If anyone has been following my work within the last several months, you’ll know that I’m a strong supporter of the Magic Lantern RAW (ML RAW) platform. What these guys have done is quite revolutionary on the same level as discovering the cinematic qualities of the original 5DMKII.
That said, not everyone can afford the 5D setup and will have to opt for the smaller sensor versions (Canon APSC 1.6x crop= super 35 sensor size essentially). So this gives us some cheaper options of varying degrees. For this example, we’ll focus on two cameras with a similar sensor, but very different output capabilities: the Canon 50D and 60D.
OLD BODY, NEW TRICKS
The amazing thing about the 50D is that it was manufactured to be a higher end crop body before the 7D was created. Video features weren’t included and the sensor resolves about 4k in resolution vs the 7D’s 5k. Beyond that they’re very similar in detail, and Magic Lantern has not only unlocked the ability to record Canon-default video in the 50D, but most importantly have added the ability to record RAW DNG at up to 30fps. Considering that this body utilizes a CF card writer/reader, it can exceed writing capabilities of 65MBps. Capable of recording RAW frames at the maximum resolution for the body (1584×950 @5:3 aspect ratio).
THE POPULAR INEXPENSIVE CHOICE
Most micro-budget filmmakers have their money invested in the Rebel system, such as the T2i/3i/4i and many have gotten ahold of the 60D, which is the middle-ground point between the beginner bodies and the pro-body such as the 7D. I can vouch for this as I’ve owned the 60D for a while before moving on to more “professional” systems, such as the Red, Alexa, Sony F5, etc. So for those interested in the lower end of the RAW scale, this is for you as well!
For starters this was the setup for both cameras:
1/48 shutter (180)
50D: Nikkor AI-S 28mm f2.8
60D: Samyang 14mm f2.8
Location: top of “Museum Mile”
Each camera has a different lens primarily to create a split difference in focal length between the two. Naturally due to the major crop of the sensor for the 60D, the lenses will need to be wider to compensate. I’ll also be conducting a Part 2 of this test with a super 16 lens in the near future.
Museum Mile was chosen because of the tests in latitude for both cameras (metered at f8-f16), the bits of traffic moving around for motion observation and the resolution tests lent by the concrete, gravel, trees and other objects of various fine textures. Sure it ain’t exactly a resolution chart, but more of a real-world test that I can reference on different jobs of various backgrounds.
Since the 60D (like many others) gives off odd dead pixels on the default DNG frames, Adobe Camera Raw was used to process them (ACR w/ VisionLOG calibration> After Effects> Media Encoder). The 50D doesn’t suffer from these ailments, so normal processing via Davinci Resolve [Lite] was used instead. Resolve also processes the DNG frames much faster than Adobe’s tools, but you can’t be the options that ACR provides (minus the exposure flickering at times).
With old experience (and massive obsession of mine) of shooting on Super 16 Fuji film, the 60D’s RAW inadequacies turn into strengths here, giving a similar resolution as s16 scanned at its maximum 2k resolution. The SD card reader caps out at 20MBps, which bottlenecks any capability of shooting with the “full” sensor’s resolution. However, if combined with the limited cropping and a Super 16 lens, I suspect this may be a very different world.
I’ll provide a follow up blog on this in the near future as I’m now eyeballing a few C-mount lenses and some old Canon TV 16mm glass. So we’ll find out if this works out or ends up a total dud fairly soon.
What are some results of your tests? Leave some comments and links below and share!
A FEW MORE EXAMPLES OF COMMERCIAL 50D WORK