Hi there folkies- here's what's new: so I went out to a place called Wonderland in Acadia on Saturday afternoon to test out the new Magic Lantern v2.3 stable release for the Canon 5D mkII- http://www.magiclantern.fm/ I'd downloaded it the previous day and shot stuff of my golden retriever doggy Grover and the kitty Gus, and the lady Sophie in the garden and all, but I wanted to use it in a format of shooting something from start to finish and decided on a nature vignette out in the park which I used to do a lot more of on a regular basis but have been primarily focussed on photography for the past year and have only done a little vid in that time. Part of the reason that I had been spurning video on my 5d mkII is that I began to find it frustratingly difficult to nail precise focus using only the rear lcd screen, I really wanted to add an evf eyepiece or an outboard 5 or 7 inch monitor to ensure proper focussing- because the whole point of using these cameras to do viddy is the ability to exploit super shallow depth of field and gobs of background bokeh etc and to do that shooting at an wide open aperture makes critical focussing a bitch! Handholding an open aperture can result in soft focus just by breathing. So after finding these focussing challenges when I heard about the focus peaking and real time live view crop features of the Magic Lantern hack for the 5D I signed right up. (a little detail is that you definitely need a card reader to download the firmware, I actually always download straight from cammy so that presented a problem and had to go next door to get the file.) Right then- so what you do is download the firmware to a card then when you insert the card into your camera you run the format camera option off the menu and choose the Magic Lantern firmware and it loads up and spins through the menus and you're good to go. To use it you hit the delete or trashcan button on the back of your camera and that brings up the menus for Magic Lantern and there are a million of them- there are some proper tuts out there on the Youtube and the ML webpage has all the answers and a pdf comes with the file so it's in camera etc. and all the menus and options have a subtitles system like of clearly explaining what it is you are doing. Like I said earlier, I wanted the focus peaking and real time live view crop and the exposure zebras, but it also comes with nifty bits like custom crop ratios, hdr vid which it does by shooting other frames at different iso's, a bunch more auto bracket exposure steps for still's hdr, and a whole fast food menu myriad of other options that you'll never use, that is until you want them.
Screen Overlay menu
So my biggest mistake was that I downloaded the Magic Lantern firmware v2.3 http://www.magiclantern.fm/download onto a little teeny 4 gig card and when I was out in the field I almost immediately filled up that card with my first few scenes so in order to keep shooting on my 16 gig card I had to shoot with the regular old Canon settings, which was kind of a bummer after getting used to all of the information on screen that the ML ware gives you. Right, so as to that- the interface is almost completely different, but only in a good way, the icons and the fonts and the whole thing looks different because it is- it's running a different program to make the camera work, and with that sometimes depending on what you choose to enable, the screen can become a jumble of confusing and distracting pixels, and if that is throwing you off of capturing good stuff then that is bad. I wanted the focus peaking which is apparently in a bunch of other cams these days but not in a Canon 5D update- it works by showing the edges of where the critical focus lies- and it's totally distracting, but you are a camera operator at that time and the point is to capture the data- you can enjoy watching it later and like I said: if you miss focus- unless it's your style, it's a wicked bummer! The exposure zebras (zebras pronounced like zen if you're a Brit or an Aussie) are sweet just because they are like real time exposure highlight alert when shooting stills (the blinkies) and they really help with setting exposure. And the real-time loupe view mode of ML is super sweet- you can move the loupe box anywhere you want on the screen and where I used to have to guess when shooting 50mm at f2.0 to keep the eyes sharp I can really check to see in the loupe- works a treat!
I know it's hard to see cause it's a screen shot of the lcd but here's the kitty in the loupe. And along the bottom of the screen is a real time histogram and a vector scope and some other kind of scope that I couldn't tell you the name of-
So as far as this video goes- it's a place called Wonderland in Acadia National Park that has some sweet tide pools and some nice variable features along the shoreline and its only about ten minutes from me and only a 20 minute hike. I've made a bunch of these nature vignettes practicing camera work so I could do better at filming my folks which is the real reason I got the 5D2 in the first place. One way to do these is to previsualize scenes and write down a shot list- this time I just went out and tried to capture a variety of scenes using my 24 ts-e, 17-40 f/4.0 and 100mm 2.8 L IS USM, in the end though in the editing suite you always want more footage, more scenes, more variety- I shot for 2.5 hours and made about 14 gigabytes of footage but there is never enough! Shot it all in Black and White picture style with +2 contrast and red filter and didn't do any grading in post.
Video editing is great fun because you can make endless changes to the most subtle things like ramping time to accommodate a sloppy pan move or to affect the clouds speed of movement across the sky, or just show so many more visceral details that it would otherwise take a whole set of photographs to explain the sense of place that video as a package can deliver. I ended up spending probably 10 or so hours on this in the editing suite and eventually just wanted to get it behind to move on to photography again but if there were more hours in the day I would crop this to really wide screen 2:3:5-1 and do contrast and exposure adjustments in the 3 way color corrector.
Final thoughts as to Magic Lantern v2.3 is that although it comes with a disclaimer that it could theoretically break your camera, I only intend to use it for when I want it which is to say when shooting vid that I need to be sure is well focussed, and for that it sure is worth it's weight in bits- the Magic Lantern crew operates by a donations system so for those of you who are willing and able- help them keep up the great work, maybe someday Canon will actually adopt some of these massive features but until then it's up to third party developers to plug the gap.
Oh and the musics is Phoenix "Love Like a Sunset", from the album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix". Good stuff.