When you first pick up one of Canon's higher end DSLR'S - video is good, but not great. The EOS system offers only a few simple in-camera settings to play around with and nothing more. Although you may be happy with what Canon has to offer, people like myself are always looking for more functionality and better performance. If you're like me and want to see your camera's video quality improve in only two steps, I would encourage you to follow along.
First step - picture styles.
Out of the box, your camera's picture style should be set to "Auto" or "Standard". While those do work, they don't allow you to capture the most dynamic range possible. This is where custom picture styles come in. Canon allows you to have 3 custom profiles loaded onto your camera at once, and I highly recommend utilizing this feature. With your camera plugged into your computer and Canon's EOS Utility application open, you can upload any picture style, or one such as Technicolor's Advanced Cinestyle. (hyperlink to technicolor's advanced cinestyle). This one adjusts the gamma levels on your camera and allows for more dynamic range. You can also tweak four settings within any picture style - those being sharpness, contrast, saturation, and colour tone. I recommend bringing contrast and saturation down to the lowest notch, and dropping sharpness only down one or two notches. That can allow your camera to capture even more information in the shot. The image may seem a little more flat or boring coming out of the camera - but with a little colour correction in your favourite editing software it can be looking like your favourite movie in no time.
Second step - Magic Lantern.
No, not a real magical lantern. It's software that runs alongside your EOS system and allows your camera to access countless features not available by default. Some of these features include:
- Live View Audio Meters
- RGB Zebras
- False Colours
- Bulb Exposures longer than 30 seconds
- 9-frame HDR Bracketing
- Intervalometer for timelapses
- Motion detection
- Trap focus
- Bit Rate controls
- Live View Crop Marks
That's not even every feature - only the ones I felt are the most useful. Not only does Magic Lantern improve video mode, it adds functionality to every aspect of your camera. Installation takes about 15 minutes and step-by-step instructions can be found right here. (link to magiclanter.fm) From amateurs to pros, Magic Lantern is being used all around the world. While their menu may not be the prettiest (insert photo), it gets the job done.
So, let's recap.
1) Download Technicolor's Advanced Cinestyle and load it onto your camera for increased dynamic range.
2) Download and install Magic Lantern onto your Canon DSLR following these instructions to access more features and ultimately increase the awesomeness of your video/photo machine.
At Danger Dynamite, we utilize both of these tools while producing video. It improves both workflow and the product we're delivering to our clients. Feel free to follow our blog for more video related posts.
DISCLAIMER: Magic Lantern works almost all of the time and we've never had an issue with it, BUT - sometimes things can go wrong. Use Magic Lantern at your own risk.