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How to Find Your Camera’s Shutter Actuations

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Related course: Photography for Beginners

There are many important things you need to look at when buying a second-hand digital camera. One of these is the total shutter actuations the DSLR has been through.
This is important, as every camera body has a shelf life – and it seems that the shutter life could be the shortest.
This article will show you how to find your camera shutter’s actuations. This can help you buy a better secondhand camera.
Street photo of a lantern with shadow cast on a stone wall
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What Are Shutter Actuations

Shutter actuations are very simple. Each time you photograph using a digital camera, your shutter makes an ‘actuation’. This is the process of the shutter opening and closing.
As we said before, this could be the first thing to fall apart on your digital camera. Why? Well, this is the part of your camera that moves the most. It is also the most fragile and the hardest to reach if repairs are needed.
The mirror also moves, but it’s stronger and more durable. Plus, it is easier and cheaper to fix due to its location. If your shutter fails, it might be cheaper to buy a new camera.
Knowing when your camera could fail is important. You don’t want this to happen in the middle of a wedding shoot. Better to be prepared for the inevitable.
Saying that, these actuation limits are just guidelines. It also depends on other external uses, such as the weather and how you generally treat your camera. I’ve been using my Canon 7D for over 8 solid years.

How Many Shutter Actuations Can You Expect

Camera manufacturers are transparent when it comes to their gear failing due to usage. To find your camera’s shutter actuations, you need to visit your camera manufacturer’s web site.
Most DSLR cameras will stand well above 100k shutter actuations for their shutter life expectancy.
Canon are confident that their Canon 5D Mark II is good for 150k, while their Canon EOS-1D X will make it to 400k.
Nikon also state that their Nikon D700 is good for 150k, and their Nikon D5 for 400k.
As a general rule of thumb, use this guide:

  • Entry Level DSLRs – 100,000 shutter actuations;
  • Mid-range DSLRs – 150,000 – 250,000 shutter actuations;
  • High-end DSLRs – 200,000 – 300,000 shutter actuations.

Let’s put this in a relatable way. If you own a Canon DSLR like the Canon 5D Mark II, you may get a maximum of 200k shutter actuations. If you photograph 100 photos a day, it will last 2000 days.
In years, that adds up to 5.5 years. Each year, that adds up to 36,363 shots.
That is a hefty number, even for a professional photographer.
Flat lay off various photos, postcards and magazine pictures - shutter count

How to Find Your Camera’s Shutter Actuations

Luckily, in today’s world, there are a few ways you can check this number.

EXIF Data

All the information concerning your shutter count is located in your image’s EXIF data, or ‘metadata’. For more information about EXIF data, read our article here.
Basically, your metadata collects information such as shutter speed, ISO and aperture, as well as, time and date of the image taken.
This is where some manufacturers, such as Canon or Nikon, add their shutter count.

Use JPEG Format

By switching over to JPEG format, it is easier to read the EXIF data. Therefore, making it faster to see your shutter count.
Otherwise, you need to pull your RAW file into Lightroom to see the information.
Screenshot of checking the shutter count on a Canon E0S 5D Mark II camera

ExifTool

ExifTool is a great way to find out what your shutter count is. This program is downloadable here and will work for both Windows and Mac.
You need to use command prompts to be able to access the information.

Opanda IExif

For those who don’t want to use command prompts, there is Opanda IExif for windows. Simply download and install. Once opened, use the ‘Open’ button to find your image.
you will be presented with a lot of information, but just scroll down until you see ‘Total Number of Shutter Releases for Camera’.

Upload an Image

A great way to find out your shutter count is to upload an image taken with that camera.
Head on over to camerashuttercount.com, choose and upload your image to the simple interface.
Here, it will extract the information for you. This method works with over 100 different camera models, and maybe a lot more.
They know this because they tested these specific models, shown on their page.
Screeshot of camera shutter count website

Canon Users

For Canon users, a company called AstroJargon has created two pieces of software for retrieving the shutter count information.
The one for Windows is called EOSInfo and the Mac version is 40D shutter count.
Simply download, install and run – plug your camera into your computer and the software will give you the information.
Also, stopping into any official Canon repair shop will have software that will easily and quickly let you know the required information.

Magic Lantern

If you decided that your DSLR could benefit from a little legal hacking, then you might have installed Magic Lantern.
This is an open source software that adds-on to your camera’s firmware.
It has a feature that will let you know your shutter count straight from your camera.
This is open source, and third-party – so install this at your own risk.
Screenshot of checking your camera shutter count

Olympus/Panasonic Users

You don’t need to be here as both companies let you know within the camera’s operating system.
What you will need to find out is how to get there through a series of specific button clicks.
For example – Some Olympus cameras will need this process:

  • Turn your camera on.
  • Open your memory card door.
  • Press “PLAY” +”OK” at the same time.
  • Press on the dial, in this exact order: up, down, left and then right.
  • Depress the shutter release button fully.
  • Press up on the dial.

Sony Users

For all those Sony users, there is a free website for those that use the Sony Alpha models. You can find the Sony Alpha Shutter Count here.

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