Fantastic New Magic Lantern Canon EOS 5D Mark II Firmware Version Announced

by planetmitch20 Comments

A fantastic new Magic Lantern Canon EOS 5D Mark II firmware version is right around the corner and it has some amazing new features thanks to AJ Newman and others working on the update. We've been talking with Moira O’Brien whom we met on the Trammell Hudson planet5D live interview and she's kept us up to date with the latest… please take a few minutes to watch Moira's overview video and then down to the mini-review I've posted and finally, at the bottom, you'll find the download links. With thanks to Moira and AJ, we're proud to be the first in letting the planet know about this significant Magic Lantern update!

Redrock Micro

Quick overview of enhancements

  • Totally redone menus
  • Enhanced audio options
  • False color for exposure verification
  • quick access to ISO menu
  • Crop marks no longer in separate file
  • Audio enhancements
  • New ‘AJ' menu and ML save settings on CF card
  • Magic Circle enhancement to check focus with magnification
  • ‘help' in the menu system – hints at what the settings do
  • more!

Update from Moira

This is from Moira's update on Moving Image Cork

Magic Lantern was originally written by Trammell Hudson to overcome some of the deficiencies of the Canon 5Dmk2 when filming video and also to add functionality to stills as well. The development was taken to a certain degree but then Trammell got distracted by the real world and development stopped for a while.

Along came the T2i/550d and a lot of interest in porting Magic Lantern onto this platform (the 7D development having stalled) and a number of developers have worked on this project. The 5D strand however was largely ignored until AJ Newman decided to take up the cudgel and going back to first principles, rewrote the code from the bottom up.

read Moira's whole blog entry for more

Moira's visual overview of changes

MAGIC LANTERN AJ5.0 from Moira O'Brien on Vimeo.

Update from AJ on the ML Wiki

Here's a summary of the biggest changes

1) AJ MENU: *
Have a play and let me know what you think.

When you change the ISO (using the button) – the Canon menu is now displayed
for about 5 seconds

3) HOTKEY* : Enhancement
More details in the FALSE COLOURS MENU. When you press/hold the Joy-Centre
for a period of time (eg 1 sec) – on release, the false colours is toggled.

4) AUDIO* : Enhancement
When configuring audio – the audio meters are shown.
Options for Microphone source, analogue gain and digital gain dashboard

Activatable from GREEN SCREEN MENU.

6) ML CONFIG SAVE* : Enhancement
You can save config either immediately, every time the camera is switch
off, or Once (eg to save the exact state you want ML to start up in).

7) AF-ON* : Enhancement
I have tried to untangle the DryOs spaghetti of ‘events' to enable more keys
to be on the Camera. I didn't have much success (mainly because when AF-ON
and ISO keys is pressed, the Dry-Os has a bit of fit). What I have done is
try and stop these keys from interfering with the keys in ML.

planetMitch summary

Having a play with this new version for the last couple of days I can say that this is an absolute joy… this feels so much more like a professional version than a hack. Yes, there are still some screen flickers and hiccups in the visual aspects, but the menus and controls are so nicely laid out and easy to see. And there are plenty of features included that give you access to things you've never had on your 5D2. One thing I just love is a visual display of the focus distance. The audio and visual features just blow me away.

If you've never tried the Magic Lantern software, it is a bit confusing when you start up as you're not going to see anything in the regular menus and knowing which buttons to press can be a bit of hit or miss… but here's a couple of quick lessons:

  • First, to get into the ML menus, you must be in live view (obvious as heck after you realize ML is all about video HA)
  • pressing on the picture styles button brings up the ML menus
  • using the 5D2 joy stick scrolls you thru the menus themselves
  • once in a menu item, to change the options, press the shutter button… I keep wanting to press the normal select button on the back, but d'oh! that starts and stops recording
  • if you have any issues or lock ups where the camera won't respond, don't fret, pull out the battery and reinsert. This causes a reboot of the camera and all should be ok!


First, please remember this is beta firmware – this isn't even the ‘final' version, there are some bugs to be squished… and, there's the usual cautions that this is not supported by Canon or Magic Lantern, but you can try it out now with those understandings.

Moira has set up a special page where you can download the 2.0.4 version of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II firmware as well as the latest version of the Magic Lantern firmware for the 5D2 NOTE: You download all of these items at your own risk – neither Moira or planet5D provide any warranty or support that these files will work properly nor is there any quarantee that they won't damage your camera. Use at your own peril..

A big note here – this version of Magic Lantern ONLY works with Canon firmware 2.0.4 – so if you've upgraded to the latest version of the firmware (2.0.8) you'll have to downgrade to 2.0.4 (which is nothing more than taking the 2.0.4 version and doing the normal firmware update).

For more info on Magic Lantern itself, of course you should read up on the Magic Lantern Wiki

You can also join the ML Development group for more details – and to get the absolute latest versions and to help with testing!

Our thanks to Moira and AJ for bringing this to planet5D first!

(cover photo credit: snap from Moira's video)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. when you say,
    5) KILL OVERLAY* :
    Activatable from GREEN SCREEN MENU.

    does that mean we see a clean image on screen with no overlays whatsover?

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  4. Mitch, can the focus assist circles be activated while recording?

    Wow, this is quite a cool upgrade! Any weird crashes or freezes so far that you have experienced? I remember the other version would require a battery pull after an occasional freeze.

    1. Author

      Yes, magic circles can be activated while recording!

      similar problems – periodic crashes, tho they are working on those – this is probably an early release in terms of fixes… but they wanted to get it out

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  6. Is there anyone that can tell me why the firmware no longer allows for variable bit rates? I have asked on a number of forums and nobody seems to have an answer. What happened? Can someone link me to a thread? Anything?

    1. Author

      From Moira:

      Qscales are in the process of being implemented but they are not ready yet and probably wont be for a time. But variable bit rate will be in a future release unless there are major problems with it.

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  11. I recorded a concert the other night with AJ5.0 firmware. Ended up with a some large broken qucktime files and a CF card thats now corrupt. When I put it in the camera, everything freezes. I cleaned the card from the firmware and reinstalled 2.0.8, but the error continous.

    I remember that at the censor got really hot when i recorded, so I had to turn of the camera a couple of times. This is when I think the corrupt qt files occured.

    1. Author

      I sent your reply to AJ – here’s what he said:

      Thanks Mitch.

      That is the first overheat to failure that I have heard of – but useful to know all the same.

      +) Extra heat (and power) is dissapated in proportion to the screen_update speed.
      +) Initially it is circa 10Hz
      +) If the camera gets too hot -> this is reduced to 3Hz
      +) Before thermal shutdown, this is reduced to 1Hz.

      At the frequency of 1HZ, if still overheating it is likely that default software would still overheat.

      The best way for people to raise issues is send them to:

      Or even join the other Beta Testers in the Magic Lantern google group.


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