A long, long time ago, actually a little over three years, the Canon 5D MK ii was taking the video production world by storm. Almost immediately video pros started bombarding Canon with a list of new features they wanted. Canon said sure, we’ll get to those sometime next year.
If you know video people like I do, telling them to wait for something is pretty much a lost cause. And so it happened a couple hacker types teamed up with videographers willing to put their $2,500 cameras on the line and came up with the MagicLantern firmware update.
At first those hacks were aimed at bypassing the Automatic Gain Control on audio and providing shooters with manual audio controls. That allowed them to plug a small shotgun directly into the camera external audio plug and skip the second sound recording and post-production sync.
That was how it started, but you know people who like to tinker, once they got going, they just kept on thinking up new tricks and tweaks until today we’re up to version 2.3 that has some amazing new tools for 5D MK ii owners.
As with anything that messes with your camera’s computer, let me say that no firmware enhancement is completely without risk. Most of the time you can wipe out any changes ML made to your camera by turning it off, removing the battery for a few minutes, then turn it back on with a clean CF card. So, if you’re brave enough to subject your camera’s mental stability to a small but calculated risk, read on.
Fast Luma Zebras
Those clever hackers shifted the zebra calculations from the computer’s processor to the display driver, resulting in faster zebra display with almost zero lag.
Customizable Shortcut Keys
You want features set up to work a certain, no problem. With the new menu configuration tools you can hide features you don’t use and prioritize those you use frequently. A real time saver when you’re in the field.
Advanced Frame Rate Controls
Okay, you really want to shoot at 24.000 fps instead of 23.976, ML 2.3 says go ahead. And that applies to any other specific frame rate you need. You can even go as low as 0.2 frames per second, which is one frame every 5 seconds or as high as 35 fps on some camera models.
Advanced ISO Controls
Get better video with advanced ISO controls and ISO bracketing.
And still more features we don’t have time to cover. Like I said, anytime you’re playing around with your camera’s computer, there are risks. But for those willing to take the chance, there are a world of great features right at your fingertips.