Magic Lantern: Professional Hacker Software for Canon DSLRs

As one of the geeky programmer types at TourBuzz, I've always wanted to be able to tweak the built-in software on my Canon T3i DSLR. There are so many things the camera almost does well, but end up being really clunky or impossible due to limited firmware.

The open-source community has created an amazing project called Magic Lantern that drastically extends the capabilities of Canon DSLR's with customized firmware. The recent 2.3 release is being billed as professional grade, meaning the community thinks it's so stable it can be used by professionals in production work. Watch the video below for a great intro.

So what does Magic Lantern offer for real estate photographers?

  • Customized bracketing for HDR
    • Up to 9 images
    • Customized EV steps
    • Auto-bracketing calculation (only take as many frames as needed to cover dynamic range of scene)
    • In-camera Exposure Fusion preview (yes, seriously)
    • Automatically delays first frame to eliminate camera shake
    • Automatically creates Enfuse scripts
  • Built-in time-lapse (great for TourBuzz Tactical Video Clips!)
    • In movie mode, automatically creates the movie!
    • Astronomical mode for long-exposures to get stars
  • Live histogram with indicators for R/G/B clipping
  • Zebras for under- and over-exposed areas
  • Focus assistance
    • Quick-zoom in live view (5x or 10x) to verify focus
    • Focus overlay (pixels in focus will blink)
  • Automatic white balance
  • Remote shutter trigger by waving your hand
  • HDR Video (yes, seriously)

It does other cool stuff like:

  • Trap focus (take shot when something moves into focus)
  • Motion-activated shutter
  • Super-high ISOs
  • Focus stacking for macros
  • Very long exposures
  • In-camera documentation
  • Much, much, much more.

Check out the detailed Magic Lantern Documentation for complete details. That web site is pretty new; there are even more details on the original Magic Lantern Wiki site.

It's worth noting that theoretically this could harm your camera, but it's thoroughly tested and shouldn't be too risky in practice.

I'm about to put it on my camera and I'll have an update after using it for a few weeks!

Views: 518

Comment by TourBuzz Fellow on August 12, 2012 at 9:31pm

I am interested in putting this on my 60D for the focus peaking. If/when they come out with a 5DmIII version, I would want to add it to that too. 

Comment by TourBuzz Fellow on August 12, 2012 at 9:32pm

2.3 is also free on August 13th.

Comment by Alan Pinstein on August 12, 2012 at 9:44pm

One of the reasons I bought a Canon vs Nikon is the fact that the CHDK existed. I figured eventually someone would get it to work on the DSLR's and this is really exciting for me!

Comment by Alan Pinstein on August 13, 2012 at 12:01pm

I got it installed this morning and played with it for a while. IT IS AWESOME.

I would highly recommend anyone shooting Canon try this out. I'm updating my above post with some of the other niceties I found.

Comment by B Davis on September 29, 2012 at 8:29pm

How could it harm your camera?

Comment by TourBuzz Support on September 30, 2012 at 11:50am

Theoretically it could brick your camera. You can read on their site all of the perils. 

In practice, it's been engineered to be pretty harmless and totally reversible. I have never heard a story of an end-user bricking their camera.


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