The Magic Lantern RAW Step by Step Instructions You Deserve

by Bret Hoy1 Comment

I remember the first time I shot raw on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and more important, I remember dealing with the huge raw files. In the end it was incredibly worth it when exporting the absolutely gorgeous and incredibly sturdy footage. Nearly every Canon shooter has found their own way to wrangle Magic Lantern to work for them. Is there a more efficient way? 

Honestly, it’s almost miraculous how Magic Lantern has kept Canon DSLRs relevant through the years. Even with new, more powerful camera bodies, new processors and sensors, Magic Lantern’s raw functionality has allowed shooters to output high quality footage that rivals cameras bought at twice the price.

With that functionality, we also have lots of drawbacks– drawbacks in the form of clunky on-set footage logging and post-production. These problems can easily be solved with some due diligence, know-how and probably just a little bit of extra dough (don’t complain, you saved it on the camera).

The dudes over at have been kind enough to compile a great how-to for the new Magic Lantern RAW shooter. This step by step takes you from pre-production to production to delivery and communicates it all clearly unlike many of the monotone-voiced YouTube videos that I’ve seen in the past.

Check it out, and let me know: Do you do it differently?

How to use Magic Lantern RAW for Maximum Quality

The Magic Lantern Raw Step by Step Instructions You Deserve

Via Cinetic Studios:

EDIT: Updated to reflect new options for profiles \ gamma settings – 6/2015

I personally feel Magic Lantern is the best thing to come to Canon DSLRs since sliced bread, especially it's ability to shoot in 14-bit RAW at 1080p HD. It's truly incredible that an open-source software “hack” can bring life to an aging camera line that allows it to outclass even some newly released cinema cameras, both in image quality and flexibility in post production. They can not shoot 4K, but Magic Lantern RAW can produce some incredible imagery that truly prove that expensive gear does not define a cinematographer. Unfortunately, anyone who has worked with the format can also attest to it's long winded post conversion workflow. This article aims to help you through that process, so you can capture images like the below (Just look at the detail in the fire!).

Camera Testing – Highlight Retention

In a previous article, I detailed how you can work with Magic Lantern RAW quickly and easily, almost directly to an high quality edit-friendly Apple ProRes format. My purpose for that experiment was both to see if I could figure out a “simple & reliable” workflow to use for ML RAW (mlv file format) and to see if it would hold up during post production processing. This follow up article aims to refine that workflow for more control over your color correction, at the expensive of processing time and storage space.

Here are a few things you can expect when shooting Magic Lantern RAW, not matter your post workflow:

1. You will need a massive amount of hard drive storage on set. Each hour will eat up around ~350-400GBs, depending on the exact resolution & if sound is recorded. Make sure you have a few HDDs.

2. You SHOULD have a DIT on set who does nothing but offload cards and check the MLV files, if the production has the budget or you can wrangle someone to handle this very important task.

3. Each card will only hold between 11-22 min of footage, so you will be switching cards quite a bit. Think of it like you are shooting film, and you have to plan more carefully. It may be a limitation and CAN kill time, but not if you plan around it. Bring a least 3 1000x CF cards and\or have an organized and efficient cycle of downloading the CF cards to avoid too much downtime.

4. While the camera could have the occasional “crash”, no need to panic, as cycling the camera on\off or pulling the battery will almost always fix it. Some models (5D Mark II, III) are far more stable than others (7D). This article is written from the perspective of working with the least stable model, and I've had only a few issues.

Read full article at Cinetic Studios “How to use Magic Lantern RAW for Maximum Quality”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from Cinetic Studios)


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