Shooting RAW on a Canon 5D mark III in 2014 – What you have to know

Shooting RAW on a Canon 5D mark III in 2014 - What you have to know

mlA year ago we tested the Canon 5D mark III RAW hack by Magic Lantern which upgrades the camera to shoot impressive 14-bit RAW footage. In this year development has progressed and in this post we’re looking at what is currently possible and how to do it.

If you were looking for an Install Guide go HERE

Here’s a rundown of important new features since last year: 

  • Extremely simplified installation method
  • ML can now be uninstalled (no more bootflag)
  • Audio recording is possible
  • RAW file playback in low quality directly on the camera
  • improved workflow through cinemaDNG processing

In this post we will give you a quick update and instructions on how to work with Magic Lantern on the 5D mark III.
The above points are the developments we found most important and we’ll give you a detailed overview below.

What it is

– It enables your camera to shoot 14-bit RAW image sequences which produce cinema quality results.
– It’s a great tool for indie productions or those with little money who want to invest time to create beautiful results.
– Working with the 5D mark III requires time and dedication.
– The files are both a lot sharper and cleaner than conventional recordings, and they can be heavily color graded.
– It makes your Canon 5D mark III run on software developed for free and it is constantly being improved. Please help the developers: LINK

What it is not

– It is not bug free.
– It will not replace a good RAW camera designed for cinema.
– It is not suitable for productions with bigger budgets as the workflow will slow you down and it is not laid out for professional production. (More on that topic in this article: Consider this before you shoot RAW on a Canon 5D mark III)

What you need

– A Canon 5D mark III. If you buy one, please get it HERE.
– A simple SD card for the firmware. We used this one.
– A good UDMA 7 card reader, we recommend this one for USB 3: LINK
– A very fast CF card. You have the following options:

  • San Disk Extreme Pro 160MB/s – most reliable high end & most expensive
  • Lexar Professional 1066x – reliable and stable & less expensive than before
  • Transcend 1000x 64GB Sometimes works. But not recommended. People reported some unstable cards.
  • Komputerbay 1000x 64GB – By far the cheapest, about 50% report success and stability. For other users the card dies. Komputerbay replaces the card, but exchange seems rather slow. Make sure you get the 64GB version!

(You get 25 minutes of 1080p on a 128GB card)

Extremely simplified installation method

Our constantly updated guide on how to install Magic Lantern RAW on your 5D mark III, has recently been shrinked by half. That’s because the installation method has been dramatically simplified. When before you needed many complex steps to achieve the RAW hack, now it’s as simple as downloading a file and uploading the contents to your camera.

If you would like to shoot RAW on your 5D the first step is to install the Magic Lantern software on your camera. Please follow our step by step installation guide.
(This process should be reversible and should not damage your camera. However you should know you do this at your own risk and we cannot take responsibility when you follow our guide)

ML can now be uninstalled (no more bootflag)

Last year when you installed Magic Lantern it would “set the bootflag”, or in words we non-programmers understand: It would make your Canon take 2 seconds longer to start-up, forever.
This made a lot of people hesitant about wether they should proceed with the 5D RAW hack and it was certainly a point to consider when you ever planned on selling that DSLR again.

Well today it’s different. Not only can you remove the bootflag and uninstall any of Magic Lantern’s remains, but you can also do it very quickly and it’s simple. To uninstall Magic Lantern or just remove the bootflag please follow our step by step installation guide.

Audio recording is possible

Last year audio recording was not possible, instead the 5D mark III RAW with Magic Lantern simply produced a sequence of .dng files stored within a single .RAW file.

Now the new RAW module version 2 is here and you record your footage in the .MLV format. These files hold a 48khz 16-bit stereo audio stream and also timecode information. It seems the developers are still working on a way to move the timecode on after the conversion into the cinemaDNG format.

When converting the .MLV format to cinemaDNG a separate .wav audio file is being created. This audio information can be useful for syncing to external audio sources or even to hold audio recorded via the line-in port on the camera.

To record in the .MLV format go to the Modules Tab in the Magic Lantern menu and enable the mlv_rec module and restart your camera.
To convert the .MLV file format refer to the post-processing section in our step by step installation guide.

RAW file playback in low quality directly on the camera

VRAM6The playback functionality has been there a while, but it now works better than ever before. The quality can either be set to color or monochrome and you can choose to playback in realtime which skips frames or to playback each frame which is much slower.

On the left you can see the quality of such playback, which is mediocre, but still helps you see what you shot.

To playback you have to record in the .MLV format. You also have to enable the file_man and mlv_play modules in the Modules Tab in the Magic Lantern menu.

Improved workflow through cinemaDNG processing

Last year we only had DNG files that were incompatible with editing and color grading software and thus had to be converted to movie files with specialised software.

Today there are several 3rd party software applications that turn either your .RAW or .MLV files into cinemaDNG image sequences which is a recognised RAW recording format. The Blackmagic Camera for example can record in cinemaDNG. These files can be edited in Premiere Pro CC 7.1+ natively or can be used in DaVinci Resolve.

Here’s a simple workflow I found very usable in OSX:

  1. Shoot your movie in the .MLV file format.
  2. Backup your CF cards on your editing computer.
  3. Convert the .MLV files to cinemaDNG using the RAW Magic app.
  4. Import the cinemaDNG folder in DaVinci Resolve Lite (free).
  5. Download Hunter’s LUT to apply a basic color correction to your files. Follow the tutorial for DaVinci Resolve here.
  6. Export your clips in DaVinci Resolve as proxies (also see above tutorial). Or EDIT directly in DaVinci Resolve 11
  7. Edit in your editing software and at the end make your final grade in DaVinci Resolve.

If you liked this article you can help us continue our efforts by getting your gear HERE.

For more in-depth information on Magic Lantern and the ongoing RAW hack consult the official Magic Lantern Forum.


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