Intervalometer on Canon Eos M

The Canon Eos M has 4 important characteristics for KAP:

  • it is relatively cheap
  • has an APSC size sensor
  • is fairly light at 380g (less than the 534g Powershot G1x)
  • an intervalometer is availabe for it

This makes it the lightest of the first APSC format mirror-less cameras with a firmware intervalometer.  So it looks like a good AutoKAP workhorse.

I’m not a fan of the AutoKAP technique but recent trials with the Powershot A2300 have reminded me of the benefits, it’s a light weight, low stress option allowing full concentration on the kite and can provide good cover for aerial panoramas. The resolution of the A2300 imagery was something of a disappointment so a step up to the Eos M, despite the weight penalty, seemed logical.

As CHDK is to Powershot, Magic Lantern (ML) is to Eos, it includes an intervalometer function and an Alpha version has been released for the Eos ‘M’ model.

I found getting ML working a bit awkward compared to its sister CHDK and because the Eos M is fairly new there is not too much help available. Here is how I got it working after reading though the ML forum thread. The Eos M camera has touch screen control which means a mixture of screen taps and button presses are needed.

Unlike CHDK, Magic Lantern firmware is installed in camera memory and remains there so there is a nasty feeling of irreversible change in all this. There is an uninstall procedure and removing the battery has the desired re-set action when the camera locks up.

The installation procedure is well explained on the ML web site, the only variation for the Eos M is that manual mode (M) is available from a screen tap menu (at ‘CA’ in the top left of the shooting screen below) rather than the more familiar ‘PASM’ dial setting (it doesn’t have one!). Once in manual mode the firmware update option is available from the menu button.

_DSC0003With the camera booted at the shooting preview screen, the ML options overlay the Canon screen info:

ML 1

Clearly it is loaded OK so how on earth to you get it started then?

A 2 finger tap on the touch screen does the trick. This brings up either a useful menu or an info screen like this:

ML 0 A

half-press the shutter release and the first menu screen looks like this:


however *sometimes it looks like this:

ML 2

In tiny print at the bottom of the screen a message tells me the intervalometer is hiding! Pressing the menu button ( yep the actual button on the camera) reveals the hidden item:

ML 3

The on/off option works with the ‘set’ buton and the next level menu opens with a single finger screen tap:

ML 4

Once the interval is set you are returned to the previous menu and a half-press of the shutter button should get things started:

ML 5

The intervalometer is stopped with the review button.  Restarting it requires working through the menus again from the ‘double tap’ on.

Eos M AutoKap rig

17042013 wind speed

A quick slap up AutoKAP rig from the parts bin, weighing in at 480g,  and off we go into a building gale…after a short, thrilling, test flight with the PFK I discover the flaw in the idea.

When the camera was recovered from its roller-coaster ride on the kite line it was no longer shooting. Hmm. The rig was still panning manfully..zzt…1..2..3…..zzt…1…2…3… but there was no action from the camera. It was stuck on the preview screen and wouldn’t respond. Power off /power on and it was back. It had managed about 200 blurred shots and then stopped.

A single frame was sharp:

So what’s up?

The default shooting setting on the camera is ‘Creative Auto’, I liked the sound of that but it’s biased to low ISO and low shutter speed: a hopeless combo for KAP! That explains the blur but why did the intervalometer stop?

A repeat exercise revealed the red square of death condition showing a failure to achieve AF which stops the intervalometer advancing (in fact the firmware gives up altogether and locks).

The intervalometer is easily stalled if:

  • the AF can’t achieve focus (indicated by a ‘red square of death’ in the preview screen: a ‘power cycle’ reboot is needed to recover control of the camera)
  • excessive movement of the rig moves the focal point in and out of meter range
  • random screen tapping (such as mounting the camera on the rig, attempting to change the focal weighting, or even motion of the rig itself causes ML to lockup after failing to resolve the conflicting commands from screen taps and script.

Red square of death 2

I have found the ‘AF operation= Servo AF’ to be the most robust using a ‘Flexi Zone = Single’ setting but even this is knocked over fairly easily by camera movement.

Eos M AutoKap rig v2

The 22m lens has no image stabilisation function unlike the heavier 18-55mm tele/wide option, setting a high ISO, high shutter speed and fixed focus will be required..

…focus fixed to infinity, ISO 400, shutter priority (TV Ae) at 1/125th s a 6-8mph evening breeze (and sunlight…. at last!):

420 shots acquired in 20min before sunset with only a handful of rejects. Most of the duds were as the sun set and the inevitable underexposures occurred.

My next attempt, in stronger light (but softer wind) produced a good block of  sharp imagery although just oblique enough to make stitching into a panorama near impossible:

The AutoKAP rig comprises a Brooxes picavet and pan gear, GentLED ‘ClickPan’ and adjuster, a single cell LiPo 3.7 v550mA  battery, gears by KAP shop: pan gear = 40 teeth, servo gear = 20 teeth. The pan step is 12 deg giving 30 steps to the circle.  Step speed (variable) is 5s which means it takes 2and a half minutes to complete a circle.

Eos M vs A2300_01

A frame to frame comparison shows the Eos M photo-scale over the A2300 is much improved (no surprise there given the spec!) as is resolution (hard to judge without a parallel rig so these are approximately similar images) Eos M image on the right:

Eos M vs A2300_02

*red menus show hidden options. Options can be hidden from the menu lists by toggling  the menu button with the item selected with the ‘arrow’ function of the main dial.


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
Gallery | This entry was posted in KAP and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Intervalometer on Canon Eos M

  1. crisp says:

    Thank you ever so much for the thoughtful progress report. As I have a fair bit of Canon dSLR gear and I am currently using a T2i as my regular KAP camera, I have been eyeing the EOS-M with great interest. I am close to purchasing one and welcome any further assessments you might offer.

    I find time spent on your site invariably well spent.

  2. Chris J. says:

    Hi, very nice pics.
    I am not involved in KAP but I am looking at the EOS M despite its bad AF. Because you are using ML on EOS M and those doing this are certainly not that much, please would you tell me if focus peaking works well OK on EOS M. I have seen it on EOS 550D on witch ML is far more advanced, but never on EOS M.
    Excuse my laborious english.
    Best regards.

    • Thanks for taking a look Chris J,

      I’m sorry to say I can’t really comment on focus peaking performance on the Eos M under Magic Lantern. As far as I can tell the ML build for the Eos M is not fully fetaured, the focus menu is absent! What I can say is that it is possible to learn to live with this camera and I wouldn’t let the nay sayers put you off. Yes the AF is slow compared to DSLR but its about the same for the Leica X1. The AF speed of the Fuji X100s is exceptional for a mirrorless camera…and so is the price! I consider the Eos M to be very good value for an APSC sensor size compact.

      • Chris J. says:

        Thanks Billboy for your quick answer.

        I’m interested in mirorless camera because I am still doing film photography with my canon new F1 and T90 with some FD lenses and I plan to keep on film for B&W shots and to go with digital camera for color ones. I want to use my good old FD lenses on the digital camera and for that the focus peaking is really a good thing as I have read it.
        That said, I am not that afraid of the AF performance. I have to test it once to make my mind.

        Best regards.

    • chphotovideo says:

      just picked up an eos m and was reading what others thought on magic lantern. I’ve installed it on my eos m and have to say focus peaking is top notch. Just like on my 5d3. So far my only gripe is how the info on screen overlaps each other (seen in pic 2 above). On my slr i choose info screen for canon info, or ML info.
      I’ve been testing out mine using the ef adapter and a few dif lenses, mainly 35 f2.0 and 24-105 f4. Ironically in live view on my 5d3 the focus speed is the same as the eos m. I will try to have a write up on my blog with some video tests in the next week or so. When i can get to it. Hope this helps a bit.

      • Nice to know the ML focus peaking is there, I don’t use it and couldn’t find it. Most useful to know.

        I like your comparison with SLR live view Autofocus speed…I’don’t think any of those work at a life like speed. My D5100 is apalling!

      • Chris J. says:

        It is what i did. I have found that ML seems to put the EOS a little warmer than usual but it works. Unlike stable ML 2.3 on some cameras, there is no way to configure focus peaking. For what I have read, the best config is not available yet on EOS M. Let’s come next releases.

  3. Chris J. says:

    I got my EOS M. Thanks for your advices. It is really a good camera. The AF speed, as I can see in my tests, is ok to take photos, even if it could be quicker sometimes. Let’s wait for this :

    Best regards

  4. An updated release of MagicLantern for firmaware version 2.02 is here:

    Sadly even with the much improved AF performance under version 2.02 AF fails still occur and lock up the intervalometer.


  5. Alan Nyiri says:

    Any reason not to turn off autofocus altogether, preset the camera on manual focus to infinity? Everything in the frame is more than 100 feet away, and at f:5.6 or f:8 the 22mm lens has great depth of field, not that much is needed. Wouldn’t this bypass the problem?

    • No reason not to and in fact this works well but the chance of missing out on a close up shot of, say, my favorite windmill ending up out of focus puts me off the idea! Because I can’t manually adjust the camera as I shoot there is always a little anxiety that can be avoided if AF takes care of things. I have been out with the Olympus EP1 of late and its AF speed is just the job for this sort of work, sadly its lens is not the best but it’s great to know it will shoot sharp when required.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.