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Non-Video Canon 50D from 2008 Hacked to Shoot RAW Video with Magic Lantern

Julian Canon 50D RAW VideoThis is something you don’t see everyday: a camera that couldn’t even shoot video back in August 2008, is now shooting RAW video with the newer Magic Lantern hack! It seems the APS-C Canon 50D, which contains a CF card slot, is a much more capable video DSLR that it would have appeared at first glance. The tech inside the 50D looks like it borrows a lot more from its higher-end siblings, like the 5D Mark II, and it’s possible we may actually get better RAW video quality out of the 50D than we do out of any of the non-CF Canon cameras. Check out some samples below.

There has been a lot of development in the Magic Lantern Forum, here is Julian’s first test with the 50D. He’s getting reliable recording without frame skipping at 1592 x 720:

Julian mentioned in the forum that he’s getting plenty of aliasing and moire, which is no surprise considering only the Canon 5D Mark III has been designed to avoid that. He has also made some RAW DNGs available, so be sure to download them to try out yourself. The camera doesn’t have playback or audio recording as it was never designed to shoot video, but this isn’t too different from the RAW recording on the other Canon DSLRs at the moment. You’d still have to record audio separately and manually sync. Here is the second test — he mentions the skipping is not from the camera but from his DNG conversion during the editing phase:

Julian mentioned what’s possible on the Canon 50D in terms of resolutions right now:

There’s no 1440 or 1366.

Options in the build i’m using:

Width: 640, 720, 960, 1280, 1320, 1920 (this resets to 1592 automatically).
Height: 320, 360, 480, 540, 720, 840, 960, 1080 (this resets to 1062).

Would be nice to have some more resolutions. Especially something between 1320 and 1592. Is this possible?

Just realised I should try 1320×840 with 1.5x anamorphic. That would make 1980×840 = 2,36:1

[Update]: I’ve added this test from Bert:

In the current build it looks like the hardware itself maxes out at 1592 x 1062, so it may never be possible to get full 1920 x 1080, but the amount of information contained in the RAW files is such that it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to upscale a few hundred pixels in both directions. There have been many tests online showing that upscaling even very low resolutions is still better than the native H.264 recording.

This is pretty remarkable either way, and it’s certainly a testament not only to the hardware inside the cameras, but to the Magic Lantern testers for pulling a few rabbits out of theirs hats to give us video recording on DSLRs that never had it before.

You won’t be able to find any Canon 50Ds for sale new, but they seem to be running around $400-$600 on eBay, so if you were interested in getting one, now might be the best time!


[via Canon Watch & EOSHD]


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  • bought one this afternoon, did some really short testing because i haven’t got a fast cf card, but it looks good!

  • in the anamorphic clip, is it me or i dont see any obvious rolling shutter at 1:22 when the bus passes by?

  • :( 7d is now officially the dumbest video purchase of life.

    • LOL, I feel ya. I never stop thanking my friend who made me go for the T2i instead. But take heart, there’s an ML alpha out for it right?

    • Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity.

      • Or you could consider a GH3.

        • john jeffries on 05.27.13 @ 7:54PM

          +1 for the GH3, i rented one for a weekend because I was bored and made a short and the footage is incredible. really fine “noise” which is more like grain honestly, really sharp image, decent dynamic range. the menu system is stupid though.

    • Ben Lancaster on 05.27.13 @ 4:50PM

      The 7D was a great purchase at the time, and is still a good camera. You have to buy based on the cameras on the market, and not the mythical ones that are coming out next year.

      Speaking of the 7D, though, any chance this RAW crack will come to that camera?

    • I’ve paid back the 7d at least 20 times over in the year and a half I’ve had it – dumb purchase? C’mon mate, until ML find a way to externally record the RAW files, these cameras might look amazing, but are not a viable option for most people. – if you’re doing nature doco’s and want to get short bursts of cinematic looking landscapes, then maybe it’s worth the hassle…

    • The 7D is still a great photo DSLR, which is the main reason I bought it in the first place instead of the 60D.

    • This give me hope re raw on the 7D (from the Magic Lantern FB page):

      “I heard somewhere that later on you fellas will be creating this hack for the canon 7D, is this true? And if so, how long? I dont have enough money for a 5D MK3 but I have my trusty 7D.”

      Magic Lantern: “It is in the works, but due to the more complex architecture in the 7D, the implementation is a bit more complicated.”

    • My 7D has made over 32x the money I paid for it in two years (just did the math). Helped get me the cover of an international music mag, and helped shoot a feature that played in theaters! Helps pay my rent, my bills, and takes me out to breakfast, lunch, and dinner every once in awhile. Not to mention the 100′s of people I have met while out shooting and having a good time! Dumbest video purchase??? HAHAHAHAHAHHAAA!! That’s a good one.

      RAW will be a nice addition to the already very good 7D toolset but you certainly don’t NEED it to make a living with a 7D. 50D seems like a good idea if you already have one but I don’t think it would be smart to buy one just because of ML. With a Mark III it makes sense but a 5 year old camera that can’t shoot video without being hacked? Personally I’ll pass, but that’s me.

      The Magic Lantern team should develop their own camera maybe? It seems like they could with the right funding. Something that records to CF cards… hint hint

      GO ML!!!! You guys are freakin geniuses. And for the record if I could shoot RAW on a 7D it would keep me from buying a Sony F3 for just a litttlllleeeee while longer :)

  • Magic lantern is just rocking my world. I’ve been using it for years and loving every minute of it but these new developments are absolutely draw dropping. The 50D is 5 years old! That is almost 76 in digital camera years!

    As soon as someone can figure out how to adapt the CF card to SATA and use the full bus speed this is going to be even more exciting and I’m glad to see some people working on it.

    I am also really hoping the magic lantern magicians will figure out a way to get the 14 bit raw down to 12 or 10 bit to up the resolution or increase frame rates. People are discouraged because they haven’t figured it out in the last 7 days but come on naysayers have got to get tired of being so wrong when it comes to the ML team.

  • Nobody mention that this camera doesnt have any mic, so it cant take any audio.

    • It’s mentioned in the story, u have to use sync sound.

    • Quoting from above:
      “The camera doesn’t have playback or audio recording as it was never designed to shoot video, but this isn’t too different from the RAW recording on the other Canon DSLRs at the moment.”

    • Nobody mention that you read can not …

  • Is that purple rain or purple haze in that first video? ;-P

  • Does this mean that 1080p 24p raw for the t3i is around the corner?

    • just sell your t3i you could probably still get 400 to 450 out of it, save up and go a buy a refurbished mark 2 from canon for a nice decent price, by the time you save up the money, hopefully there would be a more stable firmware update

  • This is really cool because I’m a 50D owner. The images look great and the high ISO performance really surprised me. If you would try to take a photograph in raw with the 50D in ISO 12800 it will look terrible… but for raw video it looks fantastic. The 50D has some chroma noise but it’s easy to remove when you develop the raw files and it won’t affect the sharpness. Very cool development! Thanks ML!

  • Any hint as to when will a stable ML release for raw video with the MarkIII be availabale?

  • I am the only one not terribly impressed with this footage?

    It’s neat and all that a 5+ year old camera has been “resurrected” for this limited feature, but I don’t see how this is relevant to most users. I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to pick up a 50D for this.

    • It’s not like you should go buy a 50D for shooting video – but the fact that it can actually shoot RAW video in 1592×720 while Canon didn’t even give it a video option at all shows how much we are as consumers limited by product politics.

      • Well, I wouldn’t go as far to say this is a case of “product politics”. Back when the 50D was released, shooting in RAW (heck, even shooting VIDEO on a DSLR) was completely unheard of at the consumer level. I’m not even sure there were CF cards in existence fast enough to support it at the time.

        I’m more inclined to think this is a reflection of the genius of the ML team rather than a deliberate ploy by Canon to keep their cameras crippled. As for the mk III, though…

        • Canon has a rich history of “crippling” their cameras to ensure their product hierarchy remains intact. There have been numerous hacks available for their “low-end” cameras prior to Magic Lantern to restore the features which are available in hardware yet crippled by the firmware – please do not underestimate Canon’s ability and willingness to make you their consumer bitches.

      • Dont blame Canon, its not their fault the 50D didnt come out with video on an DSLR. Nikon had to invent it first ;)

  • This is yet another example of how cynical Canon really is.

    There’s such a gap between what it can provide ….and the dumbed down products it is providing. At least Blackmagic will give the Japanese techno-dripfeeders the kick in the a*se they deserve.

  • Its a sign. This easily tops turning water into wine.

  • I still say Canon’s behind this. Just look at the timing. Trying to knock BMD off the block.

    • I’ve had the same thoughts from the beginning, as X-Files as it may sound.

    • While I wouldn’t say they are “behind it”, I’m sure they have realized that staying quiet and letting the ML folks do their thing is a good brand strategy.

    • No way they’re behind it. If they were, they’d release it themselves!

      • I’m sure Canon know’s that the limits of the current hardware’s not presentable for primetime (i.e. sustained recording to CF cards). It’s just putting the hope out there that maybe Canon will jump in and start releasing RAW cameras within our reach soon and keep us from jumping on the new BMD cameras. I’m still waiting to see what the 2 new Cinema cameras are between the C100-C300 and C300-C500 that were supposed to be announced. I think BMD caught them off-guard at NAB and they had to go back to the drawing board.

      • No they wouldn’t – because then they would have to support it … and it is not like they will be getting much profit out of selling 50d’s anymore, is it ?? In fact, would this actually reduce the number of current model cameras they could sell ?

  • I hope Magic Lantern will get the hack working on the original 5D (mk I). If I remember correctly it has a native 4K full frame sensor. Maybe it’s possible to record the full frame in 10 bit raw without any downscaling?

    • No.

      Without Live View in the camera, it won’t have the raw feed to pick up data from.

      Also, most older cameras have far slower data rates for cards.

  • TAKE DOWN THE PAGE! I’m buying a 50d and if the seller sees this he may have second thoughts! For the love of God take it down! lol

    • Another Tim on 05.28.13 @ 4:59AM

      Lol, you took the words right out of my mouth!
      I’ve still got to unload some unused gear on ebay first before I can start bidding.

      Help me out NFS – TAKE IT DOWN!

  • Another Tim on 05.28.13 @ 5:02AM

    Serious question though, how is the regular 50d ML footage. How well does it intercut with a 600d?

    I wouldn’t normally dive right in to buying but I figure if it can be a decent B cam with extra functionality every once in a while – why not?

    Good plan?

    • What do you mean by “the regular 50d ML footage”?

      The 50D doesn’t record video apart from the raw hack, so there is no regular footage, as such.

      • Another Tim on 05.28.13 @ 11:02AM

        There seems to have been h.264 1080p video unlocked a while ago – going by various YouTube videos. I never heard of it before, I’m more nervous now. Can anyone confirm before I commit to a deal?

  • I was thinking, if you have a 2x anamorphic lens and want a 1080p video in 2.40:1 aspect ratio (with letterbox), then 960×800 should be enough, right? That would not only save space, but also shouldn’t be too much for the 50D to cope with.

    • Correct. As long as the edges of the frame are clean, which I expect they would be.

    • Rodrigo Molinsky on 05.28.13 @ 1:57PM

      Or could you try a 1280 x 1062? It’s more data than 1592 x 720, but not that much so… I don’t know. Maybe, with a more stable version, can be possible. If I had a 50D and 2x anamorphic lens, I’d try this resolution at first.

  • Here’s an idea..why dont the amazing people of ML just start a kicstarter fund for a device you can connect thru USB that takes over the camera’s internal processing engine and records raw/compressed video thru an external ssd? Not thru hdmi..thru usb. Its the only direct way to any camera’s brain! Wi this can take any dslr at any price range and turn it into a raw shooting monster! And Please ML, CRACK OPEN THE RECENT SONY NEXS AND SLTS!!! They have sensors capable of 60p scans!! WE NEED 60p RAW!!!!!!

    • Rodrigo Molinsky on 05.29.13 @ 2:18PM

      I could be wrong, but I believe there is some guys in ML trying to use SSD trough the CF interface in the 5D mk iii to se what happens. So, it could be even faster then usb and, if it works, be useful for other CF compatible cameras.

  • I just did the math. A Canon 50d has an expected shutter life of 100,000 snaps. One hour of 24 frames per second video chews up 864,000 snaps. Hmm, beautiful images, but worth burning through the shutter life of the camera? Especially a used one. I may be missing something but the math seems easy enough.

  • So I just traded my 60D for a 50D and $250 in cash. This hack better be awesome. I also think this may be the first time in my life that I have ever downgraded(in a waY) my camera…

  • The HOT NEWS is that developer 1% has broken the 80MB/s write barrier so the 50d is on the verge of shooting full 1080p 14bit raw video continuously. Even my 600x Transcend 16gb card is steady at 75MB/s+ The 4gb limit is not an issue (file spanning). Big progress is also being made in ‘buffer sorting’ enabling SD cameras to shoot more frames. The buffer sorting part hasn’t yet been tried on the 50d so who knows what will happen next. Exciting!

    If the latest hack works on other CF cameras we could see the 5d3 matching the BMCC’s 2.5k resolution soon ;)

  • I have a 50D so hope this works!

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