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Is there a secret Nikon L firmware?

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L firmware? L like language database? No, we have that already. Lens database? Yes, it is a lens database introduced for the first time with the Nikon D90 DSLR according to David Busch (he is the author of several photography books). The L firmware is suppose to "allow more sophisticated distance integration" provided by current and future Nikon lenses.

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  • Aaron

    That is very interesting and a great read. TTL rangefinder on the way? Doubt it but I am very excited for the next generation of lenses that I can’t afford.

    • Placido

      Don’t see any relation between this topic and rangefinder ! Do you want to adapt your SLR lenses on a hypothetic rangefinder?

  • Blackwellj

    It is true

  • http://micahmedia.com Micah

    This is very interesting, because I’ve found that the 50/1.4D will not focus properly on any D90 when using the center focus point. It would be nice to be able to adjust this like I can on the d300. The d90 doesn’t front focus this way with other lenses I’ve tried so far, especially the 50/1.4g. My d300 actually focuses the same D version without issue.

    It’s so subtle that I wonder if it’s intentional to get people to prefer the newer lens. It would be easy for Nikon to have software settings for an older lens incorrectly to make it seem inferior.

    I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but after trying several 50/1.4D’s and G’s and d90 bodies, I found the issue to be consistent. Nikon has offered to take the body back and recalibrate it, but I can’t afford to not have a backup for the summer season. Too bad I can’t just buy a body off the shelf that works. What’s up with that NIkon?

    • Anonymous

      have you tried proper AF settings to ensure you have faulty lenses?

      • http://micahmedia.com Micah

        I used single point center point on the d90 in af-s and af-c, non-dynamic, on a tripod. The other 10 points actually focus properly. Just not the middle one. High contrast, non repeating target used. For comparison I used a zoomed in live view to focus. This is proper testing procedure as far as I’m concerned. All points on my d300 are spot on straight out of the box, with all my lenses.

        In general I try to ensure I don’t have faulty lenses. ;)

        • K Gauthier

          I had the same problem with the center focus point on the D90 I bought, using my 50mm f1.4 G lens. Very frustating to spend $900 on the body and not have a center autofocus point that works. I tried all the same tests that you did and confirmed it was a problem. Rather than exchange it for the new one and risk dealing with the same problem again, I reverted to using my D40, which has a properly functioning center autofocus point. I’m holding out for the D400, hoping that the professional build will prevent the quality control issue I had with the D90.

  • Anonymous

    oh, dang.

    i thought nikon is going to let users use canon L lenses on nikon bodies :P

  • http://www.davidarussell.co.uk/ David Russell

    I thought all this stuff about the first-party lenses having “hidden features” for future bodies was just conspiracy theorist nonsense. I stand corrected!

  • lblaod

    cool

    • Anonymous

      I am surprised NR didn’t know lenses have firmware; why write secret in this blog title ? Make firmware sexy ?

      What will be interesting is when Nikon release a body that can update the attached lens’ firmware as well as the body’s.

      • http://micahmedia.com Micah

        Most lenses that I’m aware of don’t have flashable firmware. The Sigmas that had their firmware upgraded received a new chip/board as far as I know.

        The d90 is the first cam I’ve seen that lists a separate L firmware in the camera menu. I’m curious if it modifyable. (The d300/d700/d3/d3x don’t need this function, since you can calibrate their lens setting in camera)

        I’d love to be able to fix my crooked camera myself with firmware.

        • Anonymous

          VR requires firmware and Olympus recently issued an updated firmware for one of their zooms and it doesn’t have VR/IS/OS etc – so, yes, lenses have firmware – it’s simple code contained in the onboard chip. Exif info is partly based on this firmware.

          All firmware can be modified if you can copy it out of the chip, read, write, flash it back into the chip. Big IF !

          NX2 has automatic lens correction using a database. The D90 has it too. I expect higher-end dslrs do too, but don’t have it written into their firmware as a separate L category.

          • Anonymous
          • http://micahmedia.com Micah

            As far as I know, the 50/1.4D, 60/2.8 macro, 28/1.4D and all those wonderful “D” lenses do not include a flashable chip. Flash-able memory is old tech, but it used to be reserved for more expensive complex things like desktop computers. These “cpu” lenses do indeed have a pre-programmed ROM that contains lens data, that is indeed read by the camera and stored in exif. But this memory is like an old video game cartridge. It’s ROM. Like a music cd.

            If you can point me to an article that says otherwise I’d love to see it. Flashable chips in older lenses doesn’t make sense.

            Newer G designs are contemporary with cheaper/smaller/higher capacity flash memory and the ubiquity of capable desktop computers to potentially alter it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some G and G contemporary lenses have flashable chips.

            Keep in mind that your Olympus example is for a system and mount that is younger than most of Nikon’s AF lens line.

  • Anonymous

    The L firmware in the D90 is information about lenses that the camera can use, NOT firmware in the lenses.

    • http://micahmedia.com Micah

      Bingo!

      But I still would not be surprised if there was calibration data there.

  • Gary L

    I’ve been wondering why firmware is not used MUCH more frequently to correct both, camera and lens issues, as well as add features. Yeah, I DO know of firmware upgrades, but still, glitches remain, and each body and lens is known to have certain issues, which, is what I am yapping about, being corrected.

  • Smoke

    There’s smoke in Texas

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