In my previous post, I went through the step by step details of installing raw video with the Magic Lantern hack on the Canon 50D. In this post, I’m going to go through setting up Magic Lantern to enable raw recording and what you need to do to be able to actually shoot full 1920×1080 HD raw video.
Setting Up Magic Lantern
Now that you have Magic Lantern installed, you will need to familiarize yourself with the settings and capabilities of Magic Lantern. Check out the User Guide for a full list of all the features Magic Lantern has to offer as well as their locations in the Magic Lantern menu.
Some quick tips:
- Canon didn’t sell the 50D with video enabled, so there is no dedicated “movie mode” on the mode dial on the top-left of the camera. Magic Lantern thus considers “Live View,” the functionality in the Canon camera that displays the image in the display screen on the back of the camera, to be movie mode. Thus you need to make sure “Live View” is enabled. You can find the Live View settings at the bottom of the second yellow wrench in the Canon Menu.
- To enter the Magic Lantern, as opposed to the Canon menu, turn on Live View after it is enabled by pressing the button next to the Menu button on the top-left of the back of the camera that has a white camera icon above it. Once Live View is on, press the button to the left of the blue Trash Can icon at the bottom-left of the back of the camera.
- The Magic Lantern user guide, and users of other Canon cameras, will often refer to the “Q” button. There is no Q button on the 50D, so whenever you see a reference to the Q button, press the FUNC button at the bottom of the back of the camera, which is right next to the On/Off switch.
- Once in the Magic Lantern menu, you use the “Set” button, the button in the middle of the scroll wheel on the back of the camera, to turn most functions on or off. However, to adjust the values of many of the settings, such as the key FPS Override, you need to hit the FUNC button in order to make changes.
- Recording raw on the 50D is all about write speeds to your CF card. I go over some ways at the bottom of this post to increase your write speeds. But first, to enable monitoring of write speeds while you record, go to the Movie menu > Raw Video > Advanced > Debug Info and turn it on.
There are a lot of features under Magic Lantern. I suggest reading through the user guide to familiarize yourself with them all and decide which ones you want to use. But there are a few key settings you need to use to shoot video, both raw and H.264.
- To enable raw recording, you need to scroll in the Magic Lantern menu to the Modules tab (which uses an icon of four solid squares and is currently fourth from the right in the menu) and enable the “raw_rec” module. Then, proceed to the Movie menu, and turn on “Movie Record” second from the top and “Raw Video” at second from the bottom. To shoot in regular, H.264 compressed video mode, turn off this Raw Video button.
- Next to the Movie Record menu, it will say it is set to record 1920×1080 at 30fps. Leave that as is. You will adjust your frame rate under the “FPS Override” menu. To get the film look 24fps, turn on FPS Override, then press the FUNC button to set FPS to 23.976 (don’t use 24fps unless you specifically intend your final output of what you are shooting to be an actual film print). Or adjust accordingly if you wish to use a different frame rate.
- In the Expo menu in ML, you will set all of your exposure options: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter. To be able to adjust these manually, particularly the shutter (which otherwise is only adjusted automatically, which can be a major problem for shooting video if you want to get the “film look,” as the shutter will usually be set to 1/48 if you are shooting 24fps), you will need to enable Exposure Override as well.
Recording Video on the 50D
There are two options for shooting raw with the 50D, full sensor and crop mode. If you have the money for the 5D Mark III and it’s much larger sensor, you can shoot full 1920×1080 in both modes. But with every other Canon camera, including the 50D (which actually rivals or offers better shooting capabilities than every other Canon camera), you can only shoot in the 1920×1080 resolution in crop mode.
- You can adjust the resolution for raw recording by pressing the FUNC button when Raw Video is highlighted in the Movie menu in ML.
- The current max resolution for full sensor raw recording is 1568×882 (16:9). To shoot in full sensor mode, you simply press record once you have selected all of your exposure settings and exited the ML menu.
- The max resolution in crop mode is 1920×1080. To shoot in crop mode, press the + button at the top-right of the back of the camera. When it says 5x on your display screen, you are in crop mode. The catch is, crop mode will magnify your image almost 2.5x (sensor crop of 2.475 + the APSC 1.6x crop already built in to the 50D). Thus, if you are using a 50mm lens (which in full sensor mode operates at 1.6x 50mm, or about 80mm), you will notice it will effectively become 200mm lens, magnifying the frame significantly and changing the scope of your field of vision. On the plus side, this means the 50D can shoot incredible macro and close-up images. On the downside, it may be hard to get a wide shot in crop mode.
- Use the Set button to start and stop video recording. You can also enable the shutter button on the top front of the camera to start and stop recording in the Magic Lantern menu, but a lot of other ML features use the shutter button and you will lose access to those functions, so I have that turned off.
Getting the Most Speed Out of the 50D to Record Raw
On the 50D, 1920×1080 continuous raw recording in crop mode requires around 82MB/s. If your card is not able to write that fast, the number of frames you can get in the higher resolution modes may be severely limited. There were three main ways I found to increase the write speed of my CF card.
- Get the Komputerbay 64GB 1000x card. If you can afford the Lexar 64GB 1000x card at three times the price, by all means go for it, but apparently the Kombuterbay cards use the exact same chips. There does seem to be some quality issues with the Komputerbay cards, in the sense that many forum users have reported that they received defective cards. In that case, you will have to return/exchange them. But when they work, they really work, and the massive discount you are getting for the same functionality at the very expensive Lexar cards is for this possible inconvenience. I am sending back my Transcend 64GB 1000x card because I was only able to get max write speeds of 81MB/s, which was only fast enough to shot max one minute of full 1920×1080 raw. (UPDATE July 20, 2014: Apparently there is now a Komputerbay 64gb 1050x card that is even faster, but I don’t have one yet. But folks have reported that 1066x cards are not faster, so I would stick with just either the 64gb 1000x or 64 1050x… the Koomputerbay 128gb 1050x might be decent too, but possibly slower than the 64gb 1050x).
- Once you have a fast enough CF card, you will find that a number of the awesome Magic Lantern features also hog the processing speed of the camera. In particular, all of the features that you can enable in the Overlay menu, such as Focus Peaking, Waveforms, Histograms, and Zebras use a lot of memory. For best results, use all these features to set up your shot, then disable them by turning off the “Global Draw” function at the top of the overlay menu before you record your shot.
- Oftentimes the 2nd or 3rd shot you take will record at much faster speeds than the first shot. So before you hit record, warm up your card, either by using the “Card Warm Up” function that is available in the Magic Lantern menus, or by hitting record a few times manually yourself.
- In the Canon menu, change your record settings under the first red menu with a camera icon RAW only and turn off JPEG. You do this under the “Quality” menu. Also, make sure Exposure Simulation is on, which you can do under the second yellow wrench > Live View function settings > Expo. Simulation. Apparently this helps buffer speeds.
- Other Canon menu selections that can help speeds:
Image Quality = Raw
Auto Lighting Optimizer = OFF
Long exp. noise reduction = OFF
High ISO speed NR = OFF
Highlight tone priority = OFF
Multiple Exposure = Disable
HDR Mode = Disable HDR
- Another thing you can do, according to reports in the Magic Lantern forum (and I confirmed with my own tests), is increase the write speed of your CF card by reformatting it in a particular way. To do this, you will need your CF card reader, the CF card(s) you shoot with, and access to PC computer (I don’t know if it is possible to do it on a Mac).
Here are step by step instructions of how I reformatted the CF card in Windows 7:
- In Windows 7, open the command prompt (you can do this from the Start Menu, then scroll to the Accessories folder).
- Type the following in the command prompt window without the quotes:
- “list disk”
- “select disk _” (enter the number associated with the flash card)
- “create partition primary align=4096”
- Close the command prompt
- For the next step I downloaded and installed “Fat32 Format,” a free formatting program available on the web. Depending on your version of Windows, you may also be able to do this by simply right clicking on your CF card in the Windows menu and selecting “Format.” However, in Windows 7 there was no Fat 32 formatting option, so I downloaded this 3rd party software.
- In Fat32 Format, or Windows, format your CF card with the following settings: fat32, 64kb, quick.
- You will now need to re-copy all the files from the latest ML Nightly build to your CF card to re-enable ML.
I will update this as I comb through the forums and find out more info!
Now that you’ve set up your camera and shot some footage, what do you do? Here is what my post-production workflow looks like.