After the kit lens, the first lens every shooter should be a 50mm lens- affectionately …
The Intervalometer/FPS override
This was the feature that originally introduced me to Magic Lantern.
I was going to get an intervalometer dongle for my camera, when I found out that this feature can be enabled in camera. I was curious when I found out that it would save me a couple of bucks on an accessory, but then i found out about a VERY interesting trick: DONT USE THE INTERVALOMETER.
As any timelapse photographer will tell you, timelapses take your camera through a very high number of shutter actuations very quickly. While most cameras these days have a shutter that is good for about 100,000 actuations, doing timelapses as a hobby can get you there pretty quickly. HOWEVER: Magic Lantern has a FRAMES PER SECOND override function.
Instead of having a three minute timelapse eat up 4,320 shutter actuations- each rendered as a full size image that needs to then be put together in your computer, you just SHOOT A MOVIE at one frame every 2 seconds. These frames are captured at 1920×1080 and you only use ONE SHUTTER ACTUATION (opening up the live view). Your video is assembled in camera, you have prolonged the life of your shutter, and saved on memory space that you wouldn’t have been able to use anyway. YES< the downside of this is that your still images won’t be RAW, but do you really NEED RAW for every timelapse? Focus Peaking
Focus peaking is a feature found on a lot of mirrorless cameras and high end production cameras. It highlights the section of the image that the sensor registers as in focus and marks it on your LCD with a little colored halo. This is especially important for use with video because you should NOT be using auto-focus on video, even if you have an ultra silent stepper motor and your manufacturer brags about it.
Use manual focus- get a follow focus if you can- and nail it. This is also very useful when using adapted lenses. Nikon makes some great glass, and the vintage stuff is absolutely gorgeous. Vintage lenses are a great resource when you are starting out. It’s a great way to build out your kit with prime lenses and terrific optics. These lenses don’t have the electrical contacts of modern lenses, but you can usually find adapters that will give you a focus confirmation chirp if you are using these for still photos. Look into some late Soviet era lenses for some very affordable replicas of high-end lenses.
AGC/ Analog Gain
Part if the problem with the on board audio in cameras (aside from the god-awful microphones) is that they have automatic Gain control. This is a way of “adjusting” your levels on the fly so as to make sure nothing is too loud or too soft at any given time. The drawback is that there is a split second of “adjustment” while the AGC gets a reading and sets it. This is fine for home movies, but it is enough to ruin a take in professional audio.
Enter Analog Gain. You can monitor the audio levels in camera and adjust how much gain you need right through the Magic Lantern Menu. This is especially helpful if you are shooting single system (audio that goes right into the camera.) The audio is still not going to be clean as if it were coming from a discrete sound professional, but it is definitely usable and will save you lots of hassle in post production.