a22 November 2012

Tutorial: how to use Magic Lantern for taking bracketed photos

As for my other recent HDR photos I used Magic Lantern 2.3 for this one.
I mentioned the fact that I use Magic Lantern firmware modification several times already. One of the most useful features for me are extended auto-bracketing capabilities. Both my Canons (50D and 5D MK II) can normally take only 3 exposures in auto-bracketing mode spaced at up to 2 EV. This is often not sufficient co cover whole dynamic range of a scene. For that reason most of the time I shoot 5 exposures or more. Before using Magic Lantern what I did was to change the exposures manually in camera. The problem with that approach was that touching the camera introduced the chance of moving it slightly what could result in misaligned results. Moreover, it took much longer (as it was: adjust settings, press shutter, adjust settings... process) so it was basically good only for fairly static scenes as otherwise a lot of ghosting occurred.

But with Magic Lantern things are so much easier. I can simply set number of photos I want and the spacing between them and I'm done. Here are the steps:
Magic Lantern main menu
  1. Change your exposure mode to Manual.
  2. Open Magic Lantern menu and head over to the Shoot submenu using dial (it's 4 icon from the left in the image above).
  3. At the top of this submenu you will notice HDR Bracketing option. It's off by default. To toggle it, just press SET button.
  4. It will now use your previous settings. If you haven't set ones, or would like to change them press the FUNC button over it - it will open HDR Bracketing preferences.
  5. From there you can adjust all the settings, with following being most useful (take a look at the image below for reference):
    1. Frames - number of exposures you would like to take. By default you can take any number from 2 - 9. There is even an Autodetect option which evaluates the scene and takes required number of shots. No need to guess!
    2. EV increment - EV spacing, values from 0 EV to 5 EV are possible. However, it's good to keep it in the range 1 EV - 2 EV. If you choose anything larger than that you will have not smooth color gradations as described here. If you choose value smaller than 1 EV you will need much more photos to cover the same dynamic range and also the benefit in terms of quality might be impossible to notice.
    3. Sequence - you can also adjust sequence in which photos are taken. In this case the choice is fairly limited and I usually keep it at default.
What's more if you need further info on any of the settings just press INFO button on your Canon - quite a lot of useful information will be displayed.

When you want to take a photo just press shutter release button and all the magic will happen :)

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