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Magic Lantern Unlocks RAW Video on the Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III

Every day it seems things get more and more interesting with what these Canon cameras are actually capable of. It would be interesting to know if Canon is actually aware of what their cameras can do, or if some of these are happy accidents for the team over at Magic Lantern. They have made significant discoveries trying to enable full uncompressed HDMI, and not only do we have RAW still images from the liveview video stream, but they’ve actually managed to get RAW video working on Mark III.

The team has been working on their own uncompressed HDMI hack (different from the one they currently have and different from Canon’s impending update), but in the process, they have basically enabled 14-bit RAW still images from liveview without the mirror or shutter moving. Right now the files are about 5MB a frame (pretty large, the one I have is 4MB), and at least on the Mark III the resolution is currently 2064 × 1064 (that’s the sample file I have, people have also been getting varying resolutions, especially on the Mark II). The firmware is currently running at 10fps.

[Update]: Big thanks to Luke Neumann for sending me a few more examples. These really give you a sense of the dramatic improvement. At the moment there is some junk around the borders of the frame that needs to be removed (full image was 2080 x 1386), so it ends up cropping down to a little more than 1080 (click for larger):

Here is what they said on Facebook:


Recent RAW data developments have led to the discovery of the 14bit RAW stream in LiveView. DNG pics with no shutter action now possible on the 5D2 and 5D3!

No mirror flip or shutter curtain movement. This is a big deal for time lapsers who sometimes shoot 1000 or more shots in 1 sitting. This can significantly extend the life of their cameras. Also bodes well for RAW video in the future.

DNG format ported from the CHDK project, so out of the box support in almost any RAW editor. Works fine in w/ Lightroom, Photoshop, and more.

Here are some examples from Luke Neumann, who has been working with the team. The first is regular H.264 video (before and after — click for larger):

Here is a before and after showing what corrections can be made with these new RAW DNG files from liveview:

The final RAW DNG file:

With the Uncompressed HDMI just around corner for the Mark III, what are we looking at here? I’m not going to say 100% that we will get 2K RAW video with these Canon cameras, but it’s very, very likely. Even though right now they are only getting about 10fps, they seem confident they will be getting 24fps in the very near future. Whether it will come to both the Mark II and the Mark III is unclear, but right now I’m sure they are eagerly awaiting the new firmware for the Mark III to see what that may unlock for the team. It’s obvious that Canon has probably written a fair bit of new code with the new firmware, so there may be some goodies locked away that make these cameras even more powerful.

For now we’ll have to wait a little longer for 2K RAW video (it may not be full 2K because of the way the image has to be cropped, but 4K is likely not possible), but from my conversations with those involved, it’s probably going to happen. Obviously hardware has been capable if companies like Blackmagic are doing it, so it’s pretty impressive that some outside programmers are doing what Canon themselves has only made possible in the over $20,000 C500.

What do you guys think?

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  • David J. Fulde on 04.26.13 @ 7:47PM

    Holy shit….

  • Chris Lambert on 04.26.13 @ 7:51PM

    wow. If Blackmagic Hired those guys to write firmware for their cameras I might cry.

    loved what they did for my 550d B cam keep fighting the good fight! No wonder Canon were shit scared of them touching the 1DC/X!!!

    • Diego Gilly on 04.26.13 @ 7:59PM

      What did they do for your 550D if I may ask? Or u could just give me a link that explains it? This is amazing but it’s the first time I’ve heard about it

      • Chris Lambert on 04.26.13 @ 8:08PM

        So many extra functions REC restart for leaving it unmanned in events, intravaometre for timelapse’s, L int R ext audio recording with no AGC, focus peaking, zebras, a focus distance gauge on the screen for electronic lenses and a whole heap of other stuff I need to figure out what it means eg. bulb ramping etc.

        Look into it maybe best decision you may ever make dslr wise!

  • Desmond Williams on 04.26.13 @ 7:54PM

    Please make this happen!!!

  • vinceGortho on 04.26.13 @ 8:04PM

    Wonder if it was a good idea mentioning this now. What if canon brings down the might if their legal team?

  • Stu Mannion on 04.26.13 @ 8:07PM

    Old news. Philip Bloom reported this back on April 1st… Wait. Seriously?

  • This would be amazing! It’s something that Canon should have done in the first place if it was possible, but this would be epic if they can get it done in a timely manner (not 2-3 years down the road). I’d still be able to use my mk II and mk III for video, even after my BMCC shows up.

  • Stu Mannion on 04.26.13 @ 8:10PM

    I wonder why they’re so confident they can get 24p…? Or more importantly 25p. Thanks to Magic Lantern my 5d mk2 has been the camera that keeps on giving.

    • David J. Fulde on 04.27.13 @ 12:40AM

      They are probably confident since it seems that they pretty much went “Oops. RAW.”

  • If they manage to get 24fps, this will be a BIG DEAL, and revival of the 5D.
    Think about it: full frame sensor, good low light performance, new RAW video, 4:4:4 color space, 14-bit depth, improved DR. Plus a very good stills camera.

    Damn!

  • vinceGortho on 04.26.13 @ 8:18PM

    My old 5dIII would heat up easily when shooting in the sun. Will this make it worse?

    • ^^^ 5D MkIII ? thats farely new….do u mean the mkii version? but anyway my 5dmk3 isnt going anywhere for a few years…..hate on haters

  • Harry Pray IV on 04.26.13 @ 8:33PM

    If 2K RAW at 24p is possible, I’ll feel better about hanging onto this thing.

  • This is HUGE! Nikon if your listening please work on this for the D800!

    I heard in a podcast recently that interviewed a codec programer that had something to do with a 4K distribution project, that encoding RAW took less processing power than H.264. I guess this makes sense since the idea is to keep the original quality.

    There was a discussion at NAB about ‘Is DSLR video dying?’ Even without announcements like this, everywhere we look DSLR isn’t dying its growing. The difference is its not as loud about it these days because its become part of the furniture. Its still a toddler tho thats growing every year and something like this will be a huge step. Nice to see theres still excitement in the form factor :)

    • Yes, RAW video is easier than H.264, but it’s the data rates that have kept uncompressed RAW video from existing on cameras until now. RED obviously worked around these issues with compressed RAW.

  • wow… mind blown!

    I really do hope this comes through!

  • This has been on my mind all day, its an amazing thing if they can get it up and going in a timely manner. To have 24fps in Raw on such a small camera with good battery life and full frame sensor will be amazing. The data rates will be large but well worth it. Im also wondering how long they can record images at this rate, even for a 1 min would be amazing for most of us. 2 Min would be great. How will sound be handled though? Cant wait to see the test and hope to see a timeline for us so we can plan our next projects with this system.

  • This would kill BMCC 2.5K Version.

    • Unlikely. It’s still using line skipping for sampling, so it’s not going to resolve the same level of detail as the BMCC. More dynamic range and better color fidelity are welcome improvements, though.

      You’ll fill an SD card very quickly in RAW if they can get it stable for more than a few seconds at a time. Looks like being very handy for timelapse, but we don’t know if video is going to be an option yet. The Magic Lantern hackers have done a great job in the past (making my 550D much more handy than it used to be) so good luck to them!

  • Dave Mueller on 04.26.13 @ 9:09PM

    Man, this just makes me wonder again what they could do with the 1D X-if not for the fear of invoking Canon’s wrath.

  • Ben Maciejack on 04.26.13 @ 9:14PM

    This is amazing! I would love to see this at 24fps on the mark II. These guys are kicking tail and taking names!

  • I think it’s basically vaporware until they have a stable build at 24 fps. People are getting WAY too excited over something that *might* happen, and there’s no telling how these Mk II/III’s will handle this sort of processing. It sounds awesome, no doubt – but I’m skeptical.

  • Not holding my breath here. Even if the Digic processor can handle this bitrate there’s almost no chance an SD card (or CF card for that matter) could keep up at 24p. Still could be an interesting exercise for the ML folks and they could discover something very useful for stills or burst with this. If ML could manage to do a “compressed RAW” encoding just maybe it’s possible, but then we start bumping up against the processing power of the Digic.

  • Acccording to the forum latest posts they achieved 720P 422 at 24fps for over than 150 frames.
    Thats promising!

  • If its taking photos during video, does it sample rolling shutter as well?

    • Antony Alvarez on 04.26.13 @ 10:39PM

      I was wondering this as well! Maybe this method could you be used for compressed 1080p with a global shutter

      • The shutter is staying open, because it’s working in live view. Rolling shutter will like be the same as in video mode.

  • any idea if this will be possible for my 6D?

    • The newly found buffer which enables ML to do this had already been discovered on the 6D a while ago. It is just 12bit. Currently everyone is focusing on 5DII and 5DIII though. The next days and weeks will show more details.

  • If you can be just a little bit patient, I think you’re all going to get a ton of RAW camera choices at all price points.
    Good on ML, always loved their stuff, but in around 4-5 months this may seem less exciting.

    • I don’t think so if you consider the MKII is now an old camera. Imagine just having a RAW camera that’s been there working for years and now… bang! It is appears as a 2k RAW camera with 2 more extra stops! lol

      Why you need a “dragon” sensor? This camera is getting a HUGE update for much much less… lol

      24fps RAW in a MKII? lol Those guys on ML are just awesome!!

    • Mark,

      Is there something you know or are you just speculating?

  • kind of a noob question: if this works out — what is the camera outputting ? what is the format ? there is no codec involved, as i understand, because this is a raw image stream at hopefully 24fps … would it be called cinema dng format ? and would ppro cs6 ingest that natively ?

    thanks.

    • it’ll output an imagesequence of .dng files. You can open and edit them in almost any advanced editing software.

  • I’m insanely impressed with the Magic Lantern guys, and totally disappointed with Canon.
    Go ML!

    What kind of program do you have to use to edit this footage with?

  • Ruslan Randzhabar on 04.27.13 @ 12:12AM

    I really hope Canon will not try to stop guys from Magic Lantern as it was with 1DC. We live in a very exciting time!

  • I’ve been thinking about upgrading from my mark III to something like a black magic camera with a real codec and image. This could be an amazing update!

  • ML is fantastic. You here nothing for a while and then they bring on another sensation!

  • Chris Lambert on 04.27.13 @ 12:08PM

    As exciting as all this is how practical really is this likely to be the cost of CF’s needed to get through a day’s shoot will make the BMC with its comparatively cheap SSD’s still the most attractive option.

    Exciting stuff though and if CF prices keep dropping a lowlight performer like this in RAW could be something real special.

  • What the f

  • Greatest news I’ve ever heard.

  • Holy shit-balls :O

  • I would really like the option of RAW on my DSLR but will most definitely still get a BMCC. It just seems better equipped but STILL(!) how amazing is this! What I would like to hope that now they are bypassing the compression that they can encode in ProRes 4.2.2 or something better than the crappy h.264 codec they currently use Now THAT would be a nice addition too. Especially if they retain the resolution of the Silent Pics they are currently churning out! EEK! :D

  • My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different web page and
    thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to exploring your web page for a second time.

  • I want a cats generator on my dslr

  • Seriously, if I can get 2K from my 5DmkII I’ll be super happy! I shoot marketing films and want that cinematic dynamic range, of course, but I only get a small budget every year. Sooner or later this dynamic range race will slow down and we’ll all feel like we can invest in technology without feeling the remorse 4-5 months later….

  • After following how canon has handled their own hdslr revolution I wouldn’t buy another camera from them with the BM-cameras on the horizon. The stills on my 7D are more than enough right now and for video I’m better off switching supplier.

    I can still use the canon-lenses though. :)

  • That would be awesome if it came to the mark II as well. I was thinking of selling my mkII and getting a black magic camera for our b-camera but this is very interesting news.

  • When will available to download?

  • Superfabius on 05.3.13 @ 6:36AM

    Finger crossed!!!

  • Ralph Linhart on 05.4.13 @ 12:18AM

    will this solve the aliasing problems that all DSLR’s have?

  • I think they should start a Kickstarter project!! I know there is no certainty but the potential is worth it!
    I wonder if the 5D III hardware is capable of a Prores encode?

  • Any news about RAW? I am looking for everyday someone who can give more information and nothing. I colaborated twice with ML but for video i Think, no news – practical news for mark III, I mean – long time ago…

  • Hey there,
    I tried everything but there is no way getting the raw function working on the 5D Mark 2.
    Can anyone help please?
    THX

  • So where can I find the 5D Mark II firmware that allows for raw footage?

  • This is pretty exciting. I have been using the 5D2 for a couple of years for corporate HD production. I’d much rather have a clean raw video file at 1080p than 2k or 4k that is heavily compressed and/or noisy. IMHO expanded dynamic range, less/no compression, and cleaner images is more useful than the current resolution race to 4K and beyond.

  • mukesh goel on 12.8.13 @ 1:12PM

    i need full tutorial for2k for 5d mark iii so please help me if you call me i am great full to you my no is 919871321866 thank you

  • Elie Al Kadi on 04.10.14 @ 11:41AM

    Hey there,
    I tried everything but there is a way getting the fps250 function working on the 5D Mark 2.
    Can anyone help please?
    THX

  • Is it necessary to write the word “actually” so much? You use it when you don’t need to and it seem like something one learns not to do in high school, yet you use it in journalism.