Nikon Hack Removes the Recording Time Limit on the D3100, D5100 and D7000


Nikon’s D5100, D3100 and D7000 all come with their own video time limits that keep them well below the 30 minute mark necessary to keep from being classified as “video cameras.” That’s because, as we’ve mentioned in the past, video cameras are charged a 5.6 percent duty that the manufacturers would like to avoid.

The D5100, for example, will stop you from recording once you’ve hit 20 minutes or 4GB, whichever comes first. In all honesty, most videographers won’t see a need to record videos any longer than this, but if you do, the Nikon Hackers have released a hack that removes this time limit from the D5100, D3100 and D7000.

Before we give you the details, be forewarned that messing with your camera’s firmware always poses the risk that you will brick the poor thing. So any changes you make, you do so at your own risk. That being said, the hack has been tested on all three models and found to be safe.


To apply the hack, download your camera’s firmware, use the Hackers’ Firmware Patching Tool (found here), copy the output to an SD card, remove the .patched extension, and then upgrade the firmware from your camera’s menu per standard instructions. Voila, time limit gone.

It’s unclear whether on not this hack does anything for the file size limit. Some sources seem to believe it doesn’t, in which case you’ll still max out around 25-30 minutes — and that’s assuming you don’t run into sensor overheating issues. But regardless, it’s an improvement and a proof of concept that Nikon firmware hacks are a real possibility.

(via DIY Photography)

Image credit: Nikon D7000 + 80:200mm Lens + Rode Video Microphone by Jon Gosier

  • tttulio

    Europe is a strange place.
    WHY camcorders have to pay an extra tax?

  • lidocaineus

    I’m curious what you’d need > 20 minutes of recording time for other than surveillance or such.

  • Blablableu

    USA in a strange place, why can’t we see tits on TV?

  • ocmmsac

    Um this hack has been around for a while, why all the sudden attention?

  • ocmmsac

    I’ve been tempted because I have been in the situation of needing to record longer, but it doesn’t take long to stop recording and restart. Plus if you time your composition right, you won’t miss anything.

  • Dominik Muench

    Not just in the EU, Australia has a similar tax on electronics. My Nikon D3s only records 5 min of video footage at a time as well. This is also due to an overheating issue, in permanent use/ video mode these chips create quite a bit of heat. I think thats another reason for the recording time restriction.

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    The 4GB limit is due to the fact that memory cards are formatted in FAT32 format, which can only contain files that are less than 4GB, which is 2^32 bytes, which is the same reason why 32-bit operating systems can only address up to 4GB or RAM, and also why we ran out of IPv4 addresses last year.

    You can run, but you can’t hide.

  • lidocaineus

    Clarification: 32 bit OSs can go way over 4GB of RAM. Programs just can’t access it all in one contiguous lump.

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    My bad. Yes, with physical address extension you can go above 4GB with the OS, but you’re right, no software can utilize it.

  • Anthony

    An interview. A documentary. Any scenario where you need to record something and walk away from the camera for more than 20 minutes.

  • lidocaineus

    Interviews and documentaries are rarely done in one long take. The camera may be stationary but I’ve never seen it run continuously.

    As for where you’d walk away from the camera for 20 minutes – my question still stands – what situations are those?

  • bam andrei

    Hello! Work on D3200 ? Thanks!

  • Daniel

    A speech, concert of some sort of performance where you only have one camera.

  • DafOwen

    Yeah – thought the same.

    Wonder if camera manufacturers will consider moving up to NTFS or a silimar format soon. No idea what Video cameras do.

  • Chris Popely

    Did you bother to click to link for yourself to have a look?

  • Joshua Morin

    Ya, has it not been over 1 year since this has been out?

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    Seriously doubt that. NTFS was developed by Microsoft, which Apple won’t have it supported on their OS. Vice versa for Apple’s HFS/e, or Linux’s ext3/4.We the consumers are doomed to suffer.

  • marine321

    before I saw the bank draft saying $9136, I be certain that my brother was like truly taking home money part time from there labtop.. there friends cousin started doing this for less than 17 months and recently cleared the mortgage on there house and bourt a new Mercedes. go to, fab22.ℂom

  • David Liang

    Interviews and documentaries are rarely shown as one continous take, but they are filmed that way and edited afterwards. Live events especially you can`t predict what could happen or be said, so it`s fare less risky to use camera`s that can record past 30mins. Is it a huge problem to start/stop? Definitely not, but if it’s a professional it’s a stupid risk to take especially when aware of it.

  • lidocaineus

    Yes, I know how interviews are filmed as I have a minor in journalism. While cameras run for a decent amount of time, there are constant breaks throughout for practical reasons (lights, makeup, bathroom breaks, all sorts of interviewee requests), especially when an interviewee wants to discus things off the record.

  • Fannta1

    There is already exFat …

  • Dead_C

    I’m conducting an interview with some well known musicians tomorrow night for a website that I run. I’ve done a number of them and most of them have run well over 20 minutes. I’m not sure why you’re so concerned about why other people need the longer running time, or why you can’t accept the fact that they do.

  • lidocaineus

    Because its an outlier data point that I’ve never run into, so I’d like clarification of what those situations are and to adjust my perception of how common these things might be. It’s how discussion works.

  • Dead_C

    So, the response to my question about why you can’t accept the answers from the other people who are (pointlessly) trying to help you comprehend why they would need to utilize a feature like this, simply because it’s outside of the realm of what your own specific personal needs are, is because that’s “how discussion works”? That’s how discussion is stalled.

    I’m asking why you seem to be so unwilling to even consider adjusting your perception, even when presented with more than valid reasoning regarding something that you, admittedly, never even need to deal with, and your answer is to adust your perception.

    There are endless reasons to need this feature, including time-lapse, or simply wanting to focus on what you’re filming rather than needing to focus on the recording time running out. If you’re filming/conducting an interview for a documentary, it’s inconvenient at best to ask the interviewee to stop in the middle of a drawn out, heart felt, confession simply because your equipment can’t handle it. If you have an infant and you have your camera set up to film the both of you interacting, they might walk or speak for the first time, after the recording the time is exhausted, while the option of holding and monitoring the equipment could present a distraction for them. Maybe you’re filming a jazz concert where a single track extends longer than 20 minutes. I’m not going to speculate on every single one of the plethora of situations where this option would benefit someone, but I’m also not going to refute their existence or their level of importance, because I might not personally need it. If you’re hell bent on insuring that your original presumption stands true, then you can file anything under surveillance and reinforce it for yourself. It’s all surveillance… there you go… now you’re right.

    If people didn’t have different needs, then there wouldn’t be so many different lenses and models of camera bodies in the first place.

  • lidocaineus

    Actually there aren’t many reasons you’d want this. The poster clarified on one of those situations (which I needed further clarification on), and I took that as an acceptable answer.

    Not sure what your issue is or why you’re dragging it back up, as the question’s been answered. But I see from your downvote that you view this as a personal issue. Do us all a favor and separate that from the discussion.

    Final note: time lapse is definitely not one of the applications for this. No one does time lapse as straight, traditional video.

  • Craig

    I’ve just applied the hack to my D3100, and I have a very lengthy amount of recording (Time lapse of building the Lego Deathstar) to do on Saturday (11.05.2013), So I will be definitely be testing out this overheating debate.

    I do not believe the restrictions are for heating issues, but we’ll see.

  • rickei

    I’m late to the conversation, but.
    a Church service… sermon is 20-25 minutes, that’s one situation.

    a Wedding… we place an unmanned camera in the balcony, that’s another situation.

  • lidocaineus

    It’s already been covered.

  • Simeon Pilgrim

    Well… on 16bit machine (1MB adderss space) we had more than 1MB machines, it’s very easy to address more than the bit size of the processor your working on. But the real issue is the the movie code inside the nikon camera uses 32bit to track file position instead of 64bit number as the underlying file handling code uses. So the firmware limits it’s self to not bump into this issue.

  • Simeon Pilgrim

    The D3100 uses a 16bit int to track frame count, and therefore is is limited to 17 minutes as it cannot access more than this.

  • Bill

    Outside of Europe, Panasonic FZ, G and GH hybrid still/video cameras span FAT32 files to create a single continuous playable file that lasts for hours. No hack required. Canon, Nikon and Sony are too lazy (and greedy) to do this for their customers outside of Europe. It’s not like they don’t know how – Sony and Canon do it on their camcorders.. When I need to record a concert, speech, sermon or school play, I can pick up any of my Panasonic cameras or camcorders and shoot it. Canon and Sony shooters, on the other hand, have to buy a separate camcorder, which will probably be a Canon or a Sony out of misguided brand loyalty – thus the “greedy” comment.

  • guest69

    Why won’t anyone state the obvious? We need it for filming ourselves having sex. Some of us have interesting sex lives and last longer than 30 minutes.