Magic Lantern: the hack that helped sell so many Canon 5D Mk III cameras to videographers, is supposedly being blocked in the company’s latest firmware. According to the Magic Lantern forums, the company blocks the initialization of Magic Lantern in firmware 1.3.3–which is very odd because according to the original poster, they can’t find any info on it. Nor can we, and nor can Canon Rumors.
Planet5D states that this isn’t the first occurrence of Canon blocking Magic Lantern. The team had to make adjustments for firmware 1.2.3 when it hit.
Deeper into the forum thread, users start to recommend that the person downgrade their firmware using EOS Utility. The users state that this works, though there is also stipulation and mentioning that Canon may block downgrading.
Magic Lantern is incredibly important to videographers because the team discovered a RAW CineDNG video output on the camera around a year ago. Then they found a way to record it, improved it, and then found a way to get it to 14 stops of dynamic range. But shortly after that, they pushed it to 15 stops. Shooting in RAW gives a cinema team a lot more versatility to create better video in the post-production phase on a budget. The only other way to do it would be to go for Black Magic cameras or snag something from the Cinema EOS line–but that is out of reach for many cinematographers.
When Profoto first announced the B1 500 TTL light, it rocked the industry. This light is the world’s first monolight that can shoot at full TTL exposure metering with Canon’s DSLRs. The company promises that a Nikon version is coming later on as well as further improvements to the Canon version. This light is capable of not only shooting at full TTL with Canon DSLRs and cameras, but it can also shoot in manual mode. With an interesting design incorporating the battery into the unit itself, it’s also not going to take up more room in your camera bag when you factor in dividers and the like.
Capable of shooting at 500 watt seconds of power, the monolight is pretty much around the output of six speedlights. Those tend to sell for around $500 a pop. And while Profoto’s B1 500 is around the same price (at least according to MAP) you still get the space advantage and much better color consistency. Plus, there is no need for extra batteries for each monolight because they’re integrated in.
But Profoto’s B1 500 TTL is best for wedding photographers and high end portrait/product photographers. However, it could convince others to jump on the bandwagon.
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Canon Rumors reports about what could become a new trend in customizing your camera: hardware hacks. In past years, we saw a lot of third-party firmwares that promised to improve image quality and performance of your camera–most notably Magic Lantern, which greatly improved video performance in Canon DSLRs. But Canon compacts weren’t left out, either, and Nikon DSLRs had their own Magic Lantern counterpart. But let’s face it, every trend becomes a fad at some point, and in 2014, software hacks just don’t cut it anymore.
The next big thing coming to a camera near you could be hardware hacks, which, as the name suggests, involve swapping out hardware parts of the camera. It’s not uncommon that photographers tinker with their camera, for example when converting them to infrared or multi-spectrum sensitivity by adding and/or removing filters on top of the sensor. It’s another thing altogether, though to swap the camera’s entire logic bord. Which is exactly what Canon Rumors suggests will soon be offered for Canon DSLRs.
The site has received word that “a certain company” will soon come out with a hardware hack for the EOS 5D Mk III, which will replace the camera’s mainboard with a customized one. The benefit of the operation that will cost around US-$ 1000 will be increased dynamic range as well as better sharpness and performance when recording video. In that regard, the hardware hack promises roughly the same results as Magic Lantern’s custom firmware.
At this point, we have no idea who is doing this, when it’ll be available, how much of an improvement it will yield, and whether other camera models will also receive hardware hacks–though CR is positive the 5D3 won’t stay the only model that can be customized. Firmware hacking is already a risky thing to do, because it can potentially make your camera inoperative, or contain malignant code. But at least it’s free. Would you pay someone a whopping $1000 to tinker with the internals of your DSLR, though?
Magic Lantern has done some incredible things with the 5D MK III. First off, they found a CineDNG RAW video codec in the camera. Then they figured out a way to capture it and record it. Then they added other improvements. But according to the latest from Planet 5D, the team recently figured out how to increase the dynamic range of the sensor. For the moment, we only know that the Mk III is going to get the sensor upgrade–and we’re still not sure about the Mk II or any other cameras. At the moment, preliminary tests are showing 15 stops of dynamic range. Previous reports stated 14 stops.
How is this possible? Well, believe it or not, sometimes the dynamic range of a sensor can be improved via firmware. For what it’s worth, years and years ago Nikon has a camera called the D200: the predecessor to the D300 and D300s. Fujifilm basically created the same camera, but called their version the S5 Pro.
From what my old co-workers at B&H Photo used to tell me, the cameras were the exact same. But the reason why the dynamic range and sensor output of the Fujifilm version was so much better is because of the firmware. EDIT: the S5 Pro also had a Super CCD SR sensor, on top of the firmware.
Now here’s the big reminder: while this is cool, it’s not always practical. You still need to learn to meter correctly in the first place. However, it’s nice that a videographer can nerf the highlights or boost the shadows a tad more. But at the same time, it takes a skilled videographer to figure out the right exposure to begin with.
Essentials is a brand new series where we round up specially curated kits for different photographers in different situations. Other items could surely be substituted, but these are what we personally recommend.
After taking a short break, we’ve decided to head right back into the Essentials for what we think an environmental headshot photographer would use. So what exactly do we mean by this? Well, here in NYC, lots of photographers like using a combination of natural/ambient light and blending it with flash. And due to the fact that they’re on location and sometimes without assistants, they tend to try to pack as lightly as possible.
While we often recommend using monolights, they aren’t as portable as a couple of hot shoe flashes placed in the absolute right positions to give the right amount of kick.
And for that, we recommend the following.
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A couple of days ago, we reported that Magic Lantern has released a fully testable version of their hack for the Canon 7D. To recap, the hacking crew found a raw video output for the camera very similar to what they’ve found in the Canon 5D Mk III and 5D Mk II. EOS HD notes that the footage isn’t as good as the Mk III’s though but it is better than the hacked Canon 50D. Apparently, the Canon 7D has faster write speeds than read speeds, and can achieve reach 91Mb/s, where 83Mb/s is required for 1080/24p raw but read speeds hover around the 60Mb/s area. It can also only shoot 1736 x 1156 pixels max.
Granted, you’re still not going to get the 70D’s autofocusing, but it is still nice for cinematographers to know that they can get more out of their investments at this point.
Demo video footage is after the jump.
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