Nikon firmware emulator now available

After the Nikon D5100 firmware was decrypted and we got the first unofficial "Star Wars" firmware update, there is now a full hardware emulator including screen visualizer for the Nikon D3100/D5100/D7000/D* cameras that uses the Fujitsu FR MIPS processor. This will enable anyone willing to write custom firmware routines and then test them without risking their hardware being turned to bricks. See this related flickr discussion and this forum post for more information.

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  • Gard

    Now this is getting really interesting!

    Do anyone know exactly what kind of potential this has — as in, will we be able to add new functionality to the cameras? Or is there more exploration to be done in the firmware before we can know what we can hope for?

    • WoutK89

      You can not ADD functionality, however you can improve it. If the hardware isnt there, you cannot write it in software.

      • SZRimaging

        Ever seen the hacks for the Panny or Canons? Those “add” functionality. You can add it, as long as the hardware can support it. I.E. it may be possible to add 1080P30 to the D7000, if the hardware can keep up.

        • karl

          make the OK button zoom to 100%, thank you ! 😛

          • sirin


          • Paul


        • WoutK89

          but the D7000 already does 1080. So you would improve the functionality, not really add.

      • Gard

        Well yes, I wasn’t exactly thinking about adding 20 extra megapixels or ASA-51200 or anything like that, but simple things like ASA to Fn button, 100% zoom with OK button, maybe even 25 or 30 fps in 1080, and simple things like that. The firmware updates for Canon cameras can do some pretty impressive things, like adding intervalometers and such. I’d call that adding functionality 🙂

        • Can we change the ASA/ISO to DIN? 😉

        • Calibrator

          Most of what you propose is actually pretty reasonable. I don’t see a problem with button configuration and also the 100% zoom should be doable, provided there is enough space for additional subroutines.
          An intervalometer needs a timer of some sort (either hardware or software) and lots of MPUs for such applications already have stuff like this built-in. The D7000 has an intervalometer but I don’t know how closely related it is to the 3100/5100.
          I imagine that changing video parameters is either very simple or pretty complicated: A different framerate could be within the working limits of the existing subroutines (just not enabled by default) or a completely new subroutine needs to be written. This again would need program space.
          A firmware simulator for the Nikon series is a big achievement, though, and my trust in good results has increased significantly.

      • Askb

        What kind of hardware adjustments are needed to add a function that locks all keys and buttons on the rear?

        Or one for Nikon 1 that make it possible to disable previews completely.

      • Paul

        If the hardware supports the functionality and it is locked only by software (as Canon seems to do some of their firmware), then there is the potential to unlock it. Otherwise, you can just forget about it…

  • adrian

    would be VERY interested to see this spread to the rest of the range….
    specifically imagining a cinelook/magic lantern style firmware tweak for D800 HDDSLR shooting with log style response curves and film features like zebras etc…

  • Jabilson007

    It would be useful to manually set and lock exposure for these cameras.

    • Jules

      +10000 never see the point of the focus selection point lock, if it could be used instead for exposure lock instead it would be a great advantage for studio work. I am forever knocking either shutter speed or aperture especially when using a grip.

  • enesunkie

    To be able to bracket 5 shots on the D7000 , D5100 and such would be nice.

    • Bjrichus


  • WoutK89

    Anyone with a good knowhow is maybe able to add a liveview histogram of some sorts…

    • +100000000000000000000000!

  • if driven smart coders / photographers get into this, we could see endless possibilities. Imagine having the option to turn off the right half of your sensor to record image a, and then turn off the left side of your sensor and record image b. that would be fun.

    OR take that new d800 and have more than two options in terms of FX/DX mode. maybe, instead have the option to decrease the number of megapixels to 18.15 while increasing the size of the pixels to something like 9.76 !?

    • Edit….

      size of the pixel pitch to something like 9.76 microns. : ]

      …Nikon should hold a competition of sorts. Open up their software for a week-long charette of sorts. Allowing programmers to dable in the depths of computer language and develop new platforms and uses for their cameras.

      • Rygel

        Umm, I don’t think you can’t change the physical hardware though firmware.

        • Truth. I was playing in an excited land of magic. I wonder, however, if you could group pixels in 4×4 clusters and program them to act as one. What would that even produce? just enabling people outside of nikon dev to play and test could be revolutionary.

          • Rygle

            I see. group the pixels and chop the resolution. Might improve low light, high ISO noise but at the cost of drastically reduced MP.
            Is that different for how it works now when you set the camera to a lower resolution?

            • sirin

              if there is no way to improve the FPS then chopping the resolution in camera is useless, downsizing in post would be much more delicate.

            • Michael

              Not true. Downsizing in camera does increase FPS.

            • WoutK89

              in the D800 you dont get more fps when shooting lower resolution pics.

            • an nonymous

              One can’t get more fps per se by doing pixel binning on the SW level, the sensor and chipset reading out each pixel needs to be hard wired or have ASIC functions on-board the HW for the type of pixel binning configurations we want, eg. 2×2, 3×3 etc etc, you can not correct/improve that in the firmware because the HW will set the limit.

              The link Michael provided about pixel binning has to be understood correctly, what they mean is, if we pixel bin it will render lower SNR, but for a given SNR we could also read out faster when pixel binning because 4 pixels need less exposure time than 1 pixel for the same SNR, eg. “faster”, if the HW reaches the limit any SW binning can’t improve any more, that’s all.

          • speye_21

            grouping pixels into 4×4 clusters will have no useful benefit. The output would be equivalent to shooting at 1/16th the resolution then blowing it up to fullsize. Basically just wastes electricity and CPU time to do the same job at lower quality. Would be better to shoot at lower resolution and upsize later.

            You can test this effect in any imaging software such as photoshop or professional compositing system which has a convolution filter to define your own matrix.

          • Hendog

            Small RAW would be a great option (9 or 18mp) Not often would I need the full 36mp, and the much smaller file size would speed up workflow and editing for multiple files.

      • Ray

        Changing the pixel pitch through firmware sounds interesting. Using such techniques we could also upgrade the sensor to medium format and reduce the camera weight by 200g or so.

  • Luke Zeme

    I’d like someone to decrypt nikons RAW file data the NEF files so we can use our RAWs in lightroom having them look the way they are supposed. Having to use capture or view NX at the start of my workflow is a pain in the arse

    • n/a


    • Gab

      The LR4 rendition of nef files is in many ways superior to nx2…

    • Elton

      No decryption needed. Just get the SDK and go to town.
      NEF (RAW) files
      We are offering Library Programs and File Format information for opening NEF files (RAW images) captured with a Nikon digital-SLR camera from a software application.

  • BlackWolf

    I would love to see Canon’s interface copyed over to Nikon DSLRs

  • burgerman

    >>> I wonder, however, if you could group pixels in 4×4 clusters and program them to act as one.

    You would effectively have a ultra low noise 9 megapixel D800. Oh yes, it already does that… Yawn… Been saying this in most threads that worry about 36 mpixel d800 noise for weeks.

    And it does a 20 mpixel downressed size too. Which is in between. Has the same exact effect of averaging pixels.

    • WoutK89

      But they are not full frame RAW pictures… did you read the comments on your posts, or just bitch that nobody reads yours?

      • WoutK89

        My thoughts exactly, big mouth, but to read reactions on your own post is too much for you 😛

  • RobertKrasser

    I am for sure not able to chane the Firmware, but does somebody think I can change the firmware and add the IPTC fields in the Menue like in D4? to the D90 or upcomimg D800??

    Thanks Robert

  • Anonymous Maximus

    Can somebody alter the D800 firmware later on, so that

    * it may have 24mp, 18mp & 12mp sraw options (same nef like the smaller crop ones to be recognized by software)
    * it may enable longer exposures without external cable
    * DX fps figure will be improved (looks like artificially crippled unlike FX)
    * ultra fast frame rates of video may be enabled in very small formats like CGA
    * anything else of general demand within the range of possibility from hardware

    This reminds me Android phones. For example my new phone didn’t come with a torchlight despite of the led, but a simple download made it possible without any side effect.

    Note: These sort of firmwares will certainly void warranty if detected. It may actually damage or reduce the lifespan of your product even not intended so. Therefore it may not be advisable unless you are desperate for a specific function.

    • pragjna

      exactly 🙂


      like you said, plus:

      *more fps in continuous shooting

      • WoutK89

        He already said more fps, but actually it is only probable when lowering the resolution, however the read-out time should also allow this

    • Anonymous Maximus

      Forgot to say, the pop-up flash may serve as a torchlight for emergencies by letting very frequent little bursts of light 😉

      Then it can be turned on from the camera menu as an additional funtion “torchlight on-off” or even one of the side buttons may be assigned for it.

      You may add more serious PP functions to retuch menu like perspective control, or even play Tetris if the developers wish 🙂 The hardware should allow for such a small implementations, since you have the buttons, screen, cpu & ram…

      • Anonee

        A dSLR has the components of a small computer, yet to be exploited. Even the mouse/touchpad is readily installed – the center multi-selector…

        Not sure but it may even partially run Android or Windows Mobile or a to-be-developed designated Nikon OS if tried too hard !

        PS: I’m not on drugs 🙂

        • sirin

          yes! i want to play DOOM and Angry Birds on my D800.
          (this might look really weird on the subway)

      • Michael

        I find the AF assist light a much better choice for an emergency flash light. XD

        • WoutK89

          Agreed, dont want to burn my camera!

  • A few small corrections:

    The emulator is not a “full hardware” emulator yet, but it’s getting better by the day as we workout how stuff is done.

    Also the Fujitsu FR processors are not MIPS based. Very petty points I know…

  • Anonee
  • Mike

    Just put audio levels up on the D7000 for recording video and I will be happy.

    • Jim

      This X1000. I bought a field recorder because the stupid camera has no way to monitor audio.

  • Bob

    That’s a really good stuff!
    Hope see some creative features in customized firmware soon..

  • Sean Sebastian

    D7000 firmware to allow 9 bracketed shots like my d300s please.

  • Art

    Well, one that should be really super easy to fix is the artificial limit of 29 min 30 sec on video recording.

    • double e

      how is that easy?

      • WoutK89

        And why is it useful? It would overheat the sensor and you introduce noise. Also isnt the record time pretty much memory reliant?

      • Art

        Because the max video length has nothing to do with the video file format or similar limitation. It is artificially set to avoid import duties. This value has to be stored somewhere and changing it is simply a matter of finding where the value is stored and then changing it using a standard hex editor.

        • double e

          I’m sure its more than a “value”. Rather its a set of equations relating to the clock speed of the microcontroller keeping time probably with a crystal oscillator. Embedded system design are more than just else-if statements if you think its as easy as command + f finding the record limit.

          • Art

            That would still be stored as a value. Equations don’t have much meaning until you put values into them. Odds are it is stored as total seconds or clock cycles.

            Btw: I do software development for a living. (While I have a new venture that I do as well, it is software development that brings home the bacon.)

  • Photoaixmars

    Could that help to fully document Nikon Raw files? I dream of lightroom or aperture fully use Nikon ORF….

    • WoutK89

      the NEF are in a different file than the firmware, I would assume

  • dominik

    Could you make it with the D3s ? Pleaaaase !
    My wishes :
    – video 1024 x 720 : unlocking the video recording beyond 5mn (20mn will be better !)
    – video 1024 x 720 : unlocking 60fps
    – zoom buttons : I would like to magnify without using my two hands !
    And more…

    • WoutK89

      do you even use the camera in movie mode? 1024×720 is not supported in your camera. However it does do 1280×720!

  • mikus

    there is petition for the nikon d7000

    but i want to know if nikon know about this , and if no , how we can make our voices heard from Nikon

    • WoutK89

      you cant. The only way is boycotting buying a camera… dont think there will ever be enough people to support that however

    • double e

      nikon knows about it, and nikon solution was the d800 and d4

  • Of course, as Simeon said, it’s far from “full” (only CPU/RAM/Screen are emulated now, no buttons for example) and we’re still far from understanding each and every detail of the firmware, but we’re making slow progress, so if you have time and skills to help, don’t hesitate to join us on
    There is a dedicated “Feature requests” forum but then again, there’s still work to implement any of them right now, so don’t set your expectations too high.

  • an nonymous

    I’m quite sure we could get very high fps on the D7000 as soon as the firmware has been fully figured out, the today’s HW used for handling also video have much more capacity, though the HW, memory speed and the mirror mechanics all together will set an upper limit.

    BTW, silent mode would be very nice for discrete photography!!

    • WoutK89

      Why would you need even more fps, when what you need is a bigger buffer?

  • This is way cool. I can see some things being added like a quiet mode where the return of the mirror is slightly delayed.

  • Bubba Satori

    Increase AEB adjustment choices to 2 or 3 EVs and 5, 7 or 9 shots on the D5100 and D7000.

  • So, would anyone have an idea of WHEN something like this would be available? A bracketing of 5, 7 or 9 frames would be a great addition on the D7000…

    • That is a question no one can answer now.
      There is a long way, but we’ve gone a long way too.
      All I can say is that it will be faster if more people come and help.
      Skilled people in hardware/assembly language would be great, but another way to help, for example, would be to provide us with broken hardware at a decent price. If you want to get rid of non-working gear, have a look at this thread :

  • lock

    How about multiple focal length specific AF adjustment values for zooms ?

  • Carsten

    I would love when camera-makers would stop the secrecy and publish a SDK where everyone could script functions, perhaps an emulator that will verify the code and sign it to prove that it won’t perform harmful instructions – then the functions can be shared and the community can build there own firmware.

    Why are Photoshop/Lightroom so popular? Great “hardware” and a plugin interface that allows adding functions you need.

    Time that Canikony get this.

    OK, this will take the fun out of the hacking, but will add value for many

  • Charles

    I’d love to see the addition of a 2-stop step for bracketing: -2, 0, +2 so HDR series don’t waste time and shutter clicks.

  • tonya

    i only brought the canon 550d because it could be hacked in firmware.. the magic lantern hacks make using video far better for our needs as videographers. in other words the hacks are giving us essential features us video guys require to do our job properly. Canon learnt after the 7d was released not to block the hacked firmware again.. so all the cameras that came after the 7d like the 600d and 60d have hacks now also.. improving the overall experience of using their cameras now to a higher level.. so canon understands the power of the hacks and behind closed doors doesn’t mind how far users want to push their rigs… this’ll blow your mind – i even showed the magic lantern hack to one of their firmware developers – and he loved it and still uses it on his 550d… he thought it was great and even he could see why leaving the gates open has its advantages at no risk to the company. he also just brought a panasonic gh2 to test out how their hacks work also..

    same go’s for panasonic,
    i’m just about to buy 4 of their gh2’s and a couple of gf3’s to shoot a feature length doco starting end of march in China for 3-6months.. , so the gh2’s are looking like a go, just purely because they have been hacked and in the case of the gh2, the actual video quality is improved over other functions like we got on our magic lantern hacks, i.e.: zebra strips and focus tools and variable frame rates, no agc etc etc.. however the magic lantern hack doesn’t improve video quality like the gh2 hacks do.

    With the gh2 hacks – it makes the video higher quality then stock, and better then the old 5dmk2 by a long shot and for under $700usd.

    This is just the beginning too, there’s a lot of filmmakers out there like myself who don’t care which companies tools we use, as long as it does the job the way we require them to, then we are good to go. IF magic lantern comes to the 5dmk3, i’ll probably replace all the gh2’s with 5dmk3’s – if and when.. magic lantern has made the 5dmk2 useable – without the hack – not so much fun to use.. so looking forward to seeing some good hacks for the nikons now.. it’ll be an interesting experience and i might even grab a couple of d7000’s if the hacks add magic lantern like features to it.. if they can hack the d800’s then its party time, as i love their clean hdmi out.. but waiting for a softness test v 5dmk3 v gh3 + hack… who gets my money ??

  • Gonzo

    Where are all the trolls and haters? I thought 200+ of you proved firmware hacking was pure hellspawn three months ago and wouldn’t go anywhere…

  • wfwfsdc

    I would like to have a firmware update made for the nikon v1 or j1. In those cameras firmware restricts severly the functioning when used together with the adapter ft1 and ordinary nikons. For example, af c stopps to work and one can only use the central af field. Furthermore, the v1 does not accept sigma lenses with os… in the v1/j1, there is much what one could hack…

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