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RAW Video DSLR Comparison: Canon 50D vs. Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 50D vs 5D Mark II Magic Lantern RAWIt is absolutely incredible how far the Magic Lantern RAW video hack has come in such a short amount of time. Not only is it getting more stable every day, but they’ve managed to get a camera that never shot video at all — the Canon 50D — giving us beautiful RAW video. If you’ve been looking for a cheaper used camera to play around with RAW video (or you happen to have one of these sitting around), the Canon 50D and the full-frame Canon 5D Mark II are both great options (and both are from 2008), but how do they compare against each other?

Julian over on the Magic Lantern forum has been posting some of his video tests with the 50D, here is a new comparison with the Mark II, with some notes from Julian about the test:

1. Flickering in 50D footage is caused by turning off exposure simulation in camera
2. Same 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor on both camera’s. Changed distance to object with 50D to compensate for cropfactor.
3. The 5D Mark II was set at iso 6400 for f/16 and 100 for f/2.8, 50D should have used about the same values, but it was calculating them.
4. The first shots (5D and 5DII) both are brightened + 1 stop in ACR. No oder edits, only tried to match white balance.


Canon EOS 50D @ 1592x720p (max width)
Canon EOS 5D Mark II @ 1880x840p (max width)

DNG’s processed in ACR. No sharpening, no luma noise reduction (color 25, default setting).
Exported as JPG, imported in Premiere as Image Sequence.

First shots show original crops. After that the same shots upsized to 1920p and the same shots with Sharpen filter added (value 20).

I actually noticed a bit more moire in the black on the chair, but it seems like the 50D would intercut very well with the 5D Mark II based on this test. It seems to be a bit of trial and error to get the 50D recording correctly and the files importing correctly in post, but if you’ve got one around, it’s a heck of a still to now be able to record high-quality RAW video. While I’m sure 50Ds will be going up in price over the next few days/weeks, there should be plenty of Mark IIs around at reasonable prices.

If you missed them, here are his original videos (the anamorphic one has some stuttering based on post conversion, it looked fine in the camera):

Another sample from the 50D:

You can find some sample DNGs in the link below from the 50D if you’d like to see the quality for yourself (instead of watching compressed on Vimeo).

How many of you were lucky enough to snag a used 50D on eBay — or maybe you already owned one? What do you think of the RAW quality so far?



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!

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  • Not really a fan of the ML RAW on the 5D MkII – recording at 1880×840 results in a lot of dropped frames after about 5 seconds of recording using Komputerbay 1000x cards. Images look great, but I don’t like losing frames. And 1280×720 just doesn’t do it for me.

    I know it’s still early… let them play with the code some more and maybe find a more stable workflow before I use the 5D in RAW mode for any real project.

    • you sure it’s not your card? have you tested others?

      • Just tried it with my San Disk 60 MB/s card – had similar issues with dropped frames. Could very well be the cards aren’t fast enough – but it also be the buffer can’t handle it. I don’t know, I’m not a camera expert code expect :P

        • Could be your card, I record raw video on Komputerbay and lexar 1000x cards without any dropped frames. I actually think they’ve updated it as well!

  • If this works for the 50D, would it also work with the original 5D?

    Either way, incredible what those magicians are doing at ML!!

  • I hope some day to reord at least 1550*600 in my t3i, with lose any frame for many minutes. Until there i will just watching videos… and waiting for Blackmagic pocket camera.

  • On the 50D, is there anyway to use a Picture Style at the same time that you are shooting RAW (CineStyle, Vision…)?

    And is 1592x720p the most the camera + card will handle on this hack?

    I’d apprecite a swift response if possible, if anyone is well informed, I’m looking to use one of these over a BMCC for an upcoming project in a couple of weeks!



    • I would use the Blackmagic, the firmware is far from done.

    • If you’re using raw for client based work, I’d use BMCC. The Magic Lantern Raw video hack is essentially experimental code. Brilliant potential, but it’s not quite ready for robust production, IMO.

    • No, picture styles do not work with RAW but there is no need for picture styles because RAW is neutral.

      Things you need to know about using 50D RAW are:

      1. 4GB file limit, that means 1592x720p at 24fps is about 1 minute and 15 second seconds max record time

      2. The framerate is 24fps not ATSC 23.976

      3. There will be NO reference audio

      4. Needs a CF card capable of a sustained write speed of 48.2 MB/s for 1592x720p

      5. You need to turn all overlays off (even native Canon overlays), keep liveview exposure simulation on and set photo mode to jpeg only

      It’s still the best price option for “playing” with RAW footage (5D2 cost about 3x more for similar results, t2i/t3i/60D are limited to 20 MB/s card speeds and 7D won’t allow access to these RAW files yet) however BMCC is a better tool for RAW footage acquisitions.

  • These hacks are amazing, but I wouldn’t show up for a paid gig using a hacked camera.

    • I wouldn’t be afraid of shooting RAW for doc stuff. If you have experimented extensively already on your cam/card setup AND it’s ok to just shoot the good ol boring H264 1080p if all hell breaks loose then I wouldn’t worry.

      • I would hate this for ENG/Documentary shooting, note the 4GB(1 minute) file limit. I think this is better for Controlled Environment shooting, with marks and retakes; when capturing real life it’s usually better to keep rolling until something happens.

        • Isn’t RAW generally overkill for ENG?

          • Yes. RAW is hardly ever used for ENG and “reality”-style shows.

            Hell, I shot SEMA last year w/ a Sony FS700 and a very flat picture style (lots of shiny objects in low light). Later, I was told to “just make it look good in camera” because they didn’t usually have time to grade footage.

  • How long records the Canon 5D Mark III and II in a RAW mode?

  • It seems like a lot of hassle to go through to for 1:15 burst of RAW video, but if I had one sitting around, I definitely give it a go. I’d buy a used GH2 or a new BMPCC instead of paying the recently jacked up prices (over $350) for a 50D with no audio.

    • No joke – people now have 50D’s listed for $700-900 on Ebay. How stupid do you have to be to buy one at that price?

    • UPDATE!!!

      An experimental build just popped up on the Magic Lantern forum that allows over 4GB file spanning (new file started automatically I think) Has been tested to 10GB so far (3 minute recording)

    • UPDATE!!!

      An experimental build just popped up on the Magic Lantern forum for the 50D that allows over 4GB file spanning (new file started automatically I think) Has been tested to 10GB so far (3 minute recording)

  • These video examples are great, but can we be spared the thumping dance music that only distracts from our visual concentration? Why every video seen now must include a logo with some type of dance music is beyond me. We just want to see the video!!!

  • When are we gonna have this,RAW, in other brand cameras: NIkon D800 should be amazing!!! GH2 and 3 also!!!

    Come on, please!!!

  • I bought a Canon 50d of Craigslist $375 and it was brand new never used before~! All the cords were still wrapped up, and hadn’t even had the twisty ties taken off. So I am absolutely stoked to have gotten this camera at such a steal. Looking forward to becoming an overnight cinematographer lol.

  • New Pentax DSLR (K3) is announced with RAW video output :!product-highlights

    Movie (resolution/FPS):
    Full HD (1920×1080, 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p)
    HD (1280×720, 60p/50p/30p/25p/24p)
    Quality levels: *** Best, ** Better, * Good, RAW (14-bit)