Firmware First!

To kick things off here at the new Big Stretch Photography Blog, I’m going to talk about the importance of your camera’s firmware, something that most amateur photographers that I teach have no clue about. So, what’s Firmware, you might rightfully ask? Well, it’s basically your camera’s Operating System. No camera is perfect (I look forward to your angry comments/emails), so as bugs are discovered in almost all camera models (not literally, but they can be just as annoying) the manufacturer will release a software, or firmware update to correct for said bugs. But they don’t stop at simply fixing issues. Via your camera’s firmware, they can also add features and functionality to your camera. For instance, with the second firmware release for one of my cameras, the Pentax K5, the manufacturer actually increased my FPS (frames per second) when shooting in RAW from 7 to 8 FPS. Tres cool, no?

When it comes to checking which firmware version is currently loaded on your camera, every manufacturer does it a little differently, so check your camera manual’s index or table of contents for the word firmware to see where you can find it on your camera. Once you’ve found out which version is currently loaded on your camera, a quick google search like: “Canon (your model) firmware” should result in a direct link to the manufacturer’s website right up near the top of the results. I strongly recommend downloading it from the manufacturer’s official website. Others may offer it for download, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, IMHO. You need only download the latest version of the firmware, as that will have all previous updates integrated into it. Once you download and unzip it, there will be a “read me” file included that will guide you through the process of updating your camera’s firmware. Again, this varies among manufacturers. Just make sure you have a fully charged battery in your camera before you start. The update usually doesn’t take long, but if your battery dies during the update process you could end up with a very expensive paperweight, and we certainly don’t want that.

It’s actually quite easy to do, and you never know, something that might have been annoying you about your camera may have simply been a bug… A bug that has since been fixed, via firmware.


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