Magic Lantern is an enhancement atop of Canon's firmware that frees your Canon DSLR, allowing you to use many useful features. It is an open (GPL) framework for developing extensions to the official software.
No. Magic Lantern runs from the card, as an add-on over standard firmware. You will still be able to access all Canon functionality.
To go back to Canon firmware, you may:
SETat startup to bypass ML only once (for the current session).
Firmware Upgradeand follow the instructions).
No. First versions were developed by independent filmmakers and tailored for video production on 5D Mark II. Things changed when Magic Lantern was ported to smaller (APS-C) cameras, like 550D, 60D, 600D and 500D, which attracted developers interested in both still photography and DSLR video.
This is a
clean room /
black box reverse engineering effort and as such should be OK. Frequently asked questions about reverse engineering addresses the legality question; producing an interoperable product is one of the explicit allowances enshrined in law.
Magic Lantern does not contain any Canon code. Also, we do not distribute any copyrighted code or cryptographic secrets, neither from Canon nor from any other third party. All the knowledge used for development was obtained by analyzing ARM code, by experimenting, and from lawfully obtained documentation.
No. Magic Lantern was created by reverse engineering an undocumented system that controls hardware. Therefore, we can't be certain that it's 100% safe.
Magic Lantern does not replace Canon code (which is stored in ROM), but it does change the settings (which are saved to a non-volatile memory). If Magic Lantern would set incorrect values for certain settings, this may cause the camera not to boot (even without ML).
The same risk is present if you use third party software for USB remote control. These programs use the same API for changing camera settings (properties), and Canon code does not always check the validity of the settings before saving them to NVRAM. Here's a proof. Even developers of USB control software, who use Canon's own SDK, agree with this.
Imagine that your config file gets corrupted and you can't just delete it and start from scratch. We consider this a design flaw in Canon software. We did encounter such problems during development, but we were able to recover from them. For technical details, see Unbricking.
We believe the safest way to run Magic Lantern (or any third party camera control software) is to use custom modes - in these modes, Canon code does not save user settings to NVRAM.
In practice, we are doing our best to prevent these situations, and thousands of users are enjoying it without problems. However, this does not represent a guarantee - use it at your own risk.
As a precaution, the installer asks you to make a backup copy of your ROM files on the PC. That way, if something goes wrong, we have higher chances of being able to diagnose or fix the issue.
Actually, using Magic Lantern we have successfully unbricked a 5D Mark II damaged by a USB remote controller app.
A Magic Lantern user posted this on dpreview:
I've spoken to canon Cps (pro service in UK) and they've advised me that it's quite possible to downgrade firmware from new version to older version BUT they advised me to send it in to Canon for them to do it and test. Small service charge would be involved but could be done while I wait.
Interestingly enough, they also advised me that Magic Lantern firmware would not invalidate my Canon Warranty as it's not a hardware modification. Though I'm reluctant to find out for sure
And another user posted this on t2iforum:
I contacted Canon Support Portugal about using ML, the answer was the following:
(…) the use of custom firmware or any other third party acessory with our equpment will void the warranty of the product IF PROVEN that the malfunction of the device was caused by the use of those.
Canon respects the rights that their customers have to decide what accessories or firmware to use, although we do not recommended their use, and we are not responsible for any damage to the equipment.
The Magic Lantern firmware is distributed with NO WARRANTY and NO GUARANTEES are provided. It might work. It might not. It hasn't destroyed any cameras yet, but who knows.
ML builds/versions are branded for a dedicated camera and an exactly matching firmware version. If Canon supplies a new firmware ML and new firmware version become incompatible after installation. Cam will not startup properly with ML card inserted. If a dev finds time to port ML to the new firmware version and changes are essential a new ML version may be there in time. However it is completely possible that this new firmware will be ignored because of lack of time. In this case you have to downgrade to previous (compatible) firmware version to make ML run again. ML project provides links to compatible firmware versions. According to Canon downgrade is not possible but we think otherwise.
Porting ML to a new firmware version is a manual (and extensive) process to find the symbols in each new version, although tools like patchdiff2, Gensig/Finsig and GPL Tools/match.py make it much easier. Each new version must be statically linked against addresses in the firmware ROM as if it were a library, which requires locating the entire set of symbols.
Despite this tight integration, Magic Lantern software does not contain any Canon code. It is entirely a clean-room implementation that runs along side the official Canon firmware as a separate DryOS task.
Currently, Magic Lantern releases do not have multiple languages built in. You can find a work in progress module that aims to translate menus here.
PS: We know there is a chinese version in the wild which is payware. This ML project team has no affiliations with it and neither endorse its usage nore support it.
No. If there are any they are not supported/updated/maintained and may be outdated/incorrect.
PS: If you feel encouraged to offer your assistance to translate this FAQ … we have no way to maintain it properly. It has been discussed but until we find a sustainable way to keep it up-to-date with limited man-power we have to decline your offer.
Yes, press SET before startup and keep it pressed until startup is completed.
And you can insert a card not enabled for Magic Lantern and startup cam.
Navigate to the Modules tab, load the module(s) you need (not all of them!), then restart your camera.
More info about modules: How to install and load modules
If you still can't find it, the feature is probably not available on your camera. See feature comparison table.
Build version is visible in Help tab/screen's bottom section. You should always provide this information if you have a question/issue to share with ML forums. Your build designation may be different, though.
Magic Lantern overlays are only displayed in ML's own liveview screen(s). Global Draw must be enabled (ON) and Clear Overlays must be disabled for the modes you are using. Then, while in Liveview or Movie mode, press the DISP or INFO button until you are past Canon's own liveview screens.
In general, ML features that require some extra setup will be grayed out in the menu, and the help text at the bottom of the screen will tell you why.
Alternative: format the card and do a fresh install.
Just re-installing Magic Lantern does not change/reset existing Magic Lantern settings!
Canon menu → Format → Format card, keep Magic Lantern.
(Some new cameras support UVC/UAC: Cam works as webcam via USB without the need of additional software or drivers. Just plug cam into USB port and you are ready to go. Works with Windows, macOS and Linux. Supported cameras: R6 Mark II, R8, R10, R50, PowerShot V10)
At the moment ML can do nothing to enhance HDMI resolution, bit depth, frame rate, …
ML is able to bypass 29:59 time-out (see topics above) and is able to enforce VGA resolution. And of course it can force clean HDMI output: No overlays, no boxes/rectangles even with active AF.
No. If your cam gives you 1920×1080 output via HDMI but “active” area is actually 1620×1080 (3:2 ratio)+ black borders left and right: Nothing ML can do about this. You may have to use tools like OBS to grab a 16:9 frame from active area and stretch 1620×911 to Full-HD.
Sorry, nothing ML can do about it. It's 576p for all cams.
You have to enter ML's crop mode (see below) to activate settings above native resolution.
Press magnify/loupe/zoom button while in liveview screen. On some cams you will find an additional entry “Crop mode” in Movie tab. Despite sharing the name those modes are not identical.
Look in the Debug menu. Temperature will be displayed in ML's liveview overlay, too.
Yes. Increase display gain, use a low FPS (with FPS override), or both. With a bit of tweaking, you can make the LiveView bright enough to manually focus on stars, for example.
Also check out the dark color schemes optimized for night shooting, or try disabling exposure simulation.
You have a couple of options:
Yes. Check out these features:
In LiveView it draws 3-5% more power (measured on 60D and 5D Mark II with zebra and focus peaking active). See this forum thread for details.
Magic Lantern can reduce power consumption by dimming or turning off the LCD screen, or by pausing LiveView without moving the mirror. See `Power saving`_ for details.
In plain photo mode with display off, the power draw is a bit higher, because Magic Lantern disables CPU powersaving features (otherwise, intervalometer and other ML functions would stop running). We have measured 6% / hour on 60D (compared to 4% / hour with Canon firmware), and 10% / hour on 5D Mark II (compared to 5% / hour with Canon firmware).
You will have to adjust the volume manually; use the audio meters to determine the proper level.
Best audio is obtained by use of a preamp system fed to the camera. As a general rule, the use of a quiet preamp to send the signal to the camera will result in better the sound recorded in camera. Use of a preamped XLR adapter like the JuicedLink CX231 or a field mixer will give superior results. You may also use a recorder like Zoom H1, H2 or H4n, but since the line out level is much higher than the mic level, you will have to turn the output down from your recorder or use a pad cable.
For more info, check out the Canon DSLR Audio thread on dvxuser and AGC Disable - Magic Lantern vs. Juicedlink? on dvinfo.
From Canon menu.
Follow the install guide. You will have to copy Magic Lantern files on your card and run Update firmware from the menu. The running firmware shuts down, loads the file into RAM and starts it running. Rather than reflashing the ROMs, this new program starts the DryOS boot process to install itself.
Simply format the card. The bootflag will be still there, but it will generally not affect normal operation. There are two known exceptions though: EyeFi cards will not work, and startup time may be a little slower, even on non-ML cards.
To remove the bootflag, run Firmware Update from a ML card and follow the instructions.
It will print a message telling you so, and will invite you to take the battery out.
This was simple enough to be implemented with portable (camera-independent) code.
Yes. Besides the bootflag (which is required for auto-boot), there are a couple of other changes to Canon settings, which are saved into flash ROM by Canon firmware. These are:
*) button whenever ML has to take a picture without autofocusing. This includes HDR bracketing and bulb exposures.
With few exceptions, these settings can also be changed from Canon menus or controls. Sometimes, ML lets you specify values outside the normal range allowed by Canon's user interface (for example: Kelvin white balance, AFMA values, intermediate ISO/shutter/aperture values).
A few settings are changed temporarily during certain operations (for example, autofocus for bracketed shots), but these settings are saved by Canon firmware in NVRAM. If you take the battery out in the middle of the operation (for example, in the middle of taking a picture), ML won't be able to restore these settings back to your initial values, and you'll have to change them back from Canon menus.
To the best of our knowledge, all these settings are restored to default values when you run
Clear camera settings and
Clear custom functions from Canon menu.
All persistent changes can be seen in ML source code by examining the calls to
prop_request_change. Some of the changes are not persistent (for example, LiveView zoom level), and they were not included in the above list.
There are major differences between both firmware versions. You have to choose which one fits your needs best. Detailed explanations in first post in "5D Mark III 1.1.3" thread.
Stable v2.3 is outdated and no longer supported.
Some years ago dev team switched to some kind of rolling release model: Each validated change to ML code (aka: “confirm”) creates a new build.
But - essentially - Nighlty Builds are frozen since 2018. Later all work on official experimental builds stopped, too.
For those reasons it is highly unlikely to get another “stable build” in foreseeable future.
ML does not support SD-to-CF adapters. Period. If ML fails to run you are on your own.
And you get advice to make sure you copied all files. Sorry, but this error message may be considered to be a running gag for insiders. Long story short: You have done nothing wrong and you can do nothing about it! The help files are missing for a long time and it is not known when they will come back. In the meantime you may want to access the online version (WIP): Camera Help
It was replaced with AutoETTR followed by deflickering in post. Check this forum thread: Flicker Free ETTR Timelapse: - -Beginners Guide & Basic Post Processing --
This method gives much better results, compared to the old implementation. Why? Because AutoETTR attempts to minimize noise (subject to various constraints), and the deflicker algorithm also corrects variations such as quantization errors when ramping the exposure (up to 0.125 EV for shutter speed) or natural flicker.
Furthermore, the exposure and the deflicker algorithm are independent now, so you can swap out ETTR and use any exposure method you wish (such as manual ramping, Canon's Av mode, or the AutoExpo module).
You can even use the deflickering algorithm for regular pictures, to get consistent brightness in post.
For advanced ramping options, check out the Advanced Intervalometer module.
We had serious problems with it, so it was disabled. The problems were confirmed with a minimal example code, so the issue is either in Canon firmware (which was probably not designed for dynamic mode remapping) or in the way we request the mode remapping procedure.
The only way to get it back is to show us a safe way to change the shooting mode. For this you need to point out what's wrong with this call:
prop_request_change(PROP_SHOOTING_MODE, &new_mode, 4), and suggest a different method - which can only be done by examining Canon code and understanding how mode switching works.
Testing will not help - the probability of things going wrong is very low, but nonzero.
`Trap focus`_ may be active.
Mirror Lockup (MLU) is active.
You may have forgotten your camera on… with the main display off.
This is also a reminder that, when the main display is off, battery will drain faster than with Canon firmware (about twice as fast). When the display is on, the difference is much less obvious.
It was probably moved to back button (
AF-ON). Check your custom functions. It may happen if you take the battery out in the middle of photo shooting.
Anyway… any serious DSLR user should set AF to back button ;)
You may need to register it from Canon menu. This is not related to ML, but people tend to blame ML for Canon quirks.
This problem is not related to (or caused by) Magic Lantern.
You will get this error when your shutter mechanism no longer works properly. Contact your Canon service center.
Consider entering your shutter count in the Camera Shutter Life Database.
Known bug with Big Sur (macOS 11.x) and flash memory cards with ExFAT file system.
Workaround: Format card with FAT32 file system and proceed with installation as before: Copy extracted build files and directories to card, insert card to camera and use Canon Firmware Update option to install again. Error will not be seen this time.
After installation and startup it is recommended to format card inside camera with “Keep ML” option. Camera will apply ExFAT file system again and ML will rewrite files and directories to card automatically.
We have used some of the CHDK tools to learn about Canon firmware files, but this is all new code. They have done an amazing job of supporting hundreds of different camera models across multiple architectures and operating systems. At some point in the future chdk might be ported to the 5D Mark 2, but this project is much more focused on just the 5D Mark II and the needs of film makers. CHDK is a great project for Canon's Point-and-Shoot cameras. Without their initial effort in understanding DryOS, Canon's firmware files and the boot process, I wouldn't have been able to make as much progress as quickly as I did. While I was able to use modern tools to analyze dump files of ROM images thanks to their efforts, they got started bitbanging a UART via the status LED on a camera body. That's truly hardcore.
Originally the project was called just
5D Mark Free, but out of an abundance of caution it seemed best to avoid Canon's trademarks.
The firmware hack is in C, with some inline assembly for boot strapping. The firmware build tools are in Perl and use Makefiles for dependency tracking. You need an arm-linux-elf build of gcc and binutils. Most of the code analysis has been done with objdump, strings and the IDA demo. No tech support will be provided. If it breaks you get to keep both pieces. If you know what all of these terms mean and aren't scared of the possibility of breaking your camera, you can download the Magic Lantern firmware source code.
We do not distribute ROM images, nor IDA .idb files, since they are verbatim copies of Canon's copyrighted code. You can find the ROM images from your own camera under ML/LOGS on your card.
These are the addresses in the official ROM firmware for different functions and names that we have given to functions. If you load the ROM0.bin image into IDA or use objdump you can trace through the instructions to determine how the software works. If you are just using the camera, they don't need to mean anything to you, but they give other developers a place to look in the firmware image.
The function names are unlikely to be the same as the ones in Canon's source code, which we have never seen. We name functions based on what they seem to do, or debugging / diagnostic strings embedded in the function. It isn't perfect, but it is sufficient to locate the important things for task creation, file I/O and GUI operation.
Not dead yet!
Here is some status update for all users (and devs). Warning, long read! Posted April 2023:
Here is a dev/programmer oriented write-up about build concerns. Warning: Deep tech lingo!
Nope, won't work!
ChatGPT's fame in programming is largely based on having access to vast amounts of freely distributed data and code (as in Stackoverflow) accumulated over years.
This doesn't apply to ML development. Canon never published its code or tools involved creating it. It is a very, very small community trying to make sense of what is found in camera (aka: reverse engineering). ChatGPT simply doesn't know what is going on.
No one at Canon has contacted us regarding Magic Lantern or software development for their DSLR cameras. We are very eager to discuss the project with them, however, so if you have any technical contacts inside of Canon's software team, please put them in touch with us.
Ask one of those and you may get banned from our forum ;)
When you buy this camera and slap a Canon sticker on it.
Because the 650D isn't your Sony camera.
Knowing where to tweak which register values to get other resolutions is as simple as translating a pile of Egyptian glyphs.
How exactly did you reach this conclusion?
If you can't find anything about it in the relevant forum thread, it's safe to assume there was none.
If you are interested in XYZ and have the skills to improve it, feel free to do so and submit a pull request.
If you don't have the right skills, asking this question will only serve to annoy those who might have them. Doing some research about XYZ and sharing your findings would be much better - this may encourage others to take a look at it.
When it's ready.
Not only that, but the nature of development, especially the kind of reverse-engineering that goes on in the case of something like ML, is unpredictable. A single issue might be fixed in five minutes, or it may take weeks, months or years to solve. One notable example is the shutter bug on EOS M, where the issue takes place on a secondary processor not directly controlled by Magic Lantern (so, after some hundred hours of research spanned over several years, the conclusion was that a fix is much more difficult than we could have imagined).
When we will get around to it.
As surprising as it may seem, we actually have families and lives that involve things other than Magic Lantern. This is a hobby project, we enjoy working on it, and we enjoy seeing you using it. We don't particularly enjoy getting nagged about doing things.
(999D = any camera model not yet supported)
If you start to learn C, Assembler and reverse engineering embedded devices with ARM architecture and are willing to put several hundred hours of work into it: Sure, there will be!
Estimated: at least several hundred hours for the initial port, without including maintenance or advanced features (such as raw video).
One of these:
→ Why I Haven’t Fixed Your Issue Yet (long answer)
→ Consider learning to code.
It's a volunteer project. People work on whatever they find fun or interesting, on whatever camera they have.
People who work on 40D probably don't have a 5D Mark IV in their hands.
→ Consider donating and/or learning to code.
As soon as some new feature / bug fix becomes good enough for us, it will be included in experimental builds.
Once it's confirmed to work - or at least fall back nicely - on all supported models, without breaking too much of the existing functionality, it will be included in the main builds.
As soon as you will provide us with clear and concise testing and bug reports for all ML features from the nightly builds.
Since this did not happen for the past few years, and we no longer have the time and resources to do the testing ourselves, there are currently no plans for a new stable release.
However, the nightly builds can now be considered somewhat stable, and if something important breaks, it's usually fixed quickly if you report the issue.