The Holy Grail: 4K RAW Video is Possible on EOS 5D Mark III

Magic Lantern delivers rough proof of concept that enables shooting 4K RAW video on the EOS 5D Mark III.

In what initially seemed to be an April Fool's Day joke, Magic Lantern released an experimental 4K RAW recording build for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. As 4K RAW has long been the Holy Grail for 5D owners, shock immediately shifted to a frenzy of activity as users downloaded the build and began to experiment with it. 

The build adds the following resolutions to the 5D MKIII:

  • 1920×960 @ 50p (both 1:1 crop and full-frame – 3×3 pixel binning)
  • 1920×800 @ 60p (same as above)
  • 1920×1080 @ 45p and 48p (3×3 binning)
  • 1920×1920 @ 24p (1:1 square crop)
  • 3072×1920 @ 24p (1:1 crop)
  • 3840×1600 @ 24p (1:1 crop)
  • 4096×2560 @ 12.5p (1:1 crop)
  • 4096×1440 @ 25p (1:1 crop)
  • Full-resolution LiveView: 5796×3870 at 7.4 fps (128ms rolling shutter)
RAW, but at 12.5p and No AudioCredit: Courtesy of Magic Lantern

Some of the immediate issues highlighted in the announcement by a1ex of Magic Lantern:

  • It feels quite buggy. I’m still hunting the issues one by one, but it’s hard, as Canon’s LiveView implementation is very complex, and our understanding on how it works is still very limited.
  • Write speeds are high. For example, 10-bit 4096×2500 at 15fps requires 180 MB/s. 1080p45 should be a little more manageable at 111 MB/s.
  • Canon preview is broken in most modes; you need to use the grayscale preview in the raw recording module.
  • High-resolution modes (in particular, full-res LiveView) may cause trouble with memory management. This is very tricky to solve, as we only get 3 full-resolution buffers in LiveView, with restrictions on the order in which they must be freed, and lots of other quirks.
  • Since these settings were pushed to limit, the risk of corrupted frames is high. If it happens, decrease the vertical resolution a bit.
  • When refreshing LiveView settings, the camera might lock-up (no idea why). Pressing MENU twice appears to fix it.

This is a "very rough proof of concept." It records RAW, but at odd, non-standard frame rates and resolutions (due to limits as to how fast the 5D MKIII can write data to the memory card). Before you download it, head over to the Magic Lantern Forum, read the threads, and make sure you're up for the adventure. The build is experimental, constantly being updated, and the list of potential issues is not for the technologically faint of heart. For example, this build modifies "low-level sensor parameters that are not well understood. They were all figured out by trial and error….As usual, if it breaks, it's your fault, sorry." Remember that running this will probably void your camera warranty.

Have you tried the build? What do you think? Let us know (and post some video!) in the comments.     

Featured image courtesy of Canon

Your Comment

15 Comments

and that would be about a terabyte a minute in storage ?

April 5, 2017 at 9:19AM

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stephen knifton
owner / creative director
478

Can you share your calcs? I tried to do it, but failed. I came out with a much lower figure using 156MB/s, but I'm not very good at math.

April 5, 2017 at 5:50PM

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Craig Mieritz
Color, Light and Camera Geek

I don't mean to seem disrespectful, but I honestly don't know why people still want Magic Lantern. There are so many cheap cameras that have great quality video/ specs these days that it seems crazy to opt for an unstable software in what is presumably a vital tool that is making you money.

April 5, 2017 at 10:43AM

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Sean Kenney
Event Cinematographer
322

I'm not sure how many people use this on paying jobs versus just experimentation or maybe some indie short films.

April 5, 2017 at 12:09PM

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Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker
815

Well, not all of us have a few thousand dollars laying around. I love that Magic Lantern gave my camera new life, I shoot with it regularly and although the workflow is a pain, once you get used to it it's not bad, just time consuming -almost like shooting film -you really think about your shots more. It's nice not having to buy a new camera every year, when you get older you realize how much of the camera frenzy is just marketing hype.

April 5, 2017 at 3:31PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1813

Well a 5D is more expensive than a lot of those other cameras, so...

April 5, 2017 at 10:01PM

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Pat Heine
Producer.
462

Did I miss something? Which of the specs is 4k, top to bottom, side to side, at a usable frame rate?

April 5, 2017 at 1:56PM

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J Robbins
729

You don't miss anything. 4K is not possible at 24 fps or more.

April 5, 2017 at 3:19PM, Edited April 5, 3:19PM

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Yep, not standard resolutions or frame rates. For me, it's still a marker, rational or not, that a lot of people dreamed about since the 5D first shot video. Magic Lantern is awesome, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but, they do interesting things. How can anyone hate on a group of people who spend their free time seeing what they can do to make a product go beyond what it was intended to do. With the threat of being slapped down by Canon always looming. I love their spirit.

April 5, 2017 at 5:48PM

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Craig Mieritz
Color, Light and Camera Geek

I have been using the raw module since it was first compiled. I shoot a short using the 14 bit raw option, amazing results (but the data rate is not for the faint of heart).

Back then, it was impossible to lower the bit rate, since it is too much taxing to the processor. Now, we can tell the camera to produce different bit depth before reaching the live view, allowing us to archive what this post is about. So achieving 4k 24fps would be posible if we lower the bit depth back to 8. Lose the color to gain DR and resolution? Why not? I'm already happy having 10 and 12 bit options, as well as having the option to change the resolution for anamorphic preferences.

April 6, 2017 at 1:59AM

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Edgar More
All
1335

Magic Lantern give you the stuff Canon does not want to give you. Since the age of microprocessors a camera can be crippled by the company (Canon, Nikon, etc) on purpose using software. It's a shame.

April 6, 2017 at 10:48AM

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"Remember that running this will probably void your camera warranty."

Nope, not in the U.S. anyway. It's against federal law for a manufacturer to automatically deny you warranty service because you modified a product. They have to prove that the modifications caused the problem you're seeking service for. Look up the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

April 8, 2017 at 1:55PM

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David Gurney
DP
2389

Awesome. That's why I love the readers of this site.

April 10, 2017 at 11:56AM

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Craig Mieritz
Color, Light and Camera Geek

Why use ML still?
Color is a king. Adobe Camera Raw gives superb results (despite slight flicker sometimes) in terms of tone mapping, highlight roll-off and fine individual color controls. ML RAW skin is the best skin right out of the box. Afaik only ML RAW and RED with their RedColor and RedGamma have an option of "Instant LIKE gamma on raw" without any need of REC.709 conversion, hassle with log etc.
I'm using UM4.6 right now, but even this camera in raw mode with proper exposure and resolve debayer magic can't offer better color rendition for me.

April 15, 2017 at 4:41AM

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As an amature working a full time plus job and learning what I can when I can, the ML "dry OS" has enabled my old crop sensor 50D and 70D to capture some very nice footage. Its not for everyone. Most pros can not and will not risk a shoot with this but for others we "make the most of what we got". My next camera will probably be the 1Dx ll but what I've learned from the boys at Magic Lantern and the community of users has been invaluable!

April 16, 2017 at 6:41PM

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James Schindler
Aspiring Film maker
166

Hi everyone.
So I tried using the lexar 1000x and magic lentern does not let me record at higher resolution than 1080p. it gives me a read of 86MB/s clearly not the 160 that they claim... The SAndisk is the same.

So my question is... How on earth can we achive 160MB/s with a compact Flash when the two fastest ones can't even do 100MB/s ?

I've spent so much time trying :(

May 25, 2017 at 11:41AM

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Dunk D
81