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

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

There's a well-known web tool that reports the current actuation count on nearly any Alpha camera ever made. You just upload any recent, original (out-of-camera) JPG or ARW to the site, it reports the count and destroys the file.

(You can Google "alpha shutter count" to get the link yourself, but it's http://tools.science.si/index.php )

Any thoughts on how many shutter actuations it would be reasonable to expect from my aging NEX-5? I have an A6000 on pre-order and am trying to decide whether to hold onto my NEX-5 as a 2nd body, unload it on eBay, or give it away to a friend. I'm assuming the fact the body is mirrorless improves life vs. a DSLR/DSLT, although I suspect the lack of an EFCS might be a minus in that equation.

At the moment my actuation count is just north of 127,500... it was ~95 when I bought it used for $340, so I feel I've already gotten my money's worth!

For those of you who've used your camera heavily for a number of years I'd appreciate knowing the following:

- Does your working camera have a current shutter count substantially higher than my 128k?

- If you had a camera shutter crap out, what was the shutter count recorded on one of the last original image files you have from that camera?

Thanks!

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sybersitizen
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to mrbenji, 6 months ago

Look here.

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mrbenji
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to sybersitizen, 6 months ago

sybersitizen wrote:

Look here.

Thanks... only I don't know how much help that site is, though -- I don't see any mirrorless or DSLT cameras, and data on Sony DSLRs is sparse and all over the map. Sony DSLR values for "Average number of actuations after which shutter died" range wildly from downright scary to encouraging.

Sony "Average number of actuations after which shutter died" values:

  • A390 - 11,329
  • A380 - 11,983
  • A100 - 14,582
  • A300 - 18,255
  • A350 - 26,468
  • A550 - 973,656
  • A900 - 2,547,085

Consumer-grade Nikons predictably have more data, but of course these are also DSLRs:

  • D3000 - 206,133
  • D5000 - 247,264

Consumer-grade Canons fare worse:

  • 450D - 41,843
  • 400D - 148,938

I don't know if it's worth trying to evaluate the other data points in this database... I'd really love to hear some anecdotal reports from SLT/E-mount owners!

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santiclaws
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to mrbenji, 6 months ago

The average life expectancy on shutters of consumer-grade cameras is generally 100,000. Obviously, individual units will vary greatly.

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PVCdroid
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to sybersitizen, 6 months ago

Look here.

It's not really known yet what the average life for mirrorless should be (not many mirrorless stats in link) but I presume they would last longer. When a shutter fails on a DSLR that could mean the shutter itself or a mirror mechanism failure as well which we don't have to deal with.

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RonFrank
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to mrbenji, 6 months ago

Your current camera is beyond the life expectancy which means little other than if it dies tomorrow you had a good run.

Give it to a friend.  Spread the love!

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RonFrank
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to PVCdroid, 6 months ago

The mirror does not count as a shutter failure.  How long a shutter will last depends on how strong the build quality is.  Nikon used to test their shutters to determine how long they last and if they need improvement.  I have no idea what Sony's procedure is but if not documented maybe not so good -or- if they brag about it that is a good sign.  I have not searched Sony sites to see how much testing they do.

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Mel Snyder
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to RonFrank, 6 months ago

RonFrank wrote:

The mirror does not count as a shutter failure. How long a shutter will last depends on how strong the build quality is. Nikon used to test their shutters to determine how long they last and if they need improvement. I have no idea what Sony's procedure is but if not documented maybe not so good -or- if they brag about it that is a good sign. I have not searched Sony sites to see how much testing they do.

Actually, Nikon may not differentiate between the shutter and the mirror when there's a failure. They replace it as a unit.About 3 years ago, my daughter's D50 failed and Nikon charged $140 plus shipping.

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viking79
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to mrbenji, 6 months ago

I would say most consumers don't put more than 10 or 15k shutter actuations, I would expect them to last 50k actuations.  I think they are "rated" for around 100k, but that number is somewhat meaningless.  I think you are likely to see more fail before 100k than after. A friend just had their Canon shutter fail in their T2i around 70k shots.

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zackiedawg
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Expect around 100K, but you may get much more...
In reply to mrbenji, 6 months ago

As with anything about durability or life, there are averages, expectations, norms, means, etc - but the reality of it is that there is no absolute for how long a given thing will actually last. I've had batteries die after 6 months, while others have gone years. I've had light bulbs blow in 2 months, and others have gone 9 years. Cars I've had issues with drivetrain/engine within 2 years or 20,000 miles, others have gone 160,000 miles and 7 years without a hiccup...even within the same brand.

Same with cameras - they can give you an estimated shutter life, but actual experience will vary greatly, and can be influenced by your own shooting style and pattern, the build quality and internal quality of your particular component, and a little bit of luck, good or bad.

I haven't yet experienced a shutter failure in a camera...might happen someday, but not so far *knock on wood*. My NEX-5N, according to the above site, now sits at 47,640 shutter actuations.  7 months ago when I tried this site, I was a little over 33,000.  I have no idea if this site's software can calculate the actual shutter actuations taking into account multi-frame HHT and HDR shooting, which I use fairly extensively, so possibly my shutter count could be much higher if this hasn't been taken into account.

My A580, which gets heavy shutter use because of wildlife and bird shooting, and which I've had longer than the NEX-5N, is at 137,500 shutter actuations in 28 months.  My A550 reached just about 100,000 when I replaced it with the A580 - it's still my backup cam.

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SQLGuy
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Re: Expect around 100K, but you may get much more...
In reply to zackiedawg, 6 months ago

In their teardown of the A7, Lenrentals showed that the shutter is made by Nidec Copal. Regardless of expectations for a particular camera model, I would think that Nidec has specs on the life expectancy of their shutters. Now, what it takes to find these data...?

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mrbenji
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to viking79, 6 months ago

viking79 wrote:

I would say most consumers don't put more than 10 or 15k shutter actuations, I would expect them to last 50k actuations. I think they are "rated" for around 100k, but that number is somewhat meaningless. I think you are likely to see more fail before 100k than after. A friend just had their Canon shutter fail in their T2i around 70k shots.

Wow, I obviously shoot differently than most consumers: over 125k shots in <2.5 years! It would also appear I've been pretty fortunate in having no issues... although I hope it's due to consumer-grade mirrorless cameras being more durable than consumer-grade DSLRs, instead of pure luck, since I'm sticking with mirrorless cameras (A6000 on pre-order).

I guess swapping out my A6000's shutter wouldn't be the end of the world, but I'm certainly going to try focus on being more selective.  In particular, I only stopped keeping my NEX-5 in continuous shooting mode (2.3fps, not 7fps speed priority) during the last 6 months or so -- I was "learning the ropes" while taking lots of shots of my kids, and that speed was fast enough to give me a good selection to cull from, but not so fast that I was drowning in shots.  I've only ever used the 7fps speed priority mode for action shots: kids jumping into the pool, etc.

I've gotten better about deciding BEFORE pushing the shutter if it's not worth taking a shot, and expect I'll be in the A6000's single-shot mode 95% of the time, since there's no way I'm using an 11fps continuous mode for casual shooting.  If the AF tracking proves to really be as good as it seems to be I'll probably even skip continuous mode for most action shots.  All that should help keep my shutter actuations down -- plus EFCS can only improve durability, I'd imagine.

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Digital Nigel
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Re: Expect around 100K, but you may get much more...
In reply to zackiedawg, 6 months ago

zackiedawg wrote:

As with anything about durability or life, there are averages, expectations, norms, means, etc - but the reality of it is that there is no absolute for how long a given thing will actually last. I've had batteries die after 6 months, while others have gone years. I've had light bulbs blow in 2 months, and others have gone 9 years. Cars I've had issues with drivetrain/engine within 2 years or 20,000 miles, others have gone 160,000 miles and 7 years without a hiccup...even within the same brand.

Same with cameras - they can give you an estimated shutter life, but actual experience will vary greatly, and can be influenced by your own shooting style and pattern, the build quality and internal quality of your particular component, and a little bit of luck, good or bad.

I haven't yet experienced a shutter failure in a camera...might happen someday, but not so far *knock on wood*. My NEX-5N, according to the above site, now sits at 47,640 shutter actuations. 7 months ago when I tried this site, I was a little over 33,000. I have no idea if this site's software can calculate the actual shutter actuations taking into account multi-frame HHT and HDR shooting, which I use fairly extensively, so possibly my shutter count could be much higher if this hasn't been taken into account.

I think the algorithm does take into account the multi-frame modes. I'm also at around 48k with my NEX-7, and I've not been "round the clock" more than a couple of times, so my actual number of shots is below 30k. Of course, it's easy to test -- measure the count from the frames immediately before and after, say, a panorama shot.

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zackiedawg
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Re: Expect around 100K, but you may get much more...
In reply to Digital Nigel, 6 months ago

Good point - I can run a few HHT shots off tonight, since I haven't used my NEX-5N since I checked the last photo shutter count - and see what the new count shows.  If I do 10 HHT shots and get 10 more shutter actuations, then I know it's not counting them - if I get 60 shutter actuations, then it is indeed taking them into account.

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Digital Nigel
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Re: Expect around 100K, but you may get much more...
In reply to zackiedawg, 6 months ago

zackiedawg wrote:

Good point - I can run a few HHT shots off tonight, since I haven't used my NEX-5N since I checked the last photo shutter count - and see what the new count shows. If I do 10 HHT shots and get 10 more shutter actuations, then I know it's not counting them - if I get 60 shutter actuations, then it is indeed taking them into account.

I wonder if not using EFC doubles the shutter count?

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robert1955
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Re: Expect around 100K, but you may get much more...
In reply to zackiedawg, 6 months ago

I think it is counting them individually. The number the site shows is about 20% higher than I'd expect from the file number. I've always kept numbering at continuous and the cards have only been used in this camera.

zackiedawg wrote:

Good point - I can run a few HHT shots off tonight, since I haven't used my NEX-5N since I checked the last photo shutter count - and see what the new count shows. If I do 10 HHT shots and get 10 more shutter actuations, then I know it's not counting them - if I get 60 shutter actuations, then it is indeed taking them into account.

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sybersitizen
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Re: How many shutter actuations should I expect? (incl. web tool to check yours)
In reply to mrbenji, 6 months ago

mrbenji wrote:

sybersitizen wrote:

Look here.

Thanks... only I don't know how much help that site is, though..

Me neither... but I don't know of anything better, or with more recorded samples.

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Digital Nigel
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Re: Expect around 100K, but you may get much more...
In reply to robert1955, 6 months ago

robert1955 wrote:

I think it is counting them individually. The number the site shows is about 20% higher than I'd expect from the file number. I've always kept numbering at continuous and the cards have only been used in this camera.

OK, I now have the answers to the question:

1. A single shot with EFC counts as one shutter actuation.

2. A single shot without EFC counts as two shutter actuations.

3. Multi-shot modes count as multiple shutter actuations. For example, panoramas without EFC generate over 60 shutter actuations!

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mrbenji
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Re: Expect around 100K, but you may get much more...
In reply to Digital Nigel, 6 months ago

Digital Nigel wrote:

robert1955 wrote:

I think it is counting them individually. The number the site shows is about 20% higher than I'd expect from the file number. I've always kept numbering at continuous and the cards have only been used in this camera.

OK, I now have the answers to the question:

1. A single shot with EFC counts as one shutter actuation.

2. A single shot without EFC counts as two shutter actuations.

3. Multi-shot modes count as multiple shutter actuations. For example, panoramas without EFC generate over 60 shutter actuations!

Wow.  Yeah, I guess that makes sense, and I guess I should have realized as much, since my actuation count is over twice as high as my "exposures made" count (the NEX-5 has no EFCS).  I don't know how to explain the fact that my actuations are ~8% higher than double -- maybe the shutter doesn't fire twice on every frame of a handheld twilight mode burst?

Wish I'd known this before... I was torn between a lightly-used NEX-5 and a new 5N when I bought my camera, and might well have chosen the latter if I'd realized I'd be burning through its shutter lifespan twice as fast as I would have with the 5N.

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ProfHankD
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Shutters usually are not what dies; some failure modes
In reply to zackiedawg, 6 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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