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Get It While It's Hot: Magic Lantern Alpha for the Canon 7D Now Available

10.13.12 @ 10:30AM Tags : , , , , , ,

It seemed like an impossibility, and many people had written off ever having the ability to use Magic Lantern on the Canon 7D (including me), but it has finally become a reality: the hack is working successfully and is available right now for use on your own camera. Hudson and Indy were the major players who made this possible, and g3gg0, in a post on the Magic Lantern site, described in detail what went into the release and what is, or isn’t, working.

If you’re wondering why this took as long as it has, the team has given a rather lengthy and technical explanation:

The workings of single-DIGiC cameras are already well understood. We know how to forge FIRs and we can execute code using this method. Our code gets executed without any interruption to the cameras proper function, we can hook into startup code and simply restart the camera or update the bootflag needed for execution of autoexec.bin. Same applies to autoexec.bin if the bootflag is enabled. But not so on the Dual-DIGiC 7D cameras.


One DIGiC is called “Master” and the other “Slave.” All ML related stuff like GUI, LV etc is running in Slave. The Master cares about focusing, lens communication and some other related technical stuff. So there are two processors that both load the (forged) firmware update program which contains Magic Lantern. But we could not simply reboot the Slave into normal firmware while the firmware update loader is executed. With some tricks like patching the original firmware updater, it was possible to enable the bootflag for autoexec.bin. But even running Magic Lantern in autoexec.bin failed silently. This was the point where our first investigation started stuttering.


After some deeper investigation with new methods like – lets call it “virtual flash patching” by manually patching the processors cache content – we found out that the Master is still running and waits for the Slave to send synchronization signals. If they don’t arrive, Master is disabling the Slave where our code runs. Henceforward it was a job of just two weeks to find out what to do and make Magic Lantern start up cleanly and then another two weeks for updating all defines, macros and constants to get the important features running smoothly.

With this being an alpha release, not all of the features are working right away out of the box, but they have been doing extensive testing and have not had any crashes yet. Here are some of the key features currently working in the release:

  • Audio meters while recording
  • Zebras and Focus peaking
  • Magic Zooom (via half-shutter, or focus ring)
  • Cropmarks, Ghost image
  • Spotmeter
  • False color
  • Histogram, Waveform, and Vectorscope
  • Movie logging and Auto stop
  • Trap focus
  • LiveView settings (brightness, contrast…)
  • Level indicator
  • Image review tweaks (quick zoom)

As of right now it looks like the firmware won’t boot automatically, so you’ll have to load it each time you want to use it. Also missing right now are any HDR features, frames per second overriding, bulb ramping, and a few others that haven’t been enabled so as to keep the risk of crashing at a minimum. If you want to get in on the action, you will have to first donate to the Magic Lantern cause, as has been the case with recent initial releases, like the Alpha for the Canon 5D Mark III and the extensive 2.3 version. If you’ve already donated, however, you can download away.

Head on over to the Magic Lantern site to read up on more of the specifics about the firmware, and to try it out yourself.

Link: First 7D alpha released! — Magic Lantern Site


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  • Got it, and it’s working pretty well. Of course I’m looking forward to more features like HDR adjustable frame rates, etc but this is a good start. Seems like Magic Lantern plus Mosiac Engineering’s AA filter could put the 7D back in the game!

  • vinceGortho on 10.13.12 @ 11:43AM

    When ate they going to attempt to swap out the H264 coded for a more robust one?

    • There is ongoing research and development of Motion JPEG codec, this is most promising on 5D Mark III. Please see Magic Lantern forum for more details.

    • john jeffreys on 10.14.12 @ 4:19PM

      I can’t wait till 7D’s drop to around 7-800 used…get one, gut it out and put a PL mount on it, install magic lantern and boom,instant cheap compact super 35 camera

    • They just confirmed clean HDMI output (albeit interlaced) on their youtube channel, so you could possibly use an external recorder to bypass the H.264 encoding in the next release.

      • Daniel Mimura on 10.19.12 @ 5:35AM

        That’s throwing the baby out with the bath water. I’ll take h.264 over interlaced any day. Bad compression will beat out interlaced 1080… (Although uprezzing 720p, if it were an option, might look better dependent upon compression.)

  • i just can’t take any chances on crashing or any other problems, As i use the camera for commercial production. i Luv the idea of being able to monitor the New Audio Metters while recording. Everything MUST work %100 right before taking such a chance.

    I’m presently using Canon’s recent audio firmware update and Luv it. I’m going to wait for the new camera that will replace the 7D and also hope Canon will give the THOUSENDS of 7D owners a second update that will allow us to view the audios metters while recording.

    • Been using it 2 years on my cams, not heard of or seen anyone whose cam crashed coz of ML. In fact I suspect that is a successful Canon strategy to keep users from trying it out. The worst I ever experienced with the new V2.3 is “movie stopped recording automatically”. And all I gotta do is switch off the live view functions of ML, and boom, I’m back in business.

  • Roger Freeman on 10.13.12 @ 3:13PM

    I just tried it out… the focus peaking is so useful. So useful that it makes me mad Canon won’t put this in themselves. I’m pretty sure I could leave my external monitor at home most of the time if shooting on my 7D now.

    And as a response to Darryl above… I think it’s pretty safe since it’s not a firmware upgrade, so no firmware is being replaced or changed. Each time you want to use it you have to load it, and after the camera powers off it’s gone until you re load it off the card. So I’m pretty sure that lowers the risk factor big time.

    • Daniel Mimura on 10.19.12 @ 5:39AM

      How long does booting it take? I can’t risk taking Red One start up times b/c of the number of battery changes a day…especially since there isn’t a way to hot swap batteries.

      On any given day, that’s like 10 or a dozen boot ups for me.

  • Hi, anyone managed to adjust the sound volume WHILE recording or is this option still not available on 7D Magic Lantern?

  • Ok. So I know the possibility of this happening is really slim, but what if somehow, a catastrophic failure happened and the camera didn’t boot up at all? would there be a way to reload canons v 2.3 firmware? I will prob give it a go when the non beta version is out.