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Update a camera's firmware

Everett Manns | March 10, 2011
Much of your digital camera, including its sensor, LCD screen, lens, buffer, and autofocus, is controlled by microprocessors running firmware.

It is extremely important to read the exact update directions for your camera carefully, as the process varies from camera to camera, is usually permanent, and if something goes wrong it cannot be easily fixed. This shouldn't discourage camera owners from updating their cameras, as the process is safe when directions are followed to the letter.

To ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible there are a couple common safety measures you can take: Always make sure to have fresh batteries in the camera and do not turn it off during the update--if this power-hungry process is interrupted, the dead batteries could equal a dead camera that will need to be serviced. And make sure you use the recommended equipment such as specific memory cards or particular brands of USB cords.

Step 5: Install the firmware

Some manufacturers make the firmware update process really simple. For example, Olympus owners can download the Olympus Digital Camera Updater application, which will automatically check a connected camera for outdated firmware and walk the user step-by-step through the update.

For most brands, however, you have to do a bit more work. The exact process varies depending on your camera brand and model, and each manufacturer provides detailed instructions on their site explaining exactly what to do when you locate an update for your camera.

The typical update process goes something like this: A compressed file or installation application that contains the firmware update (or updates, if it comes in two parts) specific to your camera is download to your computer. After downloading, the firmware can be dropped onto the top level of a blank, freshly formatted memory card. Next, eject the card from card reader, insert it into the camera, and follow the directions for initiating the update from the camera's menu.

With some brands the camera can be plugged in with a USB cord and the firmware updated directly from your computer. The camera companies that provide an updater application use this method.

If you are not comfortable updating your own firmware, or if something goes wrong during the update process, take the camera to an authorized dealer or contact customer service for your brand.


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