Magic Lantern Does It Again: Full-Resolution Silent Pictures

by Barry Andersson5 Comments

You might not immediately get excited about this new feature from the folks over at Magic Lantern, but perhaps you should be.

They have just announced that it is now possible to take a full resolution “silent” photo.

You may be asking “Why should I care?”. Let’s take a look at scenarios where this feature could be a huge help to you:

– are tired of wasting shutter clicks on timelapse or focus stacks?
– do you need to take pictures in quiet environments where the shutter noise currently prevents you from taking images?
– Are you using long focal length lenses and have issues with mirror vibration?
– Did your shutter wear out to the point that you can no longer take pictures (ERR20)?

If any of these issues apply to you then Magic Lantern has just solved your issues.

Wait! Didn’t my camera already shoot a silent picture mode? How does this differ?

The in camera silent picture mode's resolution was not full resolution so for many applications it just isn’t good enough.

With the good there is always the bad. Here are some of the limitations or the downside of this new feature:

– Currently the fastest shutter speed is around 1/10 seconds.
– Long exposures can be done up to 15 seconds (anything longer will crash your camera).
– Fastest capture speed: 220ms on 5D3, 320ms on 5D2. This includes a dummy readout, which is probably a bias frame.
– So, the usefulness is limited to timelapse and medium-long exposures (no moving subjects).

** If you use the intervalometer, it is recommended you take a picture every 10 or 15 seconds (not faster). Saving DNGs from the camera is slow.

** In photo mode, aperture will be most likely wide open, regardless of the setting, because of exposure simulation (enable Expo Override to fix it).

As long as those restrictions don’t work for you go ahead and try it out.

NOTE: It is too early to tell if this might lead to the ability to shoot 4K video at some point. It sounds like even with more research to be done that the likely outcome would only be 10fps at 4K. But it is worth keeping our eyes on.

Happy Shooting.

Magic Lantern Forum Topic: Full-resolution silent pictures

Via Magic Lantern Forum thread:

– are you afraid to waste shutter clicks on timelapse or focus stacks?
– do you need to take pictures in quiet environments?
– do you have problems with mirror vibration (e.g. at very long focal lengths)?
– your shutter is worn out so badly that you can no longer take pictures (ERR20)?
– old silent picture mode's resolution was too low for these tasks?

I believe I've just found the solution to all of the above.

Full-resolution silent pictures

How it works?

I've tried to call a factory test routine: FA_CaptureTestImage (helped by FA_CreateTestImage and FA_DeleteTestImage). At first sight, it did not do anything visible (g3gg0 already tried it years ago), but the diagnostic log and the EDMAC info box revealed the magic: the sensor was sampled at full resolution, without shutter actuation!

So, to take an useful image, I went to LiveView first to open the shutter and raise the mirror, then I've paused LiveView (from ML powersave routines, or by going to PLAY mode or Canon menu from LiveView). Then I've called the above routines, and after that, all I had to do was to fill the raw_info structure and save the DNG.

If you call these routines without going to LiveView first, the result will be a dark frame (interesting for astro – you can take 300 dark frames without wearing the shutter mechanism).

For more details, take a look at this changeset.

See complete Magic Lantern Forum thread at “Full-resolution silent pictures”

  Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before  

(cover photo credit: snap from Magic Lantern Forum)


  1. JePe well, at this point, that is true… but they also initially thought that the RAW video option was only going to produce something similar and look where that ended up!

  2. planetMitch JePe true! I really love the RAW on the 5D (even the 5DmkII, which sadly doesn’t handle it to well). 
    You gotta think what Canon is doing with their research, … they already can make a ‘godlike’ camera, seeing all these things being adopted throw Magic Lantern…. Could be it doesn’t ‘pass’ their safety and reliability tests, but… man… does look now that those cams can do much more! 
    WHat is that ‘burst mode’ btw??

  3. I wonder if it’ll apply to the rebel t2i (550D) onwards …

  4. It is awesome I have been messing with it for about 3 weeks now. Able to now do dime lapse without eating my shutter..  Here is my first video using silent picture. Note this is not even in ML nightly builds. You either need to compile it your self or request a build from one of the developers.

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