Nikon D500 Firmware 1.02

Nikon has issued a second firmware update to address the “card not usable” issue that has resulted with some SD cards. Nikon states that firmware 1.02: "Addressed an issue that sometimes caused errors with certain UHS-II SD memory cards. As we were able to confirm that these were read errors arising not in the camera but in the cards themselves, we addressed the issue with a work-around that switches temporarily to UHS-I mode when a card-side error occurs in UHS-II mode. The camera switches back to UHS-II mode when turned off and then on again or when the standby timer restarts. Card-side read errors may still occur after the update, albeit very infrequently.” 

This is what is called a “fallback” routine in software parlance. The software (firmware) tries to do something—view an image on the card—and receives an error. Instead of just reporting the error now, the software retries using a lesser method of addressing the card (e.g. UHS-I instead of UHS-II). The camera will continue to use the slower method until such time as you either turn the camera on and off, or the meter deactivates, at which point the D500 will once again try to use UHS-II for the card. 

Since this is primarily a “read” problem on the D500 (e.g. image review), slowing down to UHS-I speed really isn’t a liability. But note that the card stays in UHS-I mode until a deactivation event occurs. So if you were shooting along, stopped to review an image, then immediately started to shoot again, the D500 is now using UHS-I to address the card during shooting! Your buffer performance is going to change. UHS-I max write speed is 104Mbps, while UHS-II max write speed is 312Mbps. 

If this is indeed a card problem as Nikon suggests, then we all probably need some replacement cards to get full performance out of the camera. However, I’m still a bit skeptical about this. I’ve seen the problem on Lexar, SanDisk, Transcend, and even a Sony UHS-II card now, and I’ve seen it with an XQD card, as well (no SD card in camera). I find it a little difficult to believe that everyone got their UHS-II cards wrong. But maybe they did. I’m sure that there’s a lot of back channel talk in the SD Association about this. 

Nikon D500 firmware page

I’ve also updated an earlier page on the blog with this information.

text and images © 2020 Thom Hogan
portions Copyright 1999-2019 Thom Hogan-- All Rights Reserved
Follow us on Twitter@bythom, hashtags #bythom, #dslrbodies