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Magic Lantern Firmware

Magic Lantern introduction(09:48)

Magic Lantern is an open platform for developing enhancements to the amazing Canon 5D Mark II and 550D/T2i digital SLRs. These cameras are "game changing" for independent film makers:

  • It allows the use of a wide range of lenses (anything that can be adapted to the EF mount).
  • The 5D's 35mm full-frame sensor is larger than the RED ONE's sensor, Super 35 film. It is approximately the size of VistaVision. This means shallower native depth-of-field than anything on the market, except for the Phantom 65.
  • The dynamic range and latitude are close to the capabilities of high-end HD cameras.
  • The low-light performance is currently unrivaled, even by the RED ONE.

But, the software in video mode has limitations, even after the recent 1.1.0 upgrade from Canon that fixed the most glaring manual exposure "bug".

That's where Magic Lantern comes in -- it turns your 5D Mark II into a 5D Mark Free. We've written extensions and widgets that fix many of the annoyances in working with the 5D Mark II on a film or video set. Our first set of fixes are targeted at the audio limitations of the camera, but there are some video enhancements included, too:

  • On-screen audio meters
  • Manual gain control with no AGC
  • Zebra stripes (video peaking)
  • Custom Cropmarks for 16:9, 2.35:1, 4:3 and any other format
  • Control of focus and bracketing

Beyond those features, however, is the ability to write your own extensions or to commission new ones. Within some limitations, we can fix many of the Canon firmware problems and plan to write widgets to address the requirements of the film users of this amazing camera.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is it?

5D Rig
5D Mark II configured for film making with follow focus, matte box, rails, preamp and dolly
AutopilotAdded by Autopilot

Magic Lantern is an enhancement atop of Canon's firmware that frees your Canon DSLR, allowing you to use many useful features. Initially developed for filmmakers, it now has functionality for both photo and video enthusiasts, including manual audio, zebras, focus assist tools, bracketing, motion detection and much more. It is an open (GPL) framework for developing extensions to the official software. It does not replace the existing firmware, but instead runs along side of it. There is no need to "uninstall" it -- simply format your card to reboot to the stock Canon firmware.

Is it only for video?

BulbTimer-Intervalometer-60x60s-M31-Brent
HDR-Karlskirche
MotionDetection-Bird

Initially, Magic Lantern was developed by independent filmmakers and tailored for video production on 5D Mark II. Things changed when Magic Lantern was ported to smaller (APS-C) cameras, like 550D, 60D, 600D and 500D, which attracted developers interested in both still photography and DSLR video.

In short:

  • Unified Magic Lantern (currently running on 500D, 550D, 600D, 50D and 60D) has dedicated photo functionality like extended bracketing, trap focus, motion detection or very long exposures; also, most video exposure and focus tools work for photos too. Coming soon on 5D mark II.
  • Classic ML for 5D Mark II has extended bracketing and focus stacking functions.
  • AJ 5.x versions of Magic Lantern only provide video functionality [4].

Check the Magic Lantern group on Flickr for more info!

Where do I get it?

See the Download page.

Will it break my camera?

As of September 2009 the software has been downloaded over two thousand times and there have been no reports of damage to the cameras. While this is no guarantee of absolute safety, the stable releases have been tested by beta testers. Most of the risk is to the developers' cameras while testing new features and probing new portions of Canon's firmware. By the time the software moves from development to beta testing it has been installed hundreds or thousands of times.

What can I do to help?

If you're a programmer skilled in ARM assembly, embedded systems, GUI programming and don't mind risking your expensive camera, join the Magic Lantern devel mailing list, edit the wiki and make improvements.

Where do I report bugs?

For general tech-support, join Magic Lantern User Group on Vimeo. For bugs and enhancement requests, use the issue tracker.

Can I donate / pay for it?

You can donate via PayPal. I'm also looking for a steadicam and interesting lenses, so if you have any older ones that are no longer being used please let me know. Or you can make a donation to the EFF for me.

For the 550D and 600D versions of Magic Lantern, you can donate to Alex.

Why not just buy a video camera?

Arriflex
Arriflex ST versus the 5D, by Olivier Koos
AutopilotAdded by Autopilot

If you can find a video camera that a) shoots HD, b) has a 50 mbps data rate, c) has interchangable lenses, d) has a 35 mm or larger sensor and e) costs less than $25k (without lenses, like the RED One), then buy that one instead. There are limitations to shooting movies on a 5D Mark II, notably the limited 12 minute recording time and lack of balanced audio inputs, but a ArriCam Lite only records 5 minutes of Super 35 and a high quality preamp like the juicedLink CX231 provides balanced inputs. The lack of auto-focus in movie mode isn't a problem either -- movies are focused manually with a follow-focus like the Cinevate Durus.

Will it work on a 7D?

7D box
7D being reverse engineered
AutopilotAdded by Autopilot

Short answer: Not yet. work was being done on producing a Magic Lantern image for the 7D. Currently we can generate signed firmware images and have dumped the 7D's ROM for analysis, but we do not know how to hijack task execution on the Master/Slave (2 headed) DryOS instances. Details here: 7D support

Will it work on a 50D?

Yes!

Will it work on a 1100D/T3 ?

Yes!

Will it work on a 40D, 1000D, GH1, D7000, etc?

Short answer: Maybe. Longer answer: The CHDK project successfully supports many different cameras running different operating systems, but finding the necessary kernel entry points is a very time consuming process. Since Magic Lantern is publicly available, someone with the time, the hardware and the inclination to port it to other cameras can do so.

For 400D, use 400plus.

The 40D, 450D, 1000D and 5Dmk1 are similar in hardware, but they run vxWorks and would be lots of effort to support. It will be much easier to port 400plus instead. See also Other_dslr.

For Panasonic GH1 and GH2, please check http://www.gh1-hack.info/. This is a completely different bit of hardware and would require an entire from-scratch reverse engineering effort in order to port Magic Lantern.

For Nikon cameras see this thread on personal-view.com and http://nikonhacker.com/.

There is also an effort in reverse engineering the Pentax K10/GX10 and K20/GX20 cameras. As of August 2009 they have been able to decrypt the firmware update and are making progress in understanding how the camera works.

For more questions about the Magic Lantern firmware, see the full FAQ

Magic Lantern branches

Logo Unified

5D Mark II 2.1.2
550D 1.0.9
60D 1.1.1
600D 1.0.2
50D 1.0.9
500D 1.1.1
7D, 5D3, 5Dc, 1100D and 40D in progress.

AJ AJ 5.9

5D MkII 2.0.9

Logo-full ML 0.1.9 classic

5D MkII 2.0.8

Magic Lantern Community

Mailing List

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ML Vimeo Group

ML Flickr Group

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Issue tracker for reporting bugs (read this first!)



Supported cameras

5D Mark II

500D / T1i / Kiss X3

550D / T2i / Kiss X4

600D / T3i / Kiss X5

50D

60D

Coming soon:

  • 1100D/Rebel T3/Kiss X50 (1.0.4)


Technical information

5D Rig outside
5D Mark II with Cinevate DSLR rig, juicedLink CX231, SmallHD DP1 and Glidetrack HD on a Bogen 516/3192
AutopilotAdded by Autopilot

See also


Support the project!

Autopilot-onset

Thanks to your help, we have covered all our funding needs for now.

Please consider donating to EFF for us, because they do a great job in defending your digital rights, including the right to run third party software on your own devices!



Thanks

Chdk
CHDK 
Without their hard work on understanding Canon's point-and-shoot cameras, this would not have been possible. They did the hard-core reverse engineering on their cameras using only a LED to blink raw machine code and built an entire community on top of it. And since they released it all under the GPL we were able to learn from their efforts.
Jon Fairhurst @ Poorly Projected Pictures 
Jon did the alpha testing to find a decent set of input gains and to compare the Magic Lantern firmware against other recorders. He also handles much of the tech support and has a few thousand posts over at dvinfo.net.
Juicedlink
juicedLink 
Robert at juicedLink provided guidance on the audio testing procedures and provided a CX231 preamp for testing.
Cinevate
Cinevate 
Cinevate has donated a matte box and rails system. Their DSLR shooting rigs turn the 5D into a cinematic camera system.
Chris Barcellos @ MYF Media 
Chris does a great job of bravely beta testing the Magic Lantern firmware and has been providing tech support.
Smallhd
SmallHD 
SmallHD has provided a DP1 HDMI field monitor so that Magic Lantern can be extended to support external displays.
Glidetrack
Glidetrack 
Glidetrack produces high quality, low cost and very compact tripod mounted tracks for dolly shots. It's amazing how much a tracking shot adds to the cinematic feel.
5dfilmmaking
5D Film Making 
5dfilmmaking produced a much better intro video for the Magic Lantern project and can teach you to make better films with your 5D (or 7D or other DSLR), too.
Donors 
Thanks to everyone who made a donation via PayPal or through equipment donations! You can donate via PayPal to help keep the project going, too.

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