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BMCC vs. Canon 5D Mark III: Did Blackmagic Just Get a Full-Frame RAW Video Competitor?

cinema5D_5D_Mark_iii_BMCCEven though Blackmagic announced two more cameras at NAB, the original 2.5K BMCC is still shipping in limited quantities. While the company has been working hard to address the situation, an unlikely competitor has come along thanks to Magic Lantern: Canon’s year-old 5D Mark III. It is now the only DSLR to shoot RAW stills and video, and even though the hack is still in the early stages, it’s becoming clear that it will be a force to be reckoned with at this budget level. The guys over at cinema5D have been working with the hack, and they’ve now posted the first test comparing RAW video from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the Canon 5D Mark III. The results are interesting, to say the least.

Here is the video, shot using the 24-105mm on the Mark III and the 16-50mm Tokina on the Blackmagic:

Some observations from their site:

What became clear is that both cameras provide very similarly capable RAW files. You can adjust everything and everything is possible. You can get similar details out of the sky and set all you like in post. Color temperature, tint, dynamic range, no problem. The 5D is just as strong as the BMCC, providing maybe a bit more dynamic range.

Where the cameras differ in terms of RAW is one big thing: Noise. The 5D mark III can shoot indoors at ISO 1600 and there’s almost no noise while the Blackmagic starts to get ugly at this point.
The noise from the BMCC is also apparent when raising the blacks in a shot.

Moire and aliasing is another big big issue on Blackmagic and there is very litte of that on the 5D RAW. The cleanness of the shots of the 5D RAW in general is extremely pleasing and jumps at you when you sit in front of the RAW images. Check some of the dng’s yourself in our other post.

The Mark III’s video before this hack was pretty lackluster compared to a lot of the other options for video. The Nikon D800 had a sharper image, more dynamic range, and clean HDMI, and Canon has only just delivered that update recently. Honestly, while I think the camera as an overall package was worth it, if you were to look just at the video capabilities, the Mark II has about 75% of the quality for around half the price. If you’re willing to install Magic Lantern, however, the 5D Mark III just became a powerhouse in its budget range.


I really haven’t had any issues with aliasing on the BMCC, but you can definitely find them in specific circumstances. While the guys weren’t using the same lens on both cameras, the Blackmagic has a bit sharper of an image — but not by much — and that’s really the crazy part about this hack. Just in terms of image quality alone, the BMCC completely destroyed the Mark III just a week ago.

It probably goes without saying that the BMCC’s firmware is made to shoot RAW, and the Magic Lantern hack for RAW video is still in its infancy. The BMCC certainly has advantages to the hacked Mark III, like audio input with RAW, internal ProRes/DNxHD, HD-SDI, playback in-camera, more re-framing options in post, and a free color grading application (DaVinci Resolve). If the hack becomes rock solid and allows for longer record times, and if you’re willing to deal with the workarounds (and strictly image quality is your chief concern), there is a very compelling reason to take another look at the 5D Mark III if you haven’t done so already (and if you own one, you can see the quality for yourself).

Either way, these cameras would definitely complement each other on set, and there are situations where one might be more appropriate over the other.

Head on over to cinema5D for more on the hack and how you can get started with it (though again, waiting until they fully release it is probably the best course of action for most people).

Link: Canon 5D mark III RAW vs. Blackmagic Cinema Camera RAW — cinema5D

Disclosure: Blackmagic is a nofilmschool advertiser.

Related Posts

  1. These RAW Video Clips Will Make You Want a Canon 5D Mark III (Unless You Already Own One)
  2. Blackmagic Cinema Camera Shows the Canon 5D Mark III Who's Boss
  3. Magic Lantern Unlocks RAW Video on the Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III


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Description image 151 COMMENTS

  • does anybody know if it´s possible to build a connector from cf card slot to sata. i think about running a cable out of the cf slot from the mk3 to a ssd drive. then we could use ssd´s direct with the 5d which would be awesome. there are adaptors from cf card to data but i could not find the other way around.

    • That would really be something. A hardware hack for faster data rates really would be awesome. I know high speed cameras have a large physical buffer they fill, and something like that could be very interesting especially if it could give higher frame rates or higher resolution video.

      I’d love to see the guys who do cpu overclocking jump on with the magic lantern guys to find a solution that gave 14 bit raw 22 megapixel images at 120 fps before the camera burst into flames :)

      • It would be best if they could route the RAW footage via HDMI to record to a ProRes HQ recorder like the Ninja 2. Given what I have read, the 5D’s Live view is actually a RAW feed, it would seem quite reasonable to assume that this feed could be diverted via the HDMI out. This is Canon’s chance to repay its faithful consumer base and add value to their product now that the cat is out of the bag.

        • From what I’ve read over on the development forum, that’s not gonna work, as LiveView has already been squashed down to 8bit before sending it down the HDMI lead. Perhaps someone who likes code more than me can correct that.

  • does anybody know if it´s possible to build a connector from cf card slot to sata. i think about running a cable out of the cf slot from the mk3 to a ssd drive. then we could use ssd´s direct with the 5d which would be awesome. there are adaptors from cf card to data but i could not find the other way around.
    maybe the powering of the ssd would be a problem. could also be that the power from the cf slot is enough. the power of an usb is enough…

    • I think they’re looking into that, but at the moment recording isn’t possible whilst the card door is open. Either they have to code around that, or butchering the latch on the card door’s going to be necessary for it to work.

  • Cool. 1DC vs 5DMKIII ML could be interesting too…

  • I would say the BMCC performs better in terms of latitude. And that’s not apples to apples. The BMCC in RAW is 2,5K. They should compare both in that resolution.

    • Agree, side by side comparison of 2.5K upscale on 5DM3 anyone?

    • The 2.5K still bothers me. Couple hundred extra pixels for cropping and sharpness and maybe overall quality? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing I’m just saying it bothers me. But the name is Black Magic ‘Cinema Camera’ Shouldn’t rule cinema distribution out but 2.5K won’t cut it. At least no one has been comparing the BMCC to RED. Comparing it to a 5D Mark III ML is more realistic.

      • That’s 640 more pixels horizontally, it’s significative.

        • Yeah, in terms of image quality it might help but what about distribution?
          If people are going to use this as a ‘cinema camera’ how is 2.5K going to work? I don’t mean to be brash or anything I seriously would like to know. I understand the RED workflow shooting 5k creating 1080p proxies for viewing and editing, and pushing it back out to a higher resolution no problem.

          • You do realize the Alexa isn’t a 4K cam and it seems to have no issues with distribution of the content. Many movies are projected 2K in theatres anyway. Stop drinking the RED Koolaid. 4K isn’t the holy grail Jim would have everyone believe… at least not yet.

          • Most films are still distributed and projected at 2k so lack of resoluction on the BMCC would not be an issue.

          • 2K or even HD acquisition is not a problem for movies being distributed commercially anywhere!

      • James Anderson on 05.15.13 @ 10:41AM


        Ever watched Skyfall in the theater?

  • they didn’t understand how to exposure BMC correctly.

  • BMCC is still sharper.

  • Mark III should smoke BMC in terms of resolution. 22MP is no joke. We need 1:1 comparison.

  • The only problem I have with all of this, is storage. We need some type of way to record either to an external recorder via HDMI or maybe some type of CF to HD converter. I am very excited to shoot raw but I am not willing to drop money on cf cards if its going to cost just as much to purchase a Black Magic Production Camera. I have already invested in San Disk 90mb/s cards and supposedly those wont be fast enough for full 1920×1080. Im thinking if the resolution is so much better than the H264 codec possibly shoot 720p and upscaling will still prove to give a better image with less data.

  • it seems like the 5d raw is better in the highlights. hmm.

  • Hello,

    Questions for Joe please

    My understanding is that currently this would be the largest sensor shooting raw including the red dragon sensor and alexas. What would be the significance of this in terms of overall image quality if any in comparison to other super 35mm sized sensors, assuming that it becomes fully operable?

    In terms of size, would the sensor of mk3 be comparable to the Imax film?

    How does “color science” compare between bmcc and mk3? so far color science has been oneof bmcc’s greatest strengths – a la “baby alexa”

    Also would the BMCC’s global shutter be its greatest feature over Mk3 in terms of shooting motion?

    Any updates on the Panavision 70mm sized sensor digital cinema camera?

    Thank you.

    • Well, I’m not Joe, and he probably knows way more about this than I, but I like writing, so I’ll give you a response as best I can. :-P

      The 5D Mk. III raw hack would allow one to shoot raw video using a larger sensor area than Red’s Dragon sensor at 6K, and definitely larger than the Alexa’s Super 35 mm-sized sensor. However, it would still not be the largest raw-capable camera sensor. Vision Research’s Phantom 65 Gold camera, for example, has a significantly larger sensor at 51.2 x 30.5 mm, approximately the same size as 65mm medium format film. Of course, that camera is a $3,000/day rental.
      Here’s a reference:

      In terms of image quality, there’s no inherent connection between “good” image quality and larger sensors. That said, some of the advantages of using larger sensors tend to come in the form of cleaner and lower-noise images, better high-ISO performance, and higher pixel resolution. One of the greatest strengths of the 5D Mk. III has been its low-light performance; I can’t think of any other raw-shooting camera that is as clean at high ISOs (though the Canon C500 might be a contender since it’s very similar to the C300, a camera already slightly better than the Mk. III in low-light.)

      The sensor of the Mk. III is nowhere near the size of IMAX film. IMAX film is even larger than the size of that aforementioned Phantom 65 Gold camera. Canon’s 5D Mk. III has a 3:2 imaging area of 36 x 24 mm which is usually cropped during video recording to a 36 x 20.3 mm area at an aspect ratio of 16:9. IMAX film, on the other hand, has an imaging area of 69.6 × 48.5 mm at an aspect ratio of about 1:4, which is nearly four times as large.

      Not having tested both the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and raw from the Canon 5D Mk. III myself, I only have what others have produced to go off of. Color science, despite its name, is extremely subjective in nature; different people will find different color representation pleasing. Canon’s DSLRs seem to be known for their pleasing skin tones, for instance, and the added bit depth, at 14 bits per channel, of the raw output from the Mk. III should only enhance that color fidelity. With plenty of BCC footage out in the wild, I’ll leave you to assess it yourself. The video right above in this article directly compares the two. Besides, when shooting raw, while color science does come into play a little bit, it’s not nearly as important as it would be when shooting compressed formats.

      When shooting any fast-moving objects or when moving the camera quickly in a shot (as during a swish pan), rolling shutter will always play a role in your final image. So, yes, the global shutter of the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K (not the Cinema Camera, as you indicated) would completely solve that issue altogether. Not only does the Mk. III have rolling shutter normally, but, from what I’ve seen, it’s even worse when shooting raw video.

      Not being press, I’m not privy to quite the same level of information as Joe may be. I don’t know much, nor have I heard much, about the Panavision 70 mm camera.

      I hope that helped!

  • One additional Q

    If this hack becomes operable in the 1dX- would there be any significant advantages or capabilities over the ML mk3? I remember reading that Canon warned the might of their legal team to anyone hacking the 1dX – in terms of 1dc- makes one wonder what they are worried about………….

    • Since the hack is not available for the 1D X, and people associated with Magic Lantern has already stated that they will not be working on creating a version of the software for that camera, I can’t know for sure what, if any, differences would arise between it and the 5D Mk. III in terms of how they would handle raw video. My best guess is that it would function virtually the same. The 1D X has been said to have a sharper image, slightly more exposure latitude, and noticeably better high ISO/low-light performance than the 5D Mk. III, so those qualities may translate over to raw video as well. One other advantage could come in the form of longer recording times since the 1D X has a faster processor setup and can record still images at a higher frame rate. With improved internal data speeds, one would most likely be able to record for longer periods of time, perhaps at higher data rates. Perhaps, due to the nature of the flexible recording resolutions available in the hack, it could be possible to record at higher resolutions at a 1:1 sensor crop than would be possible on the 5D Mk. III, though that’s all speculation.

      • Recording times on the 5D MkIII are a limitation set intentionally by Canon, and not a limitation of the technology in the 5D3 itself. Its to keep taxation reduced in the purchase price of the cameras – if it were to record 30mins or more, then it falls into the category of a video camera, which is taxed higher – hence the limitation.

  • Still less detail than the BM2.5K, far less shooting time, and the Mark III costs $500 more. Right now the only camera worth my attention is the BM4K.

  • What is all that nasty-a$$ moire on the BMCC? I’m surprised and disappointed, I didn’t think it performed so poorly in that area.

  • So glad I didn’t pick up the BMCC month ago as it turned out it is worth the wait, as a Vancouver wedding photographer & Videographer this will help those of us that has spent our investment on the 5D Mark III for photos and video. Well done Magic Lantern and I can’t wait to work on my personal project when the new firmware release.

  • question…since the mark ll raw video and bmc have moire will this be corrected on the bmc 4k camera coming out?? are there tests out now??

  • We want these hack on the Nikon D800 !!!! Seriously, Please!!
    (not a native speaker)

  • The BMCC still has a stop more DR. Download some DNG files. The BMCC has more. In the shadows the Canon wins. Gotta admit, though, this is pretty amazing.

  • Wow that’s great! Just from watching though, I like the BMCC a little better…. I dunno why. Maybe the color science. Not a whole lot of a difference though!

  • Nicholas Edwards on 05.28.13 @ 11:33AM

    Been using Lightroom 4 and LR Timelapse templets to skip a step in processing of the Raw DNG files, think it is also a superior grading tool compared to adobe camera raw. Saves a step, give it a try!

  • As a beginner in 4k world I am going to buy a BMC 4K to start with. There is a huge set of lenses. I afford just to buy 2-3 lenses. What is the choice?

  • there is NO contest the BMCC blows it away see a real comparison ALL BS, BMCC BLOWS CANON AWAY!!!!!!!!! go see a real comparison review online that actually shows the REAL deal not this laughable joke of a video. hers a REAL review no contest! oh and now a 4K full frame model!! with global shutter. sorry canon its over for you and your overpriced DSLR cameras.

    • That comparison is between the BMC and the 5D MKIII’s built in H264 video. It was made long before Magic Lantern hacked the MKIII and got Raw out of it… The comparison is obsolete and irrelevant…

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