looks like dog shit lol

  • I quote a funny line from Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction just after they cleaned up the car…’let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks just yet…’

    You Canon fanboys got excited for nothing!

  • Oh my goodness! Indie film makers have become SO entitled these days! Part of me wishes the DSLR revolution never even happened! Back in the day, you had the pay twice as much as the t2i for an SD camera that was basically shit; for family videos and stuff. But now we live in this crazy, amazing world where there are cameras that are so goddamn cheap that can output pretty goddamn good looking images but everyone still just complains! “well the red has 4k why can’t my cheap little $1000 camera have it? You really dropped the ball on that one canon. Oh wait. Also, whaaaaaat! No 60fps 1080p??? Omg what is this shit? You owe us a lot more than that, canon! You owe us soooooo much! This really cheap consumer/prosumer STILLS camera still has really bad aliasing and moire! ALSO NO CLEAN HDMI OUT? ARE YOU INSANE, CANON? Give me what you owe me!”

    Ugh I don’t get it!

  • On the D800, from the BMD Hyper Deck 2 feed, read out from Premiere Pro:

    “Video data block #1:
    Frame Size = 1920 x 1080
    Compressor = Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2
    Quality = Most (5.00)

    Also, the D800 records real time zoom in live view, something it cannot do while in-camera cards are capturing, nice surprise.

    Link in the DSLR Forum on Cow.



  • Hi All,

    Just to add flame to the fire, I have it from the highest source that there is indeed a working hack for getting clean HDMI out of the MKIII. I did not get word on the downscaling issue, I will try to find out next time I talk to that person. Personally I think 1527 by 868 upscaled to 1920 to 1080 using good software is totally fine for the budget of production using an MKIII.

    • I should clarify the end of my previous content, what I mean is that the story is paramount, so if it comes down to upscaling from an externally recorded image for better color correction or using the internally recorded footage on the Canon codec, whatever, the image this camera can produce for this price should be fine if the story is great, but hey I’m more of a director not a cinematographer :)

  • so does the camera have clean HDMI out which bypasses the internal codec?

  • A question: I have the t4i, and considering that it can output 1080i, what type of external LCD HDMI monitor can you suggest to work with it the best? Any specific specs or maybe a concrete model someone has tried with t4i? Thanks in advance!