Need Help Getting Started with Magic Lantern? This Video Should Help

Magic Lantern
Magic Lantern on Set.Credit: Courtesy of Magic Lantern
Often the hardest part of learning a new technology is knowing where to start.

Community-based technology movements are great. If not for linux, Magic Lantern, Hackintosh, and the Arduino community, the world would be a less interesting place. But if there is a major flaw, it’s that, without a corporate interest in creating tutorials for the absolute noob, it can sometimes be hard to figure out where to start.

If you’ve been wondering what Magic Lantern is, why you might want to use it, and most importantly, how to get it installed, this video from Jake Coppinger gives a 101 intro into the Magic Lantern universe.

Magic Lantern is an aftermarket firmware extension designed by a group of enthusiasts for Canon DSLR cameras to open up more possibilities than are otherwise available in the camera. It does void your warranty, which is important to consider, and if done incorrectly can lead to problems. But if you follow instructions you should be fine, and if your camera is out of warranty anyway, there’s absolutely no reason not to do this.

Especially if you are just starting out, it opens up a whole world of options in your camera that will help you as you grow.

Anybody have experience with Magic Lantern that they want to share?     

Your Comment


The 5Dmk3 is the only model to record continuous RAW in 1920x1080 without crop. Using crop it can record up to 3K depending on the speed of your CF card. Thanks to a CF and SD card slot, ML can live on the SD card and does not get touched by recording footage to the CF card. If you format the SD card, ML is gone and the camera boots into the standard Canon firmware. Do not update to the altest firmware though (1.3.3 for the 5Dmk3 for example) since it prevents using external code, meaning they blocked the use of ML!

More facts and an encouragement to read the ML Wiki:

You can decrease Rolling Shutter (Jello effect) by using ML’s FPS override from 25 to 24.

Canon’s “magic value” for the ISO is using the native point 1600 and applying -0.3EV via ML ISO menu resuling in 1250 ISO which has the least noise, even less than 100 ISO.

If you use ML’s Dual ISO (HDR) video mode (RAW only) you can squeeze full 14 stops of dynamic range out of your DSLR, which is the same value analogue film uses. The sensor gets read out in two ISO values: 10 for even lines and 1600 for odd lines resulting in a noise-free super dynamic image.

Now, go play with oyur heavily enhanced old DSLR!
P.S. there are many more features to be discovered.

August 1, 2016 at 2:58PM


I'm curious, does this firmware offer any advantages when shooting still? Does it use different colorspace models than the stock camera? I ask because the stock firmware in Mk II's and Mk III's is really problematic when it comes to accurate color reproduction.

I work in a studio where we shoot with these cameras, and everything we shoot regardless of WB settings, has over-accented red casts, especially when shooting wood or artwork. These units also intermittently play musical chairs with the WB. Very frustrating. Speedtron strobes are used, and we feed either through tethered Capture One or via Adobe Camera Raw reading off CF cards. I've done tests with Nikon and Panasonic cameras under the same conditions and they record normally.

So if this firmware offers any advantages to still shooting, I will suggest it to the studio manager to try it out on at least one body.

August 1, 2016 at 8:51PM, Edited August 1, 8:57PM


I am a big fan of magic Lantern but this article came three-four years too late. Now many of us have switch to panasonic and sony which have many of magic Lantern features include. If canon release a better, affordable dslr that shoot decent video ml might be relevant again but right now people who are serious about filmmaking and want affordable dslr and mirrorless have moved to other manufacturers.

August 2, 2016 at 1:50AM


Magic Lantern is absolutely still relevant in my opinion. It doesn't just give you video gives you raw video. Raw video that, though 1080, with lower dynamic range, still produces a better image than the Panasonic and Sony mirrorless cameras that are competing right now. Magic Lantern gives you 14 bit color and color is what makes the biggest difference to me when comparing all these cameras - Its what makes a shot feel more real because the skin tones are perfectly accurate, with smooth gradation in slight color changes, no blemishes. Plus Sony still have a lot of work to do on their color science to be on par with Canon. They are getting there, but I am still totally satisfied with my 5d3.

August 2, 2016 at 10:36AM

Jeremy Dulac

I've shot a couple of shortfilms with 5d III RAW and it is beautiful. I think it blows away all the competition (sony a7s, panasonic variants) in image quality. Smooth, organic, very low noise, no compression. Good in low light too (a7s is way more processed and noise reduction is apparent in comparison).

It has its drawbacks but man oh man. It's like having a mini Alexa in your backpack. With dual-iso I can get surprisingly good looking 15 stop images by combining iso 100 and 1600 for example. (aliasing and moire doubles up when using dual-iso so I don't often feel the need for it, 12 stops is good too). Also the 60p slowmo in raw is surprisingly good looking too, eventhough the resolution is low. 5d RAW has a great cinematic look to it.

a trailer for a scifi short I shot with the 5d raw:

and a little action short (5d raw, plus some shots from the rx10 ii, a7s, a7s ii and a7r ii):

August 3, 2016 at 5:50AM

Mikko Löppönen