Magic Lantern, Enfuse & my 60D

Magic Lantern, Enfuse & my 60D

I love my Canon 60D DSLR camera! But I’ve just found a new reason to love it even more- it’s a firmware enhancement called Magic Lantern.

As it says on it’s web site- “Magic Lantern is an enhancement atop of Canon’s firmware that frees your
Canon DSLR, allowing you to use many useful features. Initially
developed for filmmakers, it now has functionality for both photo and
video enthusiasts…” What this means is that it gives you a whole series of extra capabilities that allow you to do some absolutely amazing things with the camera.

I am still exploring it’s many features, but one that I’m very excited about is how easy it makes it to do exposure-bracketed HDR-type pictures. This is a technique where you take multiple pictures of the same scene, at different exposure levels and then blend them together to create a picture that has a much higher dynamic range than it’s possible to capture in one shot.

This is best explained with an example- here is a picture of the tree in the church parking lot, taken with my 60D with careful choice of white balance, exposure etc.

It’s an OK picture, but with the dark of the tarmac in the foreground and the trees silhouetted against the sky it’s almost impossible to get the exposure right- if you want to be able to see any of the details in the tree, then the sky is completely washed out, and if you expose for the sky the tree just becomes a black silhouette.

You could use a graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky, but in this case the tree would also be be darkened too. So, what’s the answer?

Well, what you do is take multiple pictures at different exposures bracketing the standard exposure like this-

Then you blend them together (along with the original ) and get this!-

It’s an amazing technique that I’m really looking forward to exploring further- this is just my first attempt and I’m really excited about it!

The pictures were blended by some very clever software that aligns the images perfectly (although I used a tripod to take them) called Hugin, and then another called Enfuse that blends the pictures together using some very clever algorithms to take the best of each exposure. In Linux there is a wonderful GUI program that puts them all together, but there are Windows versions available as well.

You can do it without the extra firmware- but it makes it sooo much easier. And this is just one of the enhancements Magic Lantern adds, I’m sure there will be lots more posts as I delve deeper into what it can do 🙂

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