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Magic Lantern Software

The Canon 5D mkIII is a fantastic stills camera and an even better movie camera made even better with Magic Lantern Software. I have worked with it for 18 months now and am always impressed with the results but it wasn’t always so!

The early days of shooting

The biggest problem I had with working with my 5D mkIII was trying to keep it in focus while exploiting a wide aperture and its bokeh effect. That’s the artistic out of focus background that makes it look like a cinema movie effect. In this shooting style, which everyone seems to want these days, a very wide aperture is employed which results in an extremely shallow depth of field where someone can be in and out of focus while breathing!

Thank goodness for the Internet

I was searching the internet when I came across a post that was talking about the joys of adding a small piece of software to the Canon camera (via an SD card) that would help the operator keep the subject in focus. Magic Lantern was the answer to the problem. It adds a red highlight to the viewfinder picture so that the “peaking” stands out to the eye and you can instantly see where the point of focus actually is, in the viewfinder.

All you have to do is upgrade the camera firmware to the latest upgrade that Magic Lantern is designed to work with, then add the ML software to your SD card and the camera will detect it on booting up and add the extra effects to your viewfinder.

It not only helps with focus by adding a zoomed in square (that you can position) whilst recording to check focus detail but it has several overlays to shoot in Super Widescreen to help you get the subject in the frame.

Time Lapse Made Easy

Another feature I have just tested out is the variable Frames Per Second or FPS. This means the standard frame rate of 25fps can be lowered using the Magic Lantern menu, to 0.2 frames per second. This means that half an hours filming is condensed into a 30 second video clip which can be played back and reviewed instantly from within the camera. So there’s no camera actuation clicks and no wear and tear of the cameras flip-up mirror and no transfer of bulky jpg’s at the edit stage. There is my first experimental time-lapse video to the right of this page. I am very pleased with my first effort and looking forward to incorporating my new skills into a future video production.

There are a few more Magic Lantern features that I haven’t fully explored as yet but when I do I will put something on this blog.

In conclusion I would definitely recommend Magic Lantern software as it has saved many a shot from ruin by showing me exactly where the focus point is if it’s not where it should be!

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