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Open Source Brings High-End Canon Camera Dynamic Range Closer To Nikon's 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the does-this-mean-i-should-stop-throwing-away-my-cameras-after-one-use dept.
PainMeds writes "Magic Lantern is an open source 'free software add-on' that 'adds a host of new features to Canon EOS cameras that weren't included from the factory by Canon.' One of ML's newest features is a module named Dual ISO, which takes advantage of the sensor in some of Canon's high-end cameras (such as the 5D MK II and MK III) to allow the camera to capture an image in two different ISOs, greatly expanding the dynamic range of the camera, and bringing its dynamic range closer to Nikon's popular D800 and D4."
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Open Source Brings High-End Canon Camera Dynamic Range Closer To Nikon's

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  • Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

    by NoImNotNineVolt (832851) on Friday February 28, 2014 @05:35PM (#46370829) Homepage
    Magic Lantern is fucking awesome. It turned my Rebel T2i (550D) into something that I definitely wouldn't have been able to afford. If you own a Canon DSLR, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. You'll be amazed, confused, and then even more amazed.

    That being said, the cameras mentioned in the summary cost more than all my lenses combined. Sounds like an awesome feature, but not one that will be available to casual photographers.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      As soon as warranty is up on my 6D I'll try it out.

      It's probably worth my while to pick up a good used T2i body and try it out.

      • As soon as warranty is up on my 6D I'll try it out.

        Unfortunately, Magic Lantern development for the 6D has been pretty spotty. An unofficial release is available; check out this thread [magiclantern.fm] for instructions/info. If you don't want to try on your 6D, definitely give it a go on a T2i. It's truly amazing software.

    • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Cito (1725214) on Friday February 28, 2014 @07:00PM (#46371603) Homepage

      I use CHDK " Canon Hack Development Kit "
      I opted for a bridge camera as I couldn't afford a full DSLR so the bridge gives me DSLR capability full manual, etc, and with chdk installed I get most all the toys magic lantern has plus ability to run 3rd party scripts in .lua or.bas, but without insane cost of lenses

      I absolutely love my Canon Power shot SX40 HS with CHDK and shooting raw

      • I absolutely love my Canon Power shot SX40 HS

        Well, if you can stomach hyperzooms, you probably wouldn't notice prime lens quality anyway. ;-)

        (Having said that, why Canon screwed up G1X is beyond me. Or perhaps they just didn't want to compete with themselves?)

        • by Cito (1725214)

          I dont zoom much with it, the sweet spot is macro shots which I love
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/q... [flickr.com]

          Rarely use zoom, I wanted bridge camera for DSLR ability with a built in 3 in 1 lens, bridges have telephoto, wide angle, macro sweet spots. Without buying 3 separate lenses.

          So for my budget I get a DSLR type camera in the bridge camera
          Which I use for macro photography and local newspaper freelance

          • His point wasn't about zooming, it was about image quality. and i use to use a bridge camera (SX100 10x zoom) for the same reasons yourself especially the macro but after going DSLR about 4 years ago i cant go back to the noisy mess that are point and shoots. Funny thing is i thought the images from the powershot were great until i started shooting with a DSLR. even the kit lens would give cleaner and sharper images.
    • by _merlin (160982)

      Magic Lantern is fucking awesome. It turned my Rebel T2i (550D) into something that I definitely wouldn't have been able to afford.

      Have you actually used a prosumer or professional camera? Firmware won't turn your pentamirror viewfinder into a pentaprism. It won't give you an extra command dial that really helps when you're using manual exposure and/or flash. It won't give you a top LCD that you can read while you adjust your settings in direct sunlight. It won't give you additional cross-type autofocus

      • by Teun (17872)
        A stupid and off-topic remark.

        The extra options offered make a nice addition to reasonably priced hardware.

  • No free lunch (Score:5, Informative)

    by mtippett (110279) on Friday February 28, 2014 @05:38PM (#46370863) Homepage

    Alternate line exposure is not new, it is in a lot of current generation sensors. Omnivision, Sony and Toshiba all have sensors out with this capability.

    The underlying issue is that when doing alternate line exposure you are getting only half the resolution for each range. DSP and image processing techniques can help smooth out the issues, but you are fundamentally dealing with a half-height dark and a half-height light image. Depending on the alternate-line approach, you also get other funky color fringing issues due to the underlying bayer pattern. As the article notes, there are color fringing issues

    A good generalized approach is to output a 1/2 resolution image in both dimensions, otherwise you will get a vertical stretch if you keep the horizontal width at full resolution. So it means for a 16 MP camera, you will get only 4 MP HDR images. In a lot of cases this will be more than good enough... But it makes it really difficult to sell and explain to users.

    There is usually a good reason that advanced features aren't release/published. A lot of the time it comes down to features be sub-optimal on what is supposed to be a highly polished product.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Ah, this reminds me of another innovation that slashdot doesn't seem to have reported on yet: "Corephotonics' dual-camera tech will change smartphone imaging [cnet.com]." It gives cellphones more telephoto capability by having a color sensor with a wide-angle lens, and a monochrome sensor with a telephoto lens. The idea being that you're more sensitive to details in luminance than chrominance. (In fact many image formats allocate more bits to storing luminance than chrominance). It also makes sense since the long
    • The underlying issue is that when doing alternate line exposure you are getting only half the resolution for each range. DSP and image processing techniques can help smooth out the issues, but you are fundamentally dealing with a half-height dark and a half-height light image. Depending on the alternate-line approach, you also get other funky color fringing issues due to the underlying bayer pattern. As the article notes, there are color fringing issues

      Just that? If the camera is actually doing these two exposures simultaneously, I'd be worried about contrast. Better use a lens with good coatings and only few optical interfaces for these exposures.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Wouldn't you benefit from the opposite? A poor quality lens is likely to spread light over more than one pixel (not as sharp) and as a result the alternate line algorithm wouldn't end up with the weird fringing effects described above. Kind of like your anti-aliasing filter already does.

        • A poor quality lens (coatings- and surfaces-wise) can't achieve the same contrast in a single exposure. The optics involved is linear (like most optics in use today). Remember lens flares? Those interesting shapes are what a real world lens does to irradiation function shaped like a Dirac impulse (constant energy, arbitrarily low spatial angle). Now if you spread the energy across the scene (that's how most scenes without bright point light sources look like), what you get is effectively an infinite number
          • Ooops, the last sentence was supposed to read: "I have no idea if, quantitatively, this scheme is sufficient to evoke this problem, but it's the one obvious qualitative issue that comes to my mind."
            • by thegarbz (1787294)

              I understand what you're saying however qualitatively it doesn't seem to match the experience of people taking their $500 entry level DSLRs with plastic lens mountings, pointing them straight into the sunset and then bracketing the heck out of their exposures. The results always show increased dynamic range even from the most entry level kit lens.

              Maybe it won't work on a Holga?

  • Isn't Magic Lantern the name of an FBI spyware program designed to snarf passwords from suspects?
    • It could of been on purpose. Consider how Pigdog DeCSS (a program that removes style markup from HTML) was named after the DeCSS program for DVD-Video.
    • Magic Lantern was the name of the first image projection system which was developed in the 18th century. This firmware was originally developed in order to exploit some of the untapped capability of the 5D2 video system, and since has expanded into enhancing still features.

      Brilliant work overall.

  • I was a Canon man. But they have seriously dropped the ball in the image sensor department. They continue to use ancient sensors that simply cannot compete in today's market. I sold all my Canon cameras and lenses and moved to Nikon and could not be happier. I do not have to resort to hacks to get an image that is close to a Nikon image.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I was a Canon man. But they have seriously dropped the ball in the image sensor department. They continue to use ancient sensors that simply cannot compete in today's market. I sold all my Canon cameras and lenses and moved to Nikon and could not be happier. I do not have to resort to hacks to get an image that is close to a Nikon image.

      I ditched Nikon for Canon and couldn't be more happy.

      • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

        This. I've always been a Canon guy, since I grew up on Canon gear, but in photographer communities I usually hear more stories of people ditching Nikon for Canon than the other way around. And frankly, I just like the Canon L-series lenses over Nikon lenses.

        That said, Canon's sensor tech have been rather stagnant the last few years, it's needs some revitalization.

        • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:37PM (#46371347)

          It goes back and forth.
          Canon got a lot of Nikon users when only Canon had full frame cameras.
          Nikon got a lot of Canon users (back?) with D3/D700/D300
          Nikon got some Canon users with the 14-24 f/2.8
          Nikon got some Canon users with the D800
          Nikon got some Canon users with better CLS/TTL flash system
          Canon got many Nikon users for video
          Fuji now gets many Nikon/Canon users with X-trans sensor, good ergonomics and great lenses
          Sony got some Nikon/Canon users with small cameras and big sensors, but lost them again with slow and expensive lenses and lack of support
          Nikon lost customers with sloppy quality control
          Canon lost customers with not so good sensors

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I ditched all three (yes, Nikon, Canon and Sony) for Olympus OM-D line. You get smaller, lighter, sharper and as good dynamic range in much nicer package. And you don't even need to lose in DOF as you can have f/0.8-0.95 lenses if wanted what are sharper than any Canon or Nikon lenses.
          And as for bonus, you get even much longer tele lenses than what you can have for FF department without adapters, like a 1800mm. And that in best stabilized body with a best sensor protection system and EVF what has no match f

          • And you don't even need to lose in DOF as you can have f/0.8-0.95

            Unless you spend 4 or 5 figures on single lenes, you are confused.

          • by _merlin (160982)

            Wut? Your EVF/OVF thing alone is all kinds of wrong. EVFs don't even have the dynamic range and resolution to match the sensors in the cameras, let alone a human eye with an optical viewfinder. Then there's the issue of sensor burn from bright sources because the shutter has to be open all the time. Have you ever tried focussing in poor light with an EVF? No fun at all. The noise and update rate suck more and more as the light gets more difficult. Speaking of update rate, try shooting anything that m

        • That said, Canon's sensor tech have been rather stagnant the last few years, it's needs some revitalization.

          The 70D has a new sensor, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF, [imaging-resource.com] which Canon will likely bring to their higher-end/full frame sensors as well.

        • by wwphx (225607)
          In the '70s when I first started shooting, I was a Pentax guy. Black-body MX with a winder, great assortment of lenses. Made the mistake of selling the whole kit to get in to a view camera which I was not ready for. Went through OIympus, Canon, I can't remember what all. Found out that whatever it was I was shooting in the late '80s needed a complete rebuild, was whining about it to a friend who was working as a studio assistant to a pro who told me that people were dumping Nikons for Canon Eos. After
        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          Observer bias, don't worry though I hear the exact opposite. Typically one company will temporarily leapfrog the other. A lot of people ditched Canon when the D800 came out with it's stupendiously high resolution and fantastic low-light results, just like a lot of people ditched Nikon when Canon brought out the first DSLR with video.

          The real winners here are those on a budget. There's a lot of fantastic second hand gear to be had on the market sold by people who think changing systems will make them magical

      • Nikon outsources its sensors from Sony. Really that's a pretty unstable situation and likely fleeting advantage comparing to having in-house sensor development.

        Otherwise Canon has it all over Nikon. Lens quality (watch any sporting event - the white lenses are Canon's). Support (which is why I went with Canon) is far better.

        • Nikon produces a number of pro lenses in "light grey". Besides, Nikon cameras do have a advantage in (usable) ISO.

          • by ackthpt (218170)

            Nikon produces a number of pro lenses in "light grey". Besides, Nikon cameras do have a advantage in (usable) ISO.

            I used to believe that.

            Taking pictures by firelight last November in Death Valley with a Canon 6D knocked my socks off. Very impressive.

            • The current full frame Nikons are still more sensitive than the current full frame Canons, but whether this translates into a practical advantage depends on your shooting style.

      • by Teun (17872)
        And I am so happy there are competing hi-end camera's.

        Says this long-time Nikon SLR and Canon G-series user.

    • Nikon is great... if you want a full-frame sensor. But there are gaps in their DX (APS-C) lens offerings. They seem to think every DX owner is only interested in shooting with zoom lenses.

      Sure you can use full-frame primes on a DX camera, but that's unnecessary weight and size (compared to what a DX prime would be) - plus the optimal focal lengths aren't the same.

      • by _merlin (160982)

        I use FX lenses on DX bodies all the time. When you do, you're using the brightest, sharpest part of the imaging circle. It's awesome. Also, Canon EFS lenses have poor build quality for the most part.

  • by SpankiMonki (3493987) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:03PM (#46371003)
    From TFS/TFA:

    "One of ML's newest features is a module named Dual ISO, which takes advantage of the sensor in some of Canon's high-end cameras (such as the 5D MK II and MK III)"

    Nope. Dual ISO works on *most* Canon DSLRs, not just the 5DII/5DIII. More info here. [magiclantern.fm] Technical paper from the developer here. [acoutts.com]

    Oh yeah, Magic Lantern is one of the most amazing and useful pieces of software I've ever come across. If you own a Canon DSLR, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

  • I really like the feature list it brings to the table and have thought about trying it out with my T4i for a while now. One question that isn't clear though, is there a "simple mode" for those times that I just want to pick the camera up and just go shooting or recording with basic automatic settings? I know there are times that I would like/need the features that Magic Lantern exposes, but I also know that I would miss shots or video moments if I had to configure 14 settings every time I wanted to shoot so
    • If you're worried, it boots off the sd card. You can have multiple sd cards, some with ML, some without. Though it's fairly simple by default.

    • by drkim (1559875)

      ...is there a "simple mode" for those times that I just want to pick the camera up and just go shooting or recording with basic automatic settings?

      Yes, and it's very easy. Just hold down the MENU button when booting, and it boots to Canon factory standard - no ML.

      • by drkim (1559875)

        Corrected - it's the SET button

        ...is there a "simple mode" for those times that I just want to pick the camera up and just go shooting or recording with basic automatic settings?

        Yes, and it's very easy. Just hold down the SET button when booting, and it boots to Canon factory standard - no ML.

    • I believe if you press and hold the "SET" button when powering up your camera, it will bypass Magic Lantern and load the vanilla Canon firmware.
    • You know what would be nice? A good smarthphone remote interface for this, something simple, light, fast with low latency Wonder if it could be done with a EyeFi card? Hmm. Bigger screen would be nice. They have a USB PC interface, but it's cumbersome for field use. Beyond my coding skills for sure (sysadmin, not dev), anyone want to try that? I'm ducking as I say this, but I'm a Windows Phone type (Lumia 928, awesome camera that's not as ridiculous as the 1020)
    • by drkim (1559875)

      ...is there a "simple mode" for those times that I just want to pick the camera up and just go shooting or recording with basic automatic settings?

      Yes, and it's very easy. Just hold down the SET button when booting, and it boots to Canon factory standard - no ML.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So what does the article try to mean?

    Dynamic Range is not same thing as Exposure Range.
    Exposure Range is calculated in stops (EV) and it tells what can be difference between darkest and brightest parts of image where any data can be recorded, example D800 gives with a base ISO about 14.5 stops of exposure range. What means your landscape image can have details in bright clouds and then shadows under trees. Olympus E-M1 camera has 13.8 stops exposure range in base ISO. That is only 2/3 stops lower exposure r

    • by EvanED (569694)

      Uh... no. I'm not saying no one uses those terms the way you define it, but "dynamic range" is pretty much the only term I've seen used for what you call exposure range.

      For example, if I Google "dynamic range photo" (and in the interest of fully disclosing my methods, that's the first search term I tried), the first five results are:

      "Overall, the dynamic range of a digital camera can therefore be described as the ratio of maximum light intensity measurable (at pixel saturation), to minimum light intensity m

  • Whoa... (Score:4, Funny)

    by msauve (701917) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:53PM (#46371533)
    Two different ISOs?

    Hasn't one International Standards Organization caused enough design-by-committee standards harm? Do we really need another?
    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      Situation: There are 2 competing standards organizations.

      "2? Ridiculous! We need to develop one universal standards organization that covers everyone's use cases."
      "Yeah!"

      Soon:
      Situation: There are 3 competing standards organizations.

      • by msauve (701917)
        You might at least give credit where it's due. [xkcd.com]
        • by TeknoHog (164938)
          Duh, it's a parody of a well-known work, at least well-known in Slasdot readership. I guess the next time I refer to the theory of relativity, I should refer to "on the electrodynamics of moving bodies".
          • by msauve (701917)
            "Parody" doesn't mean what you think it means. Perhaps you meant "plagiarism."
            • by TeknoHog (164938)
              Dude, it's modded up as "funny" as I intended, therefore it is a parody. Besides, you just plagiarized my post by using my word "parody" ;D
  • A shootout of a 24MP APS-C sensor on a Pentax K-3 against a 24MP full frame Nikon D600.

    "We figured the Pentax would do a good job, but we never imagined the results would be so outstanding. Our testing shows that the Pentax K-3 swept the Nikon D600 in almost every image we took. Even at high ISOs the Pentax held its own against the full frame sensor!"

    http://www.digitalcamerareview... [digitalcamerareview.com]

    "This test clearly shows the full frame Nikon D600 does not have image quality that is nearly as appealing or accura

    • Your single source is a review of subjective qualities *perceived* in JPG conversions from RAW files made by lightroom. All the review is about is what base curves and algorithms LightRoom applies to the RAW files, not about the actual quality of the RAW files itself, or the ability to make a decent image of said file with manual adjustments. Analogy: you are comparing the quality of JPG images an automatic scanner software generates from two different brands of 35mm film in a film scanner. These cameras ha
  • While I thought the results were cool, I was annoyed by the bloggers use of the word 'chromatic aberration' instead of color noise.

    Chromatic aberration means the lenses bend different colors of light differently resulting in color fringes around the edges of object. Color noise which is observed in low-light conditions here is not an aberration effect of the lens, but pixel counting noise on the CMOS detector.

  • Are as good as a quality film camera loaded with quality film. Maybe one day..

    • Still shooting TechPan and Ektar 25 from your freezer vault, eh? C&N(&others) have left all but the finest grain, slow films in the dust for years. If you shoot anything but base ISO, you should be shooting digital - or you're missing out on details you'll never get in even moderate ISO film. (And, yes, I still own an F4s film camera)

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        Hey, I loved the prints I got out of Ektar it was great stuff. I still have an EOS 630 that I guess its time to get rid of.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      CCD have bested film in ISO range of producing quality image

      16 megapixels from film? none of the ASA (later changed to ISO in mid 80s) 25 to 400 films I used in decades past did that.

      color range? yes the really slow positive films do better, but you'll need to be be shooting from your tripod in broad daylight....

    • by FlyingGuy (989135)

      Since I cannot reply to all, I will just reply to myself and perhaps you all will read it.

      Digital cameras do a fine job for pretty much all utilitarian photography and to deny that would be foolish.

      Having said that, in fine art photography, images where you want a very large amount of latitude, and where color really makes a difference they all still pretty much still stand in the shadow of quality film and quality lenses. If I want shadow detail I have to have some camera that will take three different ex

  • Firstly this kind of technique can be applied in post processing with better results (not wanting to advertise but for example using photomatix [hdrsoft.com]) than can be achieved in the camera. In post processing this technique can be applied equally to Canon or Nikon or Sony or Panasonic (pick your favourite manufacturer) images, and really the only reason it hasn't reached Nikon/Sony/others in camera yet is that there isn't such a big firmware modding community following with Nikon/Sony/others. So Canon certainly ha

    • by jools33 (252092)

      A shame I cannot edit (on new slashdot) to correct my own posts - as a few words appear truncated...

      • by Teun (17872)
        Why?

        There's a Preview and then an Edit button, just like the ol' ways :)...

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