We've heard a lot about RAW video on Canon DSLRs using Magic Lantern, but could it be possible with other cameras? Theoretically, yes. In order for DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras to create a Live View image, they have to take the RAW feed from the sensor, debayer it, and then downscale it for the display and recording. Nikon's DSLRs have had hacks for some time, but progress has been slow, probably because of their lackluster video offerings until recently and the much smaller community. With a recent discovery from Simeon Pilgrim, we may be one step closer to RAW video on some Nikon cameras.
Here's some of what Simeon said on his page (this took place after he bricked a D5100):
So reading the D7000 firmware with more vigor I discovered why the D5100 didn’t make sense, Nikon had removed the liveview raw saving code, because it’s present in the D7000, and with a simple tweak I got it working.
So for now it’s truly the raw buffer (the part that’s put in the .NEF but with none of the EXIF data), and it takes a hack to turn on, and I’ve not nailed the FPS, nor do I have a clue how to speed it up, but it’s all very cool.
Form the two test video’s I’ve done, the first took 25 frames in 18 seconds so 1.33 fps, on an Extreme 45MB/s San Disk SD card. The second video with an Extreme Pro 95MB/s San Disk SD card, I got 15 frames in 10 seconds, so 1.5 fps. Not ground breaking stuff, but the code to do this was already present in the D7000 firmware. So making it “better” will take a while.
I’ll post a couple of files in case anybody is keen to try decode them. https://simeonpilgrim.com/files/Liveview_silent.zip
[Update] Simeon recently posted this update:
Turns out that after some data review, the files contents appear to be the left over ram from taking previous pictures and not the current raw buffer. sigh. Well at least we now have a button, that is wired up to run in live view and a complete understanding of the file handling process, albeit a slow process.
The folks over at Nikon Hacker, including Simeon, have been steadily working on these patches for a while, with one of the main features for a number of cameras being the removal of the 30 minute record limit (which is an artificial limit anyway put in place for tax reasons). The community is much smaller than those working with Magic Lantern, but with more people pitching in, we might see some equally amazing stuff coming for Nikons. 1.33 and 1.5 frames per second might not be much, but the Canon RAW video hack also had humble beginnings. Now we have proof that the camera -- and possibly other Nikon cameras -- can record images in Live View without the mirror moving. This is a big step towards actually shooting RAW video on the Nikon DSLRs, but a lot of work still needs to be done.
Simeon has links on his website to download the patched firmware, but it's important to remember that you are doing this at your own risk (though if you brick your camera, all hope is not lost). If you'd like to learn more, head on over to the Nikon Hacker website and Simeon's website, where you can donate money and/or resources to the project (we highly encourage both). Simeon and the Nikon Hacker website are the official source for all Nikon hacks out there, so if you are going to donate, that is the place to do it.
What do you guys think? Would you consider Nikon if RAW video happens?