Magic Lantern does it again - continuous RAW video from the Canon 5D Mark III!
Andrew Reid at eoshd.com shot this video on his 5D Mark III with new pre-beta test software from Magic Lantern:
Canon 5D Mark III Continuous Raw Video with Magic Lantern (1920x1280 24p)
This is very big news. RAW video from a $3300 still camera body.
If Magic Lantern can turn this into production software and releases it for free, it is a real game-changer.
First, it undermines the price of the $12,000 Canon 1D C Cinema EOS camera. If ML can pull this off, Canon 1D C sales will likely dry up.
Second, it threatens the use-case for the 2.5K RAW $2995 Blackmagic Cinema Camera, which is yet to ship in large numbers.
The question becomes, would you rather buy a $3299 full frame Canon Mark III still/video camera that is in stock right now and upgrade it to RAW with free software - or would you prefer ordering a RAW Blackmagic Cinema video-only camera that might ship sometime in the next few months?
Hybrid Camera Revolution
It's odd to think about the prosumer market in terms of "choosing your Raw camera for video production." I've got my hands on a pre-order for a BMD Production Camera, as of today.
So how about a comparison? I'd say the hardware of the BMD Production Camera is nearly flawless. However, it's the software of the Canon 5D III with ML that is nearly flawless.
The Canon appears to be about 70 - 80 percent of the BMD Production Camera for video production. However, the Canon 5D III will be about 300 percent more interesting to shoot with.
If the Magic Lantern firmware becomes available, would you consider purchasing the 5D III over a BMD Production Camera? Then again, are FPS limitations too limiting to consider either?
I would contend, though, that even if the ML hack becomes stable enough to run RAW on the 5DIII there are still several great use cases for the Blackmagic series of cameras. Remember the 5DIII is capturing only video, no audio in that RAW mode. If you're shooting in a studio production or long form interviews the Blackmagic camera may be a better fit. The BM has SDI connections for on set monitoring or DIT setups. Or maybe you just want the RAW image, but compressed to a ProRes (HQ) file live on-set.
I have a 5DIII and if the hack makes it to a reliable state (i.e. rock-solid in production environments), I'll certainly run it. But I also already have my pre-order in for a 4K Blackmagic camera. I don't think one camera precludes the other. In fact, I think they are a nice compliment for each other.
But I do agree that the 1DC becomes a much less desirable camera if the 5DIII hack holds up. That camera appears to have a limited shelf life now. And it kinda makes me wonder what Canon is doing....they could literally own the full-frame RAW/indie market if they had done something like this in 2010/2011 as a successor to the 5DII. They could have been selling a Blackmagic like camera a year before BM did. Canon already has the infrastructure and scale to handle the manufacturing side of it. Maybe it's a market they didn't want or think they could get? Makes me wonder......
"But I do agree that the 1DC becomes a much less desirable camera if the 5DIII hack holds up. That camera appears to have a limited shelf life now. And it kinda makes me wonder what Canon is doing....they could literally own the full-frame RAW/indie market if they had done something like this in 2010/2011 as a successor to the 5DII. They could have been selling a Blackmagic like camera a year before BM did. Canon already has the infrastructure and scale to handle the manufacturing side of it. Maybe it's a market they didn't want or think they could get? Makes me wonder..."
Interesting you and Levi have ordered the BMPC4K. I think it is premature to conclude the Magic Lantern hack of the Canon 5D Mark III will produce superior video in every respect compared to the BMPC4K or BMCC. It may prove to do that but we don't know yet the image quality of the BMPC4K and have very little to go with regard to the image quality of the 5D. The conversation will be interesting as the development of both the ML hack and the BMPC4K proceed in the next couple of months. No need to list the strengths and weaknesses yet as there are so many unknowns.
But to respond to your assertion that Canon could have been selling a Blackmagic-like camera a year before BMD, I think the answer is in the corporate DNA of the companies.
It is BMD's DNA to take a fresh approach to the pricing and configuring of products. There are numerous examples in the hardware they sell to reduce the cost of entry to a level that brings more players to the game. DaVinci Resolve is the best example of that approach towards software. Their Lite version is nearly full function and free, their full version is now bundled (free) with the BMCC and the BMPC4K.
It is Canon's DNA, among most of the big players, to pursue a different vision of their market and their prosumer or professional products. Yes, they sell $79 or $999 printers that seem cheap until you buy the consumables and then you realize they are not in the printer business at all--their business is selling ink. They sell stills lenses that are of mixed quality and usually at a high price and all but a few are poor choices to put on a camera to do video. Their ciné lenses may be great but the costs are prohibitive for most people. Everything about Canon is controlled evolution, with the emphasis on the word control. Their concept of innovation are tricks to lock you into their system. The sensors and internal software/firmware may be amazing but the output codecs are always lacking in quality options for digital cinema... Unless you want their top-of-the-line product at an almost prohibitive price.
BMD may yet lead to a revolution in digital cinema; Magic Lantern may do it too. Neither of these will ever be the best you can buy, but they will be close enough at a price that most can afford. And with technological advances the bar may be raised higher at the high-end, like an 8K Sony, but the bar is also raised for the lower end with anyone able to produce 2K or HD cinema quality deliverables from 4K or 2.5K image capture. Of course the camera is only one piece of the puzzle in achieving cinema quality. If Apple is really thinking of making a wristwatch, what else might BMD be thinking about?
Canon and Sony and others will continue to sell products for their market where the very best of something is required at any cost. And then they'll offer dumbed-down versions at lower price points determined by the marketing department (like the C100, C300, and C500 sharing the same sensor). But over time that may not be a sustainable approach even if it has worked well for many decades.
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[Rick Lang] "I think the answer is in the corporate DNA of the companies. "
I agree with this completely! You are exactly right. Both companies have been around for decades (Canon more some than BM), but they have a tradition and a culture for sure.
[Rick Lang] " And then they'll offer dumbed-down versions at lower price points determined by the marketing department (like the C100, C300, and C500 sharing the same sensor). But over time that may not be a sustainable approach even if it has worked well for many decades."
I think Canon's approach is more complicated than BM by nature of their product line. Sony, Panasonic, JVC, etc. also have this problem. When you have a camera at nearly every conceivable price point that you have to recoup cost back from you can't just release a RAW 2K camera for $4K. When you offer a t5i, 60D, 7D, 5DIII, C100, C300, C500 (plus all the camcorders), you don't want to come in on top of anything else and destroy your own market....I'm guessing this is there thinking. Which is why you get, as you stated, "controlled evolution." You keep tweaking and adding features little by little and keep people upgrading along the way. These companies don't seem to want to cannibalize their own sales by creating better products. Instead, they want to lock-in user loyalty with incremental upgrades or proprietary formats (SxS, XF codec, etc.). I don't think it's a right vs. wrong approach. It's just different approaches to the market.
On the flip side, Blackmagic is just getting into the camera game. They have to products to protect. However, I've seen some upset BMCC purchasers once the Pocket camera and Production camera were announced. They could also be upset because BM didn't really hit their manufacturing stride with their first attempted camera.
[Rick Lang] "If Apple is really thinking of making a wristwatch"
I've heard of this....but who wears watches anymore?!!!!
"Blackmagic is just getting into the camera game. They have to products to protect. However, I've seen some upset BMCC purchasers once the Pocket camera and Production camera were announced. They could also be upset because BM didn't really hit their manufacturing stride with their first attempted camera."
I agree with your remarks. Since BMD is very early in the camera game, they have been able to differentiate their three or four cameras so that each camera is still viable with its own merits and shortcomings but they have not likely cannibalized their own markets yet. Yes, some people switched from the BMCC EF when the BMCC MFT was announced. And some switched again to the BMPC4K and the BMPCC when the production camera and pocket cinema camera were announced. But all of the newer cameras after the original will also attract new players and new uses.
For example, the BMPCC may be a good crash camera since you are risking less than $1,000 if you do crash. And many people are not colorists and will be very happy shooting ProRes 4:2:2 (HQ) Video mode and quickly editing their footage directly or even uploading it directly to YouTube or Vimeo (shudder) the way some people ship every still to Facebook or Flickr. At the other end of the spectrum, some people have access to PL mount ciné lenses, and needed the BMCC MFT. Others want to produce 2K deliverables and the colour quality of 2K or HD coming from the 4K capture on the BMPC4K may prove to be as good as or better than the 2.5K BMCC. Others will stick with the higher ISO and greater latitude of the BMCC/BMPCC sensors and shun the BMPC4K. I think it will surprise BMD how many people end up buying at least two BMD cameras because they are differentiated but strong in different areas. Still not the best cameras for any purpose, but very good for most purposes.
You are right that BMD must get beyond its shipping difficulties and deliver in volume to a hungry marketplace. I am sure the Magic Lantern hacks may cost them sales now because of the shipping uncertainties. In the long term, Magic Lantern will be a catalyst to improve the BMD products further through firmware updates or future models. Everyone gets to pick what feels best for them. At this point, I am banking on BMD because of their DNA. I own a Canon Rebel XT and a Canon HV20 video recorder. Both working fine, but my next camera is not going to be the Canon 5D Mark III. Let's say the BMCC MFT or the BMPC4K have been a steal from that possibility. Then there's the question of glass... Another topic!
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[Rick Lang] "Still not the best cameras for any purpose, but very good for most purposes."
This sums it up so well. Technology has moved to a point where one has the option of owning several different cameras affordably and using the right tool for the job at hand.
For our workflow, we use a Canon C300, 5DIII, 7D, Sony EX1, and soon the 4K BM camera. Each offers something distinct (well the 7D used to back when we got it in 2009!). But the 5D3 is a great stills camera and is very lightweight and somewhat inconspicuous in certain situations where the C300 or 4K BMPC isn't. The C300 has a pristine image that I've fallen in love with (some people complain that Canon is soft, but it looks pleasing to my eye). The Sony EX1's are good for long-form talking head corporate material. So we now have several different tools for our video shooting needs.
I hope that the ML hack pushes Canon to speed up their plans, but judging by past Canon releases I'm not going to hold my breath. But maybe other camera companies will push them....it does rub my wrong knowingly that Canon will likely get a healthy up tick in sales of the 5D3 once the ML hack becomes stable. Unfortunate, because Canon will reap the benefit through no real effort on their part.
Excellent approach, Ryan.
One way that BMD distinguishes their cameras from the Canon 5D Mark III, and other video cameras, is the lack of the low pass filter in front of the sensor. The result is usually a sharper detailed image. The Achilles Heel of that approach is that moiré can be present even when you might not expect it such as when someone wears a rayon shirt (but no moiré from natural fibres such as a cotton shirt). There are many ways to minimize or correct the moiré and I expect some will appreciate the greater detail from the BMD cameras. You can always use a mist filter on the BMD camera or soften in post when you don't want too much detail. Sharpening a blurred image isn't my favourite solution since it adds contrast but not really more detail. If your shoot calls for fine detail, you may reach for a different video camera than the Canon 5D. But cue the makeup artist! Too much of a good thing can look too real!
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It'd be nice to see Canon jump into the fray and offer a firmware update to the 5DMiii that shoots 14bit uncompressed raw. Even if they charged $200.00 for the firmware instead of offering it free, I'd buy it. But then again, that's wishful thinking on my part.
[Warren Eig] " But then again, that's wishful thinking on my part."
I think it's like wishing for a unicorn! ;-)
But I don't think Canon will release an update for this primarily because it's probably not 100% stable in all environments. It needs to run in 5 degrees or 105 degrees...
My hope is that it pushes them to add more features to their impending releases. If this ability exists in the 5D2, 60D, 6D, 7D then it seems like people (internet blogs, production/post-production professionals, places like the Cow, Cinema5D, etc) will being to put a lot of pressure on Canon to deliver something a bit more robust in the near future. Also makes me wonder how other camera manufactures will react to this news. If this hack becomes stable and usable for the indie market will that impact RED's offerings? Sony's? Arri? Panasonic? Like it or not those companies are going to be (and already are) competing against Canon.
As long as there's competition between them it's us, the filmmaker/consumer, who wins out.