Why I don’t use Magic Lantern

The internet seems chock full of information about the wonders of Magic Lantern and how it can turn your Canon DSLR into a lean and mean video production machine – even though the creators themselves suggest that ML still remains somewhat of an experiment more than a cure-all.

Don’t get me wrong – Magic Lantern is quite the achievement, and – for the most part – does what it claims, and very well at that. The developers deserve every bit of praise there is for spending countless hours analyzing the camera code and developing the addon within the limitations of the camera’s ability to let ML piggyback upon its unchanged firmware.

As you can see above, I freely run my EOS-M with a beta version of ML as well, and couldn’t be happier. I like Magic Lantern myself, for personal use.

However, there is an issue for those easily swayed by the internet press: DSLR fandom has overrated ML to the point where you may be convinced that you can’t do a professional shoot without it. Even Magic Lantern’s own developers provide this same warning on their website against using, but that hasn’t stopped the interwebs from ignoring these warnings, spreading misinformed hoopla that suggests you should use Magic Lantern at all times. (EDIT: It’s eerily similar to Hyperloopism).

Think about it: You are shooting with a digital single-lens-reflex camera which was never made to capture video, full of settings that have nothing to do with video and can screw your shot up in a second if you’re not careful. Now you want to add a litany of features that might exponentially multiply your potential for irreversible error?

Earlier today, I experienced just that when the Lexar Professional 800X card I spoke about in my previous post caused a ground loop issue – and this is where ML can be a hindrance rather than a help. Diagnosing this issue took over 3 hours, because Magic Lantern was installed in the 5D Mark II. This required multiple removal and re-installations of ML on two cards, while recording test audio on each card in each configuration – and that’s only after I realized it was the cards giving trouble!

Do you think any client would have sat still for this nonsense? No – and it would have taken a lot less time to troubleshoot two cards without having to troubleshoot Magic Lantern at the same time.

Hence, In the name of simplicity, intuitiveness, and to save a lot of head scratching, I will not use ML for paid shoots.

And that’s the way it’ll stay.

-Man with the 5D

TL, DR: I like ML, but I would not do any paid shoot with it. Not reliable enough.

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