So I’ve installed Magic Lantern on my 500D / Rebel T1i / Kiss X3 last December and used it for the first time when I got to New York on Christmas Day. I really put ML on my camera because of the advantages for timelapse photography. It should be nice to have one less thing to carry with you when shooting and making your way to the spots you’re shooting at. I got the hang of the menus and the basic functionalities in a couple minutes. Of course the menus do look very different from the default Canon firmware menus, though they are designed quite user-friendly and logically. They’re packed with so many functions though.
I instantly liked the firmware and its built-in Intervalometer which makes shooting timelapse less of an effort. But there’s more useful options for timelapsing such as Bulb/Focus Ramping which adds the functionality to auto-adjust the shutter, ISO and even focus while shooting footage for timelapse which is extremely useful especially on sunrise and sunset. It took me a little longer to become familiar with the settings used and all, but it’s certainly a great tool.
The HDR Bracketing functionality is pretty nice as well, you just save so much time with this firmware. It allows you to shoot a series of pictures with different shutter speed and ISO and even lets you preview the final HDR composition. More than that, it writes a script for each HDR picture set for stacking the pictures using Exposure Fusion instead of HDR. Speaking of stacking, there’s a Focus Stacking function built in as well, which lets you shoot numerous pictures with different focus and merge them together in post to get a greater depth of field. Pretty useful especially for macros.
Magic Lantern comes with a Bulb Timer functionality which lets you at very long exposures. I haven’t done any astrophotography (although I find it very interesting) but this feature might be the reason to use ML for those who are.
Then there’s a couple of remote shoot options such as Audio Remote, which takes a picture when you clap your hands or make some other loud noise, or Motion Detection, that shoots if there’s movement in front of the lens. This gives you so many possibilities. Similar to that there’s the Trap Focus funtionality which shoots a picture as soon as the subject comes into focus.
There are many more useful functions like the Full-Time DOF Preview in Life View or the Silent Picture mode where the camera takes pictures without moving the mirror in Life View mode as well as a bunch of options which make focusing easier.
Also there is a wonderful collection of tweaks for the video mode like Exposure Override, which expands the range of shutter and ISO settings and adds video exposure control for cameras that do not come with it (like my 500D), HDR Video, which works by alternating the ISO setting for every other frame and merging them together after (you can choose the two ISO values to go with, you might wanna think about the frame rate before shooting) or FPS Override, which lets you set the frames per second to a value from 0.2 to 65 fps. For film enthusiasts this introduces the beloved 24fps to their camera. I haven’t really tested that all the way, but from what I understand, recording video at a different frame rate will not change the frame rate in the video header. Thus you need some tool or plugin to have Premiere, Final Cut, After Effects or whatever program you use for editing interpret your video at the desired frame rate. Moreover Magic Lantern is able to add a Video Mode to the 50D (which does not have one built in).
As for audio, there are possibilities for Stereo Recording using an external and the internal mic combined, Audio Monitoring and Audio Meters, digital and analog Audio Gain Control and many more features and filters that may make DSLR videographers very happy.
I gotta let you know that this review is not complete at all, there are so much more possibilities Magic Lantern has to offer. I strongly recommend every photographer and videographer who owns a camera that’s supported by ML to at least try it. Many would probably stick with it.