What are firmware updates, and do I really need to install them?

Fujifilm X-T3
Firmware updates can really extend the useful life of a camera, as we saw with the Fujifilm X-T3's big autofocus upgrade in 2020. (Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Periodically you might get an email from your camera maker or read a story on Digital Camera World that says a firmware update has been issued for your camera. It sounds important, so do you have to act straight away, will something bad happen if you don’t and how, exactly, do firmware updates work?

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com