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Canon 50D Couldn't Shoot Video in 2008. Now in 2013 It's Doing 1080P RAW

Video thumbnail for vimeo video Canon 50D Couldn't Shoot Video in 2008. Now in 2013 It Has Reached 1080P RAW - nofilmschoolMagic Lantern progresses more every single day, and this one is particularly impressive considering the camera couldn’t even shoot video when it was released in 2008. A little less than a month ago, those working on ML managed to get the Canon 50D shooting not just video, but RAW video, and now it’s possible to get full 1080p, even on some slower cards.

Andy600 posted this video to the ML forum, here’s what he said on Vimeo about the test (1080p at 3X zoom possible for 6-10 seconds):

This is a quick test of the EOS 50D recording 1920×1080 24p in Magic Lantern 14bit raw video.

Download the original to see in full HD or check out some frame grabs here:

Shot on Canon EOS 50D (Yes, the one that came out before the 5d MkII and the one that didn’t have video LOL)

Nikon 50mm F2 (Vintage 1974) – Shot at F5.6 – F11 (The lens is effectively 240mm because of APS-C crop + 3x video crop)
Transcend 600x 16GB CF card

Thanks to a1ex from Magic Lantern for the buffer sorting hack that made this possible on a relatively slow CF card.

Raw video files converted to Cinema DNG with raw2cdng app (Thanks Chmee!)

Quick color balance in Davinci Resolve using Black Magic Film settings and Black Magic Film LUT.

Output to H.264, edited in Premier Pro

This particular video was made possible by some experimenting a1ex has been doing involving something he’s calling Variable Buffering (thanks to cinema5D for the heads-up on this):

If you ever looked in the comments from raw_rec.c, you have noticed that I’ve stated a little goal: 1920×1080 on 1000x cards (of course, 5D3 at 24p). Goal achieved and exceeded – even got reports of 1920×1280 continuous.

During the last few days I took a closer look at the buffering strategy. While it was near-optimal for continuous recording (large contiguous chunks = faster write speed), there was (and still is) room for improvement for those cases when you want to push the recording past the sustained write speed, and squeeze as many frames as possible.

So, I’ve designed a new buffering strategy (I’ll call it variable buffering)

Even though this isn’t using the full sensor, you’d have to be pretty cynical not think that more developments are coming. It’s not going to work any miracles, but this particular development will provide slight improvements when you need to squeeze just a little more write speed out of a card.

Things are definitely getting more and more interesting, and the sky is the limit when we’ve got cameras like the Canon 50D now recording full 1080.



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  • Ya Man!

  • Nice! Been doing a bunch of raw tests and conversion tests myself with the mk3, mk2 and 60D. Starting to play in Resolve with them as well.

  • Couldn’t help yourself from throwing up another Canon post, eh ‘Brosef’? :p

  • I have been getting continuous footage on a 5d iii at 1080 with a 600x sandisk without a problem.

    Filled the card today with one single video clip and workes perfectly!

  • Why doesn’t ML take the guts out of one of these Canons and put them in a little black box with a lens mount on it.
    Seems we would all have the camera we’ve always wanted.

    • Isn’t it already basically in a little black box?

      • I was thinking a real video camera form-factor. XLR inputs, SDI output, maybe a PL mount, Alexa-styled menu display. You know… real video camera stuff.

        • I am not sure if they are hardware hackers or not, but if they could physically increase the hardware buffer so the raw files come off at a higher speed it would enable higher resolution and higher frame rates. I’d personally like to see a USB3 or thunderbolt connection going to a computer that immediately turned the raw into cineform or other useful codecs. Carrying a computer is a pain but it worked for the SI2K on Slumdog Millionaire.

          I am really curious if there are some useful functions in the Digital Imaging Core that will allow for alternate codecs on the camera alone but without documentation it looks like a needle in the haystack situation at the moment. The ML guys are doing an amazing job and I think we will see many more developments from them in the near future especially if they can figure out some of these DIGIC features features.

          I think modding the electronics or body to have more inputs or outputs is beyond most users, but if there were a service that did it for you (like the ones that put PL mounts on the canon bodies) it could be very interesting. With 3D printing fabricating new camera body parts is possible for a cottage industry. There are already 3 axis gimbal support rigs you can print off on shapeways (along with camera mounts, quick releases, camera rigs etc). You could even opt to print off parts in stainless steel on shapeways.

          From the comments I can see others are scared of the ML developments. That is awesome!

          • ” You know… real video camera stuff.”

            This “real video camera” talk is getting kind of old. I’m mean, really is FF35 RAW not “real” enough for you? Just say “more features”… or if we’re being real honest here… just say you like big cameras because you’re not confident enough in your work. About 90% of the “real form-factor” guys just want to wave dicks around and impress clients with their on set appearance… ’cause the work is mediocre in the end.

        • @bwhitz…
          Sounds like you have a small camera.

  • The fact that a 5 year old camera, which doesn’t even have a video record button and was never meant to do video, is shooting 1080p raw and that you can buy said camera used for ~350$ is nothing short of amazing. RAW hadn’t even been an option for most shooters until Black Magic started filling orders recently. And suddenly the 50D resurrects itself into the DSLR video club it never even belonged to. What is going on!?

    As amazing and disruptive as the BMCC was it is phenomenal that a group of volunteers at Magic Lantern have somehow surpassed them. And these hacks are still in their infancy! What will naysayers do when ML is recording at 3.5k raw or 60+ fps 1080p?

    • ‘Surpassed’? This is amazing, but let’s not lose our heads. This is a hack. A very good one, but still. The Blackmagic cameras are still astonishing at their price points. Also, a 50mm becomes 240mm? Not the most useful idea. Yes it’s amazing that its recording video at all, but its still someway from useful. There’s a relevant Oscar Wilde quote here.
      Also, I don’t understand the RAW obsession, when 99% of commercial work is not currently shot that way.
      I do think the 5D3 pics are amazing. For me it’s the only one producing images that make you consider buying one purely for the ML hack.

      • As someone who does a lot of photography let me just say RAW is not an option at this point. I can’t even imagine shooting an event or client without RAW. Honestly I can’t believe it has taken this long to get RAW for video because Photography does not work without it at this point. I let someone borrow one of my cameras for a trip and they accidentally underexposed half their shots by 3-4 stops. Some of the pictures looked almost black. A few clicks in Lightroom and it looks like they were shooting for professional magazines.

        We NEED RAW video. Professionals will just have to catch up (like they always do or risk being left behind).

        As for surpassing BMCC, I was specifically referring to how disruptive and amazing ML’s development is. RAW is new on ML but this is not the end of their development. It is the BEGINNING. The BMCC is too small a market share at the moment to have the same impact as old canon’s suddenly shooting RAW for free. ML feels like Napster to the camera world somehow. Sure it is just a firmware update but the camera world will change because of it.

        I also agree that the 5dmkIII does have the best looking images in RAW so far of these smaller cameras. I am really hoping the global shutter on the BMCC4K is amazing through…

        • I understand your enthusiasm, but you are not quite rooted in reality. Raw photo vs video are two VERY different things when everything is taken into account.
          However technologies are evolving, and that is usually a good thing.

          • Ouch! I don’t know what you exactly mean by ‘reality’ or ‘everything taken into account’ in your post, but it still hurts! Your ambiguity has successfully confused me! I concede and I hereby decree you are the victor of this internet battle PeterK! May we both live to disagree again!

          • PeterK is right. Raw for stills is great and necessary. Raw for video is not except in the most extreme circumstances and deepest pockets. It requires massive amounts of storage and very involved workflows. Those clamoring for raw on their video cameras will, soon, be the ones bitching about storing all that data.

            And stop spelling it RAW. It’s not an achronym. It’s just raw.

          • TBH I’m mainly using the hack because the resolution is far better with raw video than Canon’s H.264 and color rendition is brilliant in low light. Storage is an issue but I don’t keep the raw files or DNG/CDNG files once I’ve rendered to Prores or Cineform. I have a 3TB drive for ingesting and converting footage and workflow, although more involved, is not a major issue for me. I can see it would be less feasible for a commercial, fast turn-around environment BUT if that’s how you work you’re less likely to be using a hacked DSLR camera.

          • Treat it in the same fashion as very expensive film stock ;)

  • Thanks for posting this Joe :)

    More developments are in the works that are already yielding 2x the amount of recordable frames, effectively doubling the time that slower cards can record. With the settings I used for this video I could record approx 160 frames per clip (1080/24p) but with some clever work from developers a1ex & 1% I can get 360+ all of a 600x card. Not bad :)

    • Another Tim on 06.22.13 @ 6:12AM

      Is the card the bottle neck though? I’d assumed we were approaching a ceiling set by the card controller (though I may be confusing the rebel cameras RAW – i’m a lurker in both forums).

      What are/where are the limits likely to be with this in the lower end cameras? What should we be expecting?

      Personally I’m most eager about continuous recording without zoom on 50d.

      Also keep up the good work, I believe this & the BM cameras will force the manufacturers to step it up & in the meantime – FREE RAW!

      • My 600x Transcend card can (so far) record up to 72MB/s (with a newer refresh hack) and some 1000x cards are pushing past 81MB/s. The controller is the bottleneck and we’re close to the max now on the 50d and 5d2.

        SD cameras will only reach ~21MB/s because of the hardware controller limit. The 6d and 650d fair a little better because of UHS-I support but even then they can only reach ~41MB/s write speeds.

        We can already record continuously on the 50d in non-cropped mode but frame size is limited to 1584 px wide x whatever aspect ratio is selected.

    • See my reply immediately above this. The SD controller isn’t fast enough I’m afraid.

  • I’m really hoping this develops to the point of being able to record 720p on the SD card cameras. Though, with a limit of 21 MB/s for the regular ones and 41MB/s for the ones with UHS-I controllers, that might be just a pipe dream at this point…

  • Dannggg Imagine the FOV using a 200mm lens on this! Spy mode activated xD

  • … when doing camera tests … please, please, *please* … include various shots of people of various skintones and lighting … wides are fine, but i need to see people … thnx

  • Is there a problem with overheating with this hack.

  • It is doing continues 2000 x 910 at 24fps in crop mode with Transcend 32GB x 1000 card

  • I may have to be the lone wolf and say that this hack on this particular camera seems more of a novelty than an actual USEFUL tool for a full production. With an effective 240mm focal length on a 50mm lens I can’t really see the use of this camera/hack combo to shoot a whole production. With those numbers you would need a 6mm lens just get to ~30mm. For shoots require extreme focal lengths this is great (or if you are shooting in a extremely large space), but for a standard production requiring your normal wide, med, and close ups shots.. not so much. I wish it had more to offer because for the price point it would make a great RAW cinema camera for indies.

    Someone chime in if I’m missing something.

    • Full 1080p is available in crop mode but you can still shoot 1536×892 (continuous) and upscale it in post. This makes use of the whole sensor so you’re only dealing with the APS-C crop of 1.6x. There is a little more aliasing and moire in non-crop mode but it’s controllable.

      A Tokina 11-16mm gives +/- 50mm coverage in crop mode so it’s quite useable.

      Obviously it’s not even designed to shoot video so there are drawbacks and workarounds needed for serious shooting but I haven’t touched H.264 since we got raw.

      The 50D isn’t too bad in low light either ;) (no NR – ISO 400-1600)

  • hey , so im using canon 50D with magic lantern, i can record, but when i connect the camera to my computer, and when i try to import the video files , always do some error, and its like never end to import… some one knows whats wrong?