Open Source photography

I bought my first "real" camera some years back, it was a Canon EOS 350D. I took lots of pictures, some good some not. Mostly not so good.

Few years later I found an interesting Open Source project call Magic Lantern. What an excellent excuse to upgrade my camera. I got same form-factor but bit more powerful model from Canon, EOS 600D.

Canon SLR's are quite nice nowadays, they have enough megapixels, they can eat reasonably sized memory cards and so on. However something's missing, for example built-in ability to take timelapse videos, HDR videos or even HDR photos. Wouldn't it be nice if you could write your own code onto your camera? It turned out that you can.

"Magic Lantern is a software enhancement that offers increased functionality to the excellent Canon DSLR cameras. We have created an open framework, licensed under GPL, for developing extensions to the official firmware."
Some nice guys at the Magic Lantern project managed to reverse engineer bits and pieces of the Canon software, enabling adding your own firmware on the camera. Initially Magic Lantern was supposed to be focusing on video recording enhancements for legendary Canon 5D Mark II, but after it being ported to APC-C size cameras it attracted wider developer and user base.

"Magic Lantern is not a "hack", or a modified firmware, it is an independent program that runs alongside Canon's own software. Each time you start your camera, Magic Lantern is loaded from your memory card. Our only modification was to enable the ability to run software from the memory card."

If you are interested in the features of Magic Lantern I recommend you to check out the very extensive user guide at http://wiki.magiclantern.fm/userguide or the FAQ document at: http://magiclantern.fm/faq.html

Latest stable release is couple of years old, but I've been safely using a nightly build from few weeks back. Hopefully they release a new stable version some day soon.

Youtube video credit: GNA Productions

In addition to video recording and time lapses, the software is capable of quite incredible HDR shots and low-light photography. You'll find lots of example shots and videos from the user gallery: http://www.magiclantern.fm/forum/index.php

If you are not so much into photography but into hacking things, feel free to download the source code: https://bitbucket.org/hudson/magic-lantern. Open Source is everywhere!