Actuations & Shutter Count - Someday our Cameras Will Die

Actuations & Shutter Count – Someday our Cameras Will Die

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?”

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

Some Older Comments

  • Sherry April 6, 2013 12:47 am

    Harry, thanks for your post. I just paid 1400 for a 5D Mark II kit with the battery grip, batteries, etc, with 124k actuations on it. I was scared once I started reading these "life expectancies" and warnings about around 80k being the dying points for these cameras. This is my first time moving up from a starter and I never thought to consider this factor; now I am more concerned with how the previous owner actually treated the camera instead. If all I have to do is pay $300 on a new shutter to give this camera new life, I would gladly do so.

  • Harry Tan May 9, 2012 11:15 pm

    I made a call to Canon Singapore to determine how much it cost to replace the shutter. For a EOS 5D Mk2 it costs SGD$400 for a complete replacement. Depending on the current exchange rate (1.4 being the usual), that would cost US$285. Not much to resurrect a dead camera.


  • Harry Tan April 20, 2012 03:20 pm

    I have read on several sites and pages from forums the use of the analogy of car mileage to shutter actuations. While there is some relevancy there and usefulness in the illustration, I believe unwary or newbie photographers may be misled by it to some degree.

    Car have a huge number of moving parts and various parts are exposed to the elements. The mileage reflects the miles the car has covered and it generally and probably correctly reflects the overall wear and tear the car has endured.

    Cameras, are generally well kept and protected from the elements and spend most of the time in storage. Even a heavy user does not use it for more than 1 hour a day. Cars sit in the sun, rain etc etc.

    Cameras have only one real moving part - the shutter (OK, all the other parts consisting of buttons and dials move too but not all the buttons all the time while in use).

    The cost of shutter replacement is not considered high (actually more affordable than most people think) if it means it can be continued to be used again for another 150k actuations. Failure from electronics are more likely than the mechanics of the camera.

    In cars, replacing the whole engine block is an expensive cost. But replacing the engine does not reflect the wear and tear on gearbox, the axle shafts etc (I trust you get that point).

    You can have a camera that spends all its life in a studio on a tripod having its shutter used 150K times vs one cross country landscape photographer who hikes up in open country shooting for less than 40K actuations. I value the former over the latter camera without any hesitation.

    So, while actuation is a factor in purchasing second hand, it is really not as important as most believe it to be and the cost of replacing the shutter is really not as bad as most think. If all else on the camera is in top condition, replacing the shutter will give it another complete new lease of life.


  • Diego Lopes February 29, 2012 03:26 pm

    Brian Chen Said:
    April 26th, 2010 at 1:16 am

    We buy things to “use” them. For instance I didn’t buy my camera to to keep it brand new and pristine. Things we use are all subjected to wear and tear. Just like a car, but if we maintain them well they may last longer than we expect. My 2 cents!"

    Brian, not quite true. Products are made to last for a certain period of time. This is called "planned obsolescence". Most electronic devices have a counter chip. When it reaches a certain number, it will block the device to some extent. So it's not at all about a natural process of "wear and tear".

    By the way, I have a 1976 camera that still works and will probably last longer than the digital camera I bought 2 years ago.

  • Dave January 5, 2012 08:03 am

    This article should be pulled. It provides erroneous information. when shutter dies it can be replaced along with any camera part it does not mean that the camera is dead. Replacement Nikon shutter is about $260.00 for D300s meaning if you purchase an e-bay camera for $1000.00 and have to replace the shutter you are still saving $300 vs new. Having said that I have several Nikon s with well over 500K actuation My colleague has two Canons 5D's both with 300K+ none of our systems have ever needed to be replaced due to shutter failure.

  • zaphoto November 6, 2011 09:45 pm

    I first learned photography using film so I understand what some of the authors are implying, the thing is if you mention film and a digi kid never used film they automatically take offense, but wtf in a couple of years phonephotography will kill eveyone ;-) hello from South Africa

  • John November 2, 2011 07:05 pm

    If you use an Olympus E-1, E-3, or E-5, you won't have to worry about it. Only the cheap, plasticky Canikons fail you after a few years in the field.

  • Ramil October 29, 2011 08:37 am

    I somewhat agree with the article... What actually matters is the cost of replacing shutter Vs the camera. If Camera is worth $3K, then replace shutter. It is very similar to Projectors, where the Bulb has a limited life. and One needs to relace it after that and it is NOT cheap to replace (abt $300 just like a shutter)..

    So if you enjoy the act of taking photographs which involves going to many places, waiting hours to get the right shot, working on fixing the pics, printing etc etc then the Cost of Shutter per Picture is Nothing compared to the complete cost of picture...

    Take that in account and enjoy the At, the Hobby and have fun

  • Renee@turbulencetraini October 22, 2011 09:36 pm

    Thank you details on your blog. We can really benefit from helpful advice. It assists to go over and show info and comments.

  • Claudio August 21, 2011 09:24 am

    Well .. I own a Canon 10D as backup body. My estimate is that the current shutter count is well below 10.000. But my main body is a MkIIn currently with 478.000 and still going strong with twice the estimated shutter life. I believe that low end bodies and less likely to greatly exceed the shutter life expectancy but and the current cost of a low/middle range d-slr I would't worry much about that and in my case, I will gladly spend around 250 or 300bucks replacing the shutter on my 1D when it fails and keep using it for a few more years. I am even amazed that I can't detect any dead pixels even at long exposures and I'm still very happy with it's performance even being a 6 year old camera.
    I don't do photojournalism or sports anymore .. just weddings and stuff.. for that, even the 10D could be enough but I'll stay faithfull to my MkIIn because as I already mentioned, 300 for a new shutter sure beats spending 700 for an amateur body with a higher pixelcount that simply cannot compete with a 1D series

  • Shutter Actuations July 31, 2011 02:32 am

    I agree that the shutter count is not the end of a camera. I have not had to replace my shutter thought I do “take it out” regularly.

    I think this kind of article is necessary for two reasons:
    - shutters are expensive and may be akin to replacing a head on a car (an expensive job) and should be included in the information we have as buyers; and,
    - too often we think “it’s digital, I can just take heaps of photos to get one good one” – every good photographer realises this is not the case. We need to think first, then take pictures. This is just one more reason to do so!

    i think this article really misleading.

  • dead dog April 21, 2011 02:40 am

    Buy a mechanical film camera and you won't have this problem.
    There are cameras from the turn of ( 1900 ) the century that are still working today.
    Digitals cameras of to day will get moisture in them and break down the circuit boards.
    Cost of repair = New camera.

  • Grateful Daddy February 5, 2011 01:23 am

    I just purchased a used nikon d300s. It was my second dslr to my first (nikon d40x). Anyway, they seller told me it had 25k. He was a verified pro (I checked out his shots via online news sites, etc. I actually got to fiddle with the camera the night before we did the transaction. It looked in very good shape. I was happy with the transaction.

    Well, I got curious when I read about the very next day. I checked it out. It actually had 39500 as compared to 25000. I knew 25K was high, especially since he said he didn't use it much last six months and used it for sideline sports.

    Anyway, I was glad to read the shutter could be replaced for relative cheap amount.

    I'm pretty much going to have to challenge myself not to be limited by this knowledge. As stated, its an expensive hobby and the point of the camera is to shoot.

    I think on principle, I'm gonna make sure to get at least a dozen keeps of my daughter today - as to not fall into a funk of being afraid to use it at will and for enjoyment.

  • shuttergirl November 9, 2010 07:11 am

    Put no thought into your shutter count as it will cause you rethink how you spend them and inevitably cause you to miss 'the shot'. Blowing a shutter is matter of fact in my business... ahhh haha I just blew another shutter... sometimes they blow when they have no business doing so, so why worry. Simply enjoy your craft and what ever happens happens.

  • Kurt Wall May 19, 2010 11:23 am

    Shutter count on my D60: 13,847 In other words, miles to go before I sleep. I suspect I'll upgrade before the shutter's life expectancy ticks over. I'd be more interested in knowing how Nikon established the shutter life and the test conditions that provided the data. If it is 100,000 being carried around on a pillow, I'm screwed. If it is 100,000 being thrown against the wall every 1,000 activations, I'm in good shape. :-)

  • bridgestone boy May 12, 2010 06:33 pm

    "If your car could only do 100,000 miles, would you be driving it 1000 miles a day?"

    If I needed to, yes. That's why I bought a car in the first place; for travels. Same thing with a DSLR. I wouldn't trade captured moments for an extension of the camera's life. The camera's purpose is defeated if I've done so.

  • 20D Guy May 7, 2010 11:30 pm

    Sadly I have a 6 year old camera ( a Canon 20D) which is well past that 100,000 mark. I have been known to shoot off a 1000 pics in a day, and further this camera is ALWAYS with me, and i shoot nearly every day. The value in total of this camera with the battery grip is up to $400 according to what I have seen most of them selling for with the battery grip (sshshs don't tell me about how many times that shutter has clicked off, and how the value isn't quite that high accordingly etc.)...but this is my favorite camera...the one that I am comfortable with dragging all over the country-side, and the one I like shooting with most. I believe i would pay the $200+ to replace the shutter, without a second thought, as I would for any of my cameras....I abuse my shot-count, and i use the 5 frame per sec very often...I torture this camera out on the trail, all year long. I clean the camera every week, including the sensor...when the shutter dies it dies...I will invest the cash to have it fixed...simple fact is, this camera has done very well through all the abuse I have handed why toss it? I'd fix it and hope for another couple hundred thousand shots...buying a new camera to replace this trusty model frightens me with all the revues I have read about the 7d and other newer models...and all the problems they are having... So for those of us who make a few spare dimes on the side with their cameras, i think it is just one of those habbits to set aside the 'just in case funds' when possible, to finance just this type of surprise. I also carry a spare camera on any event I shoot just in case my main 1Dm2 dies...

  • Donna May 7, 2010 05:20 am

    This explains why I am now looking for my third digital camera. The first 2 gave up after 2 years.

  • phillip hughey May 7, 2010 12:16 am

    Would have been great to provide detail for Canon and Nikon on how to view of the shutter count. If the feel of the article is for those whose were unaware of actuations, most likely their first question after "what is that" would be 'where do I find it."

  • Quazi Ahmed Hussain May 6, 2010 10:31 pm

    Mark Pashia, I also own the same camera (450D) as yours and use Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L prime lens for similar type of shots quite often. I'm also worried about the body but not that concerned about actuations. I would prefer little bit higher burst rate, higher ISO performance and higher shutter speed. Therefore, my concern is upgrading moreover, having 2 bodies fitted with 2 different lenses while wildlife shooting is a good advantage. Unfortunately latest Canon crop bodies are disappointing. For example, the new 7D didn't serve photographer's needs but it did satisfy Canon as they are more concerned about the bottomline i.e., sales volume. Many 7D buyers are first time DSLR users just being overwhelmed by promotional gimmicks. Some photogs did get it finding no other choice. As anticipated, this new excessive pixel and feature laden body is already showing signs of trouble. Reports are available on the net and some of my 7D owner friends have conceded having grainy and softer images (subsequently fixable in PP). Some bodies refuse to work in the middle of a mission and need switching off and on again to start working.

    On the other hand, for our type of photography; full frames are not that suitable as you get more reach with tele lenses on crop bodies. So, it’s a big question now what photographers should do!

  • daniel mollino May 6, 2010 03:35 pm

    You know i despise this article in a sense, Before i started shooting semi pro (because i only shoot part time lol) i hit 123k photos on my canon rebel xt in 1.6 years. To be fair i toured europe, canada, south america, china, turkey, spain, and italy. along with a few other non points. it is also what got my stock collection built, and i destroyed my expense of mailing external hdd's home during those months abroad. but it is possible to hit that for an amature if your shutter happy. Oh and a side not i am still sorting through the photos

  • Augphoto May 6, 2010 01:48 am

    This article is very useful. When buying and selling a camera it's great to know it's mileage. With that said, I am amazed that anyone would think their camera (or shutter) would last forever. No worries - keep shooting!

  • Dennis Peñalosa May 4, 2010 10:55 pm

    I have already experience this my d40 just stop working after 2 years of usage,then i brought it to the repair shop then they replace the shutter and it runs again so theres no need to worry about this.....


  • Geert May 2, 2010 06:12 pm

    Like all things in nature, nothing withstands the "test of time". And everything has an "End of Life" moment. Including (even very expensive) camera's.

    Isn't it a bit naive to think that camera's would last forever, just because they're "digital"? There are mechanical parts inside that move (shutter, mirror, ...), so they will definitively wear over time. As said: nothing lasts forever.

    But I fully agree, just like with cars (this has been taken as a comparison example) and all other things in life: the better you take care of them, the longer they will last.

    The number given (100k), is just a "rule of thumb". Some will last much longer, some will have a much shorter lifetime. All depends on how they are used and where they are used (environment influences, like sand grains etc., can heavily influence the life expectations of a camera).

    Best rgds,

  • Eeps May 2, 2010 04:16 am

    Most amateur hobbyists don't really need to concern themselves with the actuations of a camera's shutter unless they buy their camera 2nd hand. A brand new shutter should have, at the minimum, about 50k worth of shots in them. That's a lot. Even for those who use it like a machine gun ( not that I recommend that you do). While the shutter is replaceable (should it break down during your ownership), there's a better than likely chance that it becomes obsolete before it breaks down. If you can't live with this fact, you're in the wrong hobby.

    Like it or not, photography is an expensive hobby. Always has been, always will be. The fact that it 's now more affordable than it was before doesn't change that fact. Once you're hooked, you'll find that starter equipment just doesn't cut it anymore. You'll want to improve your output through better equipment. First it's the accessories. A better flash, some filters, reflectors, tripods and monopods, brackets and more. Then, you'll be looking to upgrade your equipment, get better lenses, a new body. Maybe go full frame or even medium format. All in the quest to get the rush from getting those "keepers." But isn't it all worth it?

    But I digress. Like I was saying earlier, only those looking into buying a 2nd hand camera need to worry about getting an idea of how many actuations that shutter has taken. Here's a tip. If you're looking into getting a 2nd hand camera, have the owner take a picture of a newspaper's front page with the date clearly displayed and send you the picture. This is so you know that the picture is current. Have that picture analyzed with whatever EXIF reading program you have (several other posters have already mentioned some). Use the results as a basis for making your purchasing decision.

    Caveat: Some cameras have a nasty habit of resetting once they hit 9999 so surf the blogs and threads to find out which ones these are. Sorry I can't help there.

  • Eeps May 2, 2010 03:51 am

    I've read Kelby. Highly recommended for chimps and newbs (no offense). Very easy to follow style for beginners. Added bonus is he also has a DVD for those who don't want to be bothered with reading. You may have to look elsewhere if you want to master the techniques but Kelby is a good place to start. Perfect for casual shooters who don't have much time on their hands to learn and want to take good pics right away. Also check out Bryan Peterson videos on youtube. Very easy to follow.

    chimp - a photographer who keeps looking at the LCD to check the results.
    newb - short for newbie; someone new to photography (or anything else for that matter); beginner

    p.s. No hate mail for these derogatory terms please. I just found out about them myself. Just sharing.

  • Hans Maerker May 1, 2010 08:22 am

    ... snip ...
    >>Rather than pointing and laughing that the kids with flashes mounted on top of the camera, why don’t you instead tell us why that is not the best way. None of us are born knowing how to take photographs; we either learn on our own or someone teaches us.<<

    Well, first... I wasn't he one who ridiculed you guys, and I disapproved the 'he,he,he ...' message as much as you do. Yet, apart from that, the tutoring came never to my mind. Reason... there is a TON of excellent written information out there. The reference material has literally exploded since the 'digi' age started. So, what I can recommend for everybody is for example the series from Scott Kelby. The books are called 'Digital Photography' and are available in volume 1, 2, and 3. The paperback version isn't all that expensive, and Amazon has even a set of all 3 together as a special deal.

    As of your comment about teaching you guys... it's not a matter of not wanting and looking down at you. It just that the area of photography has an extreme wide range and the themes are endless. Besides, many 'seasoned' photographers (including me) are real busy and need to juggle their agenda, marketing, family, updates , etc. :-).

    Specific questions or requests can be easier tackled and answered than 'just' picking something and writing about it. I usually get the comments from the blog in my email, so I can follow. That way I jumped in to comment that the limited lifespan is nothing new and kicked a 'shockwave' of comments lose that went way beyond what I had in mind.

    Offer from my site: Check the books from Scott Kelby. He writes in a refreshing and easy to read style. It is (in my opinion) the best way for 'digi kids' like you call the community. If some special questions come up (e.g. how f-stop, shutter speed and ISO effect each other - or - How to get the background blurred and a front item focused) that's easier to answer and to write a specific about for anybody to benefit from.

    I'll gladly help with the limited time I have. You guy can point a specific question right into my direction at the blog :-). Fair enough? If I'm in a bind I'll write back that I can't answer right away and will do as soon as possible. Otherwise I'll reply to the request. Just keep in mind that I try to run photography as a biz and that has a higher priority than tutoring.

    Want to go the hard way and learn the fast way from your errors? Then start shooting with a 'M' setting and stay away from the programs. They are very good (and tempting) but the learning curve is better in Manual mode.

    A note at the side: See... the principals and rules of photography haven't changed at all (i.e. physical rules of light and the optical laws). It's just a different medium (digital) now. The old 'how to' principles (and setup drawings) can be checked at an older but very good book, called 'The Photographer's Handbook'. Author is John Hedgecoe ISBN number is 0-679-74204-2. Still referring to the old equipment, but the setup doesn't change. Skip the parts where the darkroom comes in if you want. Besides, almost all the techniques you find in Photoshop or other image editors nowadays are based on the old fashioned darkroom work. Just way more convenient now. That's all :-).

  • shers May 1, 2010 05:21 am

    I bought my canon full frame camera used and when the time came I replaced the shutter.
    I also get it cleans every 6 months. I also have a second camera that I service as well.
    If you’re going to use it as a tool then you need to do what it takes to maintain it.
    The reason for asking the actuation number is to barter over the price due to anticipated servicing.

  • DaniGirl May 1, 2010 03:50 am

    For those wondering how to find out how many shutter actuations on your camera, if you post your pix to Flickr and click on the "more properties" link, you can read it in the EXIF data. For my Nikon D40, it's called the image number (and I'm in the 23K range!)

  • RohitM May 1, 2010 12:19 am

    What does "die" mean. I started getting "Err 99" the second time and then I had to give
    7000 INR for replacing the "mirror box" assembly for my Canon 40D, so does that replace
    the shutter as well. Would that mean I have another 100K frames starting a new???
    And to put it differently, couldnt you just replace the "mirror / shutter" box if and when
    it dies.

  • Moleypoloski April 30, 2010 10:44 pm

    I have a Nikon D300 and a Macbook Pro, how do I find out how many acutations my camera has shot?


  • Jimmy April 30, 2010 09:19 pm

    I bought a pre-owned 50D with 40k shutter count ! Previous owner had claimed a lower number as it was used inhouse photo shoot only.

    Had I known about this earlier, I would have avoided it. Would you want a high milage car ? Yes, if I get it for a song (i.e. cheap).

    Until the day I had to bring it back to the service centre for shutter replacement, that will be the least of my worries. Back to shooting

  • anurag samuel April 30, 2010 08:24 pm

    Yes its true that the shutter of a camera has a set life but the shutters in a camera can be replaced with a new one. Isnt it ?

  • mark April 30, 2010 04:17 pm

    well the article is very interesting i would really consider the number of actuations before buying another dslr

  • Randy H. April 30, 2010 11:15 am

    I have looked throughout the menu on the Canon 40D and cannot find it anywhere. i would think it would be easily findable but no such luck. Let me know if any Canon owners find it.

  • mikel April 30, 2010 09:29 am

    my nikon d90 is hitting the 14k mark in just 4 months... and i don't care :)
    its a camera and its used for taking pictures, why should i stop shooting?
    why did i buy it in the first place? i guess its because i love to shoot

    a friend of mine shoots with his d80 with apertures at 120,000++ and he prefers it more than his d300
    i wonder how long will mine last ...

    i think this article is for those who cares how long the camera would last and is particular. to those who had no idea that dslrs are not immortal. to them this would really help so even if i don't really care, this article would be of some help to some.

  • Cathleen April 30, 2010 09:22 am

    Randy - I need to know the same thing. I'll see if I can figure it out and let you know. I cannot believe the level of emotion this little article has stirred up! It seems I'm not the only one that needs to go to a therapist tonight! LOL

  • Crystal B April 30, 2010 09:15 am

    randy h, you should be able to in menu somewhere, at least I could on mine. I'm not sure why anyone hasn't bothered to mention that. If I knew where it was, I'd turn it on and find the exact spot in the menu, but I can't remember which closet it's in. Sorry, mega huge house and mega bad migraine at the moment. But fiddle with it, and you should be able to find it.

  • Randy H. April 30, 2010 09:10 am

    Is there not an easy way to note the shutter count in camera? I was not wanting to download software. Just inviting problems there. Thanks.

  • Diana Eugenia April 30, 2010 08:34 am

    Hey!!! I found a program that shows the number of shots, I really felt worried when I read this article, but reading all the coments make feel relieve about this subject. Any way if you want to know about your camera number of shots, check this program, just run it, it works with windows 7

  • Larry April 30, 2010 08:28 am

    Total newb and I'm just starting the learning process. Of course, I grew up in the era for film cameras, and have been using digital P&S for the last few years, but decided I wanted something nicer (and I like buttons and lights and stuff), as well as to learn how to take photographs that I and my family will enjoy, not just pictures.

    To the old guys: I wonder if you would have advanced faster if you could have taken a large nubmer of pictures and figured out what works and what doesn't. In my general experience, I learn more from failure than success. Learning what not to do is as important as knowing what TO do.

    If you can take hundreds of shots easily, and then quickly and easily see them, perhaps you would learn faster what works and what doesn't? Dunno, just throwing that out there.

    I think, though, the benefits you have come from 'years of experience' and desire to improve, not because you shot on film and were limited by the number of pics you could take.

    Sometimes the medium advances the art; consider how much more superior oil and canvas is to charcoal and a rock wall in a cave.

    Once upon a time, you were just like the digi-kids. I'm sure someone taught many of you. It's time you return the favor to the 'digi-kids'. Rather than pointing and lauging that the kids with flashes mounted on top of the camera, why don't you instead tell us why that is not the best way. None of us are born knowing how to take photographs; we either learn on our own or someone teaches us.

  • Raven April 30, 2010 08:22 am

    Who drives a 1,000 miles a day???

  • Crystal B April 30, 2010 07:25 am

    Cathleen you probably can, but to be honest, I've really steered away from dSLR's and my replacement point and shoot is better than it was/is, believe it or not. I hated my dSLR so much. We had a strong hate relationship with each other and when the sensor went bonkers and I spent 6 months with no camera at all, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. But then (and not to stir up stuff already stirred up in this thread) I come from the old school film background of rangefinders, and miss -that- more than anything, so you can probably guess where my next big purchase is going to be, when I rustle up the funds.

  • Don April 30, 2010 06:50 am

    You started off telling us about buying from places like eBay and other second user places, what you did not tell us was how to extract the shutter count info from a camera,
    That's what I thought this post was going to be about.

  • mzaiemo April 30, 2010 05:53 am

    hi, how about dslr with no pentamirror? i'm not sure what is was called..hybrid dslr?

  • Cathleen April 30, 2010 04:51 am

    Crystal - I thought I read something a long time ago that you can have the sensor replaced?

  • Cathleen April 30, 2010 04:47 am

    NO APOLOGY NECESSARY for the article. I had the ability to take it for exactly what it was meant. Thank you for the reminder. I shoot a lot of sports and I should really keep an eye on my count and prepare to replace the shutter. Thanks!!!! I love the challenge to shoot as if using film! Great point!

  • Bryan Villarin April 30, 2010 03:44 am

    I stumbled onto EOSInfo - huzzah!

    The shutter count for my Canon EOS 40D is currently 67,402.

  • Crystal B April 30, 2010 03:34 am

    Funny thing here, check your warranty information, and your camera specs and do a little research before finding out if your broken shutter is going to be an out of pocket expense. My shutter on my now dead dSLR broke and it was a Canon defect, and though the warranty had by that time expired, Canon replaced it free of charge, all I had to pay was shipping to them and provide the warranty card.

    Unfortunately for me, six months later, my sensor went wonky and I lost quality in my photos and I declared the camera dead. It's not -dead-. But the quality is not worth it to me to continue to use it.

  • Randy H. April 30, 2010 03:23 am

    How does one see his shutter count? I have a Canon 40D. Help!!

  • Mark Pashia April 30, 2010 02:32 am

    Now back to the subject of this article:

    I am somewhat new to this, but I have chosen to focus on wildlife photography and so I am an opportunist. My camera usually has a 200-400mm lens on it and I shoot in bursts of 5-10 shots most times. Even more if it is called for.

    This is a huge advantage of digital because I can take all of these shots and chose the best posture of a pelican in flight!!!! Or a deer running through a flooded field!!! Only the rich could have done that in the past, but now I can afford to do this type of photography and enjoy my results.

    I still have some planning involved. I am always aware of which side my light is on. I try to do most of my work in the "golden hours". I go to places with some idea of what I might find and anticipate what shots MIGHT be available. This is all part of preparation. This is not just "Blazing Away with the Shutter."

    However, if my Canon XSi dies sooner because of my shooting in bursts, SO BE IT. It is still a more affordable way to capture these shots than the old days of shooting one frame at a time with limited success!!! I am sinking most of my funds into lenses these days and they will last longer than my camera, so I buy lenses that can be used on full frame in case I can upgrade at some point anyways!!!!

  • Mark Pashia April 30, 2010 02:18 am

    Ya know, this site is NAMED "Digital" Photography School.........

    I am so sick and tired of seeing all of this garbage about the days of film that I am thinking of leaving this site behind.

    And the negative name calling on both sides is sickening!!!! I like positive information that improves my photography, not this garbage!!!! So yes -- THE DINOSAURS SHOULD GO HOME AND SHUT UP!!!!! Unless they want to convert to digital and contribute positive articles and post good samples of what can be done with digital today!!!!

  • philo bob April 30, 2010 01:56 am

    I would like to know how one can check the number of clicks that have been taken. If you are buying a used camera I'm sure the seller is not going to give you a high number.
    I have two Canon 5d and would like to be able to check the shutter count on each body. I know that you can send the camera to Canon and they can tell you.

  • Bill Fitzsimmons April 30, 2010 01:38 am

    How do you tell how many "actuations" you have used?

  • EOShooter April 30, 2010 12:54 am


    I had no idea that, by contributing an entry to this board, I would be subject to a flood of emails that illustrate how hundreds upon hundreds of words can be assembled with an aggregate value less than zero.

    Unfortunately, as nature abhors a vacuum, the deficit in functional value had to be filled in with my time.

    The regrets... incalculable.

  • Josh April 29, 2010 11:19 pm

    what happens when the camera "dies"? does the shutter just shot firing all of the sudden? or is there a gradual breakdown that's noticeable before it completely stops working??

  • kate April 29, 2010 10:14 pm

    I would invite you to look at a map and possibly look up the word "opposite." I fail to see how implying everything you did was somehow called for or less insulting. But maybe that also ties in with my subpar math.

  • Hans Maerker April 29, 2010 10:09 pm

    ... snip ...
    ... Also I would assume your Californian is around your age. If you've managed to bag someone my age or younger I guess you're pretty rich. So if she ...

    Kate, now that statement of yours is a personal attack, offensive and completely uncalled for. But considering that you describe the geographical location and weather of your state as completely opposite, I guess you live in Montana. That may explain the contents of your replies. I lived for little bit over 2 years in the northern part of Montana and tell you that you are excused. Besides, to argue with a Redneck is useless anyway.


  • Karen Stuebing April 29, 2010 08:47 pm

    I think everyone needs to calm down.

    I'm old and I started with film. For many years. I have tons of slides.

    I went digital in 2002 when 5 MPs was standard. The Olympus UZI which became a classic was only 2.1 MP. I haven't used film since then. Sorry, my Minolta is sitting in a closet.

    I started shooting in full manual mode with my first digital camera. I could do this because of my film background. It wasn't exactly the same as film but close enough.

    Learning photography is not all that difficult. Some people will try and some won't. Some will use their digital cameras to take family and vacation snap shots but in the past they did the same thing with film so what's the difference?

    Some people will want to learn how to take good photographs and they can learn with digital more easily than with film because they can experiment more.

    It is true you were more selective with film than with digital. Having used both, I don't see how that is so important. I can pick a subject and instead of spending 10 minutes deciding how to frame and expose it as I would with film, I can shoot 10 photos at different angles and exposures and see the difference immediately. I would venture to say you can learn faster with digital than film.

    @Michael McGrath, it would helpful if you would post a link to your website. Then people can look at that photographs and learn from them because everyone learns by looking at professional photographs.


    There are camera clubs everywhere. If you want to learn, join one. You don't have to "shoot with professionals." There will professionals in the camera clubs.

  • kate April 29, 2010 07:42 pm

    I'll go line by line as well then.

    You were insulting. Telling us we care less about how the shots come out is insulting. Calling someone flippant, which is what you did, is insulting.

    "Field for years." Yes of course, you've been shooting longer than I've been alive by about two years on your stated number. So it's completely my fault for being born in 1982 rather than 1952. I apologize for being born in a different technological age. This automatically makes me inferior, also of course.

    You pressed the trigger less 30 years ago than we can now because your cameras weren't physically capable of firing off that many shots in a row. I never EVER in my life thought a piece of machinery could die. It's completely past my reasoning. I apologize for not having the common sense to realize things wear out.

    I have my camera set at a burst of two, but often take one at a time. That's obviously the same as ten fold. And since I'm incapable of thinking about a shot beforehand, I probably just take 30 of the same thing.

    You never took any time seeing what results different settings had on your film and I obviously also never took any time reading a word about photography before using my camera. All that book learnin' is just too hard for us young'ns.


    1. Yes that's more than I take in two weeks. I have two storage chips, they both hold less than 900 shots combined. I have one digital camera now. I have done the math, that's how I came up with you having more shots than me. But then again since I'm so young my math is probably wrong too. I'm not a wedding photographer. The only wedding I HAVE taken pictures at was my cousin's wedding and have not ever personally worked with or for a wedding photographer. I have no idea what someone normally ends up with.

    2a) Film rots. Dust, light, mice, heat, damp. Film rots. Your film is magic film though. It's never rotted or been exposed to any damaging areas. My film was inferior film. I should have known better. That would be the state of my grandparents' photos and that is also my fault. I should have known as an ovum what to do.

    2b) I did the math. But again my math is inferior because I'm younger than you. I cannot print out all the pictures I have and love, ie, the ones I keep. Not even on 4x6 at a cheap pharmacy lab. Also of course since all of what you mentioned is machinery and physical objects I thought those last forever. Unlike the film of course. Film's the only thing that rots.

    2c) The digital backups, even multiple copies, still cost more than printing out the previously mentioned cheap 4x6. If I printed them at a size that would be better for copying, say in the 8x10 family, at $10+ ea that would mean I have enough money to buy a modestly sized house in most of the US (except here). Ok but then again I could be wrong because we've already decided math is not my strong point.

    I've never ever calibrated my monitor because I've never read anything about digital photography. In fact, this is speak and spell because I can't actually read at all!

    Also I would assume your Californian is around your age. If you've managed to bag someone my age or younger I guess you're pretty rich. So if she went to school when my mother did, which would be most likely considering your extensive experience, it was a completely different educational climate. The average cost now for one year is somewhere around $15,000. In fact, the college my mother went to was $600 a semester for instate. Now it's $22,000, same school. California is basically the opposite of my state, not only geographically but attitude, culture, cost and even weather wise.

    But hey, that's more math and I have no idea what I'm talking about. I've never researched anything ever.

  • Hans Maerker April 29, 2010 07:09 pm

    Hi Guys,
    I followed the blog and had in mind to ignore Kate's whining and calling me insulting. Yet, following the multiple comments that my own one kicked lose, I have to get a few things straight here.
    No.. I'm not holding a grouch nor am I grumpy. Why should ? I shoot for 2 years sheer digital myself and never looked back. The turn around time that is required for your products today ask for digital.
    However, the initial article made it sound as if - just now - the latest forensic technology revealed the lifespan of a camera. That's where I started to write and said...

    - No new news for photographers who are in the field for years. It was that way already when we still shot with our analog cameras. So what's the big fuss about the lifespan now?

    - I pointed out that during the 'film area' people just pressed the trigger less times and therefore (many amateurs) were not aware of that fact as their 'shooting spree' let the cameras last 10 or 20 years.

    - Compared with the analog past, people press the release button and fire off at a tenfold number and now may come in the range where even an amateur realizes that his camera is not made for eternity.

    - Due to the cost of film amateurs bought cameras - and books about photography - in order to read first, then try to replicate and correct their mistakes. Otherwise they would go broke or needed to be rich.

    - Nowadays they often first buy, fire off like crazy and then try to find out why the outcome of their pictures is not what they thought of it. They rely on the digital chip and the programs vs. the analog cameras where your knowledge had to replace the computer chip.

    @Kate, I have news for you... do the math correctly and don't compare apples with oranges. Here are few corrections...

    (1) You mentioned that my 25 rolls per 36 were more than your storage chip could hold. You totally disregard that I was talking about a time span of 2 (two) weeks. I doubt that you go on a photo trip with you digi camera(s) of the same time length (two weeks ) and have just ONE storage chip(per camera) with you.
    Besides, those were 25x36=900 shots on film for 2 weeks. The modern Wedding photographers fires the shutter an average of 500 times on 1 (ONE) day! Lifetime of shutter reach ... when and how faster? DO the math yourself :-)

    (2) Let's take a scenario you can associate yourself with and compare the cost, O.K. ?

    (2a) A classical shoe box with old yellowish prints from your grandparents along with the negatives or slides thrown all together in one box you found in the attic. Everything is still usable, the negatives need a heck of filtering and preserving, but can be still used. Cost from the beginning? The film material, a one-time development, and the shoebox to put it all in. That's it

    (2b) Now let's see the cost nowadays. Digital shooting means the shots (NEF, JPG, RAW, etc) are as vulnerable as any computer file. They can be unreadable (being corrupted) or deleted by a stroke of a key. To preserve them to the same conditions as in scenario with negatives, you upload them to your hard disk. Yet, each hard disk has (by manufacturer specs) a given life time called MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures). Usually given around 100,000 hours of running). After this time you may expect malfunctioning of a HD due to fatigue, if not earlier due to some accidental failure. So, you need to have another hard disk (ext. USB) to backup your precious picture files( just in case). That's way more cost and maintenance to preserve the (now digital) substitute for your older negatives or slides.

    (2c) You may say... burn them on CD / DVD as a backup. Fine, you should do this anyway (in addition to your backup). Here comes the next life span! That neat slim 'plastic disk' alters over the years and changes. Read up on it and you will learn that you have a good chance that your burned CDs or DVDs may not be readable in about 10 to 15 years either. We all burn our archives on DVDs, yet there are special 'Golden' ones on the market that are especially for photography. Last longer but cost more of course.
    Rule of the thumb is to 'rotate' your burned pictures every 10 years. Meaning that you should take your burned ones and copy them on new CD / DVD after this time. Another additional maintenance and cost the 'shoebox' scenario didn't require.

    - Pro's often go in this digital age even further, because their income depends on it. Sequence: Shoot and upload to PC. Copy on 2 ext. hard disks and place one with the raw material in a fire safe before you start digitally editing and filtering. Then burn everything on DVD and store (due to limited space on hard disks), even if you have multiple hard disks in a 1TB (TeraByte) capacity range.

    - Another issue is, editing you images on a monitor with whatever editing software you use, requires a calibrated monitor to get the colors correct. For a Pro, it's mandatory to work with a calibrated monitor and recalibrate it on a regular base. Another maintenance - and - additional cost for calibration tools (monitor & printer) that are in a cost range of more than a compact shot and point camera for an amateur.

    Soooo, all this pointed out, nobody can deny that digital photography - regardless of being an amateur or a pro - is more costly than the old analog photography. Just life with it.

    - That's way more costly than the storage of slides in clear view presentation sheets for good. The digital age makes it way more convenient. You don't need to go in darkroom and deal with chemical.

    Oh... by the way Kate... I "currently" life in Europe for some time, but the emphasis in on "currently". Actually, I grew up in Germany, but hopped around the globe for many years, ranging from Middle East to Far East. I lived and worked in the States for about a decade (10 years), am married to a wonderful Californian and can compare the attitudes, conditions and habits at your side of the ocean.

    Guess that clears a few issues you may have had. Do a little bit research about made statements and facts before you accuse someone of being grouchy and insulting next time :-). O.K. ?

    - hm

  • Mike Olbinski April 29, 2010 01:14 pm

    Michael, OR we could use digital cameras and not have to feel like we're "digi kids" by guys who still prefer to do it the old way.

    I respect everyone who shoots with the tools they like. If you still want to develop film in a dark room, so be it. If you want to use a digital camera, cool.

    The point is the art of capturing the scene or portrait, not necessarily the way you do it.

    I also loved your quote above about Ansel Adams, like he was such a standard photographer. He did everything he could to manipulate in post-processing to make his photos look the way he wanted. A few articles I read today say he'd love Photoshop and the ability to manipulate his art in an easier fashion.

    There is no reason to be so condescending to people who shoot differently than you. It doesn't make you funny or cute, it makes people annoyed.

    Instead, like Kate said...maybe help us learn to shoot good photos, frame them, compose them, light them, instead of sitting their ridiculing all of us.


  • Michael McGrath April 29, 2010 01:11 pm

    Oh, and Kate, you only need a changing bag for the above operations, no darkroom necessary .

    Happily, I was trained by professionals who have gone before me, ON THE JOB - and certainly I will advise anybody who contacts me if I can - .

    You're welcome,
    Michael .

  • Michael McGrath April 29, 2010 01:07 pm

    To Kate , All you have to do is get a cheap tank, developer, fixer, water , develop your B & W film yourself, then choose what you want printed. The way they still do it in poverty-stricken Africa !

    Colour film - leave it into the Lab, order Develop Only, ditto choose the shots you want printed, if any .
    Order scanned CD's from the Lab -

    Now drag out that old Minolta 35mm , probably the best camera you have , equal to a full-frame DSLR , probably better in view of its Dynamic Range .

    Michael .

  • kate April 29, 2010 01:03 pm

    What's with the crotchety condescension? Why do you think we're all lazy and that you're somehow magic because you're old? Again, lucky you for being able to afford training. Feel free to buy me lessons and a load of film and then access to a dark room and the chemicals and paper. I would LOVE that. That's a few thousand dollars I don't have laying around.

    Here's a thought, if you can afford the training but never the equipment which matters more for the learning? Why don't you donate your own time and money to teaching us kids the "right" way?

    PS: Not all of us can afford a fancy flash either and don't use the in camera one if they can get away with it. It is all about the light.

  • Mike Olbinski April 29, 2010 12:51 pm

    Grumpy old men :)

  • Michael McGrath April 29, 2010 12:45 pm

    The Digi Kids ( BIG GRIN ) .

    Hehehe , Hans Maerker !

    As a film and digital photographer , as a Real Photographer, I agree with Hans Maerker above about many of those who never went through The Old Film School - I've been practising for 44 years since 1966 here in Ireland .

    And I have yet to see most of the Digi Kids , young and old, Digital Press and Wedding Photographers use flash off camera , handheld, though they use the top Nikons , Canons etc . lashing out pucks of money on their darlings .

    That is second nature to us , a necessary technique in the control of light which is one of the most important things that real photography is about .

    OK , so you need three hands like us old pro's , so go and find them, work it out :-)

    I can spot a Digi Kid a mile off with flash always stuck on top of camera .

    That said, I could learn Photoshop from some of those Digi Kids , they probably manage somehow to correct their woeful lighting there, or make it look acceptable .

    I have to laugh when I hear them preach that in order to shoot a wedding you must spend days in advance getting to know the happy Couple - the Happy Couple are so madly in love that the last thing they want around is a Digi Kid !

    An Old Pro moves in and out in a few hours, does the job, delivers, gets paid.

    As a retired Press Photographer / Journalist I know that most editors don't give a cuss about quality, always news value , thus all the Digi Kids we have as Press Photographers today, flash eternally stuck on top of camera .

    So, in ways, Digital is killing the Art of Photography . We're the Last of the Ansel Adamses , Hans :-)

    Still I love it, and I love the Digi Kids too.

    And if, at the age of 63, I don't stop smoking like a chimney, I won't have many actuations left myself ...

    Tomorrow !

    Michael McGrath
    The Studio
    Kilkenny City
    Ireland . .

    PS : I'd bet Hans would beat the bejasus out of any Digi Kid with a Brownie box camera or a supermarket disposable !

  • Karen Stuebing April 29, 2010 03:22 am

    I don't want my K10D to die! I've got about almost 10,000 clicks going by the file name count. Accordingto the chart there is at least one person who got 1,000,000? shots with it. Then again, some had theirs die around 12,000.

    I really wish I hadn't read this. JK. I never thought about a digital camera dying before. My Olympus C5050Z is 8 years old and it still works.

    To be honest, I'm not changing my shooting habits which is to take at least a few photos every day and when I cover events, a whole lot. I drive my 97 Ford Escort wagon over unimproved back roads. And it's still going strong.

    Using the car analogy, I do routine maintenance and of course go slow when the road is rough. I treat my cameras gently too. Maybe that counts for something?

  • MArshall Autry April 28, 2010 10:36 am

    Hans - like some of the other photographers above, I shot manual for years - Pentax in my case. I resisted going digital because I didn't want to switch to a whole new system, and when I was working in a camera store in the late 90's I kept hearing from the Pentax reps that they were going digital (and keeping the same mounts - and I have a great suite of lenses).
    But like the dinosaurs, I learned my art when you did have to be very cognizant of the amount of film you were carrying, etc. Going digital allowed me to do more of the action photography that I enjoy at a much lower cost. Doesn't mean I don't use all of the tricks and techniques I learned before. I've been shooting a Pentax istDL, and have a little over 39,000 "actuations" on it... I fully expect my new K-7 to last a whole lot longer than that., I know my ME Super from the mid-60's is still going strong.....

  • ContentiousReality April 28, 2010 06:03 am

    Just checked my D700:

    Judging by what I've shot so far on it, it should last around 4 years....darn concert photography!

  • EOShooter April 28, 2010 03:27 am

    I didn't see this mentioned, so I'll throw in a comment.

    Keep in mind that environmental conditions will have a lot to do with the logevity of the mechanical components that make up your DSLR.

    Warm climate, especially direct sunlight, will heat the camera and slightly close tolerances in joints and slips in the camera mechanism. Tighter tolerances mean additional force on load bearing surfaces. The solenoids and hinges will wear more quickly, though slightly, as manufacturers have considered, engineered, and tested the cameras in harsh environments.

    Also, if you never change your lens, you sharply decrease the odds of foreign particles invading the shutter cavity. Some dust is too small to see and floats easily in the air with the slightest turbulence. Tiny abrasives enter the cavity and settle in places that are statically charged and/or have exposed lubricant. The combination of particulate and tightend tolerances equals scratchy substances being forced into load-bearing surfaces on every shutter cycle.

    Again, this has all been tested in the manufacturer's R&D department. The predicted shutter life is only an average of best case and worst case scenarios.

    That being said, shoot. Shoot, shoot, shoot. Some people buy big entertainment systems, expensive sporty cars, or take costly vacations. Some people think nothing of spending $50-%100 on a night of drinking alcohol. None of those activities are likely to earn an income. Maybe, but I doubt it.

    If you have a hobby that cost you $7000 you are well within the cost window of many other hobbies or habits. Your craft is beautiful and worth doing well.

  • Anibal Trejo April 27, 2010 06:45 pm

    Average number of actuations after which shutter died: 85,413.3 for my D300
    And im already at 80000!!
    O M G!

  • kate April 27, 2010 10:10 am

    @Hans - You sound annoyed that the market's flooded. Some of us non-dinosaurs still take and keep most of the pictures they do take. We do think about wasted shots and composition and what we're looking for. Your 25x36 is more shots than I can take without deletion on my two memory cards in raw so if I go somewhere my limit is less than yours was. Digital cameras made it possible for me to get into pictures because I can't afford to even get the $.29 print copy at a pharmacy of all the photos I've taken. In no way have my software, storage, cameras and lenses cost me more overall than that would right there. It matters that the film won't rot waiting for money to print. It matters that you can skip taking expensive (read: unaffordable) classes to learn how to chemically develop film and just learn as you go instead. It matters that It matters that you don't need a specific space via darkroom to even take the film out of its roll without destroying it.

    All told over 8 years, three point and shoots, my dslr, three lenses, my computer, external harddrive and my memory cards have cost me less than anything I could have ever come close to trying to get film going since I've been taking pictures and it's not because I'm trigger happy and end up with a bunch of shots I hate it's because I take a bunch of shots I love and they all matter to me. I have a 35mm minolta that I can't use regularly because I can't afford to get everything printed even at a 4x6. Less so if I don't want the crap correction the cheap places automatically do to your photos.

    Knowledge is a commodity in America. I don't know where you are, but it makes a big difference living somewhere you can afford the equipment but not the training. This doesn't make us less committed to learning. It's also insulting to imply that we care less about the outcome. Do you seriously begrudge other people for learning what they can, how they can, about something they probably love and couldn't do before?

  • Hans Maerker April 27, 2010 05:52 am

    It's funny how photographers now talk about the life expectancy of their "digital" cameras. No offense, but because the photography exploded more or less with the help of the digital age, a huge mass of people reached for the cameras. Fact is, that this was not different during the age of analog photography. I'm in photography for over 30 years now (call me a dinosaur if you want) and we knew that the mechanical shutter curtains had only a certain life expectancy. Therefore, those - sheer mechanical - cameras had their given life time too and needed to be replaced after about that amount of shutter releases as well.

    No hard feelings, but the sad difference nowadays is that everybody gets just "trigger happy" and counts on having a dozen good shots out of 100 or so. We old fashioned trained photographers had limited film material with 36 shots per roll and truly thought about the structure of a picture. We had (still have) a certain vision of the shot we wanted to take and were quite selective with our final shots.

    When I went on a trip for 2 weeks, I had roughly 25 rolls of 35mm film per 36 shots with me. There was no way to be trigger happy but the need to plan and to be selective. It would help the new generation of digital photographers a lot if they take the time to learn first about the interplay of ISO, f-stop and shutter speed and plan their photography. Documentation is available in abundance. To go this route is actually a win-win situation. The quality of the pictures will improve and so will the photographer's self-esteem.

    Is the digital age cheaper than the analog? No! The cameras cost way more today, and the cost of hardware, software AND the digital ways of double and triple backing up with TB range hard disks compensate for the cost of chemicals and paper. Actually, the digital photography is more expensive than the old analog one. But the "dinosaurs" who shoot for almost half a life span know this already.

    Hans Maerker

  • Rob Bernhard April 27, 2010 04:32 am

    Point and shoots dont have shutters in them, thats what causes the delay. The sensor is always exposed and has to switch from live view mode to record.

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The sensor is exposed up to the point that the shutter is pressed. Then the sensor needs to be cleared of charge and a shutter is indeed activated in order to do this.

    Digital point and shoot cameras all have hybrid leaf-shutters in the lens barrel. You can see them working, it's very easy, by shining a light down there and pressing the shutter button.

  • Donovan Chin April 27, 2010 01:59 am

    For those who are hearing about shutter actuations for the first time and are now totally worried about their cameras dying on them, I think that you're worrying about a mole-hill. Firstly, did you really expect a moving part like that would last forever? Anyway, unless you're a working professional shooting a lot of sports in rapid fire like shutter actuations, I think that the shutter might actually outlive your need for an upgrade anyway. Shutters are not that expensive and are a wear and tear part of the wonderful camera system you own. Just continue to shoot away.

  • kate April 27, 2010 01:52 am

    If my car could only have 100k miles on it I wouldn't buy it because that's pathetic for a well-maintained automobile.

    It was really depressing to find this out. I kind of wondered in the back of my head how long it would last and I did figure it had a life expectancy but I thought it'd be longer than that. I don't know if by the time I kill the shutter that I'll be able to replace it. I hope so, but probably not. If I can't I'm glad someone mentioned further up that it's reparable and I hope to be able to afford that.

  • David Meyer April 27, 2010 12:11 am

    Whoops Correction: "wouldn't pay" :-)

  • David Meyer April 27, 2010 12:10 am

    Elizabeth, I think you make a great point about used cameras. Buying on E-bay and other sites can be a gamble. I will definitely be asking for this information next time. Keeping with the car analogy, I would pay the same for a car with only 1,000 miles on it as I would for a car with 100,000 miles on it.
    For me this article is more of a reminder about the value of your camera if you are possibly going to resell it someday as well. Something to keep in mind if your trading up and want to get a good price for your used camera.
    Thanks, Elizabeth, for provoking a little thought on a little talked about issue. That's what I love about DPS.

  • Stock Photos April 26, 2010 11:27 pm

    I already have my next camera picked out! I can't wait for mine to break ;-)

  • hans April 26, 2010 09:41 pm

    My 10D has hit the 100.000 mark some time ago.
    The shutter still works, as does the rest of the camera, but a few dead pixels have appeared around the 60.000 mark.
    I guess at 1.000 Euro's for a camera, a picture will cost me about a cent a piece.

  • Mahesh April 26, 2010 08:32 pm

    Never known about this fact until I bought myself a Canon EOS 1000D. When I was going through the forum, someone mentioned about shutter life, then I was kinda like surprised. I quickly Googled about this topic to find more about it. I found this site which gives actuations of every camera makes and model. Found out that Canon 1000D has actuation of 11,000.

  • Brandon Green April 26, 2010 05:50 pm

    I had my reservations about this article as well with the use of "life expectancy" and "shutter expectancy" interchangeably. However, after going back and checking the shutter usage on my old XTi / 400d (which I used quite heavily for 2.5 years as it was my first dSLR), and as it turns out I only ended up with 28,638 actuations. Since then I've upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark II. So whether the 400d has a shutter expectancy of 100k or 50k (a matter of much debate), I probably was never in much danger of reaching it. So the authors logic does seem to hold true.

    Another thing I think is worth mentioning, at least for the professional photographers out there: Your lenses are where your main investment for the long haul is going to be. Whether you use your dSLR constantly, or keep it in a hermetically sealed box year after year, it is going to lose value. That's what most electronics do. But your lenses aren't, at least not much (especially if you just take care of them). Worrying about the shutter of a camera that you know is going to be nothing more than a neat looking paperweight in 5 years seems silly. So use it. Use the hell out of it until it breaks, and then either have it fixed or buy a better one. You paid enough for the thing, you may as well try and squeeze every last drop you can out of it. By the same token, if you aren't taking simple precautions with your lenses, like always using a lens hood and only using a hand blower / microfiber lens cloth to clean the glass, then you really aren't respecting your investment.

    To sum it up, you and your camera live relatively short lives. However, your photos have the potential to live forever, but only the ones you actually take.

  • Geir April 26, 2010 03:37 pm

    I did a quick check for my Olympus E3. It is two years old, and I run it harder than most hobbyists. I've got 30 000 exposures, which Nesna that for the 150k limit this vaner has, the shutter will last for 8 more years, by which time I probably will have a new camera.

  • Sterling April 26, 2010 03:26 pm

    Worrying about something wearing out to the point of not using it is insane. Why bother having it at all? Reminds me of a guy I once knew who refused to use the fan in his car. The reason? If he used it, it would wear out sooner!

  • Miguel Carvajal April 26, 2010 01:41 pm

    If people took the time to actually read the User's Manual that came with the camera they purchased, the information in this post would not be news... and yes, the shutter is what has a life expectancy, not the actual camera...

  • Mark April 26, 2010 01:32 pm

    I agree that the shutter count is not the end of a camera. I have not had to replace my shutter thought I do "take it out" regularly.

    I think this kind of article is necessary for two reasons:
    - shutters are expensive and may be akin to replacing a head on a car (an expensive job) and should be included in the information we have as buyers; and,
    - too often we think "it's digital, I can just take heaps of photos to get one good one" - every good photographer realises this is not the case. We need to think first, then take pictures. This is just one more reason to do so!

  • Richard Seeton April 26, 2010 11:57 am

    For Nikons & Pentax camers, the actuation count is stored in metadata - you can check the actuation counts at . Opanda's EXIF tool is a downloadable tool that allows you to view the metadata details.

    The interesting thing is that actuation counts for Nikons can be reset by software upgrades and other fixes - making it hard to trace how many actuations a given camera has actually had.

  • Darrell April 26, 2010 10:34 am

    @Zach +1

  • Mei Teng April 26, 2010 10:17 am

    Thanks for sharing this info. First time learning about actuations.

  • Geir April 26, 2010 07:38 am

    This article would be more interesting if the author could point us to places where we could check out these things. Are there specific sites, are there specific cameras that die earlier than others, how can I check on the status of my camera etc.

  • junglebear April 26, 2010 07:26 am

    Life's too short to worry about actuations!

  • Jared Polin April 26, 2010 06:22 am

    I hear what your saying, I mentioned that most people will not reach the end of their shutter life. I have seen a lot of cameras get traded in with under 10,000 shots on them which means their shutters have a long life left. But with anything digital they could go bad just from sitting in your bag.

    I did not mean for it to come off as harsh as it sounded, i apologize.

  • Elizabeth Halford April 26, 2010 06:17 am

    @Jared: Wow that's quite an accusation. That I've given incorrect facts. If you're referring to the fact that I'm talking about camera life expectancy rather than just the shutter, you can attribute that to the fact that the three most popular cameras used by DPS readers are the Canon T1i (500D), Nikon D90 and Canon XSi (450D). These cameras are widely used by amateurs for whom (as Frank rightly put it) "’s probably a figure few will reach before upgrading their cameras". So when I talk about 'camera life expectancy', I'm writing to the amateur. For the professional, you clearly know what I mean and can easily replace the word 'camera' with the word 'shutter'.

  • Jared Polin April 26, 2010 05:50 am

    Donovan, you are right, its not the first time that facts have be way off in these articles. The last one I got involved in was the one that said "i dont care what the manufacture says, anything over 800 ISO is CRAP!!!" That was in regards to portraits and could not be further from the truth. Maybe 4 years ago we would agree but now thats not the case.

  • Jared Polin April 26, 2010 05:48 am

    Zach, I am in no way longing for the days of film. Digital has made what I day so much better. I was just saying that people should get a feel for what it was like when you only had 36 shots.

  • zach April 26, 2010 05:00 am

    yah Jared, and make them only use one ISO per 36 shots! That will show them! Silly Digital Users!

    oh wait, that's one of the main reasons people went digital in the first place, the flexibility of settings and ability to take a whole lot of shots and only keep the ones you want.

    Just because you're nostalgic for the late great days of film doesn't mean you shouldn't use the advantages of the tools you have!

  • Jared Polin April 26, 2010 04:19 am

    Jason, great comment, we sometimes forget about the days of film and having only 36 shots to get it right. I come form a film background so i know what its like to have only 36 shots before I had to change the roll. I like to put out a challenge to people who have never shot film to only shoot 36 shots and not check the screen for any of them. This is the closest most people will ever get to shooting film.


  • Jason Collin Photography April 26, 2010 04:00 am

    I have long kept actuations in mind when out using my Nikon D300, which is rated for 150,000. One day when I took 600 shots trying to get a pelican just flying over the water I thought to myself, "this has not earned me any income, this is not paid work, and I did not get the shot I wanted anyway, think twice before doing such a photography project again!"

  • Frank April 26, 2010 03:55 am

    The 100,000 figure you're quoting is not the life of the camera - it's the life of the shutter. Shutter replacement is relatively (compared to the original camera cost) cheap and straightforward on pro and semi-pro cameras.

    You seem to imply that the manufacturers want to keep this a secret - on the contrary - the specs. for most cameras will list the shutter life expectancy. For amateurs, it's probably a figure few will reach before upgrading their cameras. For professionals, servicing and repair are just a normal overhead - like with cars.

  • Jared Polin April 26, 2010 03:16 am

    Point and shoots dont have shutters in them, thats what causes the delay. The sensor is always exposed and has to switch from live view mode to record.

  • Alexandru April 26, 2010 03:13 am

    The shutter of my Samsung point-and-shoot camera stopped working after about 25000 shots, which I think it's a pretty good number for a cheap camera.

  • @photogoofer April 26, 2010 03:10 am

    I shoot sports and rack up quite a few exposures per event. I've never had a shutter die on me (knock on wood). But, as another post mentioned, I also upgrade to new generations before "using up" my allotted actuations. If mine were to go bad, I always have a back up camera and am prepared for the $200-$300 replacement cost. A bit like repairing the transmission on the 200k mile car!

  • Jared Polin April 26, 2010 02:47 am

    some of the pro end Nikons like the D3S are rated for 300,000 clicks which is a ton. Keep in mind that if you get 3 years out of a pro body you probably are onto the next generation and ready to update at that point. I replaced my D3 with the D3S 2 years to the day exact day I bought it.

    The high end cameras are bricks today, they will take a pretty good betting. On the other hand anything digital could stop working if you breathe on it wrong.

    Jared Polin

  • Jolene April 26, 2010 02:33 am

    Is there any certain way to know how many actuations your camera has on it? I could guess on mine but I would likely be way off. In my head my D40X should be hitting that 100,000 mark in the next year or two, but then, maybe I'm really overestimating.

    At least now that I'm shooting in RAW I'm normally not taking that many exposures per motive, plus I'm more skilled than I was when I first bought my camera so I don't have to go through as many "tries" to get the right show compared to how I was a couple of years ago.

  • Wolfgang April 26, 2010 02:22 am

    Indeed - when I hit my shutter limits on my first 10D I learned to always bring a spare one on my vacations and that Canon replaces the shutter for $200. Not a life expectancy, more like the mileage you get from your transmission ;)

  • Reed April 26, 2010 02:12 am

    Simple, free, EXIF reader for the Mac that displays (among many other things) the number of shutter actuations that are embedded in jpg files.

  • Martin April 26, 2010 01:46 am

    if a car was deffinately going to fail at 100,000 miles yes, i would still do a 1000 miles a day if thats what my job required. What I wouldent be doing is spending £30,000 on my car....

    the majority of items you buy have a expected life and this is set to the shortest life expectancy of any one componant.. Its the mechanical items that are at highest risk. things like microswitches. Again, you get what you pay for. you can buy a microswitch for as little as 20p but i would imaging it wont be as well engineered as a more expensive switch.. the solid state items should last indefitately....

  • Darrell April 26, 2010 01:42 am

    Anything with moving parts has a finite life span. Without film and developing, costs why discourage people from taking as many photographs as they can. Seems about as useful as writing a review for a camera that is no longer in production.

  • BC Leonard April 26, 2010 01:39 am

    Good! When it wears out I have a valid reason to buy a new one.

  • Shannon April 26, 2010 01:36 am

    You can have a shutter replaced. Probably not worth it for your entry level DSLR(just buy a new one) but for a $2500 to $4500 dollar camera a $300 dollar replacement would be well worth it. This does make you think about thoughtless firing off of your camera, and about offering free shoots where you fire off 1500 shots trying to get some perfect ones.

  • Mike Olbinski April 26, 2010 01:30 am

    not sure how I like that quote "i wouldn't drive 1,000 miles a day on a 100,000 mile car." I just wouldn't buy a car if I knew it would only go 100,000. Sometimes you need to drive 1,000 miles a day.

    I bought my camera back in October and have been going nuts with it (Rebel XSi) shooting tons of people pictures and also HDR (which requires a lot of shots). I believe I'm already around 14k.

    It's definitely disheartening to hear that number. Granted, it probably means I have about 3 years left on it, but I guess i never thought I had to worry about it.

  • hafizan89 April 26, 2010 01:29 am

    My sony alpha 200 doesn't have shutter counts.
    How do I know?

  • Jen at Cabin Fever April 26, 2010 01:20 am

    I never knew there was a finite life expectancy of a camera! I believe mine are at 10k and 4k and I've had them for years. Both were actually bought used off of Ebay! Seems as if I lucked out because when I bought them I had no idea about "Actuations"

    Check out this week's photo finalists and vote for your favorite at Cabin Fever in Vermont

  • Brian Chen April 26, 2010 01:16 am

    We buy things to "use" them. For instance I didn't buy my camera to to keep it brand new and pristine. Things we use are all subjected to wear and tear. Just like a car, but if we maintain them well they may last longer than we expect. My 2 cents!

  • Eric Doggett April 26, 2010 01:09 am

    Important point! I've heard of photographers who forego repairs on cameras and replace them with new ones, simply because the shutter count is so high. Kind of like putting new tires on a car with a bad engine, I guess.

  • Focx Photography April 26, 2010 01:04 am

    This post certainly needs a link to the biggest database for shutter life expectancy I know of:

  • Donovan Chin April 26, 2010 01:04 am

    I'm totally surprised by this article. The information is totally incorrect. The camera doesn't die after the spec-ed number of actuations, the shutter does. Just get the shutter replaced and the camera will continue to function happily for years. I think that DPS should ensure that the articles are more closely moderated.