Magic Lantern feature: the Exposure Panel

on November 11, 2014

White Balance

This is one of the most important settings to get right in camera.

Unlike your RAW still images, your White Balance is going to be baked into your image and it’s a real pain in the ass to correct in post if you don’t match these up from shot to shot.

Your White Balance is how your camera determines what is White. It will ALL look white to human eyes- because we have incredibly dynamic vision and our brains interpret the light values that come in through our sensors and tell us “OH- this is white, based on everything around us”.

The camera can’t do that, so it’s important to take this into account when shooting under different lighting conditions. While the presets can do a pretty good job for you, using the Kelvin adjustment is my preferred method of NAILING your White Balance.

You’ll notice that your white balance is expressed in Degrees Kelvin. Kelvin is a way of reading absolute temperature, named after lord Kelvin. Absolute Zero Kelvin is where nothing is able to move anymore- not even atoms. The temperatures tat are used here display the color that IRON glows to when heated to that particular temperature. If you heat a piece of iron to 5500 degrees, it should give off the exact same color as the sun during mid-day. Colors are considered “warmer” and “cooler” based on this indicator, and that is basically all you need to know about white balance for now. Dial it in and check it frequently if you are suing daylight and the sun’s position is changing

ISO

This is an advanced ISO setting. It was once said that your Canon camera has a 160 “Native ISO”, and that all your ISO settings should bee in multiples of to get less noise in your images. While a little further research proves that that is not TECHNICALLY true, it still maintains that your images will have less noise when entered in multiples of 160. What your camera is actually doing is entering in an ANALOG ISO, and then doing a 1/3 stop “Digital Pull” to clean up the image a little bit. I have found that if I can, I use ISO in multiples of 160, but if I need to go higher or lower a touch, I don’t sweat it too much.

In your submenu you will have a few settings:

Equivalent ISO: This is what your iso will end up looking like.

Analog ISO: This is what your iso ACTUALLY is.

Canon Digital ISO: This is where you can see that your camera is pulling your iso down by a third of a stop when you go to 160, etc.

ML digital ISO: You can use this to REALLY get to the extremes of iso, anywhere from 50 ISO to 51,200 ISO.

Highlight Tone Priority: This is a setting that lets you get a little more dynamic range in your highlights and will extend your iso. This is one of those features that sounds great on paper, but in practice, I find it gives me a noisier image and I am never happy with it. You should keep your highlight tone priority turned off in camera and try to find a better way to get the light if you can. If you can’t then there is this option for you.

Shutter

This lets you micro- adjust your shutter speed settings.

If you set your Expo Override to ON, you can tune in your shutter speed to get you closer to 180 degree shutter (which is what you want to shoot in 99% of the time).

Aperture

Again, if your Expo Override is on, you can set your aperture to adjust is 1/8 increments in Movie Mode. This lets you “split” your ISO the way a stepless aperture ring does. Obviously, this is for lenses that are being controlled by the camera. If you are using a manual or vintage lens, you will be adjusting exposure by hand.

Picture Style

I love this feature. It will tell you what your picture style that you are recording in- but more importantly- it will let you PRE-SET your recording picture style. This will let you set up your picture and exposure with a “normal” picture style, and then it will AUTOMATICALLY switch it over to a different style (a flat one) once you start recording.

Very handy.

Nothing is worse than forgetting to switch picture profiles on a shot and not having it match up with the rest of your footage.

Auto ETTR

This will set your exposure metering up so that you are exposing to the right jus a bit to preserve your highlights.  We will go into more detail with this feature in the MODULES section.

Exposure Lock

I can see how some people would love this feature as it keep their exposure levels the same.  What is does is adjust the points on your “Exposure Triangle” to maintain the sam amount of light automatically.  I’m not a fan of this method.  If I need more light, I want to know it before the camera bumps up the ISO/shutter speed/aperture and I end up with some shots that are noisier than others.  Photography is about painting with light, and you want to control as many variables as you can to craft the image.

Exposure Presets

If you find yourself toggling through your menu instead of your click wheel to change these settings, turning this on can save you some menu hunting.

Dual ISO

This is for a very specific style of Post Production Workflow, and we won’t go too much into it here.  The camera alternates ISO between two different levels, and you can run it through some software that re-integrates the images to produce a final product that has more dynamic range.  I have seen some beautiful samples out there, and if you are someone who loves the extended workflow of RAW, then I would highly recommend you look into this method of shooting as well.  Be advised- you are COMMITTED to this post production workflow when you shoot this way- there is no backing out.

Expo Override

Setting this to ON will override any exposure limitations that Canon has set in place.

Exposure Simulation

This works in conjunction with your Exposure Override to let you see a more accurate rendition of what your image will look like when using Live View.

Auto Exposure

Totally honest here- I have no idea how to actually use this in a production setting.  I have a feeling this is a feature that will lay the groundwork for more modules in the future.