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You might not think of it as such, but your camera is as much a computer as your laptop or games console. Within its tiny frame beats a hyper-intelligent heart, capable of performing the brutal maths needed to compress incoming, Full HD video into a format storable on an SD card, or applying filters to RAW images. And, just like your laptop or tablet, every now and then the operating system at the heart of your camera will benefit from an update – and because this update lives on your camera’s permanent internal memory, it’s known as a firmware update.

WHY?

Often, firmware updates make almost invisible changes. They might correct the odd spelling error in a buried menu system, for example, or repair a rarely-spotted bug. Sometimes, however, firmware updates add important new features that can change how you use your camera or what you can use it for. For example, the 4.0 version of the firmware in the Olympus OM-D E-M1 provided users with lots of new toys, such as a 4K timelapse mode, focus bracketing – focus stacking – and a silent shooting mode. Users who haven’t updated their camera’s firmware for a while stand to miss out.

IS IT SAFE?

Without functioning firmware, your camera is a good-looking paperweight, and it’s possible the fear of updating your camera’s firmware has put you off in the past – the words, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may have passed your lips. However, updating the firmware in an Olympus camera is easy and safe. We recommend making sure your camera has a fully-charged battery before you embark on the process, and make sure you don’t turn your camera off or push any buttons while the update is taking place. The odds of anything going wrong are tiny – and the benefits could be huge.

HOW?

Updating your OLYMPUS camera’s firmware is simple – it’s all done over USB via OLYMPUS’ Digital Camera Updater, which is available for both Macs and PCs, and which you can get by clicking here.

Use a USB cable to connect your camera to your computer and open the Camera Updater. It will detect the camera you have attached, and check online to see if there’s newer firmware than what you already have – eliminating the possibility of you accidentally installing the wrong firmware, or attempting to roll your camera back to earlier software.

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You’ll see a license agreement and a few confirmation dialogue boxes – assuming you agree to everything your camera will update. We recommend a cup of tea at this point.

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When everything’s done there’ll be a final confirmation dialogue box – take this as your prompt that you’re now a pro OLYMPUS user and, most importantly of all, go and use your newly rejuvenated camera!

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Now you’ve got your camera into top gear, come and figure out how to use it with the pros – check out our upcoming Events and Photowalks to see if we’re headed to your area of the world.