Magic Lantern Increases Canon 5D Mk III’s Dynamic Range by 1/2 Stop, Now 15 Stops of DR

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Product photos Canon 5D Mk III (2 of 10)ISO 200

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.