dSLR Firmware Upgrades — Is This Trip Really Necessary? - dummies

dSLR Firmware Upgrades — Is This Trip Really Necessary?

By David D. Busch

The dreaded firmware upgrade That’s the procedure where you, the intrepid camera owner, deigns to replace your beloved dSLR’s operating system (the Windows/Mac OS/Linux-equivalent software residing inside the camera) with a supposedly bigger, better, more bug-free version.

Supposedly. Unfortunately, dSLR firmware upgrades have been known to introduce bugs of their own, and more than once, a vendor has rushed to issue an emergency replacement upgrade in as little as a week following the company’s most recent “enhancement.” Caveat preemptor!

Typically, as soon as one of these firmware magic potions appears, a critical mass of bloggers, gurus, and “authorities” will urge you to rush to install these fixes as soon as you possibly can. DON’T. Vendors have unveiled some firmware updates that created new problems, which can afflict those who had previously had no difficulty using their cameras. The cure is sometimes worse than the disease — and you might not even have the disease in the first place.

Unless you’re having a specific problem that is fixed by one of the current firmware releases, the wise move is to wait two weeks and allow all the other owners of your camera to beta test the upgrade on your behalf. In the past, that’s been long enough to see whether a particular firmware upgrade works and doesn’t have bad side effects. Then, when the pioneers have arrived safely at their destinations, or have pulled firmware arrows out of their backs, you can go ahead and upgrade. Bad firmware is extremely rare, but it’s best to avoid problems in the first place.

Yes, a firmware upgrade can add new features, fix bugs, and admit you to the club of cool gearheads who have the very latest software installed in their cameras. But it may be even cooler to not rush in where dSLR angels fear to tread.