Magic Lantern squeezes 1/2 stop of dynamic range from Canon 5D Mk. III
posted Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM EDT
The Magic Lantern firmware hack has achieved some pretty remarkable things over the years. Full manual video controls for a great number of cameras; dual ISO still shooting, Raw video, and much more. And the newest notch on the belt of the Magic Lantern programmers? They've managed to tweak the Canon 5D Mark III to get an extra half-stop of dynamic range.
The technical discussion is going on here, but for a slightly easier to parse takedown, this is a pretty good rundown. It seems that by "tweaking the registers" for the 5DIII, the hackers have managed to squeeze out just a little more dynamic range from the sensor. The first versions of the tweak are simply a new setting on the camera labeled "ISO ML", as opposed to "ISO Canon", and according to at least one set of tests, the dynamic range from the Magic Lantern version at ISO 800 is better than the default at ISO 100.
The tweak appears to work with both video and still photography, and can be combined with the aforementioned dual ISO shooting technique to get up to a whopping 15 stops of dynamic range (but with some loss of detail).
Now, what the real world difference you're going to see is, that's up for debate. You can see some sample images here, but they're not too indicative of real world performance. But hopefully with a bit of time and effort, this same functionality can spread to even more Canon cameras via the hack, and squeeze that little bit more performance out of your sensor.