Getting the right card to shoot Magic Lantern RAW Video

on October 24, 2014

In an upcoming segment, we will be going over the ins and outs of recording and post-processing RAW in Magic Lantern (and you DON’T have to have a 5D to get that beautiful RAW image.)

The 5D, however, is certainly the most popular choice, however, due to the fact that it has the fastest card writing speeds in camera with the CF Cards. While the trend in cameras seems to be moving towards the inclusion of SD- which is great- CF cards are MUCH faster and it is precisely these cards that allow for RAW to be shot at the resolution and framerate that makes them a great choice.

So now you have a 5D- mkii or iii- and you have the latest Magic Lantern Installed. The only thing that could stop you now is a slow card.
And there are MANY slow cards.
So what card should you get?
The most popular reliable card for the 5D is the Kumputer Bay 64G 1000x

Notice that these are the 64G cards.
I will repeat that: THE 64G 1000X CARDS.

The 128G 1000X cards have been a little bit hit or miss.

“But RAW takes up so much space! How am I going to record anything worth a damn without getting a dozen cards?!”

Not to worry. Komputer Bay just came out with the 128G 1050X cards.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that these seem to only be a fraction faster than the card I recommended against. It seems that Komputer Bay heard the complaints about the previous model and addressed some issues. These cards seem to be working well in the field, but keep in mind that with any new product, there is limited data because the testing period is short. If you do get a dud, they have been good about replacing bad cards.

This, however, does very little good to you when you realize that you have lost the footage from an entire shoot… for a commercial client… and everyone has wrapped and left for the day.

When working with RAW files, I highly recommend having a DIT, or assistant who is familiar with the process of offloading media help you while you swap between cards.
Try not to fill up the card. If you can offload after filling up half- even better.
Use USB 3.0.
Blackmagic’s Davinci Lite has a Checksum Verification for cloning cards so you can make sure you get a good copy on your drive.
(Yes, please CLONE your cards instead of dragging and dropping files. It probably won’t make a difference in most scenarios, but when it does, you will be grateful for this good habit.)
While your assistant makes sure you have a good offload and positive backup, you can be going over the next shot.
It is much better to have to reshoot a scene while it is still set up than to have to do reshoots.

You may be asking yourself- what is this Komputer Bay brand? I’ve never heard of them. They are an offbrand, but similar to those cheap Korean Monitors with the same display panel as Apple, these seem to have the same internals as the much more expensive Lexar cards in certain models.
If you prefer the Lexars, they are great, and for some, give peace of mind.

And then, if you are doing production work and money is on the line, the cards I always look to are Sandisks. Yes, they are a lot more expensive than the entry level cards, but their quality control is excellent, and it is rare that you get a card that is a dud.

Of course, the last thing that should be mentioned when it comes to transferring data is:
Don’t cheap out on card readers. Almost 99% of the time, if a card has corrupted information, it happened during the reading process because of a cheap reader. There certainly are many cheap card readers out there on ebay that you can get from China, but a bad transfer is the most common point of failure for card damage.

Here’s one that’s $23 bucks from Sandisk. The chain of data from your camera to your deliverable is only as solid as it’s most fragile point. Pay the money now so you don’t find out how much that cheap card reader really costs you.