It’s interesting how technology moves as fast as the speed of light. It is easy to notice that just days after you purchase a new cell phone, computer, or even a camera, a manufacturer comes out with a faster, better integrated, easier to use version. As a consumer it constantly leaves you chasing your tail, trying to keep up with the latest version.
Luckily, as a trail camera user, it is comforting to know that no camera is obsolete right out of the box, as manufacturers are constantly producing free downloadable firmware, to keep your camera as up to date as possible. The process of updating firmware is 5 simple steps that will give you lasting results in the field.
To update a trail camera’s firmware, simply download the firmware from the manufacturer’s website onto an SD card. Using that SD card, transfer the firmware to your camera using the software upgrade setting, in the cameras menu.
What is Firmware on a Trail Camera?
Firmware on your trail camera is basically the software that the manufacturer installs onto the camera during the manufacturing process. The firmware to your specific camera is the coding that is responsible for making your camera function.
All features such as video, flash modes, detection, and interpolation run off the coding from the firmware on the back end of your trail camera.
Why is Firmware Available?
As technology advances at such a rapid pace, it is virtually impossible for the manufacturer to test products over a long time period. Occasionally, over time, the manufacturer becomes aware of any possible issues that the firmware might have, and offer a firmware update to correct those problems. Manufacturer’s have also been known to implement new technology into older versions, in order to provide their existing customers a better product.
Why Should I Take the Time to Upload Firmware?
If you have ever owned a smart phone, it is likely that you periodically receive update notices, where they ask to update your existing phone. The updates are typically focused around the operating systems to allow your phone to operate more efficiently. Trail camera updates work in a similar way.
In general a manufacturer puts out firmware updates to fix a current problem, prevent a future issue, or to upgrade the quality of performance to the trail camera, all free of charge. Updating firmware to a trail camera is possibly the most important factor in assuring your camera is working properly while in the field.
How to Update a Trail Camera’s Firmware
Items you will need:
- Trail camera
- Fresh Set of batteries
- Computer with internet accessibility
- SD Card
- An SD Card adapter (Only if you computer doesn’t have an SD card port)
- Owners Manual
Step 1: Find Firmware Provided by the Trail Camera Manufacturer
Not all trail cameras have firmware upgrades available. It is important to check the availability of upgrades from the manufacturer.
All firmware that is available is found on the manufacturer’s website. Provided below is the direct link to most of the more popular manufacturer’s firmware page. If your camera manufacturer is not listed, you can find it with a simple internet search.
For most trail camera manufacturers all you have to do is locate the model number printed inside the hosing unit of your camera, and match the numbers with the available firmware upgrades. Available firmware is dependent upon the year and model of the camera.
For some trail cameras, Moultrie in particular, the update code is based on the actual manufacturing date. To find this date code that coincides with the correct firmware update, you must power on your camera and check the upgrade firmware menu, under the custom start setting. You will find an upgrade code. Use that code to match up to the manufacturer’s firmware page.
DO NOT use the firmware upgrades from a different model, make, or year. Only use the upgrade that is designated for your particular camera. Failure to to do so could causes permanent damage to your camera. If you have questions about which update is right for your camera, contact the manufacturer’s tech support directly.
Step 2 : Install New Batteries
Install the fresh batteries into the trail camera. Most trail cameras on today’s market use AA batteries, although there are still a few that require type C batteries.
Step 3: Format the SD Card to Your Trail Camera
Next insert the SD card into the SD slot on the camera, then power it on. Now we are going to format the SD card. Every camera is slightly different in how they recommend to format. For most trail cameras the option is in the menu screen. It may be called format, but some manufacturers call it delete. Toggle through the menu until you find this function, and select yes.
**Warning **this will permanently delete all files Do not format a card that has any pictures, information, or data that you want to keep. I recommend downloading all files onto your computer before formatting.
Once the card is formatted, you can now turn the camera off, then eject the SD card.
Formatting and deleting are not technically the same function, and if your camera offers both, make sure you choose format. The reason we format an SD card is that it is a complete way of clearing out old files, data, and information, to reduce the risk of data corruption. It is good practice to format your SD card on a consistent basis to maintain your card’s full speed performance, preserve its storage capacity and reduce risk of storage errors.
The reason for formatting your card in the camera, rather than your computer, is that it is generally recommended for optimizing a file system for the specific camera it will be used in.
Step 4: Download The Free Firmware Update
Insert your SD card into the SD slot on your computer. Click the link on the manufacturer’s website to to download the current firmware upgrade. For most links, you can download the file directly to the SD card by selecting save as, and selecting your SD card in the sidebar on your computer’s documents folder. If saving directly to the card is not available, use the following steps:
- Download the file directly to you your computer.
- Open up the downloaded file under the documents folder
- Simply click and drag the file over to the SD Card drive
Now the firmware file should be on your SD card. To check, simply click on the SD folder under your documents folder to confirm. Now you can proceed to safely eject your SD card. Be sure to use the safe eject option before removing your SD card, to prevent any potential loss of data or corruption on the card itself.
Step 5: Transfer File to Your Trail Camera
At this point you will need your owner’s manual. Every trail camera has a different way of uploading firmware. Some you will simply need to just insert the SD card and power the camera on. Others you will have to select the software update in the menu and toggle through the options to upgrade.
Yet there are some manufacturers that require you to hold a particular button while powering on the camera. Be sure to read the instructions provided by the manufacturer and follow the steps thoroughly. If you do not have your owners manual, most companies provide a PDF of the manual on their website.
After those 5 simple steps, you now have a completely updated camera, that should be fully operational.