Using Magic Lantern With Focus Peaking For Free-lensing

Magic lantern is by far the best thing to happen to the DSLR cameras. It offers so many options not given to you by the normal Canon firmware that it should be sin not to install it. This is a quick little walkthrough on how I use ML for easy, accurate free-lensing.

Now, if you don't know what free lensing is to start off with, basically its the poor mans tilt-shift. It requires you to detach your lens from the camera body holding it out and tilting it up or down, left or right to achieve the Tilt-shift look. (DISCLAIMER-I am not responsible if you drop your lens. Do this at your own risk) I have yet to drop a lens doing this, but it can happen very easily. Here is a quick tutorial on free lensing by Connor Surdi Photography.

Now, the next thing you need is Magic Lantern. You will need to go read through this site, download the files and install it to your camera before you can get the focus peaking to work. Its a very quick and simple "Hack". (Also not responsible if this messes up your camera) I have not had any issues and I have been using it since I got my first t2i. Very stable shell.

Finally, once you have Magic Lantern installed on your camera, press the delete button to access the ML menu. Go over to the overlay tab, find the "Focus Peak" option and press the set button on your camera to activate it. Switch to LV mode and you should see the little red focus dots appear on your screen. If for some reason they don't show up, when you're in LV, press the info button on your camera (Im using a 5D mark ii) until the dots appear.

That's about it for that! Works extremely well and have yet to miss focus on a free-lensed shot!

Feel free to head over to my website or Facebook page for more!!!

Log in or register to post comments


Is there anything like this for Nikon?

Chris Lambeth's picture

I don't believe so. 


old russian lens... helios 44 for example... much more interesting pictures than this canon )

Malcolm Debono's picture

Great article! The ML wikia page (although still being updated) has been superseded by the official site - 

I really believe Canon is ridiculous not to include- at the very least- focus peaking on all of their cameras. Clearly, it can be done, so why don't they? Great tutorial, Chris.

I've been stalking ML for over a year and need to take the leap and install it on my cameras.  Was wondering about your last comment about keeping your lens focused at infinity - why is that?  Are you just focusing by moving the camera only?  Do you ever pull focus with ML?  Is ML better than using a viewfinder magnifier that fits over the rear display? Thanks for any tips!

focus to infinity while free lensing, moving the lens closer and farther from the camera to change focus. IMO using magic zoom and punch zoom is better than using a magnified viewfinder for the LCD. Viewfinders are still good to counter glare though.

I'm learning but I still don't get it. When you focus to infinity everything between the hyperfocal and infinity are in focus. Everything closer (Which would be the whole room at f5.6 with a 50mm lens for example) would be a blur. Correct?

the link to Connor's photography for the tutorial just sends us to a facebook page.

Chris Lambeth's picture

Thats because the video is right below that link.... 

Tip on these videos, put the camera which you're using on a tripod, it's incredibly difficult/annoying to follow what you're doing on the camera when you're moving it around so much

You make a good point, however the wild moving around of the view is a characteristic of freelensing that this article is advising a way to address the issues with focussing in such circumstances.
I discovered when freelensing that the view through the viewfinder is not accurate when using a tilt lens, so using the LiveView is necessary, however it is hard to judge focus on the rear screen, so focus peaking is helpful.

so this wont work on a 7d? i tried to update  but nothing comes up
dont know if i am doing something wrong