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If you’ve ever sold a camera on Ebay before, you’ll be familiar with the term “actuations”. Prospective buyers will often write and ask you how many actuations your camera has on it’s meter and you may think “what on earth?!” Actuations (or shutter count) is the amount of photos your camera has taken. And this is an important number because your camera has a life expectancy, just like your car.
Yes, I did say that: Your camera has a life expectancy. This is a troubling thing for an avid photo taker to learn for the first time because it’s not something we know until we are told. Although it makes perfect sense that your camera, like anything, will only last so long.
The inner workings of a camera are delicate and fragile and made to withstand around 100,000 shutter releases. Canon says that their 5D mkII is good for about 150k and the 1D, 200k. But life expectancy isn’t something you’ll find on the specs of a camera you’re looking at buying, much like mileage expectancy isn’t on the price sticker of a new Ford Focus. No manufacturer of items can assure how long an item will last and to do so would be a bad idea on their behalf incase your particular unit didn’t match those expectations.
Just like with cars, the best way to know what kind of mileage people are getting out of their cameras is to get on forums and see what people are reporting. You’ll find a host of certain cameras died around the 30k mark, others 100k. Just get out there and read the chatter because the manufacturers don’t say much.
When I first heard that magic 100,000 number, I was disheartened and frightened for the life of my camera. Isn’t it especially true that we have a false sense of security with digital cameras? We think there is no end to the photos we can take simply because we aren’t tied to rolls of film. But sadly, this isn’t so. We do have to think before we go hog wild with a heavy trigger finger. Although 100k is a LOT more than it sounds, a professional can easily hit this mark within a few years.
The best comment I read while scanning forums for actuations information was this: “If your car could only do 100,000 miles, would you be driving it 1000 miles a day?”