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Title : Is Magic Lantern RAW really better than H.264? (Canon 5D III, MLV, MPEG)
Description : I watched many RAW vs H.264 videos on YouTube before buying my Canon 5D mark III and as they literally showed a night and day difference to the video quality I didn't even consider using H.264 for my shots. That is until I recently watched "Act Of Valor" (of which 70% of it was shot on the 5D mark II / H.264!) and being amazed by how good it looked.

So... I thought I'd do my own tests to see if the night-and-day difference between RAW & H.264 on the 5D III is actually true or somewhat inflated. I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised by the results.

A couple of things I found that are critical to getting good results in H.264 however, are:

1. Do NOT use the "Standard" picture style. I found this tip from Nate Purh: /watch?v=W3-e1eW4b5o

The Standard picture profile gives a very "video" look to the footage which is not pleasant in the slightest.

2. Exposure is absolutely critical as you can't bring back highlights like you can in RAW. I used Magic Lantern's excellent false color display to ensure that no parts of the image that I wasn't OK with being over exposed were over exposed. This is a much more accurate way to check exposure over zebras or the histogram in my experience.

3. Sharpening in post (and recording with zero sharpening in your picture profile) makes a MASSIVE difference. Unfortunately, DaVinci Resolve's sharpen feature is pretty basic. I'm sure I could get even better results if it had something like an Unsharpen Mask.

On that note, I'm sure that the CinemaDNG files that are debayered in Davinci Resolve could look better too if they were debayered in After Effects via ACR, but I don't have After Effects to check this out. Not that they're terrible by any means but in the 200% crops you can see that it's not the best debayering on earth. Still, it's free so I can't complain about that! :-D

Anyway, I hope that this video helps others who were ready to dismiss H.264 out of hand purely because of the RAW bandwagon. As I'm just learning lighting and cinematography myself, after doing these tests it's clear that I don't need to use RAW for my "learning / test" shots as in isolation the H.264 results are perfectly acceptable to my eyes - of course yours may differ.

More importantly I can do my learning shots in H.264 and open them and edit natively in FCPX on my measly Late 2012 13" MBP / 8 Gb RAM without a complicated or storage intensive workflow - which is what I will now do. However, when I have something "important" I want to film I will use Magic Lantern RAW. It's a very flexible system really.

Enjoy! :-)



Shot using Canon 5D III with
Canon 70-200L f/4 IS for the outdoor shots
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art for the indoor shots
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