Nikon D5200 firmware bugs

I like my Nikon D5200.  But it has some bugs.  Serious ones.  For example:

Hard-hang the entire camera

This doesn’t appear to cause any permanent damage, but you will either have to wait a couple of minutes for it to finally recover on its own, or yank the battery to hard reboot it.  The only thing that works while it’s hung is autofocus.  Which is weird.

The following steps assume a Nikon D5200 at factory settings.  There are other ways to trigger this, variations of the steps below, and there could be ways to prevent it – I haven’t tested it that extensively.

  1. Press the “Menu” button.
  2. Scroll down to the last tab (“Recent Settings”).
  3. Within that tab, scroll down to and select the “Choose tab” option and switch to “My Menu”.
  4. Select “Add items”.
  5. Choose the “Shooting” menu.
  6. Add any item.  e.g. “Active D-Lighting”.
  7. Hit “OK”.
  8. Hit “Add items”.
  9. Scroll all the way down past the last item (“Movie settings”). Or alternatively hit up once (to wrap around) and then down again. Doesn’t really matter what you do so long as you hit down while “Movie settings” is selected.

I’ve reproduced this with multiple D5200 bodies.  But Nikon Support, while friendly and seemingly genuine, claim they cannot reproduce it at all.

AF-C focus-priority simply does not work

The camera operates exactly the same whether set to focus or release priority – it takes the shot regardless of whether it’s in focus or not.

This is actually a well-known issue throughout the interwebs, and affects all recent Nikon bodies (D3200, D600 & D800… and presumably the D7100, though I haven’t checked).  It’s in violation of common sense and the camera’s own manual.

I reported this to Nikon Support also, but got someone different from the prior bug, whom was vaguely condescending and ultimately useless.

Use of the AE-L/AF-L button for AF-ON is unreliable

This is the most insidious bug by far.  This results in genuine data loss, because it’s easy to trigger in normal use and it can be very hard to tell, at the time, that it’s occurring.  I have lost many shots because of this bug.

  1. Open the LCD.
  2. Use the AE-L/AF-L button to autofocus.
  3. Take a photo.
  4. While the image is on the LCD for review, half-press the shutter button in order to return to shooting.
  5. Press AE-L/AF-L again.

Nothing happens.  Autofocus does not function.

I suspect that this bug arises from the fact that the AE-L/AF-L button is overloaded – during image review mode it is used for locking/unlock photos.  So while it’s an annoying overloading – I have never in my life wanted to “lock” a photo, and that it happens randomly by accident is quite irritating – there’s not actually any confusion here, since in step 4 you put the camera back into shooting mode.  The LCD is off at that point.  Yet still AF-ON doesn’t function.  Furthermore, it doesn’t even operate to lock/unlock the image – the button is completely impotent.

Workarounds include:

  • Keeping the LCD closed so the image is never reviewed (or disabling image review in the settings).
  • Waiting for the review period to time out naturally.
  • Turning the camera off and then on again.
  • Turning the LCD off using the “Image Review” button (or whatever it’s called – the play symbol inside a rectangle).

Again, I reported this to Nikon Support, got yet another new person, and they claimed they couldn’t reproduce this.  They gave me the usual boilerplate of “your camera needs to be sent in for service”, which is condescending and a waste of time.

The D3200 doesn’t suffer from this bug.  Nor does the D7100.  The D800 doesn’t either, which is unsurprising as it has a dedicated AF-ON button.  I don’t know about the D600, or the newer D5300.

Addendum:  None of these bugs are fixed in the 1.01 firmware update just released today (November 14th, 2013).  Sigh.

Addendumum:  1.02 finally fixes the menu hang and the AF-ON issue (I’ve tested this myself).  Yay!  Now just waiting for AF-C focus-priority to actually work, and I’ll be set.

5 thoughts on “Nikon D5200 firmware bugs”

  1. Nikon are meant to be condescending. That’s how they convince you that you are the problem ans hence they keep selling their gear and releasing new models, all of which need tested by the unsuspecting public. They had a good name back in the days of film. Now i think we get less for out money.

    Have you noticed the competition always have the edge on Nikon for the same price range and they include tethering software free. Nikon make you pay for it. Perhaps it’s time for us to wake up and accept that Canon can actually make decent cameras and lenses which the pros are relying on everyday. I know once we buy into lens kits, we are loath to change brand, but Nikon need to sharpen up. They take it for granted that we will keep accepting less as long as we can hang their name around our necks.

    I’m sure you know what u are talking about and have explored every possibility. I can’t believe their is such a lack of features on the Nikon D5200. They are not intuitive, nor good for pro shots that need quick adjustments. However, they are fine for snails.

    By the way, if your lens is and AF, the auto focus will still work even when the camera hangs. It is independent and feeds info into the chip of the camera.

    • The AF-C issue is a deliberate decision by Nikon across their entire current line-up – D3200 through D800. They’ve admitted this explicitly. Though I don’t know if it affects the D4, admittedly.

      The AF-ON issue affects all D5200s, I believe. I’ve seen it mentioned periodically in various forums. It is specific to the D5200, presumably because of the rotating LCD. Nobody seems to have ever gotten an official response from Nikon on it, though.

      I don’t know how broad the menu hang is. I’ve reproduced it on multiple D5200s, but I haven’t come across anyone else talking about it online. Though I’m not surprised – it’s a pretty obscure bug.

  2. I have a pretty nasty bug that I can’t solve what ever I do.

    I use Tamron 90mm 2.8 Macro lens and it works excellent in picture mode.

    But in video mode I can’t user autofocus what ever I do and what ever settings I apply (!!)

    It simple won’t focus any point. It starts to focus, move lens a little bit and that’s all, stops there…

    Do you know anything about this?


    • I have not dealt with this myself, as I don’t have any Tamron lenses. I believe, however, that this is a potential symptom of an incompatibility between the [third party] lens and a newer [than the lens] body. These are usually addressed by either lens firmware updates or sending the lens back to Tamron for upgrading. I’ve heard that Tamron is quite forthcoming about any incompatibilities they know about, so you should try contacting them to see if that’s the case here. If they don’t believe it’s that issue, next step would be to try another copy of that lens to see if your particular one has some kind of fault (unlikely, I would think, if it works fine on other cameras). Unfortunately, I don’t believe you’ll have any luck at all with Nikon as they won’t fix their own bugs, let alone take any responsibility for incompatibility with 3rd party lenses. :(


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