T3i Magic Lantern – My Top Five Anticipated Features

Since Canon’s release of a firmware update for the T3i, I anticipated the Magic Lantern team’s eventual attempt to hook into the T3i’s firmware. They did manage to lay the initial foundation for full Magic Lantern (ML) development on the T3i, and there are a number of people actively developing. We won’t see a full-featured roll-out any time soon, but I expect incremental ML firmware releases to progressively roll-out features. Here is a list of the features I am most interested in seeing – hopefully they’ll enjoy early spots on the feature release timeline.

  1. More stops – I really want to see a more robust set of stops for the shutter-speed, ISO, and aperture. Better yet, how about letting me input the exact value that I want? Currently the camera only allows you to select shutter speeds in varied increments, skipping some of the “optimum” stops for film (like 45). The ISO selections are even worse. I see a lot of the film-techs saying that increments of 160 are best – I don’t know the “why” of that, but I sure would love to be able to select ISO stops at these increments to try out these “pro” settings. The aperture stops are similarly sparse.
  2. Fully selectable frame-rates – The T3i, has 60fps, 30fps, and 24fps (yay!) – but you are locked into certain resolutions for those rates – not all rates are available to all resolutions. Sure, most NLE’s allow you to convert frame-rates, but they don’t quite look the same. Also, with some of the big name directors vowing to shoot in really high frame rates, it would be nice to experiment with them. Besides, I just hate being locked-in.
  3. Auto-Restart for Video Recording – Due to to file-system limitations, DSLR’s (not just the T3i) are limited to about 4GB’s or 29 minutes of recording. This function automatically restarts recording when the limit is reached. You’ll suffer a few seconds of missing video while the stop-restart is occurring, but it’s better than not realizing you’ve stopped recording and losing a lot more than just a few seconds. For shooting scenes, you’ll never hit this limit. But auto-restart will be nice to have when I want record a live event.
  4. On-screen Audio Level Monitoring – I will usually record secondary sound, but even so, I’d like to have decent scratch audio on the camera. The T3i already allows you to adjust the audio gain, but does not give you any visual feedback. I’d also like to see a way to adjust the gain during recording. Currently, you have to stop recording and enter the menu system.
  5. Focus Assist – This feature gives you visual clues to help you get proper focus. As an item comes into focus, you get some red-ghosting around the object. I can see this being of tremendous value to a focus puller as the camera operator concentrates on movement and framing.

So, there you have it – the five things I am looking forward to the most when Magic Lantern is released for the T3i.

UPDATE! Magic Lantern for the 600D/T3i is finally here!

6 Replies to “T3i Magic Lantern – My Top Five Anticipated Features”

  1. A note about the ISOs – the 160s are actually the ISO above pulled down just slightly in exposure, the camera is cheating a bit. Makes my brain hurt a bit when I really think about it but the difference between 200 and 160 is so very slight in noise levels that in most real world applications you will rarely if ever see a difference. That said this is all part of Canon’s marketing plan and when you have three cameras that share the exact same sensor they differentiate the models via body and features and it does feel a little crummy sometimes.

  2. Regarding #3, if it’s a wish list, why not ask for continuous roll shooting! I could see someone writing something that hooks to the stop-recording trigger, and, rather than restart, simply starts a second file and spills over into it… Lots of editing programs do the exact same thing with their capture on file systems with size limits.

    The main features I’m looking forward to are:

    1. the Q-scale adjust (default compression just plainly sucks).

    2. Automatic Rack Focus (set start and end and duration and press the button!)

    3. Like you, I’d like some sort of focus assistance. The T3i is wicked fast at AF in photo mode, but rolling video it’s so slow and unreliable you basically need to go manual anyways.

    I’d like to see an option to turn the live view on or off and use the fast focus instead! We could use the live view to check exposure and then go to viewfinder mode (and save battery power too)

    4. Digital zoom between 1 – 3x. Right now the digital zoom does from 3x-10x but STARTS at 3x. It would be nice if it could be expanded to range from 1x-10x instead of jumping you 3x out into the frame right away.

    5. Blue Sky thinking tells me that it *might* be possible to do higher than 1080p resolution. Wouldn’t it be scha-weet if we could shoot proper 2k or higher on the T3i!!! I’m sure there would be SDHC card and compression limitations, but theoretically the resolution should be a possibility….

    Eagerly awaiting ML for the T3i/600D

    1. Brian, sorry so late on the response… I actually responded on my iPhone but somehow it did not publish…. anyway, you are right, why not dream big :-D

      #1 – definitely

      #2 – not sure I would use that… well, maybe I would. My follow-focus has a marking wheel to manage that. Not sure in-camera makes sense for me, but if it was there, I probably would make use of it.

      #3 – I would not want it to auto-focus in video mode, but something to help my manual adjustment would be awesome. Having said that, I did buy a 7″ field monitor that I will review soon.

      #4 – yeah, I really don’t understand why they jumped it to 3x like that – especially when it is not an easy switch to go from normal to zoom mode.

      #5 – my t3i has gotten hot on longer shoots at 1080/24 – I am not sure it could handle the processor heat from processing larger video. But, yeah, why not dream big.

      1. My understanding is that the heat-up comes from processing complex frames. Simpler scenes (i.e. flat backgrounds and green screen) tend to be less intense on the chips.

        If you watch test videos, you’ll see that it’s the crazy detail stuff that shuts off (i.e. carpet with heavy patterns etc).

        Given that most of my shooting is in short shots for editing, I don’t need a long duration for shooting, so I think I could probably get by with shots even as short as 1 minute, if I were able to wrestle 2K out of it…

        #3 is an important one. Once you’re rolling, focus is troublesome, and in a tiny camera display, it often looks ok when in fact it’s out of focus. I believe one of the ML builds actually has a PIP zoom focus, which would be awesome so long as it doesn’t record the PIP along with the full video!!

        Props and much respect to the ML devs! You rock our world!!

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