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How To Get Raw On A Budget

raw video

· Filmmaking,raw video,budget and DIY

what is raw video?

Raw video is the crude output from a camera's sensor. This data is not processed or changed by the cameras internal processing. Most videographers / cinematographers prefer shooting raw footage due to the high quality of video that the camera sensor can produce along with the flexibility if the format in post production . Since it is raw, the footage remains as it was captured, retaining all details, true colors and lighting, with better dynamic range than video that is automatically processed by the camera.

Raw footage can be very large. A camera storing raw images quickly uses up its storage space. Due to the high data rate,  only a few cameras can store raw footage quickly enough,  which are usually very costly as they are aimed at high-end professionals.

The cameras mention below are cameras that can be found at lower than normal prices, budget is not just confined to cameras under $1000, all these cameras punch above their what in what they deliver, which I would consider "budget" compared to high end cameras like RED and ARRI.

canon dslr's

How can Canon cameras shoot you ask?

There is an amazing group/collective of coders that over the past few years have been hacking Canon's cameras to unlock their full potential. Magic Lantern is a firmware layer that can be added over the existing software that adds a plethora of extra features to these camera, which allow them to rival some high-end cameras.

The high rate of data produced by these cameras means that you will need a fast CF card to keep up without dropping frames. The SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB is recommended due to its; 160MB/s read, 150MB/s write. A word of warning, if your camera breaks and canon finds this firmware you will no longer be covered under warranty.


The Canon 50D is one of my favorite little cameras, It was made at a time where canon cameras were made with higher quality with out the cost cutting of more recent canon products, the 50D features an APS-C sized 15.1-megapixel sensor. One of the key reasons why this very old camera is capable of raw is due to its implementation of CF cards which allow for the rapid storage of the raw data.

The 50D is capable of of 1584X1058 24fps raw video

luke mccarthy canon dslr filmmaking raw video

This camera especially enticing due to its price, it can be found from 150-250$ used. This is a perfect starter camera for beginners who want to dip their feet into the world of raw video.


The Canon 7D has is the a part of canon's semi pro line of cameras, it features a 18Mp APC sensor. It is already a very accomplished sport photography camera but with Magic lantern installed it can output:

  • 1728 x 972 – APS-C (14bit 16:9)
  • 2048 x 930 – 4.07x crop mode (14bit 2.2:1)
luke mccarthy canon dslr filmmaking raw video

The 7D can be found used from 360-400$. Keep an eye out on Magic lanterns website to see their progress on the MK2.


Finally a full frame camera, the 5D Mk2 comes in with some exciting raw video specs. It can output 14 Bit raw files! with some more reasonable/ modern specs.

  • 1856 x 1044 – full frame (14bit, 16:9)
  • 2048 x 930 – 2.63x crop mode (14bit, 2.2:1)
luke mccarthy canon dslr filmmaking raw video

This is a great way to have you cake and eat it for photos and video, being found used from 650 -750$. This is a way to get into raw without breaking the bank.


The Canon 5D MKIII is where the "pro"really comes in, Fitted with a 22mp full frame sensor and high speed CF cards this hack has produced some major results, including:

  • 1920 x 1280 – full frame (10bit, aspect ratio 3:2)
  • 1920 x 1080 – full frame (14bit, use 12bit or 10bit for more reliability)
  • 2560 x 1090 – 2.25x crop mode (10bit, 2.35:1 aspect ratio)

In the 4K mode the 5D Mark III is capable of a whopping 3584 x 1320. This is still being tested, but imagine full frame 4k from a 5D !

luke mccarthy canon dslr filmmaking raw video

The 5D MKII can be found used from 1100-1200$. This is a real option for pro users that have not tried raw before, it could give many aspiring filmmakers some amazing footage.

BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera

luke mccarthy  filmmaking raw video

The Blackmagic pocket cinema is a powerful little camera it is capable of full HD 1920X1080 24fps raw video. It has a micro four thirds sensor that has an impressive 13 stops of dynamic range. With the micro four thirds platform there are many legacy / vintage lenses available at affordable prices. Have a look at my previous post about "Cine modding" vintage lenses. The price matches the size of this tiny camera it can be found used from $550 dollars, It's amazing what this pocketable camera can do!

BlackMagic production camera 4k

luke mccarthy  filmmaking raw video

Blackmagic production camera is a super 35mm camera capable of 4K 24/30 fps Raw video. It comes with a large touch screen monitor, so no need for an external one. Also it used non-proprietary SSD's so storage is very cheap! Also with the use of Canons EF-mount, you have hundreds of lenses to choose from and most people have canon lenses or two lying about. Great camera with no extra accessories needed. At the price used from 1300-1600$ there is not much in the price range that can compete.

sony fs700

The Sony NEX-FS700R is one of my favorite cameras, it started with some mediocre specs when it was first launched, with a week 28Mbs AVCHD codec, Luckily there was an 3G SDI out built into the camera, this Port allowed Sony to make an update that allows this camera to output 4K/2K 12-bit RAW, to an external recorder such as the Odessey Q7+ or the Atomos shogun inferno.

Watch out when buying this camera the raw output only works if the V3 firmware is installed, this cost $500 dollars from sony if not.

luke mccarthy  filmmaking raw video

This literal canon of a camera is capable of continuous:

  •  2K RAW 240fps 
  •  4K RAW 60fps 
  •  120fps 4K RAW recording in 4 second bursts

The FS700 can be found used from 2500-3000$ and is perfect for for professional shoots such as indie films, commercials, corporate videos, and music videos.

P.s A big bonus of the camera is that since its Sony's E-mount you can attach a speed booster to get that awesome full frame look.

kine mini

uke mccarthy  filmmaking raw video

The mysterious Kinemini 4k Super 35 camera is a simply amazing. This camera matches the performance of many red cameras. There has not been a lot of marketing to do with camera in the West. But its is capable of 4K raw, 2K and high speed 2k raw recording. It has all the other features that you find on proper cinema cameras(such as a PL mount) It can be found used from $2500. This is a crazy price for a camera of this caliber and if you find one you should get it straight away. These cameras are revered by a small following of filmmakers but due to its low price and features,  it makes it very hard to get a hold of on the used market. Keep your eyes open for this beauty!

DJI Osmo Raw X5R Zenmuse

luke mccarthy  filmmaking raw video

The Osmo RAW is from a different generation that the rest of the cameras on this list, its from a time of drones and gimbal.  The Osmo raw is very interesting , its ability to be put on the OSmo handle or on DJI's inspire 1 or inspire 2 makes one of the most flexible cameras on this list. Equipped with the Zenmuse X5R camera, MFT sensor, that captures 4K video at a framerate of up to 30fps and an integrated 3-axis stabilization. This is a great choice for todays more mobile type of filmmakers. It can be found used with the osmo handle from 2500-3000$

future cameras

Canon 5D MKIV

The 5DmkIV is very interesting camera as it is one of the few Canon cameras that can achieve 4k. This is camera has been crippled to not take the 1DC's or c100's market. Magic lantern could do something really special with this camera! Work is still on going, look for updates on the magic lantern forums.

Axiom beta

Axiom Beta is a new open source modular camera from a small European startup. The company, Apertus was started by filmmakers who were fed up with the limitations of the tools they had to work with every day. The AXIOM Beta intends to fix that. Their plan is to democratize camera technology, with a completely open platform.

This is very exciting prospect as professional cameras are getting more and more expensive and more and more enclosed in their own (expensive) ecosystems.

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