After hearing about Magic Lantern Firmware last year, I became immediately interested in the features it would add to my camera.  But it was the holidays and I put it on my to-do list; eventually forgetting about it.  The other night I decided to finally test it out on my camera and I have to say that I am amazed at the functionality it offers.  It has breathed new life into my camera... so much so that I feel like I have new gear.  

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Let's run down the list of some of the features that Magic Lantern v2.3 offers:

  • Shoot High Dynamic Range Video
  • Video Tools:  FPS Override, Bitrate Control
  • Automatic HDR Bracketing
  • Exposure Tools:  RGB Zebras, Spotmeter, False Colors
  • Focus Assist Tools: Focus Peaking, Zoom Box, Trap Focus, Follow Focus
  • Built-In Intervalometer with Focus and Exposure Ramping
  • Exposures longer than 30 Seconds
  • Rack Focus, Focus Stacking
  • Ghost Image Overlays for panoramic photos
  • Motion Detection
  • Audio Trigger
  • Custom Grids for framing

Demonstration of the new High Dynamic Range video feature for control over ultra contrast situations.

The list of features added with Magic Lantern Firmware is impressive and includes some of the features found on newer (and more expensive) model cameras.  I am currently in love with Focus Peaking and have it constantly in use.  Basically, it assists with focusing by showing tiny dots on the sharp edges of what is in the focus plane.  This can be very helpful in assisting with focus when you have the lens wide-open or if you have trouble seeing through the viewfinder.  I am also using the Zebras feature to show me the parts of the image that are over-exposed and under-exposed.  This should help me to become a better photographer by recognizing these spots in my images.  Another feature that I will make great use of is the built-in intervalometer because I will no longer need to have a timer with me to take timelapses.  Automatic HDR bracketing is a cool feature.  Set your camera mode to M, set the number of frames to Automatic, choose your desired EV step size and take the first picture. Magic Lantern will analyze the scene and take as many (or as few) shots as needed to cover the entire dynamic range.  Other neat features such as Motion Detection (camera will take a photo when something moves in the frame; useful for wildlife photography such as birds on a birdfeeder) and Audio Trigger (camera will take a photo once a set audio threshold has been passed; useful for wildlife photography as well) are features that I will rarely use but I certainly like the option of having them should I need to use them.

Below are screenshots of the menus that you will find in Magic Lantern Firmware

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Testing out the automatic Rack Focus feature of Magic Lantern Firmware on my Canon EOS 60D

I definitely recommend checking out Magic Lantern Firmware if you have a compatible Canon camera.  For more information, visit either of these pages:
Magic Lantern Official Site
Magic Lantern Wiki Site

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