It looks like there is good news for owners of Canon’s most recent entry-level DSLR camera, the Rebel T4i (in the U.S., 650D elsewhere). For the uninitiated, Magic Lantern is a firmware update for the camera that runs alongside Canon’s own firmware opening up new options for photographers, filmmakers, and videographers using Canon DSLR devices.
ML was originally released in mid-2009 for the 5D Mark II, but was subsequently ported to other Canon devices including the T2i, T3i, 60D, 5D Mark III, and most recently, the 7D. The open-source firmware was developed by filmmakers who saw DSLRs as a realistic and affordable option for shooting independent films. However, there are limitations to the video capabilities of these devices, particularly those early DSLRs supporting video recording. ML was designed to remove some of the roadblocks in Canon’s own firmware, making the devices more suited toward video production.
Some of the features that ML provides include manual audio controls, headphone monitoring, audio metering, additional ISO options, zebras, magic zoom, focus peak, cropmarks, histogram, waveform, & vectorscope displays, time indicator, automatic record restart, and HDR video.
On December 23, 2012 there was an update posted on their website announcing a 2nd alpha for the 7D. Not exactly big news to those of us using the T4i/650D. However, about halfway down the post on the 7D update, the developers throw us “Rebels” a bone saying that the 650D, 6D, and 40D will be able to run Magic Lantern.
If you look in the upper-left corner of the touchscreen of the 650D, you’ll notice the phrase “Hello, World!” That’s the first proof of concept that the firmware will be able to run on the newest Rebel (there was some speculation that it would not due to some of the newer components).
Bottom line: within the next weeks to months we will hopefully see a beta out.
ML is not associated with Canon and installing the firmware on your device is not entirely risk-free and will most likely void your warranty. However, from what I have seen in the real world, and what the ML developers and testers have seen, it’s very stable and the chances that it will brick your DSLR are fairly low.
I, for one, am very excited to get my hands on it.