So while you can go on out and start trying to take astrophotography shots with your camera, some times the problems that can crop up are limitations
placed upon your camera by the software (or firmware) that runs it.
All digital cameras have some sort of software that makes the camera work. You may or may not see it operating depending upon the camera type that you
Some of the limitations for my camera were things like maximum exposure time being 30 seconds, and the lack of timelaps imaging (aka intervalometer,
which is the camera taking pictures for you).
Well, if you have one of the following Canon camera types, there's a solution for you:
5D2, 5D3, 6D, 7D, 50D, 60D, 500D/T1i, 550D/T2i, 600D/T3i, 650D/T4i, 700D/T5i, 1100D/T3, EOS M
And that solutioin is: Magic Lantern.
Magic Lantern is a software supplument for your camera's firmware. It's not a hack, and does not override your cameras firmware unless you tell it
to. That means you can use your camera just like you always have, but when the need arises, you can access Magic Lantern to override something with a
different setting, giving you much more control over your camera. It's completely free, and an on going project with updates.
Normal view of a camera's firmware:
If you do not see your model of Canon listed, don't fret, they do have versions that are works in progress for the following camera models:
70D, 100D/SL1, 1200D, 450D
Installation of it to your camera is quite easy. Simply download and unzip the file, you will find a folder named "ML" and two files. You only need
to copy these over to the SD card you use with your camera. For most this will mean popping out the SD card and inserting it into a SD card reader
port. Most laptops have this. For my desktop computer, my printer has a SD port that I use and can access with my computer. Most cameras will not
allow you to access the root directly on the SD card via the USB port.
Once you have copied the folder and two files, pop the SD card back into your camera and turn it on. Navigate your menu settings to where it says
It should have some version number next to this. Select that and Magic Lantern will install itself onto your camera's SD card.
How you access the Magic Lantern software varies, but the website has all the documentation you need, and even has a forum where you can ask questions
and get help. There are even tutorial videos out there on how to use certain features.
The key features for me is the BULB timer, which allows me to extend the camera's exposure time past 30 seconds, which is important for
It also has a intervalometer function which is invaluble to me. This allows you to tell the camera to go ahead and take pictures without you having to
touch the camera. When doing astrophotography shots with digital cameras, we normally take many shots of the same thing, and then stack those images
with computer software.
Well, you can either stand there and keep pressing your shutter over and over again, running the risk of moving the camera or bumping it out of focus,
not to mention you're having to stand there and press that button over and over.
What if instead, you could tell your camera to take 100 images, each exposed for say 25 seconds with a 18mm focal length, all by itself? Once you
start it doing that, you can sit down in your lawn chair with a hot cup of chocolate (or cold beer, etc), and enjoy the night sky while your camera is
doing all the work for you.
Well, you can do it, either by going out and buying a intervalometer:
Or by installing the free Magic Lantern software. Guess which one I went with?
So any of you out there have experience with Magic Lantern, or do any of you have different cameras that have their own software solutions? If so,
post here and let us know!