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?