Hardware Hacks: The Future of Camera Customization?

Hardware Hacks: The Future of Camera Customization?

First reported at The Phoblographer, Canon Rumors published an article about possible hardware based hacks being just on the horizon for Canon shooters. CR received an email that stated that an unnamed company is gearing up to produce a hacked motherboard for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Modification of cameras is nothing new to many Canon users, some of whom opt to install a modified firmware (like Magic Lantern as perviously covered here).

Magic Lantern mods allow users to supplement the stock firmware, increasing dynamic range and allowing for raw video output. This mod would be different, requiring a physical replacement of components in your camera. As of now, nobody is certain if this hack would require that you replace your own board or if you'd simply send it off for modification. Much like the Magic Lantern firmware hacks, this is supposed to boost dynamic range as well as video performance and sharpness. CR reports the cost would be $1,000. At around 1/3 the cost of a 5D III, $1,000 might be a little pricey for such a modification and the results would certainly have to be profound to merit it. At the moment, we have no word on when (if ever) this hardware hack would be made available. If you're looking to boost the performance of your Mark III even further (and void your warrantee in the process) this hack might be just what you're looking for.

In the past, cameras have had some level of modularity, allowing for installation of different focusing screens, winders, etc. (for example my Hasselblad 500 is a total hotrod). Recently, though, we've moved away from this and most users shoot a completely "stock" body. Do you think this mod, if popular, could change the course of camera manufacturing, allowing for more non-factory modifications?

[Via The Phoblographer]

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21 Comments

Jason Vinson's picture

interesting idea! how cool would it be to have a pro grade camera where you can pick and choose what components you want! kind of like project Ara that Google is working on for cell phones...

Michael Comeau's picture

Very few people will actually make these kinds of modifications. And the manufacturers will fight it tooth and nail so they can very gradually roll out new features.

Of course. But they won't have to fight it that hard as modifying hardware voids your camera's warranty. Would you take chances on a 3K body?

Spy Black's picture

Although it's not a full-sized sensor, your money is much better spent on a Blackmagic camera, for less than the price of a stock MK III body alone. You're looking at 4 grand+ for that hack, and MAYBE you might get 4k out of it if it doesn't fry the camera up. The 4k BM camera is RAW ready to rock out of the box.

Brendan James's picture

Not if you do photography too and or want the full frame.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, but chances are you already have a camera to shoot stills, why not have an instrument dedicated to shooting motion as you have one for shooting stills? Although it's obviously very commonly done today, shooting video with a DSLR is still an awkward concept, because DSLRs were never optimized for shooting video. Would you shoot stills with a video camera? The right tools for the job.

I do both with my 5d3 and they both perform very well. At this point, I don't need a dedicated camera for photo and a separate one for video, it also isn't awkward to me. Different strokes...

Brendan James's picture

I suppose it depends on your budget.

If anything, this just shows how little effort some camera makers are putting in the video functions of their cameras. In lots of cases it seems like their purposely omitting features so people will pony up for dedicated video cameras. Both MagicLantern and the Panasonic GH line demonstrate this quite well. Heck even 300$ eos-m can shoot decent resolution raw with MagicLantern.

5 years after the 5D mkII/7D where's the APS-C sized camera that can shoot decent video at 1k$? Just keep the mic in, fix the moirée, line skipping and motion jello and put it in a large container with decent dynamic and colour range you'll be on top of the world. It's not like it can't be made, and it's not like it wouldn't sell, yet no one wants to make it...

Because it would undercut sales of their other products.

Let me say something. I fully want what you are stating. But unlike you, I have the ability to realize that it does not make good business sense for them. Think about this very simple fact. These camera manufacturers have hundreds/thousands of creative engineers and designers working for them. Do you think your idea has never come up? Let me answer that for you. Of course they've thought of it. But when the cost analysis was likely done on it, it turns out to not be the most profitable method.

So, of course it can be made, but as you yourself stated (but I suppose fail to understand why), no one wants to make it.

Jesus you sound arrogant.

As a shooter and consumer, I also want those bells and whistles to be thrown in by the camera companies themselves. As a developer however, I've come to accept that there are risks (mainly reliability issues) in pushing the hardware to its limits.

MagicLantern offers very handy additional features, but the occasional hiccups can be disastrous in critical shots.

Next time hold off until there is an actual story to report.

I was just thinking the same thing - $1000 to do what exactly - what exactly are we changing? There's no information here.

Let me sum this up. So there's a rumor based on... none, but you ask if we're interested in that kind of stuff so... Basically, there's nothing and you survey wether this kind of service would be worth digging? ;)

Maybe what you really want then is Apertus https://www.apertus.org/ why not start out with something actually designed for modification.

I can't believe I've never heard of this. Thanks for sharing!

What is a "warrantee"?
A manatee named Warren perhaps? ;-)

Rumors about rumors. Cool.

To all who are getting excited about this: stop wasting your money on mods and get the right tool for the job! Book a gig that you need to shoot 4k with 14 stops of latitude? Rent a camera that does that!

No. Camera manufacturers are not going to open up the cameras to 3rd party mods. Like Apple, they want complete control over the end product - they want the system to be as reliable as possible. For instance, magic lantern is all fine and good but it can drain your batteries rather quickly. So you want to shoot video with your ML 5D? Better sink another $200-$300 in batteries! Sometimes you have to pop out the battery again just for your camera to start up. Shooting in RAW video mode could potentially shorten the life of your camera, too. And that's just a soft mod! Can't imagine what a hard mod would do to my camera. Shorten it's life? Suck batteries? Fry the board in a couple of months? Probably all of the above. There's a reason it's not built to do those things out of the box. Right tool right job.

Video on a DSLR is super nifty and all but i'm all about the still images..