Magic Lantern Boosts Dynamic Range For Canon Cameras. As Easy As Flipping A Button

Jan 27, 2014

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Magic Lantern Boosts Dynamic Range For Canon Cameras. As Easy As Flipping A Button

Jan 27, 2014

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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Magic Lantern are a werid creature to digest. On one hand they are not part of te official Canon team. On the other, they realese incredible features for Canon touching an all aspects of the camera, from RAW video to (the dynamic range enhancing) dual ISO.

Magic Lantern Boosts Dynamic Range For Canon Cameras. As Easy As Flipping A Button

Their latest announcement revels a great feature call ML ISO, as opposed to “Canon ISO”. (The develpment name is a boring four letters acronym: ADTG)

The method involves quite a bit of tech, which I dont full understand, but it involves changing the way the sensor is being amplified. Tests done by Canon Rumors member Marsu42 show improvment of 1/3 to 1/2 a stop of dynamic range depending on the used ISO.

This is not a lot comparing to Dual ISO, but it also does not change any of the camera image processing algorithm. According to Marshu,

This means that for example on 5d3, iso 800 with ML has more dynamic range than iso 100 with Canon :-> … and at high iso you’re getting 7% more dr which is nothing to sneeze at, esp. since it builds upon Canon‘s advantage vs. Nikon: d800@6400 = ~8.3 & 5d3@6400 = ~9.4 ev. According to sensorgen.info the 6d should add another 2/3 stop (once the code is adapted for it) making good ol’ Canon the superior sensor for low light high contrast shooting.

While the curent tests only performed on the 5DmkII,5DmkIII and 50D, some graphs on the ML forumes suggest that this feature will be availabe for almost all Canon bodies. ML updated that this tweal is confirmed for 5D3, 550D, 600D, 650D, 700D, 60D, 6D, 5D2, 50D and 500D.

To make these news even better it seems that using ML iso will require nothing more than turning it on. (And slightly compensating for the reduced highlights). Here are two of the graphs that show the testing resuts on ML ISO for the 5Dmk3 and 50D:

Magic Lantern Boosts Dynamic Range For Canon Cameras. As Easy As Flipping A Button

Magic Lantern Boosts Dynamic Range For Canon Cameras. As Easy As Flipping A Button

This question posted on the original ML message was interesting to read:

Does this mean Canon did not fully optimize their sensor for low noise?

I’d say they simply left a safety margin in their code to make sure the ADC is always saturated (that is, to make sure white is always recorded as white).

The usual disclaimer for early ML builds apply – use at your own risk.

[CMOS/ADTG/Digic register investigation on ISO via Canon Rumors + planet5D]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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6 responses to “Magic Lantern Boosts Dynamic Range For Canon Cameras. As Easy As Flipping A Button”

  1. Éric Senterre Avatar
    Éric Senterre

    Which version of ML is that, 2.3 ?

  2. Renato Murakami Avatar
    Renato Murakami

    I’m claimming a 2014 Guinness World Record here for number of typos in one post.
    Seriously though, all kinds of amazing how ML continues to evolve after all this time. I’ve paid once for an early release version – not because I needed it, but as a way to thank the team.
    Been a long time since I last updated my Canon T2i… perhaps I should check how things are, though the camera is pretty old already.

    1. Johnny Avatar
      Johnny

      “Claimming” indeed.

  3. Wil Fry Avatar
    Wil Fry

    I’ve never tried ML, though I’m always intrigued by its features. A few years ago when I had a 400D (Canon XTi), I used a firmware hack to expand my ISO to 3200 (can you believe I was limited to 1600 in that camera?) and to enable spot-metering, which it also didn’t have.

    It bugged me a little that Canon built the camera with both capabilities already there, and then disabled them. The hack simply removed Canon’s block on them.

  4. Mr. Spellcheck Avatar
    Mr. Spellcheck

    Spell check much?

  5. DSLR Video Studio Avatar
    DSLR Video Studio

    I like to try this Magic Lantern update for dynamic range.