There’s a TON of interest in the new DNG RAW Video option in the Alpha version of Magic Lantern for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and we know you want to know more. We have some updates and I’ve asked Squig, one of our planet5D forum moderators who has been deeply involved with the Magic Lantern team and their progress, to give us an update.

But first, just in case you’re dying to try it, here are some things you need to know. I tried for several hours yesterday to get the Magic Lantern update to work on my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and had a ton of trouble (and gave up). This isn’t as easy as the ‘production’ version of Magic Lantern – because this is still Alpha!

Here are the things you need to know before you try this version of Magic Lantern:

  • your Canon EOS 5D Mark III must be running firmware 1.1.3 – this will not work with the latest version (the HDMI out version Canon just shipped)
  • your SD card needs to be bootable (and you have to download utilities to make that happen)
  • You have to have a windows machine to process the RAW files (or you can use a windows emulator if you’re running mac) – but you can’t do this if you’re mac only at this point (this is what I didn’t know when I started – and I don’t have a windows machine and don’t want to load an emulator so I’m stuck).
  • To get full frame 24fps video, you’ll need super fast cards – find several over here at B&H Photo Video

The team at cinema5D has created a “how to” guide for the alpha – which I used this morning to get me to the point of recording the .raw files for my movies, but I still can’t see the results.

Before I get to Squig’s report, here’s a good indication of what this update is capable of doing – note the additional detail and latitude in this sample (which even includes a Panasonic GH2 comparison)


Squig reports on the Magic Lantern RAW video alpha

The Magic Lantern crew have done what many believed was impossible, 14bit RAW 24p 1080p recording on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. It’s still early days and there’s no public beta available just yet, there’s development builds being updated with bug fixes and feature additions every few hours, it’s a real hive of creative activity over at ML central.

If you’re itching to try ML RAW for yourself my advice is unless you’re a code freak or a complete lunatic like me don’t! This is real bleeding edge stuff and there’s no guarantees that you won’t brick your precious. The development builds are not supported and it’s in everybody’s best interests to let the devs focus on perfecting the code rather than spending all their time handholding noobs (and loons).

Things are happening so fast that half of this info could be out of date tomorrow, but here’s where we’re at-

  • 1920×1080 24p continuous 14Bit 4444 RAW recording on the 5D MK3, no dropped frames with a Lexar 1000x CF card.
  • Sound is not recorded in the RAW file but I’m told there’s a workaround where you can record sound separately to an SD card.
  • There’s still some bugs messing up the pixels and some cadence issues that need to be sorted out.
    The current recording time limit is however long it takes to reach 4Gb but I’m told it’s just something that’s been put in the code and can be changed to allow continuous recording till the card fills up.
  • On a 600x Lexar card I can record 1280×720 24p without dropping any frames.
  • The file sizes range from about 2mb-4Mb per frame.
  • Resolution and dynamic range are much improved over the H.264 video, RAW video looks like downscaled RAW stills.

RAW development is primarily being done on the 5D MK3 but there is work also being done on ports for other Canon DSLRs including at present the 600D, Canon EOS 6D, and Canon EOS 5D Mark II. These other cameras may or may not be able to record 1080p RAW, development and testing is still in the very early stages.

To view the RAW data files you have to use a windows or linux command line raw2dng utility to decode the files and convert them to DNG, there’s no GUI yet and no mac support. Once you convert the RAW data to DNG you can open the files in After Effects manipulate the RAW file in Adobe RAW and transcode to your desired format. There are plans to add CinemaDNG and MJPEG output to the raw2dng utility.

The following examples were all shot with an early silent pic bust RAW recording build which could only shoot a couple of seconds of 24p 1080p RAW. I have the new 24p continuous build up and running on my MK3 but I’m still struggling to work out how to translate the RAW data files on my mac. These shots haven’t been graded, just minor black crushing, highlight recovery, and some denoising of the first shot in Adobe RAW, and transcoding to ProRes 4444. Download the ProRes files to see a good facsimile of the RAW DNGs.

Here’s an example I shot of what you can do with RAW in almost no light. I actually shot it a stop darker than this and pulled the exposure up in Adobe RAWi A compressed codec would completely fall apart in this scenario, I tried to transcode it to ProRes 442HQ and it was full of compression artifacts.

This was shot with the 5D MK2, the resolution is much higher than the H.264 video. There’s still aliasing and moire but Magic Lantern are working on a 1:1 crop sensor mode that will be completely aliasing free.

Here’s another example from the 5D MK3, shot with an Iscorama anamorphic lens which does soften the image a bit.

If there’s no major stability issues I’m going to shoot some test scene’s for a feature I have in pre-production over the next few weeks and I’ll upload a few snippets to demonstrate the full power of the 5D MK3-R. In the meantime stay tuned for more developments as they rapidly unfold.

Respect to the ML crew.

peace out
squig

Update

Here’s another video that gives you more flavor of what is available

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)