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How to Update Nikon Firmware

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They say an old dog can’t learn new tricks, but an old camera can, thanks to firmware. A firmware update brings new features or fixes old bugs on the camera using a free download. But the process looks a little different for different cameras.

So how do you update your Nikon firmware?

Updating firmware involves putting the updates on an SD card. You use this to transfer over and install on your camera.

You can also update firmware for more than a camera, but lenses and flashes too.

The process is straight-forward, but requires following the steps exactly. This will prevent issues with the camera because of a failed firmware update.

Here’s how to update your Nikon firmware.

Close-up photo of the top of a Nikon camera
Image by Vitaly Vlasov

What You’ll Need

You might already have everything that you need to update your camera’s firmware. The process only requires gear that you’d usually use for images and photo editing anyways.

Here’s what you need:

  • A computer
  • An internet connection
  • An SD card
  • An SD card reader (or built-in slot on your computer)
  • The camera
  • A fully charged camera battery

How to Update Nikon Firmware

1. Prep Your Camera

Don’t go straight from an all-day photo shoot to updating your firmware. Your camera might power off mid-way through the update process.

You might need to take your camera into a repair center. The camera then won’t have a full version of software installed.

Be sure to charge the camera battery before you get started. You don’t want the battery dying during the update process.

You could also choose to use an AC adapter to plug the camera in, if you have one. Most charged Nikon cameras should have plenty of battery life to complete the update.

Before getting started, you should also clear the images off of a memory card. Make sure to safe those photos in a safe place.

If you’re unsure if you even need to update your firmware, you can also check which version you currently have. Inside the camera menu, go to the setup menu, or the menu designated by the wrench icon.

Select the “firmware version” option to see Nikon firmware details. The firmware will be numbered. You can check that number against the available firmware on Nikon’s website.

This way you’ll ensure you have the latest software inside your camera or to see if you need to update.

2. Download Software From the Nikon Download Center

With any download, make sure you are getting the file straight from the source to avoid getting a virus. The same goes for downloading camera firmware.

Go to the Nikon Download Center. Next, choose the category that the gear you want to update falls under, like a DSLR or lens. In some cases, you’ll then choose a sub-category.

Finally, choose your camera, lens or other product that you want to update from the list.

On the product page, navigate to the firmware section. Click “view download page” on the most recent firmware update. On the following page, make sure to select your operating system (Windows or Mac OS). Read the license agreement and click accept to begin downloading the file.

Once downloaded, double click on the file with the .dmg extension. Then you can complete the installation.

You should then see a folder with the product name, and, inside that folder, a file with the extension .bin.

3. Transfer the Firmware to a Memory Card

With the firmware on your computer, the next step is to get the software over to the camera. Insert an SD card into the computer — the SD card should be formatted without other files on the card.

Copy the .bin file from the download over to the SD card. Drag and drop the file into the SD card’s folder or icon on your computer.

Do not place the file in any subfolders, the .bin file should be directly on the memory card.

Once the file has transferred over to the card, eject and remove the card, then insert the SD into the camera.

If your camera has dual SD slots, add the memory card to the primary slot. This is the first one by default unless you went in and changed it in the camera settings.

4. Install the Firmware Onto the Camera

With the SD card in the camera, open the camera menu and navigate to the setup menu, designated by the wrench icon. Choose the firmware option.

On the next screen, choose the update option and press okay. In the pop-up, choose yes to start the update. Follow any on-screen instructions during the update. This may vary a bit based on your camera model.

Important! You must leave the camera alone while the update installs. Nikon says you shouldn’t adjust any controls. This includes removing lenses, the SD card or battery.

The camera should also stay powered on and away from electromagnetic noise.

5. Complete the Update

Once the camera screen says that the download is complete, power off the camera. Remove the memory card.

Remember, do not turn the camera off or remove the memory card before the update is complete.

Go back into the menu and find the same sub menu that you used to download the firmware. Check the screen to make sure the firmware number listed is the one that you installed.

Before using the SD card again, be sure to format the card inside of the camera to remove the .bin file.

How to Check Accessories for Nikon Firmware Updates

Nikon firmware updates for lenses and flashes are much less common. Lens firmware often has to be updated by sending the lens in to a service centre.

Flash firmware is a DIY update.

Updating the flash firmware follows a similar process to updating the camera itself. Repeat steps 1-5 above using the flash firmware file instead.

Ensure both the camera and flash batteries are fully charged. Make sure that both the camera body and flash are powered on. And that they remain on during the update and that the flash remains connected to the camera.

More detailed instructions are available from the firmware download page for the specific flash model.

Conclusion

Nikon will release firmware to fix bugs and sometimes to add features to an older model. Keeping your camera’s firmware up to date will prevent glitches.

Some firmware, such as lens firmware, needs to be completed by a Nikon service center.

Updating the firmware on a camera body or flash is a simple download and selecting a few options from the camera menu.

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