How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
ProfHankD
Senior MemberPosts: 2,161Gear list
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Shutters usually are not what dies; some failure modes
In reply to zackiedawg, 9 months ago

My NEX-5 has about 85K shutter actuations and is still going strong.

However, I have lots of cameras, and I've never had a shutter die on a camera. NEVER. I have a couple of old film SLRs with dead shutters that came on the back of eBay'd lenses I wanted, but I suspect they died because the focal-plane shutter was more exposed in film cameras (no pun intended): the curtains were directly accessible from both front and back (when loading film), so it was easier for bad stuff to get in.

I also use some cameras tethered (not the NEX-5, since Sony didn't support it), and have a bunch of cameras with well over 1M shutter actuations. What does fail?

  • Canon PowerShots (pretty much all of them): the lens extend/retract gears strip. This easily can happen to a new camera by simply having the power button trigger while the camera is inside something that blocks the lens from extending. Bad design... should really detect force and shut down harmlessly. My Dad's Kodak DC260 also had a lens focus gearing failure, probably triggered the same way. Anyway, if you don't strip the gears, the PowerShots don't die. The only truly dead PowerShot I have is one that was bricked by a failed firmware update.
  • Nikon 950: I have one of these 2.1MP cameras continuously snapping away since early in 2000. Yes, 14+ years of essentially continuous firing via RS232 tether. There used to be two, but the second one suffered a complete electronics failure (probably internal power supply cap failed). The one still clicking passed 3M images years ago... probably in the 5-6M range now. Here's the latest image from it as it (with fisheye lens) hangs upsidedown over some of my supercomputers: http://aggregate.org/SENSORS/108AMARK/bignow.jpg
  • Olympus D340R: I had 3 of these 1.3MP cameras, also snapping away via RS232 tether and using fisheye lens converters. All have well over 1M exposures, but 2 are now essentially dead with probable power supply cap failures. Long ago, they started to have problems in that every time they take a photo, they autofocus by first slamming into the infinity stop and then seeking closer focus -- over time, they literally shifted the infinity stop enough so that actual infinity was closer than what the camera thought was the normal close-focus limit. The easy fix was to put them in macro mode, which simply told the camera not to limit how close it would try to focus.
  • I have one old Nikon compact and a similar-vintage Sony camcorder that both have EVF color channel failures. Basically, a surface-mount resistor a fraction of the size of a grain of rice detached from a circuit board causing one color to be missing from the Sony EVF display, and it sounded like the same component was bouncing around inside the Nikon. Perhaps the EVF module was from the same source...? The Nikon subsequently had more problems when the detached component apparently wedged itself someplace bad inside the camera.
  • I have a Casio QV100 that apparently died when my canoe dumped it in a river. However, the camera actually is still functional -- it is just the LCD that doesn't work, and that model pretty much doesn't have anything else to tell you what it is doing. New images blindly shot and downloaded were still fine.

In summary, shutters usually have rated life between 100K and 1M actuations, but in reality there are other things that probably will not last as long as the shutter. There are also non-fatal issues that can become severe; for example, sensor dead pixel count slowly creeps up... less slowly if the camera is operated hot.

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