Read This Magic Lantern User’s Guide Before You Take Your Canon 5D Mark III Underwater

by Bret HoyLeave a Comment

The Canon 5D Mark III is still a fantastic camera, even in 2016. Yes, I said it. And it’s the truth.

Don’t let any of those resolution seekers or dynamic range hunters give you any kind of guff. The Canon 5D Mark III is still a professional option for many, and when you combine that with the power that Magic Lantern gives you, it turns into quite the amazing filmmaking machine.

The name of the game in modern filmmaking seems to be high bitrate recording. This enhances every single element of your image as long as you know how to properly set up your camera on location and how to manipulate the footage in post. Magic Lantern unleashes the Canon 5D Mark III’s sensor and allows you to record Raw footage to CF cards that have high enough read/write speeds.

Since it is indeed 2016, you’ve probably seen a lot of tutorials about how to successfully use Magic Lantern in your workflow, but this one that we found is a bit different.

Richard Brooks, a photographer/videographer well-versed in underwater photography has written this piece for about the ways Magic Lantern helps his underwater video shoots.

While the explanations start out fairly rudimentary, Brooks goes into greater detail towards the end about why shooting raw can be such a powerful way to capture footage. Check out this great write up and if you haven’t used Magic Lantern in your 5D Mark III, now is as good a time as any.

User’s Guide for Underwater Video with the Canon 5D Mark III and Magic Lantern


In this highlight reel, you can see the professional capabilities inherited by combining the Canon 5D Mark III and Magic Lantern software

Underwater Raw show reel. Canon 5D Mk3 with Magic Lantern

Choosing the Right Storage
Possibly one of the biggest make-or-break components are memory cards. When recording RAW with Magic Lantern, you are running the camera at about 95 percent capacity. The processor is working extremely hard and the output is high, at about 100MB/s. You need memory cards that will be able to keep up with this output and processor speed.

I use the Lexar 128GB UDMA 7 1066x CF for media acquisition. These will still fill up quite quickly, so have a few available for a full day of shooting. For running the firmware, I use the Lexar 16GB Class 10 SD card and do not write anything else to it other than Magic Lantern.

Magic Lantern Underwater Video Camera Settings
Magic Lantern enables a whole host of abilities not standard on the 5D Mark III, but I use it mainly for time-lapse and RAW video. The camera is capable of filming RAW at 29.97 fps in 1920×1080. However, there is very little wiggle room at that level and I choose instead to back it off a little and shoot at 24 fps. At this frame rate, the camera isn’t running at maximum and it is less likely that it will fail or miss frames.

At this slightly reduced frame rate, screen overlay can also be used for focus peaking, even when increasing the frame size to 1920×1290. At this frame size, however, the camera will start to max out and using focus peaking at the same time might lead to dropped frames—so tread carefully.

Juvenile Gray Reef Sharks, Canon 5D3 and Magic Lantern.


Shooting at a frame rate of 24 frames per second minimizes the risk of missing frames and allows for the use of advanced features like focus peaking

Read full article at “User’s Guide for Underwater Video with the Canon 5D Mark III and Magic Lantern”

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