UPDATE: We’ve written a lot more about Magic Lantern since this article. See more.
I have been waiting for this from the day I received my 600D/T3i – Magic Lantern (ML) is running on it. Not everything works correctly, but a much of it is. Installation is tough, but only for the initial install. After that, it’s a piece of cake. After the break, I’ll talk about some of the working features of the build and I’ll give you the link. Yay!
First, here’s the link to the 600D/T3i Magic Lantern Wiki page: http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/600D. Again, initial installation is challenging. Be careful, read the instructions thoroughly and follow them precisely. Oh, and you install ML at your own risk. I did it, but I am advising you NOT to install it.
Now, let’s talk about the build.
Stability. It seems pretty stable. If you’ve ever used ML, you know that you’ll have some “overlay” bugs, and you know that you just have to live with it. Having said that, the overlay system, which is the mechanism for displaying the cool ML stuff on your live-view screen, is working really well. I’ve experienced a few flickers of the gadgets, but again, that’s to be expected with ML, which is a hack, not a Canon sanctioned mod.
If you read my features wishlist post from a few weeks back, you’ll know my top 5 must have features. So, let’s talk about those first.
- More stops – YAY!!!! There’s definitely more stop for ISO, including the 160 multiples. You can even set it so that you only get multiples of 100 and 160 as choices. That’s where I set it for now. Shutter speed is also much more adjustable, but it isn’t as selectable as I would like. You get more stops that get closer to film-making ideals. Aperture stops seem unaffected.
- Fully selectable frame-rates – From what I can tell, you can’t set any frame rates other than the ones that shipped with the camera. Boo.
- Auto-Restart for Video Recording – Yes! You can set the camera to auto-restart when the file-system limitations cause the camera to stop recording. I haven’t had time to put it to the test, but it is there.
- On-screen Audio Level Monitoring – Yes! Included, and it works very well. You get two graphs across the top of the live-view screen, with spaced ticks. As the audio level changes, little blue boxes dance between the tick marks. One thing that surprised me is that the meter only works while recording. So, you can’t do any testing without recording.
- Focus Assist – Well, it’s there, but I don’t think it’s working – or maybe I’m not using it right. However, there is a “Magic Zoom” feature that shows a small box on the top-left of the screen that shows an enlarged view of what the focus box is touching – and this feature works while recording! UPDATE: After messing with the threshold setting, I got focus-assist working, but there is a registration problem. The focus outlines don’t line up with your objects.
There are some other features that I find quite amazing.
- Bit rate adjust – You can set the bit-rate, which is the level of information recorded. The higher the bit-rate the better your video looks.
- Time indicator – You can choose to show record times as either, a) how much of 4gb is remaining in the recording file size, b) how much time has elapsed, or c) how much space remains on the card. I love his kind of feedback.
- AF frame display – You can hide the little focus box. That means that, depending on your settings, you could get a clean monitor view that is suitable for live-stream capturing. I haven’t tested it yet, but I will be. It would be crazy awesome if I could get a streaming feed with the amount of light available due to this camera’s large sensor!
- Crop Marks – You have a much more robust set of crops for you recording view. Several nice ones come with ML (like Cinema-Scope and 16×9), and you can make your own!
- REC key – You can opt to use the shutter button “half-press” as your record button instead of having to press the live-view button. This choice seems much more convenient to me, but it probably isn’t for everyone. I noticed a bug with this setting though – it seems that the [*] button also activates recording in this mode.
So, there you have it. Obviously, Magic Lantern is still a work in progress, but the features that work are awesome!