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Magic Lantern Alpha 2 for Canon 5D Mark III Adds Clean HDMI, Gradual Exposure, and HDR

10.21.12 @ 2:39PM Tags : , , , , ,

The first alpha for Magic Lantern on the Canon 5D Mark III added quite a few of the basic functions that were released in the major 2.3 release. The second alpha has just been released, and it brings some interesting features, including clean HDMI, a High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode in video, and gradual exposure, which allows the camera to slowly ramp up to the selected exposure settings, rather than abruptly changing them. Check below for the rest of the details.

Here is an example of HDR on the Mark III from Luke Neumann:

Some of the new additions in this Alpha 2 firmware:

Gradual Exposure

  • In movie mode, just change your exposure settings (ISO, shutter or aperture) and Magic Lantern will perform a smooth transition
  • Can be useful, for example, when filming from indoors to outdoors
  • This feature is new, and so far the 5D Mark III is the only camera that handles it almost perfectly

Focus assist tools

  • Magic Zoom (zoom box or full-screen – 2.6x while recording)
  • Experimental focus peaking modes (alpha blending, raw display)

Display tweaks:

  • Brightness, contrast, saturation (useful if you record with flat picture styles or you use the camera in bright sunlight)
  • Display gain (LiveView usable in very dark environments)
  • Anamorphic lens correction (preview only, in LiveView)
  • Fisheye correction for Samyang 8mm, using rectilinear or Panini projection (LiveView and Playback)
  • Clean HDMI out with pillar boxes (just erases the overlays)
  • Screen layouts, especially for HDMI (16:10, 16:9 etc)
  • Customize menu colors (e.g. dark themes – easy on your eyes during night shooting)
  • UniWB correction (attempt to remove the green color cast from the screen when you use UniWB)
  • Upside-down display (for inverted tripods)

These new additions make this a far more fully-featured camera than Canon ever intended. The HDR mode is particularly impressive, and even though it may not work correctly in all shooting situations, it can make a huge difference in a pinch when you don’t have complete control of your environment. Autoboot, HDR photos, timelapse, and long exposures are still disabled, but we should be getting them soon enough as the firmware becomes more stable and more of the kinks get worked out.

The clean HDMI is now available for all Canon cameras that use Magic Lantern (except for the 7D, but it’s coming), but with the Mark III, the HDMI preview does not completely fill the screen, so you’ll have to enlarge in post to fill a full 1080. One of the other big features, anamorphic lens correction, gives you a proper picture to judge the frame when you’re using anamorphic lenses. While this doesn’t affect the actual recording area, it is still useful if you don’t have an external monitor capable of correcting.

You can try out this new firmware and also read about the other intracacies of the release using the link below.

Link: Second alpha for 5D Mark III — Magic Lantern


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Description image 47 COMMENTS

  • Yea, HDMI isnt “CLEAN” when it has black bars covering the outer edges of the video!

  • VINCEGORTHO on 10.21.12 @ 3:02PM

    When will Magic Lantern try adding a better codec for better picture qualtiy?

    • That’s virtually impossible. I seriously doubt the firmware exposes enough low-level hardware control to do such a thing, beyond increasing bitrate for the existing codecs. The encoder will likely be a separate part of the DIGIC chip, not something implemented in software.

      • VINCEGORTHO on 10.21.12 @ 5:58PM

        I just brought it up because one of the testers mentioned this was a rout they were looking at taking.
        I haven’t heard of any positive results with boosting the bitrate. Has anyone?

    • It’s something they are looking into, but it’s a very complicated problem to tackle.
      It took years to crack the 7D, but they managed to do it, so hold tight!

  • If you put the camera in shutter priority, this basically acts as a smoothly changing auto iris. Useful, for instance, when you’re following someone on a steadicam from outside to inside a church. Sounds like the ML hack gives you more control, at the cost of being manual.

    Re HDMI out, now that it’s clean, I’m curious whether anyone particularly cares to capture it?

    • My understanding is that despite lacking displays, the HDMI output has small back bars on the right and left sides of the frame, making recording at full 1080p resolution impossible.

  • Would be amazing if they could get at least 48FPS at 1080P – but doubt it. Hope they try!

    • I’m hoping for higher 1080p framerates as well. I know they were able to get up to 35fps with previous cameras; hopefully the increased processing power in the 5D Mk. III will allow them to push it to 48, 50, or even 60fps.

  • Luke did awesome work here. I think stuff like this should give some pause to those insisting the 5D3 is irrelevant for filmmaking including narrative work.

    Can you really claim that image is soft, especially given it’s done in HDR with a moving camera??? Can you really claim that adding a little sharpness in post is such a workflow drag, compared to what you have to do with the footage from other cams in post?

    With an external recorder some of the compression artifacts that aren’t Youtube’s fault may also be eliminated now we have ML. It’s hip to bash the 5D3 but owners shouldn’t weep.

    • I would hope no one considers the camera outright irrelevant.
      The major complaints with the Mk. III were about its soft image and lack of dynamic range improvements over the Mk. II. Other complaints were about the absence of video-centric features like focus peaking, external recording, and increased framerates. Still owners seem to be happy, and I’d put it right alongside the new A99 in terms of being the most optimized-for-video of all DSLRs. It’s still a great camera; its pre-lauch hype just disappointed some people.

      Now, while the HDR from ML is nice, it won’t solve the softness concern. Adding sharpness in post isn’t a step I consider to be too time consuming, but the people complaining about it aren’t all comparing the 5D3′s footage to RED or BMCC raw footage, most are comparing it to other 8-bit 4:2:0 compressed footage from the D800, GH2, 1D X, and even cheap point-and-shoots like the Sony RX-100. Also, to clarify, the “clean HDMI” on the 5D3 isn’t fully optimized for external recording — it still has black pillar bars on either side of the image which prevent full 1080p image acquisition.

      If you’re asking me, I think the 5D Mk. III, while not without its faults, is a great video DSLR for a variety of applications. People who are complaining about it, though, aren’t complaining about nothing.

    • As a Mark III owner and defender from day 1, its hard to blame all the gripes on sour grapes. The base image is noticeably soft in 2012 and getting sharp output requires some thought. A mark III with a sharp prime, sharpened in post really can be a beautiful image. In my eyes L zooms do leave something to be desired, even after sharpening (haven’t tried the new 24-70 though.)

      That said, after shooting MK III, it’s almost inconceivable to go back to shooting on the previous generations of DSLRs. I was editing a low-light video today and had to take a moment to sit back and realize most of what I wished my previous Canons could do was now answered. Low-light is insane – there’s absolutely no moire and my Juicedlink + headphone jack outdoes my previous Zoom H4N combo in most instances.

      I’m a satisfied and well compensated owner but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in the market for a different image as my a-cam.

      • Yes and I think the C100 with an external recorder is going to be a natural upgrade for 5D3 owners wanting a better image. The primary weakness is max 30fps frame rate and the need for the external recorder when you want ProRes 422. But I’m hopeful that rig will essentially give the IQ of the C300 with even better ergonomics and workflow at half the price. It will also add EF-S and some reach to our lens choices.

        I was very excited about the BMCC but that died down as I realized how primitive the implementation is in this first generation and the poor low-light and small sensor etc. And no better wrt frame rate, and the ProRes is 1080p. The 2.5K RAW workflow doesn’t appeal to me personally right now…4K RAW will be nice as it gets facilitated and comes down in cost over the next few years but that’s another generation or two ahead for the under $10K setups.

        Also I find L zooms, even better non-L zooms to resolve perfectly well for 1080p output. The advantage of primes is speed/DOF, but zooms have a decisive advantage in being able to recompose the image effortlessly, which is essential when only having 2 megapixels of resolution to work with in post. Of course none of the EF lenses are properly collimated and require re-focusing anytime you zoom. I have a Zacuto EVF which helps me with peaking on the 5D3, ML should provide that feature too for the on-camera LED.

        • I think there’s more than speed and DOF at play with a good prime.

          My 50 1.2 produces a significantly and noticeably better image than my 24-105 or 24-70 at the same focal length and aperture. I promise I’m not trying to be that guy who talks about micro contrast but just speaking practically from a multi-camera shoot with the same settings I notice that the prime renders the image in a way that plays better with the 5D’s natural softness. I know that calling the image sharper implies that I mean that it resolves better but I’m really just saying that I prefer it.

          I also don’t own any of the vaunted 70-200′s so my issue might just be with the particular zooms I own.

          And you definitely nailed it on the head with what to go from here, I don’t have room in my professional workflow for this iteration of the BMCC and I’m strongly considering a C100. I’m not committed to the idea of an external recorder with it yet. Sony’s done very strong things with AVCHD and I at least want to see what Canon’s implementation looks like before I commit to another step in my workflow.

  • Thanks Peter. I’m really stoked to see what happens when the ML guys can unlock some higher bit rates.

    • Was that your movie? That thing was awesome. Where is Bodie at? Gorgeous and evocative dude.

      • Thanks! Yeah Bodie is pretty crazy. It’s in California just on the Nevada/California border. About two hours south of Reno/Lake Tahoe. Awesome location for sure!

        • Loved it man good stuff seriously

        • I knew that location looked familiar! Great JOB Luke. What slider did you use? Footage looks incredible and your grade was spot on for the mood/story. This does make the decision more complex for people like me waiting for a BMC or going with another camera. The 5dmkIII brings awesome stills to the table and that is a huge factor.

          • Thanks! I used the Dynamic Perceptions Stage Zero dolly with the faster motor. Mark III is a pretty solid all around camera as long as you plan on taking stills. If you’re just into video I couldn’t suggest it over the BMCC while keeping a straight face though. If only the BMCC were a real camera. I’m convinced it’s all been a clever ruse.

    • Are bitrates really the issue on the mk. iii? The built-in IPB option seems decent enough. I’d say it’s more the lower actual resolution and DR that holds the Mk. III back from BMCC-level quality, and I don’t think ML will be able to remedy those shortcomings.

      That being said, for 99% of web productions, the mk III is a perfectly competent video camera. And in low light, it’s still the best in its price range.

      • VINCEGORTHO on 10.21.12 @ 6:00PM

        They already have done bitrate increase. ONe of the testers mentioned that there is no big visible increase in picture quality. Grain is bit finer along with ability to grade the image a bit further.

      • I have noticed a difference between IPB and All-I to be honest. IPB doesn’t respond too well to “post sharpening”. All-I seems to handle it a lot better so I’m just curious to see what a higher bitrate might bring, if anything.

        • That difference may be dependent on the post software and workflow used. Intraframe codecs allow the software to just treat frame by frame while long GOP codecs are more subtle in how effects get applied to them. ProRes is an intraframe codec and if and how you transcode into ProRes can affect your final output resolution (for instance FCPX just uses ProRes to speed up previews while editing, they go back to the native footage for rendering).

          It would be nice to have objective, 100% documented and reproducible, scientific tests that covered the ramifications of different workflows applied to differing codecs in different editors. ALL-I and IPB could each have advantages depending, but to my own tests with my own workflow and software they look remarkably similar in practice. ML’s versions may be quite different, and your milage may vary.

    • Luke, excellent work! Would you mind directing me to any helpful information about the process of using ML’s HDR mode? You did such a beautiful job using it… to an entirely different level than anything I have seen done with it.

    • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzSELF IMPORTANCEzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Quick thought on HDR… This is very likely pretty dumb, but anyway… Could one achieve decent HDR by mounting two cameras side-by-side or — better still — using a beam splitter?

    You could expose for two different values, render out as image sequence, batch process using Photomatix (or Photoshop?), render out as a movie. The main idea being to achieve higher resolution than ML and cope with faster motion.

    Seems like such an obvious idea to me that I’m surprised more people aren’t doing this. What am I not taking into account? Is it just laziness (which is the main reason I’m not doing it)?

  • Thanks for the link! Gives me a few ideas. But one thing I find striking is that they say “more to come”, but there doesn’t seem to be more to come; and that was 2010; I wonder if the company is still in operation. Perhaps, for whatever reason, the HDR achieved via this method really isn’t better than RED HDR or the native dynamic range of a BMC or C300 or similar, or the processes involved are too impractical…

  • Clean HDNMI very cool, now I can use my Atomos Ninja 2 to record from my 5D MkII :) I cant wait to try it out.

  • …And ML (not to mention Nikon/BMD/Sony etc.) forced Canon’s hand and Canon finally capitulated and is now promising Clean HDMI out (YCbCr 4:2:2, 8 bit) for the 5D3 in a *free* (not 1DC) firmware update. Only negative is it’s April 2013, safely after the C100 launch. ML for now I suppose.

    But armed with an external recorder the 5D3 should become a reasonably serious cinema camera with Vista-vision DOF and outstanding performance at ISO 5000. 8 bits with sRGB gamma should cover about 11 stops of DR at ISO1600, certainly workable, and the ergonomics are quite acceptable.

    I think the C100 will still be worth the upgrade for IQ and ergonomics even though it too will be best with the external recorder. But for an EF mount cam for my own uses I think adding the external recorder to the 5D3 is going to be about enough. As it stands I am satisfied with sharpness after post treatment and I love the color and look. Recording direct to ProRes 422 will give me good greenscreen shots and an easy workflow. I have the RX100 for a workable 60fps slo-mo…and there’s always rental to go beyond that.

    Nice. I add the external recorder and stand pat. Thank you competition and hackers! Canon gave in.

  • “The clean HDMI is now available for all Canon cameras that use Magic Lantern (except for the 7D, but it’s coming), but with the Mark III, the HDMI preview does not completely fill the screen, so you’ll have to enlarge in post to fill a full 1080.”

    Clean HDMI out for all Canon cameras except 7D? Can someone please elaborate more on this?

    I was just looking on their website the other night for any updates regarding this and didn’t see anything besides the apparently shonky higher bitrates (qscale etc). Granted, that site gives me more of a headache then when I look at twitter so I may have missed it.

    This is great news if true… My little 600D would love this news.

    Thanks guys!

  • Can you tell me guys if there is someone doing these kind of developing (HDR video, gamma modes, gradual exposure, etc) for nikon D800?
    Why not? The results of that camera with an external recorder and the VAF-D800 Optical Anti-Aliasing Filter from mosaic engineering are quite impresive.
    I worked with Canon´s, Red´s, sony´s, nikon d800, etc, and between 5d mark III and D800, I like the most nikon d800 (with external recorder and filtering).
    Why do not take more advantage of the available tools?
    Always pushing the same buttons.
    They are just tools, please Magic Lantern, or some one else, upgrade for nikon too!!!
    That´s really annoying to me.
    Is there anyone developing upgrades for the d800?
    Thanks guys
    (sorry for the english, not a native speaker)