I realise that it’s not really going to encourage you to read-on by saying this could be the dullest short article ever, writes Andrew James, but nevertheless I’m hoping this is going to be a useful reminder. Hands up if you have ever bothered to update the firmware in your camera. I’m sure there are a few hands in the air now but probably quite a few still thinking – what the hell is the firmware anyway?
Basically, firmware is the software that’s built into your camera, and it controls the operational functions of it. We don’t need to know how it does this but it’s useful to know that, like your home computer’s operating system, from time to time it might just pay to update it! Camera manufacturers use updates to fix bugs in the operating system and some even use them to add functionality.
The truth is, you don’t have to update the firmware and your camera will go on working – and if it has any bugs or glitches – you might not even come across them. So, if you can’t be bothered, I’m not going to hold it against you. But what if there was an update that solves that annoying glitch you have come across or better still, what if there was a better Autofocus algorithm waiting to be added to your model?
Spring is around the corner which means it’s the perfect time to check out these things. For just 10 minutes spent checking whether your camera has a firmware update available and then going through the process of actually updating it, maybe you’ll have an improved camera! I’ll be honest, I often forget all about it but once in a while I do think, let me check to see if I have the most up-to-date firmware for my camera model. Quite often I don’t!
To discover if your firmware needs updating look in your camera’s menu and find what Firmware version you have. It will read something like Firmware Version: 1.3.1. Then look at the manufacturer’s website for your specific model and see if there is a Firmware available that has a higher number. If there is, it means there is an update available. Here are the links you need for five of the major camera manufacturers:
The exact method on firmware installation can vary according to manufacturer, but in most cases you need to download the relevant update to your computer and then load it into a formatted (empty) memory card.
Finally, put the card into the camera and install the new firmware. Your camera manufacturer will supply precise instructions with the download or have them clearly written out on their website. It’s all pretty simple and it would be very unusual for something to go wrong when you are updating. The only thing I’d suggest is that you make sure you have a fully charged battery so the update can take place without the camera running out of power.
Once done, your camera won’t suddenly start making you cups of tea or answering the phone to nuisance calls for you, but at least you’ll know you have the most up-to-date operating system you can. That’s got to be worth finding out, right?