Magic Lantern – Higher Bitrate for Canon 5D Mark II


Magic Lantern, if you don't already know is a firmware type code that enhances features in your DSLR camera. There's only a few cameras supported at this time, and only so many features are 'unlocked' for each one. When it was first released, it caused quite a stir, but Canon has since updated their firmware to resolve some of these issues. For instance manual audio levels and 24p in the Canon 5D Mark II came after these features were already unlocked with the Magic Lantern firmware. The code is stored on the Media card, so after rebooting - the camera returns to it's normal self. This doesn't mean that it's entirely safe (although i've never heard of any problems using it). The code that starts running as soon as you go through the steps of booting up from it will make your camera do tricks it wasn't originally designed to do including run faster and run harder.

This time around Trammell Hudson the man behind the madness has added a new upgrade to the 5D Mark II firmware to run the video bitrate up to 76Mbps chasing the popular hack for the GH1. This still might be a bit too high for the Canon 5D Mark II camera without over buffering, so a sustained 70Mbs in 24p looks to be more manageable. There's options from 7Mbps (low quality) and several in between up to the 76MBps (OEM is normally about 40Mbps). Hey i'd take a sustained 50-60Mbps, which would already make a huge difference. Of course depending on the amount of information the camera absorbs that might change. Static shots compared to running, fast moving subjects, and fast exposure changes will all play a role in the amount of information being processed. It's an all free download, but of course if you're interested in the hard work Trammell has been doing for the DSLR video community, you can always drop a donation found on the Wikia page. For more information and other features that you can unlock from your DSLR check out the Wikia

Yo Trammell, let's see some action on the Canon 7D as it appears to have the dual processors and the only camera capable of outputting 1080 through HDMI. I'm hoping this translates to a camera that can process more than 76Mbps too....

13 thoughts on “Magic Lantern – Higher Bitrate for Canon 5D Mark II

  1. chris

    so if the default bitrate of 5DmkII is 40mbps then cranking it up to 3.0bitrate using ML so its like 40mbps x3 =120mbps? im i right or i just didnt get it?

  2. frank_202

    I've downloaded the beta version 0.1.9 of magic lantern for the 2.0.8 firmware. Everything works but how do you get access to bitrates options? thanks alot

  3. tomtnt

    My wife wanted a smaller DSLR than our 7d- I think I'm going to pick up the GH2 for "her". At least that's how I'll rationalize getting another camera.

    The lens options are an issue though. I wish there were a fully functional EOS adapter for micro4/3 so I can use all my canon glass... Or if only canon made a mirroless camera.

  4. Randy

    @tomtnt - indeed, bitrates aren't everything. Barry Green's comments about this are right on -- and it's safe to say he is the Panasonic expert at

    I can't wait to see more tests come out on the GH2 before I plunk down $1000. Like the lightspeed autofocus while shooting, and the sound quality as well. I'll be reading this review on the 60d versus the GH2. I'm also waiting on Philip Bloom's review on these two cameras which should be out within a week.

  5. Emm

    Post author

    @Randy - yeah different tools for different purposes. It's hard to find a one-thing that does it all perfectly. Bodies are much cheaper than lenses, and it's much easier to upgrade bodies. Lenses will be something to consider since they can run up to $2k each for the good ones. If you have a good investment in lenses, it's really hard to change bodies later. But then again if you ever decide to upgrade to the Panasonic AG-AF100, you'd be all set with GH2 lenses.

  6. Randy

    My first thought on the GH2 was it looks like a great camera. But then when I compare it to the 60d, the 60d seems more substantial. The 60d also seems to have more potential for photography. I'll be moving to a dslr at some point and have been seriously considering the 60d or t2i -- the 7d is just out of my budget. Now comes the GH2. So like everyone, I'm weighing needs and specs and trying to make the right decision.

    Like save the $300 and get the t2i AND Marshall's great new hdmi monitor with false color and peaking -- would definitely help with focus and exposure, especially since the 60d and t2i have sd out when recording. I bet the peaking would help focusing during shooting. Anyway, just some of my thoughts as I weigh all the options.

  7. Emm

    Post author

    @Randy - I don't think the T2i and 60D has the same bitrate as the 5DM2. As for being a direct competitor with Canon, they have awesome video specs, but hard to beat Canon as a professional Photography camera. You'll find video guys crossing over to Photography and Photography guys crossing over to Video. I think Canon has a good balance built into their cameras. For video only guys, it's a good price and good specs. Heck I want to pick one up just to play with..

  8. Randy

    It's interesting that the OEM bitrate for the 5d is about 40mbps. So I guess it's safe to assume that the 7d, 60d, and t2i are the same. Which leads me to point out the new GH2 boasts a bitrate of 24mbps at 1080 24p, and 17mbps at 1080 60p. The hacked GH1 has a higher bitrate.

    So we have 40mbps versus 24mbps. I believe, though, that Canon and Panasonic use two different codecs. So perhaps Panasonic would argue they only need 24mbps to get the same quality as the Canon cameras because they're using the AVCHD codec versus an older, less efficient codec.

    Any thoughts on that, Emm? Because we have to say the GH2 will be direct competition with the 60d, and to a lesser extent the t2i and 7d. The GH2 has 1080i hdmi out even when recording, has light speed autofocus, manual audio level controls (with meters that stay on while recording), just to name a few features.

  9. Units here are very important and you are using incorrect ones. It is Mbps = mega BIT per second not MBps = mega BYTE per second, which is 8 times higher. So you are basically trying to convince use that the camera is capable of 608Mbps bandwidth, which is probably not...

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