Hacked Firmware

Perhaps one of the more important software considerations is the availability of third-party extensions through hacked firmware. No camera manufacturer actively supports installing your own software on your camera; they treat cameras more like an appliance than a smartphone or PC. However, some crafty individuals have created custom software extensions for popular cameras. The most widely used of these hacks is Magic Lantern, which is available for many recent Canon DSLRs. Magic Lantern adds a variety of cool features, including:

  • A built-in intervalometer for taking pictures on a scheduled basis, such as every 30 seconds, which is useful for image stacking or creating a time-lapse video.
  • More flexible bracketing than is normally available.
  • HDR video, which is useful for filming in situations with a great deal of contrast.
  • On-screen audio meters and zebra striping when recording video.

The extra features are nice, but they’re not terribly user-friendly. Magic Lantern has its own, separate user interface, and it’s quite complicated. So, it’s not for the average user, but for the more technical among us, the added features can make such a significant difference that you might choose a camera compatible with Magic Lantern over a competing model. While a handful of hacks are available for Nikon cameras and other manufacturer’s cameras, none offer anywhere near as many capabilities as Magic Lantern.