Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Magic Lantern LV Display Gain : A small tutorial

Slightly digressing from what I have been writing over the years, here is a small tutorial on Magic Lantern firmware as how to use LV Display gain facility. As canon DSLR users are aware, Magic Lantern is free and open source firmware for selected canon DSLRs for customizing certain functionalities. Apart from customizing, it also adds new features on top of Canon's factory default firmware. Note that ML firmware is installed on top of Canon's firmware and does not override existing Canon firmware. One can easily roll-back to Canon firmware if wished. Unlike Canons, Nikon DSLRs already have the glory of built-in intervalometers, HDR bracketing and many more options. Honestly, Canon is way lagging behind in terms of feature sets and Canon owners like me are fortunate to have ML firmware. It is annoying that Canon makes all fancy processors and cool displays without providing basic features like intervalometer. One gets feeling of being in mansion without furnitures. The Magic Lantern firmware is community driven project wherein some enthusiasts come forward to make it stable.

Enough of rant ;-). Sometimes back, I scribbled about Star Trails and the mistake I did. One of the solution was to focus to infinity around evening itself and waiting for darkness. However, that is not required if your Canon DSLR is equipped with ML firmware. There is a cool feature called "LV Display Gain" which increases sensitivity of Live View Display to some absurd value. The LV will constitute fully of noisy grains on the display. This feature is useful for photographing stars at night when focusing stars is cumbersome task in darkness. The view finder is of no use at all. The LV is almost black. The only rescue is LV display gain. By using this feature, I was easily able to focus on one of the brightest stars on sky and adjust focus ring. Here is set of screenshots from the feature. These screenshots were obtained using another feature in ML on which I would be writing soon!

Switch to ML menu and proceed to Display main and select LV Display gain. Set the desired value (max is +7.0 EV in EOS550D).

Switch back to live display and hunt for stars. Now, all of those grains are not stars ;-). You need to twiddle the focus ring to spot the stars. Even though, it looks useless in picture, in practice the bright stars are visible. As you rotate focus ring, the diameter of stars vary which enables you to focus accurately. Adjusting the focus ring varies the sharpness of stars which you can notice! I have encircled some of the stars for reference purpose.

Difficult to spot!
 Set the desired camera settings you wish and enjoy shooting the distant world :-). This was one of the image I shot with the help of feature.

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