Nikon D3500 Firmware Update Guide

Nikon hasn’t posted any firmware updates for the D3500 yet. If they do, this is what to look for.

Nikon D3400 Firmware Update
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:
Filed Under: DSLRs

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Nikon has so far (as of February 2024) released only one firmware update for the Nikon D3500.

It’s a Distortion Control Data Ver.2.018 update released in January 2020. You can download it from this page of Nikon’s website (as well as check whether there have been any updates released since then).

The slow pace of updates isn’t unusual. The D3500’s predecessor, the D3400, has only had one firmware update even though it’s a couple of years older. And Nikon, like most manufacturers, tends to save its more cutting-edge features and tweaks for the higher models in the range.

Step-by-Step Guide on Updating a Nikon D3500’s Firmware

Updating the Nikon D3500’s firmware isn’t hard, but there are some things you need to be careful of.

Primarily, the two cardinal rules of updating firmware are:

  1. Use a fully charged battery.
  2. Don’t interrupt the update process.

The Nikon D3500’s firmware has been very stable since the camera’s release. The only update at the time of writing isn’t directly with the camera firmware but instead with the lens distortion control, which is separated into its own firmware code.

How to Check the Nikon D3500’s Firmware Version

You can find the current version under:

MENU > Setup (wrench icon) > Firmware Version

The relevant version we’re looking for here is the “C” version. Check that against the latest version on Nikon’s website.

How to Update Nikon D3400 Firmware Version-6

How to Update the Nikon D3500’s Firmware Version

There is a single method for updating the firmware of the Nikon D3500. I mention this because if you read the D3500 reference manual, it implies that you can do it through the SnapBridge mobile app. That’s not the case. The SnapBridge app will give you a “firmware update available” alert when you connect the camera, but you can’t actually run the firmware update from the mobile app.

Preparation for Nikon D3500 Firmware Update

There are a few things to do before you start the actual firmware updating process.

Firstly, use the method above to check the firmware version that’s already installed. If you already have the latest version installed, there’s no need to run it again.

You can find the version currently installed here:

MENU > Setup (wrench icon) > Firmware Version

Assuming a firmware update is called for, make sure your camera’s battery is fully charged. That reduces the risk of the update being interrupted.

It’s also worth using a freshly formatted SD card. So download any files you have on it and format the card. While it’s not strictly required, it reduces the risk of complications if you’re starting with a clean card.

1. Download the Latest Firmware from Nikon’s Website

You can find the latest firmware for the Nikon D3500 here.

Nikon makes their firmware available as self-extracting archives for Mac (.dmg) and Windows (.exe). So after you’ve downloaded the file, run it to extract the .bin file–that’s the actual firmware update file.

NOTE: Nikon releases all official firmware updates on its own website. But sometimes, you might find firmware updates for the D3500 or other cameras available through third-party sites. I’d recommend sticking only to Nikon sites for downloading the file–that’s the safest option, especially for something that’s so crucial to your camera running smoothly. And occasionally, you might come across firmware versions that have been hacked to provide or unlock additional features. They can be good, but they need to be used with caution and with the understanding that Nikon support won’t be able to help you if something goes wrong with that.

2. Copy the .bin File to the SD Card

Using a memory card reader, copy the .bin file across to the root of your SD card. Don’t bury it in one of the folders on the card–it should be at the top level. If you put it in a subfolder, the camera won’t recognize it.

It might have been extracted in a folder called DCDATaUpdate or something similar, but the file you want has a .bin file extension and will be named something like NKLD0218.BIN.

Copy that .BIN file to the root of your memory card.

Eject the memory card from your computer.

3. Insert Memory Card into D3500

With the camera powered off, insert the memory card into the camera.

4. Run the Nikon D3500 Firmware Update

IMPORTANT: If you’re running the Distortion Control Data update, as I’m doing in this example, make sure to remove the lens from the camera before running the update. That’s not necessary when running regular C firmware updates.

With the memory card in the camera, go back to the Firmware Version page.

MENU > Setup (wrench icon) > Firmware Version
Screenshot of Nikon D3500 Menu System During Firmware Update Process

You should now see a new option at the bottom: Update.

Screenshot of Nikon D3500 Menu System During Firmware Update Process

Select that, and press OK.

You’ll get a confirmation screen that shows you the from and to firmware versions.

Screenshot of Nikon D3500 Menu System During Firmware Update Process

Let the camera do its thing. It should only take a few minutes. But it’s very important that the process does not get interrupted. Interrupting the firmware upgrade process can render the camera inoperable. So it’s not a good time to be messing with any buttons.

5. Confirm the Update

Once the process has finished, you can go back to the Firmware Version screen to confirm that it shows the new version.

MENU > Setup (wrench icon) > Firmware Version
Screenshot of Nikon D3500 Menu System During Firmware Update Process

6. Format the Memory Card

To remove the .bin file and set the card up as a clean slate, format it.

How to Update Nikon D3400 Firmware Format Card When Finished

Nikon Firmware Types

Like most modern Nikon cameras, the D3500 has different categories of firmware. In the D3500’s case, you might see: LF, LD, and C (I have a more thorough post on Nikon firmware codes separately).

  • LF = Lens Firmware
  • LD = Lens Distortion Control Data
  • C = Camera Firmware

Whether you see the lens firmware options will depend on what lens you have installed at that particular moment. Only newer lenses are compatible with that feature.

Do You Really Need to Update the Nikon D3500’s Firmware?

It’s nearly always recommended that you upgrade a camera’s firmware to the latest version. That ensures you have the latest compatibility with accessories and the latest performance tweaks.

It’s very rare that a firmware update breaks something. That said, it is possible for camera manufacturers to make changes that are undesirable–an example is GoPro intentionally breaking compatibility with third-party batteries–but that’s very rare.

So I’m very much in favor of keeping a camera’s firmware up-to-date. Thankfully, though, it’s something that most camera manufacturers do relatively infrequently.

Related: Nikon D3500 Memory Card Recommendations

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David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.