New 5dmkiii firmware allows crop sensor shooting

UPDATE: Canon have now officially posted the new firmware, version 1.2.1. You can grab it here.

Canon’s long-anticipated firmware update to the 5dmkiii was leaked yesterday, and I couldn’t resist trying it out. The video isn’t any better as far as my eye can see. But there is one sweet thing that it does: it allows you to record the sensor crop image (in 4:3 aspect ratio) without any overlays, which you can activate by pressing the magnify button. The first one magnifies 5x, second push is 10x.

Here’s what that looks like with a 300mm lens. I’m filming from Gas Works Park, for a little perspective.

5dmkiii 1.2.1 firmware focus magnification shooting with 300mm lens.

In post, you have to enlarge these clips 119 percent to fill the frame. I’m definitely seeing the green shift in the externally recorded footage that people are talking about. Although my clips are even greener than would otherwise be the case, because I was shooting through a Tiffen .6 IR ND, which itself leaves a slight green cast on my 5dmkiii’s sensor.

In my view the 5x is definitely useable, but 10x the image starts to break down pretty badly. There’s also quite a bit of noise that appears in the crop mode. In the graded version above, I’ve applied Neat Video denoiser in FCPX, which cleans it up pretty well.

Canon has three options for HDMI ouput: auto, 24p, and 60i. First I tried the 24p mode. My footage showed a noticeable judder when played back. Definitely not very filmic. Then I tried 60i and auto (selecting auto outputs 60i also). And then I used Compressor to remove the pulldown. But the judder remains. Will have to investigate whether it’s possible to remove that with Compressor using other settings. But if the juddering playback is something we’re stuck with, then it’s a dealbreaker for me.

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