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 🙂

2017-01-17T19:42:59+00:00 November 22nd, 2012|Posted in: Canary Islands, fuerteventura, hdr, magic lantern, tutorial|

    It’s a great and well balanced shot.
    Which exposure did you us in Photomatix to freeze the sea. I just guess at EV-1 for water. It’s a great programme and has got better over the years.
    It used to take ages brushing an image back in in PS.

  • Wojciech Toman

    Thank you Adrian. I used 0 EV for water in this case

  • Tomas

    Very nice picture! I wish something like magic lantern would be available for us nikon users as well! Five exposures mean all manual work 🙁 Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    How would you take a nighttime hdr photo using ML? I’ve tried and it seems as if the shutter just stays open forever

  • Wojciech Toman

    It isn’t related to ML but to the fact that each exposure takes 2x more time for 1 EV spacing and 4x longer for 2 EV spacing. It means that if normal exposure in case of night shots is 30s, +1 EV will be 60s, +2 EV will be 120s, +3 EV – 240s and so on. Usually I just wait 🙂 but you can also use faster apertures or ISO. Doing so have disadvantages of shallow depth of field and increasing noise levels.

  • Capture Your Dream

    It works.Thanks for the trick on how to use lantern.