Magic Lantern Users Complain of Overheating on Canon DSLRs

Third-party firmware Magic Lantern taxing processor and battery

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Well, all good things are about to have a crack in their armor from time to time, and it looks like the latest version of Magic Lantern is no different. Users of the popular third-party firmware for Canon cameras  have taken to the Magic Lantern forums and on Facebook have begun to complain about their batteries overheating on the Canon T3i/600D. Is this normal? It just may be.

Has anyone had any issues with hot batteries while using Magic Lantern? I’ve checked on the ML forums and they say that the T3i’s battery will get warm with normal use, but mine is getting hot even while just browsing the ML menus. When I boot up into Canon’s firmware the problem goes away. The battery is warm but not near as hot. I’m wondering how much processor power ML requires and if it could be causing the hot battery issues. – Terry M., Frugal Filmmaker Facebook Page

Yesterday, I was cruising through some of my favorite Facebook group pages and came across an entry from a Canon 600D/T3i user who was complaining that when he engaged Magic Lantern vs. 2.3, that his camera battery began to overheat. Not enough to burn his hand, mind you, but definitely noticeable. He tried various methods of testing, to see what was going on and chronicled his results at the Magic Lantern forums.

And when he allowed the camera to cool down and then rebooted it with Canon’s firmware, the overheating didn’t happen. “After 15 minutes I removed the battery and noticed it was not near as warm as the previous session,” said Terry (aka DSLRRookie). Terry wrote that he wasn’t doing much of anything heavy with the camera, just running through the menus and he was concerned that minimal use of ML causing overheating, imagine how hot the camera would be with serious and prolonged video capture. “I really like the functionality of ML and appreciate all the work the developers put in, I’m just a bit concerned about the heating issues with the battery,” said Terry.

According to the Magic Lantern developer “1%,” the heating is coming off the CPU and is considered normal.” The dev then goes on to warn that while the heat is normal, it can be cause lithium ion battery life to degrade significantly. He advises getting an external battery grip, so that the batteries won’t be affected by the heat coming off the processor, which is in close proximity to the battery in the 600D design. “Heat is bad for lithium batteries. It won’t reduce the sensor heat but your battery won’t be absorbing that heat killing its life,” says the dev. “Current being drawn does produce some heat from the battery but I don’t think its enough to actually heat the sensor or anything else. The camera just doesn’t draw power fast enough.”

But fellow developer Scrax doesn’t buy that, saying that using a battery grip to reduce sensor heat is somewhat of a myth. While the battery grip will lessen exposure of the heat to the batteries themselves (and you can pick one up at Amazon for about $30), that won’t stop the processor from drawing more power as it needs it. It’s no secret that Magic Lantern offers features that the original Canon firmware isn’t designed to provide, and that may cause some overheating to be normal, but the concern that Terry is sharing, is that he wasn’t recording anything when he experienced the overheating.  It seems that just running through the menus can cause more power to be drawn from the batteries, and as such, overheating them.  Because why would just menu operation cause the processor to overheat?

Is anyone else finding this on the 600D or other models? I’m getting ready to install Magic Lantern on my rig and I’m interested to see if anyone else is having overheating issues. Leave a comment below.

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Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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