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Nikon D2x Firmware Update Experiences

About a month ago, Nikon posted an updated firmware version of for the D2x. While I never really experienced any problems with my camera with the original firmware, I have now had time to test out the new version and am happy to report that Nikon has indeed made a good thing even better.

First though, if you have a D2x and haven't updated your firmware yet, now is the time to do so. If you are unsure what you have right now, scroll down to the Firmware Version option at the bottom of the camera's Setup menu. The original version was, naturally enough, 1.00. The new version is 1.01. Don't let the modest increase in version number tempt you into not upgrading. It's simple, and it's worth it.

Make sure your battery is charged or your camera is plugged in with the EH-6 AC adapter. Then drop by Nikon's website to download the update. Nikon USA has the Windows version here and the Mac OS version here. Locations in other countries vary.

For Windows, the download is called Mac users that prefer Stuff-it can download D2xfw101.sit instead. In either case, uncompressing the contents will yield a "D2X Update" folder containing the two actual firmware files, AD2X0101.bin and BD2X0101.bin, along with a release notes text file.

One at a time, you'll need to get each firmware bin file onto a compact flash card in your camera. I used a card reader, but if you are a fan of connecting via USB, that will work as well. The larger of the two firmware files is less than four megabytes so the size of the card doesn't matter. I went the CF card reader route and used a separate card for each file. If you want to use a single card, just format the card after each so you start with a clean card. You need to have a single bin file in the root directory of the CF card for the camera to recognize it. If you put it in a sub-folder, the camera won't find it. If you put both files on the card at the same time, it won't work either. You have to do one file at a time. Using two cards meant that I could prepare both cards before embarking on the actual update process, but this is not a requirement.

Once you have the card with the "A firmware" bin file on it in the camera, go to the Firmware Update option on the Setup menu. Underneath the display of your camera's current firmware version, you should find a "Version Up" option. If you don't see it, check that your card is prepared correctly as described in the previous paragraph. Select "Version Up" and press the thumb pad multi-selector to the right to access the update option. Your current version along with the version found on the CF card will be shown. Confirm your intent to update the firmware by highlighting the "Yes" choice and pressing the Enter button. The firmware will now update; leave your camera alone while it does. Do not turn it off and don't do anything else with it either. This should take no more than a couple of minutes (Nikon claims two to five minutes but mine was at the low end). When done, the display will change to "Update completed. Turn camera off." At this point, it is safe to do what it says. Turn the camera off and remove the compact flash card.

Repeat these steps for the "B firmware" bin file. When finished with both, check the firmware version again to make sure both A and B banks show 1.01. If all looks good, re-format the card(s) you used and you're done.

Nikon claims the updated firmware fixes the following reported problems:

  • Autofocus performance has been increased.
  • An issue that prevented the AF-assist illuminator from firing when the Speedlights listed below were used has been corrected. Speedlights effected: SB-29s, SB-29, SB-23, SB-22s, SB-22, SB-20
  • In images captured at a shutter speed of 1/250s with a Speedlight SB-800, set to Distance-priority manual flash (GN), or Manual flash (M) with flash output set to full (M1/1) mounted on the camera, the top portion was often dark. This issue has been addressed. However, under the circumstances described above only, the guide number is reduced from that of full flash output level by approximately 0.6 EV.
  • Images captured at white-balance settings of Incandescent, Direct sunlight, Cloudy, Shade, and Choose color temp. tended to have a reddish tint. This issue has been addressed.
  • Errors in Dutch menus have been corrected.

My experience can definitely confirm the AF performance improvement. While I never really experienced AF issues previously, I was pleasantly surprised that auto-focus was even better after the upgrade. This thing reliably locks right onto both stationary and moving subjects, even in reasonably dim lighting. Those who had reported D2x focus issues now also seem to be pleased with things. Whatever the source of the problem, not all cameras exhibited AF issues to the same degree, but all seem to now be performing at peak levels after the firmware update.

After the AF performance tweak, the color temperature fix is the most frequently mentioned other improvement. I shoot virtually everything in RAW and often adjust white balance anyway, so this has never really been an issue for me, but D2x owners who shoot mainly jpeg format have confirmed that Nikon hit the mark with this change as well.

The Speedlight fixes mentioned by Nikon are fairly specific in nature. I had been unaware of these issues previous to the release of the new firmware, but have read reports on the web from users who say their flash problems were indeed fixed with this update.

Some users have also reported a decrease in noise at high ISO settings. Maybe Nikon fixed more than they are letting on or perhaps the circumstances for these users weren't the same as when they experienced the issue and the firmware change had nothing to do with the improvement.

And I don't speak Dutch so I have no confirmation on the menu fix at all.

Update 10/05/2006 - Firmware 2.0.0 for the Nikon D2x is now out on Nikon's website. Well worth the free update. The procedure involved is the same as outlined here.

Date posted: December 4, 2005 (updated October 5, 2006)


Copyright © 2005, 2006 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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