First of all – let’s start with another question – what is firmware?
Strictly speaking, this is a term that dates back many decades and we can, for ease, ignore it – instead, think of firmware as software – a term many of us are far more comfortable with. But software in a camera? Well, cameras (compacts, CSCs, SLRs), have to all intents and purposes a small computer inside them. And it’s the software that makes them work and that manufacturers still refer to as firmware.
Think of the software as the program that makes things appear on the screen, manages the menu system, the buttons, dials etc. Just like the software/programs on your computer, from time to time the people who write the program make changes. The changes might be to fix a “bug”, where something doesn’t behave the way it should do, or sometimes it’s to add new functionality.
So should you update or not? Well my view is this – if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it! Let me expand.
If your camera is working just fine, then unless the new “software” adds something new (that you want), then why go to the trouble of updating – it’s not necessarily that straightforward to do sometimes anyway. If you have a specific problem, and the update corrects it, then by all means go grab yourself an update.
Check out your camera manufacturer’s website, and only download the firmware from there, never from a third party site. If you do decide to update yours, then make sure you follow the manufacturers instructions.