D5100 firmware/software upgrade required?

edited June 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hi, as my username suggests I am a total camera dunce, and at seventy years of age I am unlikely to get too much better. The green 'auto' setting is the only one I am really familiar with to be honest. Anyway, my question is this - I have a D5100 which I bought new like eighteen months/two years ago. I do a reasonable amount of dog walking in the woods/fields near my house and have seen two types of deer, buzzards, red tailed kites, kestrels and so on. As you can guess, I would like a long lens to capture these. I can't get even nearly close enough with the kit lenses my camera came with! Research suggests that the new-ish Tamron 150-600mm is about the best long reach lens I can afford. Thing is, would I need to download a firmware/software upgrade to use this lens? Again, research suggests I would, so I tried to install the upgrade, but my technophobia got the better of me and I had to give up. If I would need the upgrade, would anyone be kind enough to lead me through the process using very short words? Be gentle people, I bruise easily.


  • edited June 2015
    I don't think you should need any firmware upgrade for this lens. There are two firmware programs in the camera. One is the general firmware, which governs how the camera functions, and there have only been two versions of this; 1.01 and 1.02. Check in the camera's menu (last entry on last page of the setup menu) to see which one you have. Version 1.02 addressed a few small issues, but not lens compatibility.

    The second firmware program is lens distortion data. This is not necessary for using a lens, but if the data is up to date, you can automatically correct the distortion that is peculiar to that lens. Turning that option on is a menu choice, but Nikon's distortion data base applies only to Nikkor lenses anyway. The latest version is 1.009.

    There have been some firmware upgrades to the lens itself, but as far as I know there was none to the Nikon version except one that involves vibration reduction while panning, but that was done some time ago, so a new copy should already be updated.

    The lens in question should be completely compatible with your camera out of the box.

    If your camera already has version 1.02 of the basic firmware, it's done. If it's 1.01, you might wish to upgrade, but if you have had no problems yet you probably do not need to. Ignore the distortion database unless you are getting new Nikkor lenses, and even then it's optional.

    I have heard good things about this lens in general, but it does come up defective occasionally, so make sure you have a good dealer who can address any issues. You also should be aware that it's pretty big. Be careful how you carry it, so as not to stress the camera's mount. It is likely you should carry the rig by the lens, not the camera body, and always on a tripod use the foot on the lens, not the camera. A camera carries a small lens. A camera is carried by a big one.

    And if you are planning to shoot wildlife, even if you need some automation you should try to get out of green mode. You will get better results if you choose your own ISO, use more accurate auto focus, and keep the flash down. If you don't want to deal with shutter speed and aperture, put it in "P" mode.
  • edited June 2015
    Hi @BRUTO, many, many thanks for your painstaking and thorough reply. It is obvious that you are knowledgeable to a degree that I can only dream of, so if you could spare a little grey matter for a transplant, I would be forever grateful.

    Anyway, silliness apart, I have looked in the menu as you directed, and I have versions (A) 1.01, (B) 1.01 and (L) 1.006. I would like to upgrade to the 1.02 version, purely because like most numpties, I would have nagging worries if everything about my kit was not up to scratch, whilst being in denial of the fact that my lack of knowledge was the real issue! It would also seem that the lens related firmware is way out of date if the latest version is 1.009, so I absolutely need to address that as well. It would seem that there are certain distortion issues with this lens, so best get it sorted.

    I have looked on the Nikon site for instructions on how to do this, and quite quickly hit the mental brick wall that my two remaining brain cells have erected to block out damaging (to them) technical jargon. Basically, if the instructions contain/omit stuff which the writer assumes would be common knowledge and understood by everyone, then they haven't met me yet (which is probably just as well for their own sanity).

    I recently purchased a fairly expensive book from Amazon, 'Nikon D5100 for idiots', or something like that, which claimed to contain everything you could ever wish to now about that camera. True to form for my luck, it turned out that the author did not feel, in her wisdom, that firmware upgrade procedures came under that 'everything' claim, so she omitted it. You couldn't make it up, could you? I have also inquired at local camera clubs, and oddly (or perhaps not so odd) they do not have 'instruction for beginners' sections, being merely gatherings of enthusiasts who go off on shoots, compare results, compete with each other and so on. Fair enough I suppose.

    So, if you or another would be kind enough to type out the instructions for the procedure for downloading and transferring those firmware updates from laptop to camera etc. (wording it as though addressing a five year old, and then dumbing it down a bit), I would again be forever grateful. I know it's a lot to ask, but there seems no other way for a technophobe like myself to get help on the two items I require knowledge of to pursue my dreams, i.e, cameras and laptops.

    Thanks guys, Dave.
  • edited June 2015
    I just did the firmware update on my D3200, although the problem it addresses has not been an issue; did it just in case.

    First of all, I would skip the lens distortion profiles unless you're buying new Nikon lenses or unless you're bothered by lens distortion in specific ones, but that is up to you.

    As for the firmware, here is the basic procedure:

    You will need a memory card, and a card reader that works on your computer. If you computer has a built in reader that is reliable, use that.

    First of all, obtain a memory card and freshly format it in the camera.

    Now go to the Nikon site and download the firmware from the link. You'll get a file with an "exe" suffix, an executable file. This is not the firmware file to install yet. If you have this file somewhere already, then you can follow directions from here.

    Once you have downloaded the file to the computer, place it in a folder of its own. You can simply right click on the desk top, and on the option there, make a "new folder". If you have difficulty remembering what things are, rename the folder as you like. I called mine "nikon firmware". If you are doing both files at once, you should download the second one to the same folder.

    Now, with the EXE file in the folder, run the EXE file. Give the computer whatever permissions it requires. When it's done, your folder will now contain the original EXE file, and a subfolder which is probably called "D5100 Update". Inside that folder will be the file you really want, which in this case will be called something like "D5100_0102.bin". In any case, it will have an extension of "bin" on it. If you have already done this and already have the "bin" file, you can follow directions from here. If you have downloaded both files and run both EXE programs, then you should end up with two different "BIN" files.

    The BIN file is the file you want, and you will now copy that file to the memory card.

    If you insert a memory card in the computer, the "auto play" function should automatically open an explorer window. Click on the "view files and directories" option. Now also click on the folder you put on the desktop. Another, similar explorer window will open for that. You should now have two explorer windows open on the computer at the same time. Open the folder containing the BIN file, and simply drag the BIN file to the icon for the card, and drop it there. Do not drag it to any sub-folders such as DCIM. Put it on the memory card's root directory, in other words, just drag and drop it to the memory card itself, not to any of the folders within the memory card which the camera has created.

    You can also do this all in a single explorer window. Open Windows Explorer, and navigate to the folder containing the "BIN" file, and simply drag and drop it to card's main drive icon.

    For this procedure to work correctly, the "bin" file must be on the card's root directory, and not in any folder.

    Make sure your camera's battery is freshly charged.

    Now, if you put the memory card back in the camera, and open the menu where you find the firmware information, you should find a new option, to update the firmware. On the screen you'll see the old and new versions by number. Select the new one, and follow directions, and it should install. Do not turn it off or do anything while it's doing this. It will tell you when it's done, and tell you to turn the camera off.

    You can then reformat the card. When you reopen the menu, it should show the new number, and not contain any update options. If you're confident that this has happened correctly, you can delete the folder in your computer.

  • edited June 2015
    @BRUTO, that looks like something even I can cope with. Famous last words I know, but I am certainly going to give it my best shot, once I have the required. You are an absolute star, and I find it is so refreshing to find good folk these days; folk willing to help others, it restores your faith in human nature. I had almost given up on that! Huge thanks, I will talk again once I have cracked this. Cheers, Dave.
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