Firmware 1.3

My Firmware 1.3 Summary. Last update 03/08/2000

What is fixed, added, broken, not fixed or changed.

These are my own unofficial lists and personal opinions. I do not have any affiliation with Nikon. This is not official Nikon approved information. Do not concentrate and inhale. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading. Remain on that side of the fence line. Vehicle may go out of control and roll over.

I will try to keep this list as up to date as possible. I have verified all of these items myself, except as noted (I will attempt to verify all the reports myself eventually) . e-mail me with corrections or your own observations!

Common Misconception.

Firmware 1.3 only fixes manual focus problems induced by installing previous firmware versions ON SOME CAMERAS. It does not improve any other focus problems that you may be having. If you have never upgraded the firmware, for example if you still have 1.0, 1.3 will not help your focus problem if you have one. It does not help the camera focus better under normal situations. (There is an improvement to the macro focus mode that was introduced in 1.2).

Minor changes.

If you are upgrading your camera from version 1.0 or 1.1, you will want to look at the Firmware 1.1 and Firmware 1.2 pages to see what the major changes will be. Firmware 1.3 appears to be a bug fix version of 1.2.

Should you upgrade to 1.3?

Just my opinion...

If you have 1.0 or 1.1, then I would upgrade to take advantage of the new features and white balance in 1.2 and 1.3.

If you have factory 1.2, I would not upgrade unless the one problem that was present in factory 1.2 bothers you.
1.3 mainly fixes two things. 1) Some cameras that were field upgraded to 1.1 or 1.2 had manual focus problems (If you have factory 1.2, this does not apply to your camera). 2)  If you select manual white balance in the exposure lock feature (for panoramas) then your shots might turn out all (real) green, red or blue. If you never use the manual white balance in the exposure lock feature (if you just use automatic), then you probably never even noticed this. Unless this bothers you, I would not make the effort to upgrade to 1.3, wait for 1.4, ha.

Official announced changes.

(I have paraphrased them here, look on the Nikon site for the official list).

* Manual focus fix for cameras with problems caused by prevous firmware.

* Fix for green shots bug in "aperture priority mode with manual white balance"

* Manual white balance not reset by changing to aperture priority mode.

Status of the announced changes.

* Manual focus fix

Well, this sure fixed my camera! The manual focus is now spot on. In addition, the manual focus distances are now correct, even at full zoom! Quite a nice fix. The Nikon BBS page says that the 1.3 version will only fix "some cameras", so it is possible that some cameras will still have to go back to service, or maybe they just don't want to imply that all types focus problems that a camera might have will be fixed.. I would be very interested in hearing about your experiences with this problem to put on this page, e-mail me!

Some preliminary reports are coming in. Two users report that 1.3 did NOT fix their manual focus problems. Many report that the problems are now fixed. One user who had had their focus adjusted by Nikon after the 1.2 upgrade spoiled it reports that the 1.3 update did not spoil the focus, it is still good. One report that this also fixes focus for the fisheye lens. I consider myself fortunate that my camera has been fixed.

* Green shot fix.

The funny thing about the official announcement is that the problem was only reported as a problem with the auto exposure lock with manual white balance, not as a problem with aperture priority mode. I tried to make the problem happen in aperture priority, but could not.  There may of course be some combination that I did't hit on that caused the problem in aperture mode. The AE lock problem appears to be fixed.

* Manual white balance not reset by changing to aperture priority mode.

I never knew that it was! This appears to be related to the AE lock white balance fix.

Things that people might have hoped would have been fixed, but are not. (See the 1.2 firmware page for the details on all of these items.)

* Telephoto zoom on turn on is still the same, unchanged. *&#^*&$

* LCD still does not flash out of range on my camera when monitor is turned off.

* Flash mode changes by itself in A-Rec mode with LCD off.

* Manual focus distances are still wrong with the TC-E2 attached, even if you pick the telephoto lens setting.

For example, the TC-E2 infinity focus is not the "inf" or mountains setting. The lens focuses best at  on far away objects at the 10 foot manual setting on my camera. (This was the 30 foot setting before the 1.3 upgrade). An object 15 feet away focuses best at the 3 foot setting, etc.  To take your own test shots, set your camera to aperture priority wide open so that your can see the effects better.  The manual focus settings are fixed for use without the TC-E2 however.

* All other bugs shown on the 1.2 page appear to still be there. I will be testing further.


Unconfirmed reports of problems.

* Low light focus is poor after 1.3

There have been a few people reporting that the camera low light focus is poor after the 1.3 upgrade. I am not convinced that it is actually any worse than before. I have asked for specific details  (exposure information to get light levels) from the people reporting the problem, but have not received a single reply in over three months as of this date (03/08/2000).  Convince me! Here is how you can convince me.

Since the term "low light" is very subjective, here is how to test your own camera's low light performance so we can compare. This will measure the EV of the dimmest scene that your camera can focus on.

* Pick a high contrast target. The object should be a few feet away to avoid the minimum focus distance of the camera.  The object has to have some vertical component, since the camera only uses vertical features to determine focus. I used a dark wood shelf against a white wall.

* Use default ISO.

* Turn off the flash

* Set aperture mode wide open. (this turns off auto ISO on ver 1.3)

* Camera in S&AF single focus mode.

*  Place the high contrast area in the center of the viewfinder. Start focusing!

* Reduce the light until you can just focus reliably. Take a shot.

* Examine this shot in Play mode to get the shutter speed and f-stop.

Use the formula EV=log(f*f/t)/log(2) to calculate the EV of the scene, or report the values to me.

My camera will focus all the time down to EV=5. It will focus most of the time with a few retries down to EV=3. At EV=2, it will rarely or never focus.  If your camera will not focus at EV=5 with contrasty objects, then it might have a problem. If you are talking about focus in lower light, or with a diffuse subject, then you probably don't have a camera that is any worse than mine is anyway!

* Mystery lockup in LCD OFF mode in M-REC.

"DB" reports the following lockup on his camera. Since it is very similar to other "LCD OFF" bugs, I wonder if it could be another bug. Not as many people run in the LCD OFF mode, so that might be why we never hear about this.  I could not reproduce it on my 950, but then again my camera has the "LCD will not flash out of range with the LCD monitor off" bug but others do not, so this might be a similar situation. Anyway,. here is how he locks up his camera (so that the batteries have to be removed). I'd like to hear any other reports of this. Try it!

* Set "LCD OFF" in the controls menu.

* Switch camera off, then on. Go directly to M-Rec, don't start in A-Rec.

* Zoom to wide.

* Zoom in a little.

* Zoom back to wide

* Half press to focus.

* Zoom back out, zoom to wide, half press, repeat until lockup.

He reports that about 3 tries will usually lock his camera up. If he does not do these steps, say starting in A-Rec instead, it will not lock up.  Can anyone make this happen? e-mail me!


Other changes with 1.3.

None that are known yet! 1.3 appears to be 1.2 with a couple of bug fixes.