Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Canon 60D RAW Video Experience

A while ago, Magic Lantern made waves when it introduced RAW video shooting on Canon HDSLR cameras. While this hasn't necessarily made too many people reinvent the way they shoot, it did play a big role in shaping people's perceptions of what's possible with their cameras. I have to admit that I was one of the people who was very excited about this advancement. However, I would soon learn that there's really not too much to be excited about if you're running an SD card cam from Canon as opposed to a CF card camera.

I use a number of different kinds of cameras for the work that I do from time to time. Some of which shoot RAW video because they're supposed to and not because they're hacked. For these instances, I'll rent instead of buying because why not. However, I do own and love to use a Canon 60D. When I found out the RAW hack was available for the 60D, I decided to try it out myself. Here are the results:

You'll find in that video that there was a lot of frame skipping. Especially visible in the trees. This is because I was shooting at Full HD in 24fps, which highlighted some inherent issues with shooting RAW on the SD card Canons.

Apparently, the buffer on the card writer installed in the Canon cameras using SD cards (Rebels, 60D, etc) is that it literally cannot write the information fast enough to not create a bottleneck. So even if you were to use a super-fast SD card capable of writing @ 95MB/s, you'd only get up to maybe 20-25. This is due to a hardware restriction built into the cameras.

I've heard people say that the software governing the write-speed of the 60D SD card writer could be hacked. However, I also know that Canon has made it clear that they'll abide the Magic Lantern firmware hacks only until they start messing with hardware controls or their high-grade cameras (1DC et al). In truth, this may never be fixed.

For my part, I was only able to get a max of around 150 frames at 720p resolution using a 95MB/s card purchased for use w/ a BMPCC. This equals out to roughly 6 or 7 seconds. That's fine for shooting test videos and doing things where all you want are screenshots, but it's unacceptable for any type of serious filmmaking use.

Despite that, I still know a lot of people who want to try it and find out for themselves. Fine. I can't stop you but I'm telling you you'll come away with the same results I did. If you do try it, here's a video I did on converting the ML RAW files to CinemaDNG files that you can actually use.

Have any of you used Magic Lantern RAW in the past? Do you have any words of wisdom that an idiot like me may have overlooked? I'd love to see any videos you guys have done using this hack, too.

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