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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Mirko Rybka
Mirko Rybka
Guest
November 28th, 2015

Guys i enable RAW in “Modules” but then i cant see it in “Movie”
Canon 5D Mark III, anyone can help???
Thank You

Member
September 19th, 2015

Hi There,
What about a sandisk 120MB/s ?
I’d like to test the raw on my 5D III, is a 160 worth the investment ?

Thx

Member
November 24th, 2015

Hello sir
After installation ML in 5d mark 3
Can I shoot 4k resolution and 2k resolution in mark 3

Anonymous
Anonymous
Guest
June 25th, 2015

I had been reading several of your articles and for me all this RAW shooting on the 5D looks very unpractical. And still if the camera provides 14 bits of color (which is great), I don´t think you have the necessary resolution for big screens and my other observation is the zero importance you give to the data bit rate necessary to achieve real filmic look. But still valious information, thanks.

Ali
Ali
Guest
March 23rd, 2015

Is the CF card recommendation part updated?! I have searched the magic lantern forum and they were all talking about komputerbay and lexar… Almost nothing about san disk cards! Any advice?

Ali Oliya
Ali Oliya
Member
March 23rd, 2015

Hi Sebastian,
Is lexar also as fast as other counterparts?

Tom Rowland
Tom Rowland
Member
February 27th, 2015

Thanks for confirming that Mads

Tom
Tom
Guest
February 24th, 2015

Hi Sebastian, thanks for the installation guide, really helpful and clean. So I’ve installed magic lantern today and have brought all the CF and SD cards you recommended above, I want to shoot 25fps in PAL but when I play it back on the canon the footage is really jumpy and extremely slow. Please could you enlighten me, I’ve had a look on some forums but nothing has really helped.

Member
February 27th, 2015
Reply to  Tom

You won’t be able to playback the footage in real-time and full quality on the camera.
You have to transfer it to your computer before you can do that.

Member
February 4th, 2015

I don’t mind swapping out cf cards. We keep our laptop and 3.0 USB card reader near by our shoots. This isn’t such a big deal if you’re coming from film. You can also scrub through footage you may not want and delete them to clear up space. At the moment the Black Magic cinema camera is plagued with issues. The new Sony 4k camera is too sharp and looks way too digital like the gh4k. Even on lowerend dslrs you can shoot at lower res and scale it up and you wouldn’t know the difference. I’ve scaled my 1080p files too 4k after applying sharpening and it looks intence on a 4k display. It seems the canon cameras resembles the look of film above other cameras in it’s price range. The Mark 3 with Raw at night with good lighting is above amazing! In the end switching out cards like we would a film reel doesn’t upset me. It’s worth the final results.

Daniel
Daniel
Guest
January 14th, 2015

Question; Am I understanding it correct that there is now no real danger in installing ML, out of fear for not being able to use the Canon guarantee, because you can un-install it? Thanks.

Daniel K
Daniel K
Member
January 14th, 2015

Thanks!

I will for sure take the risk and hold only myself responsible if something hits the fan, the rewards seem worth the risk. Wonder if the ML leaves any, by Canon, findable traces on the 5D when uninstalled, or if ML leaves like a ninja as if it was never there?

Anyway, I hope we never will have to find out the answer to that question.

Thanks for a great read and also for the fast reply.

Member
February 7th, 2015

HI Sebastian. Thanks for keeping this post updated. Do you know of anyone having trouble unzipping the Aug 7 build on a mac? I’ve downloaded from here and from ML, updated as many decompression programs as I can and still can’t get it to open on my osx 10.8.5. Anyway you might email me a un-zipped version? I’ve used various versions over the last 1.5 years for projects but haven’t shot with it the last 6 mo after burning out 2 bodies with a nightly build. Time to come back to it though ; ).

Thanks, Christopher

Anonymous
Anonymous
Guest
December 18th, 2014

Is there any way to playback mlv files on an external monitor? Using the 5dmk3.

Tobias
Guest
October 20th, 2014

Awesome thanks for your help! A SD card with 90mbs wont work?

Member
November 11th, 2014
Reply to  Tobias

sd slot in 5d M3 can onlu handle 45mb/s so faster sd card its pointless. lexar 1000x cf is the best way to go i belive

Saskatoon Film Company
Guest
October 1st, 2014

I have downloaded the raw magic lite, but i see it only converts .RAW, is it true that I have to buy the full version to be able to convert the .MLVs ?

Thanks anyone who helps.

Daniel Burke
Guest
September 17th, 2014

Hello! I’ve got a few problems that I am trying to suss out here with this workflow. I am shooting currently .mlv on my Mark III, I then copy it onto my external hard drive for backup then export it to .dng with RAWMagic, then bring it into Resolve for coloring and Apple Pro Res export. My problem is that I am noticing that my clips are coming out half the duration of what I shot originally. I shot 8 minute clips and in Resolve I notice the clips are only 4 minutes. Has anyone else had this problem? PLEASE HELP! Is there a step I am missing?

Thanks!
Daniel

slingerland
Guest
September 8th, 2014

Am I correct in assuming that in raw mode peaking does not work while shooting?

MoDannyWilliams
Guest
August 11th, 2014

Great little article, i’m looking at getting a 7D for magic lantern, is 1920×1080 @ 24fps with (reliably) long record times still possible with this setup? cheers!

Kevin
Kevin
Guest
August 7th, 2014

If you are looking for ONE camera to do it all, you need to spend a lot of money and even then.

I have the 5DM3, GH4 and BMPC. They all do different things and they all cover everything I need to do my work.

You can match any camera to any camera and sometimes it does not have to be a perfect match for some projects.

I love that Shane Hurlbut was able to use, GoPro, 1DC, C500 and Alexa all in one movie. And it worked.

More and more you see this type of philosophy because there are so many tools out there.

You can pixel peep all you want, at the end of the day as long as it looks good to the audience, that’s all that counts.

I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but not one ever walked out of a movie theatre because the dynamic range from the GoPro shot didn’t match the range of the Alexa. :)

javier
Guest
August 6th, 2014

Numbers are just numbers. I insist everyone have to do their own test. For example: where is the Dinamic Range of GH4, or Sony X7, when I took a frame and I put the same shoot in ACR or DaVinci. When you compare the Video scopes, you see blacks at Cero, whites overexposed. When you can ” touch” the colours, you don’t have too much possibilities. The same frame in 5D III (RAW) it’s better. No discussion. Even , out of my opinion, you can read 12 stops, similar to CANON. Whats wrong? 14 bits? Could be. Rolling shutter. I read global shutter when you do a pan, everything it’s horrible for a professional use. Repeat with the Canon. Numbers are numbers. Advertising are numbers. Test is the only fact. 4k? For what? for crop? With a Zeiss lenses and an external monitor could be useful. But It’s a not a good idea all the shoot you do depends of a crop: where are you looking before the shoot?

Yes, you have to work a lot with ML files. It’s a hack. It’s even scientific . Believe I’m not a fan of Canon – I love Arri Raw and I worked only ten times with that camera. But the Canon quality it’s a miracle. Do the test. The test is not watch vimeo.

Darryn Hawthorn
Guest
August 6th, 2014

Nick McLean

javier
Guest
August 6th, 2014

5 D Mark III have more advantage today than newer 4k cameras. More quality. Better sensor than a lot of Pro cameras. Even with the canon firmware limitations, that ML are opening. It’s an advertising problem not believe that 5D is better than others. It’s a fan vs the brand. The facts have the final word: get one, for a friend or rent one, shoot a RAW. Touch de colours. Go to vimeo, look the others 4 K. I think, your going to understand why Cannon it’s not running as a desperate girl in his fifteen.

Oscar
Oscar
Guest
August 6th, 2014
Reply to  javier

Not at all – i got the 5D3 with ML and a GH4
Quality in terms of resolution is not even a fair comparison
I´m not sure what you mean by more quality.
The 5D3 feels several generations older than the GH4.

Andreas Schmidt
Andreas Schmidt
Guest
August 6th, 2014

Hi,
thanks a lot for your article which is very helpful. I wonder if you have any insights by when a stable release that includes the 5D M3 would be released? The last stable release is from July 23rd 2012 and now more then two years old. It doesn’t include the 5D M3.

Do they still plan to do stable releases or are nightly builds all there is and will be?

Cheers
Andreas

Guest
August 6th, 2014

Hey Guys,
did you have a look at MlRawViewer yet?
It can open RAW and MLV files natively and transcodes them to ProRes with a log curve, that is similar to SLog!

It might not be as fast as Resolve but you can batch process over night easily!

Guest
August 6th, 2014

Yeah that’s right, it’s a bit buggy, but transcoding usually works without issues.

The curve is actually a true function that looks like that:
http://www.michaelfischer.at/files/Log2%20Curve.png
The was a bug up until 1.1.7, where the log output was to low in level. Now it’s displayed correctly.

You have to be aware though, that you are not shooting with an Arri Sensor, which is quite clean in the shadows.
Canon is placing 18 % grey at -4 EV which in this case is 60 IRE. Therefore the output looks quite bright and noisy in the shadows. That should not be an issue though, as you bring down the shadows quite significantly anyway.

Just my 2 c ;)

Rarevision
Guest
August 7th, 2014

Users often don’t understand what log encoding is or why to use it. Besides, it’s pointless for file formats that meet or exceed the sensor’s bit depth. With a 14 bit sensor, there’s no reason to log encode the data if going to a 16 bit CinemaDNG container. So, if you really, really want all the data, you can convert your Magic Lantern files to 16 bit CinemaDNG, which retains all of the original data from the Canon sensor.

Derek McCabe
Guest
August 6th, 2014

it’s 25 minutes.. not 30.

Derek McCabe
Guest
August 6th, 2014

The 30 minute limitation is the killer for me. When I am shooting, I often do takes that are longer than 5 minutes. I don’t want to stop the production flow to constantly change cards. I have a mkII and a mkIII, and have been slowly moving to 4K camcorders for my productions.

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