One of the areas within the camera that rarely ever gets touched, is the camera software, also known as “firmware”. Most modern electronic gadgets provide the ability to update their firmware by downloading fixes and updates through manufacturers’ websites and applying those updates on the devices. The firmware updates not only provide important fixes for identified bugs, but also provide brand new features that were absent when the device was shipped from the manufacturer. This ability to be able to update and run the latest version of firmware has become a standard among DLSR manufacturers, allowing end users to run the latest and greatest firmware on their cameras.
If you have never updated firmware on your Nikon DSLR or have not performed an update for a long time, you might want to check if new firmware is available for your camera. Some photographers argue that they do not feel the need to touch camera firmware, since they do not have any problems with their cameras and everything seems to be functioning properly. I personally feel otherwise – why not to run the latest and greatest camera software? And why would you resist adding more functions to your camera, especially if those functions are available to you at no charge? If you agree with me, then you should check what firmware you are running today and what firmware is currently available from Nikon.
In some cases, it is best to wait for at least 2-3 weeks after a brand new firmware update is released, to make sure that it does not come with unexpected bugs and problems. Although Nikon has a very good history and reputation when it comes to firmware releases, it does not necessarily mean that bad things won’t happen in the future.
1) Check current Firmware Version
Checking the firmware version on Nikon DSLR is very easy – just press the “Menu” button, the go to “Firmware Version” under “Setup”. You should see something like this (image courtesy of Nikon):
Write down the A and B version numbers. In the above example, the version number is “1.03″.
Next, go to Nikon Download Center and click the link that says “Get the most recent Nikon firmware versions” under “Download Current Firmware”. When the next page loads, search for your Nikon DSLR camera name (press CTRL+F and search for your camera model number, for example “D700″). It should look something like this:
Compare the numbers to the right of the camera with the numbers that you wrote down earlier. If they are the same, you are running the latest firmware on your camera. If the numbers on the website have a higher revision number, then you are running older firmware and you should update.
If you want to see the fixes and new features the new firmware provides, simply click the link with the firmware number and you will be taken to a download and instruction page. Here is a good example of what the latest Nikon D300s firmware does:
- Support for 64 GB memory cards has been added.
- When the Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 was used with AA batteries, the battery indicator showed that MB-D10 batteries were exhausted or power supply switched to the battery inserted in the camera even when sufficient charge remained with the MB-D10 batteries. This issue has been resolved.
- When some memory cards were inserted in the camera, “CHA” was displayed in the top control panel and images could not be captured. This issue has been resolved.
I specifically chose D300s as an example, because firmware updates for other cameras like D700 have a very long list of fixes/new features which would occupy half of this article. I’m sure once you see the list, you will most likely want to upgrade, especially if you are several revisions behind.
2) Upgrade the Firmware
I will not duplicate the effort to explain how to update the firmware, because Nikon does a very good job in providing all necessary information with illustrations and screenshots for this process. If you only see “Basic Upgrade Instructions”, then I highly recommend downloading the PDF version of the upgrade guide that explains everything very clearly and in plenty of detail. Don’t forget to fully charge your batteries and do NOT touch your camera or remove the batteries while the upgrade is taking place – you could damage your camera.
3) Current Nikon DSLR Firmware Revisions
Here is a short list firmware updates for the current and previous generation Nikon DSLR cameras (as of 11/13/2011). Click to open firmware download page:
- Nikon D3x – B:1.01
- Nikon D3s – 1.01
- Nikon D3 – 2.02
- Nikon D700 – 1.02
- Nikon D300S – 1.01
- Nikon D300 – 1.10
- Nikon D200 – 2.01
- Nikon D7000 – 1.03
- Nikon D90 – 1.002
- Nikon D80 – 1.11
- Nikon D5100 – 1.01
- Nikon D5000 – 1.002
- Nikon D3100 – 1.01
- Nikon D3000 – No Firmware Updates Available
- Nikon D40x – 1.01
Once the upgrade process is complete, go back and check the firmware version on your camera and make sure that it shows the latest versions of both “A” and “B” firmware releases.