What the New Nikon D800 Firmware Update Means for Your Photography

Posted May 15th, 2014 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

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Nikon just announced a fairly significant firmware update for the Nikon D800 and D800e cameras. The new firmware will upgrade your Nikon D800/D800e to:
A 1.10
B 1.10
L 1.004

[Click here to download your Nikon D800 firmware update: Nikon Firmware Update]

There are quite a few enhancements and fixes introduced with this new v1.10 firmware update. As usual, Nikon fixed a variety of bugs such as locking up in specific situations and fixing card errors with large capacity memory cards, but they also added a few interesting menu options into the mix. As far as I’m concerned the two most significant updates relate to the autofocus system and the movie record button.

Nikon added a new menu item, custom setting f13, that allows you to add functionality to the movie recording button and use it as another programmable button on the camera. There are three options available for menu f13.

  1. ISO sensitivity.
  2. Choose image area.
  3. Shutter speed and aperture lock.

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For my own photography, I will be programming f13 so that the movie record button activates shutter speed and aperture lock capability. This will allow me to lock shutter speed or aperture in order to prevent myself from mistakenly changing it during a shooting event. This capability has always been available in the menu system, but honestly it’s been a pain to have to go into the menu to activate the option and then exit the menu to keep shooting. Now, you can just push the movie record button and rotate a command dial to lock your shutter speed or aperture. This button will replicate the “L” button that has been on the flagship Nikon digital cameras such as the D2H, D2X, D3, D3s, D4 and D4s.

In the real world you need this capability when shooting sports or studio photography so that your camera settings don’t change in heat of the moment. For example, quite frequently when I’m photographing sports I find myself accidentally rotating a command dial, which then changes my aperture from something like f/2.8 to f/5.6. Being able to lock myself out of mistakenly making that change is a welcome update. Kudos Nikon.

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The next big change to the firmware involves the back button focus capability of camera. If you the type of photographer who uses the AF-ON button to focus, then you already know the benefits of using this method for your photography. With the previous firmware version, if you had set your camera for AF-S (single servo AF) and you had programmed the camera to use AF-ON, then the camera would take the picture whether or not the subject was in focus.

There was a custom settings menu item called a2 that allowed you to set AF-S priority selection. If you chose focus priority, then technically the camera should have prevented you from taking out-of-focus images. On the other hand, if you chose release priority, then the camera will allow you to take photographs if they were in focus or out of focus. One of the times this distinction becomes significant is when you want to create a focus trap. The concept of a focus trap is where you pre-focus on an area where the subject will be, then you wait until the subject comes into the frame while holding down the camera’s shutter release button. The camera will then take the photograph when it detects the subject is in focus.

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Now with the addition of this new firmware, the camera will wait to take photo in AF-S servo mode until the subject is in focus. This is a very subtle but significant change to the programming of the camera and will benefit mostly sports photographers and action photographers. I will have to put together a video in the near future to explain the details around using this function in the field.

There were a few more changes and improvements to the camera operation that came about because of this firmware update, but these two items that I described above are the most significant.

Here’s the entire list of firmware updates.

– Custom Setting f13 has been changed to Assign Movie Record Button.
– With Custom Setting f13 changed to Assign Movie Record Button, Assign MB-D12 AF-ON is now Custom Setting f14.
– Custom Setting f15: Assign Remote Fn Button has been added.

The following functions have been added or renamed when the D800 is used with the Communication Unit UT-1 running firmware Ver. 2.0. A Network (UT-1) option has been added to, and Wireless transmitter has been renamed Wireless transmitter (WT-4) in, the setup menu.

– Function that has been added:

HTTP server mode – Use to view the pictures on the camera memory card, or to take photographs, from the web browser on a computer or iPhone.

– Functions that have been renamed:FTP upload mode (previously Transfer mode (FTP)) – Use to upload photos and movies from camera memory cards, or to upload photos as they are taken, to an ftp server.

Image transfer mode (previously Transfer mode (PC)) – Use to upload photos and movies from camera memory cards, or to upload photos as they are taken, to a computer.
Camera control mode (previously PC mode) – Use to control the camera from a computer running Camera Control Pro 2 (available separately) and save photos and movies directly to the computer.
Support for the updated version of Communication Unit UT-1 firmware has been added.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To enable support for these functions, Communication Unit UT-1 firmware must be updated to Ver. 2.0 or later, and the Wireless Transmitter Utility must be updated to 1.5.0 or later. When camera firmware is updated, network profiles specified with earlier firmware versions cannot be used. Network profiles must be created again.
– Support for CompactFlash memory cards with capacities greater than 128 GB has been added.
– When AF-ON only was selected for Custom Setting a4 (AF activation) and the AF-ON button was pressed to initiate autofocus during viewfinder photography, focus remained locked even after the user took their finger off the button, and the shutter could be released at any time. However, specifications have been modified so that the shutter cannot be released under the following conditions if the camera fails to focus.Autofocus mode is set to AF-S (single-servo AF)
– AF-area mode is set to Single-point AF
– Custom Setting a2 (AF-S priority selection) is set to Focus
– When values for 12 or 18 lenses were stored with AF fine-tune > Saved value in the setup menu, only some of the lenses for which values had been stored were displayed under List saved values. This issue has been resolved.
– When the live view selector was set to live view photography with Custom Setting g4 (Assign shutter button) set to Record movies, a value for preset manual white balance could not be measured. This issue has been resolved.
– When the built-in flash was set to Commander mode, remote Speedlights sometimes did not fire. This issue has been resolved.
– In some rare cases, the memory card access lamp remained lit for longer than usual, and some time was required before any operations could be performed. This issue has been resolved.



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