A Cinema Camera for $500: Magic Lantern Unlocks RAW Video in the Old Canon 50D


The Magic Lantern team deserve some sort of award … or a ribbon … or at the very least a hug. That’s because, lately, they’ve been making ground-breaking RAW video announcements almost weekly. From the very beginning of the story — when they discovered a RAW DNG output in live view — to the breakthrough when they began pulling in that stream at 24fps and full 1080p HD, it’s been nothing but good news out of the Magic Lantern camp.

But get ready, because the celebration is only just beginning. Before now, taking advantage of Magic Lantern’s RAW video capability would have required you to have a 5D Mark III or II, but EOSHD forum user Julian Huijbregts has demonstrated that the same is now possible out of Canon’s 5-Year-Old $500 50D!

No, you didn’t read that wrong. For under $500 on eBay, you can now purchase what amounts to a Canon Cinema Camera that can shoot RAW video nearing 1080p full HD resolution. The software is very early in development (no word yet on when an official update will make it to the public), so improvements are bound to surface. For now, Huijbregts was able to shoot resolutions as high as 1592×720 at 24fps with no frame skipping using a SanDisk 32GB 95MB/s card:

As it turns out, the 50D — which was released at the same time as the 5D Mark II — has always had video capability, it was just locked out in firmware. Additionally, because it came out before the pixel war really took effect, its 15-megapixel sensor performs extremely well in low-light.

Couple that with the fact that it comes equipped with a UDMA 6 CF card slot for high transfer rates, a large buffer and a more professional-style build than its successor, the 60D, and it almost seems like this kind of high-end video is what the 50D was born to do.

If you don’t mind skipped frames after the first 50, the current ML build can push the 50D to collect 24p RAW video at up to 1592 × 1062. Given some time (and, at this rate, not that much of it) the team will very likely manage to push RAW video on this extremely cheap APS-C cam to 1080p full HD.

That’s all we know for now. To see all of Huijbregts’ results — including an anamorphic test, original DNG files, moire test and sample videos processed in Magic Lantern’s RAW mode — click here to download his full 50D sample pack.

(via EOSHD)

Image credit: Canon EOS-50D by sukiweb

  • Daniel Lowe

    Let’s ask the obvious question here: Do we think this will ever happen for the 5Dmk2? There’s a ton of those still in use worldwide.

    I’m guessing there’s some strong technical reason they haven’t done this already.

  • Brendan James

    Dear Magic Lantern,
    Please do this for the 7D. Thanks.

    7D owners

  • Mansgame

    Is this really that useful on a 50D aside from programming gymnastics? Is the SD card reader/writer in the 50D fast enough to deal with the extra bandwidth requirements? Is the sensor good enough to give good enough results (assuming someone who needs RAW needs every bit of perfection)?

  • Anonymous

    So, W van de Kletersteeg, still think Canon’s hardware is a real limiting factor?

  • mlieberman85

    Magic Lantern did this for the 5dmkii about a month ago.

  • aaimo

    How heavy can be a RAW video from those? How much will a 1 minute video is in GB for example?

  • Andreas

    The 50D has a CF card slot which can handle UDMA 6, as written in the text above! Also the sensor is better than any newer 60D, 7D sensor, cause of its larger pixels (15MP vs 18MP) and handles low light much better!

    You would have known if you just could read the text…

  • Jim Irvine

    So can they do this for the 60D?

  • Sebastian

    Don´t think they can do it for the 60D. I think the SD-card is to slow. Or am I wrong?

  • Adam Keiller

    can’t be long before magic lantern release something like this for the rebels

  • Alnavasa

    What about the battery ? with magic lantern it DRAINS IT!!! (less than 15 min video)

  • Mike Leslie

    Wake me up when this works on a 550d

  • Chemi D. Lama

    How can i make my Camera 50D shoot video first of all?

  • Mansgame

    Ok, points to you for the first part. I didn’t read the part about the CF card, but you’re just making assumptions on the second part. Photographywise, the 50D doesn’t even come close to getting the same low noise performance as a 5D II and certainly not a 5DIII even if it has lower MP’s than the Mark III. It’s at least 3 generations old.

    That’s like saying a Nikon 6 MP D70 gets better low light performance than a 16 MP D3s. You would have known that if you go beyond simple MP counts.

    If someone is so concerned with video quality that RAW video is important to them, I fail to see how this camera would measure up other than being a 3rd or 4th angle.

  • Andreas

    Well i didn’t say anything about the 50D being better in lowlight than a 5D mk II or 5D mk III, of course they are better, it’s fullframe! After all the 50D has an APS-C sized sensor which is much smaller. I just said that the 50D has better lowlight performance than the 60D, 7D with the same sensor size and more MP. And of course it’s not just about the MP, but still its a fact that the 50D performs better in lowlight than the successor models… Personally i have a 7D and man its noise just sucks! Even at the low ISOs ist just too much noise! Had the 40D before and it was much much better!!

    Well, if someone wants to shoot good quality RAW video but can’t afford a 5D mk III or would like to have a second camera than this is just amazing, cause after all a used 50D is really cheap.

  • Vic Román

    He never compared it to a camera with a larger (FULL FRAME) sensor.

    The 50 ,60 and 7D all have APS-C size sensors.

  • J

    canon is really screw up, locking a lot of these possibilities. tsk and yet we are all paying so much. Big ups for Magic Lantern!

  • D.G. Brown

    Small note, I’m pretty sure SanDisk doesn’t make a “32GB 95MB/s” CF card. They do have a 95MB/s SD card, but the CF cards are 90MB/s. Very tiny, tiny, unimportant correction. (I’ve bought a lot of both)

  • D.G. Brown

    Battery grip, though that would only get you to 30 min in that case. The price difference could probably buy a lot of batteries…

  • D.G. Brown

    Install Magic Lantern. It’s been able to record video on the 50D for a while. No sound, however (since there is no mic on the camera).

  • Marcus Wong

    I’m actually intrigued by the 5MB/s difference.. is it based on read or write speed? They never clarify..

  • D.G. Brown

    From their site, the SD card is 90MB/s read, 95MB/s write. The CF card is listed as both 90MB/s read and write. As a note, the 128GB CF card is listed as 100MB/s write. Another random difference :-P.

  • Chris

    SD cards are now just as fast as CF cards, really…doesn’t mean there isn’t a limitation in how the hardware works though

  • Mansgame

    Exactly. So which is someone who is very serious about video use?

  • Red Rob

    I haven’t seen anyone mentioning if the RAW HD video using the Magic Lantern work, will overheat the cameras on a long-length continuous shoot… could I shoot a 2 hr continuous concert on this without any breaks or overheating issues?

  • 蔡嘉謙

    Background music is?

  • Rocco Saya

    It will not overheat the camera, the camera actually produces less heat with ML since no compressing occurs. On the other hand, good luck on 2hrs, not happening unless you have a serious amount of cards and willing to miss some stuff. (You will be lucky to get about 25 mins per 128 gig card.)

  • Mustaf333

    good morning…..

  • Mustaf333

    boy get a clue what your talking about…..

  • Mustaf333

    you are wrong

  • Mustaf333

    canon is making money moron…. it sure does not screw up.

  • Mustaf333

    ML mentioned it.. you just have to read their blog……
    no problem with heat….

  • Stef G / Picxel

    ?!? ML does NOT drain my batteries at all(!) and you comment is the first I’ve seen about battery performance. My 600D records video for almost 4 hours strait with no pause (ML movie restart). I do have a battery grip, but still …

  • mcnys

    no he’s not, sd cards are almost as fast as cf cards nowadays, the problem for the 60d and rebel line of canons is, that they have limited sd card controller, so it doesn’t use sd cards full potential, so full hd raw on 60d and rebel line is not possible, unless they think of some kind raw compression, or 12/10bit raw or something like that.

  • mcnys

    it already works…BUT only low resolutions possible.

  • georgemuresan

    Hi, do not know if 50D has audio recording capabilities with an external microphone?

  • Phil Erskine

    What? It even says in the article: “Before now, taking advantage of Magic Lantern’s RAW video capability would have required you to have a 5D Mark III or II”

  • Phil Erskine

    I’m using it on my 60d. The hardware limit’s write speed to 20MB/s so the max you can record for any real length of time is 960×480 or similar. Still a big improvement on h.264 though.

  • Phil Erskine

    Yh like 4 days ago

  • FastRupee

    Yes. you are correct. I think he is referring to sandisk’s extreme pro card with 90mb/sec.

  • SDX

    That’s wrong. Canon has no API for the EOS cameras. Most of the development time of the ML devs goes into reverse engineering.

  • funkyindyvideo

    No, it has no input as it was not a camera for video before ML worked their magic on it.

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    I want to buy the entire Magic Lantern team a keg and a stack of pizzas, and other things that I can’t mention on a public forum. Bravo folks!

  • Joe Wilde

    I agree, I’m getting a 5DMK3 but I would love to use this on my 7D.

  • John-Jo Ritson

    2nd that. Still v grateful for everything ML have done thus far for all Canon users. Would love for this to be on 7D however I’m guessing it will be a long way off, if at all.

  • Arnold Newman

    It just frustrates me to see Canon removing innovative features. I know it’s their right. I understand market segmentation. Still, competition is supposed to spur innovation. Canon just seems to do the opposite. “Let’s offer as little as possible to our customers and, while we’re at it, let’s raise prices.” (Another case in point: Canon T5i.) They haven’t always operated this way. At some point I don’t see how this doesn’t come back to bite them.

    Having said that, kudos to ML. I can’t even imagine how to quantify the value-added to Canon products that they have provided with their work.

  • Fur

    I have a 7d and ML alpha 2. My battery goed down very very very fast. I think about 30 mins