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Magic Lantern: The Ultimate Canon DSLR Camera Tool

I often have the pleasure of speaking with customers directly and I am always surprised at how many Canon DSLR video shooters do not know about, or simply do not use Magic Lantern’s free Canon firmware enhancement for their DSLR video work. All I can figure is that people see the “Use this software at your own risk.” statement on the download page and decide that it is not for them. Let me just say that I will not shoot video on my DSLR without Magic Lantern. It is on every SD card I own and has turned my Canon 60d into a truly amazing tool.

The Magic Lantern Canon firmware enhancement provides so many of those missing features I had become accustomed to on more professional cameras such as my older Panasonic DVX-100. It even does some things the DVX-100 only dreamed of doing. Magic Lantern is not only for video work, but has loads of great features for any avid photographer.

Here are a list of features to help give you an idea of the power of Magic Lantern (my favorites noted in bold):

  • Audio: disable AGC, audio meters, manual audio controls, selectable input source (internal, internal+external, external stereo, balanced), audio monitoring via A/V cable.
  • Exposure helpers: zebras, false color, histogram, waveform, spotmeter, vectorscope.
  • Focus tools: focus peaking, zoom while recording, trap focus, rack focus, follow focus, focus stacking.
  • Movie helpers: Bitrate control, movie logging (Exif-like metadata), auto-restart after buffer overflow or 4 GB limit, HDR video, advanced FPS control.
  • LiveView adjustments: contrast, saturation, display gain for using LiveView in darkness.
  • Cropmark images: user-editable overlays to assist framing and composition.
  • Fine control for ISO, Shutter, Kelvin white balance and other image settings.
  • Bracketing: advanced exposure bracketing, focus stacking.
  • Remote release with LCD face sensor and audio trigger, without extra hardware.
  • Timelapse: intervalometer (for photos and movies), bulb ramping (manual and automatic), recording at very low FPS (down to 0.2 FPS), silent pictures without shutter actuation.
  • Astro- and night photography: bulb timer for very long exposures (up to 8h).
  • Info displays: focus and DOF info, CMOS temperature, shutter count, clock.
  • For strobists: flash exposure compensation, range up to -10 to +3 EV (depends on the camera).
  • Power saving: Turn off display or reduce backlight in LiveView during idle times.
  • Handy features: Quick zoom in PLAY mode, key shortcuts for commonly-used features, customizable menus.

If any of the above features sound interesting, head over to the Magic Lantern website and get more information on this amazing free upgrade to your Canon DSLR camera. Version 2.3 release note can be found here.

Version 2.3 works on camera/firmware
: 5Dmk2/2.1.2, 50D/1.0.9, 60D/1.1.1, 500D/1.1.1, 550D/1.0.9, 600D/1.0.2 — Installation instructions

Lastly, if you use Magic Lantern and like it, please consider dropping Alex and the team a few dollars for all their excellent work.

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I hope you found this information helpful.

-Aric Spence
DSLR Solutions