How Long Will My Shutter Last?

shutter on my dslr is broken
Another camera's shutter goes to Heaven

Aaron Mizzi recently sent in a question asking how long the shutter on his DSLR will last before it bites the dust. It's actually a very good question and the answer will also teach you an easy way to find out how many total times you've pressed the shutter button on your DSLR, which is a handy thing to know for used camera buyers.

Here's Aaron's question… “I have a Nikon D3 camera and would really like to know what is the lifetime of its shutter, and i had never updated its firmware.”

First of all, let's cut out the fluff. It really makes no difference whether or not you have updated the firmware of the camera. The shutter is hardware in the camera and the firmware won't impact its durability (but seriously… it's time to update).

How many shutter actuations do the manufacturers claim?

There are a few things you'll want to know about the life of your shutter. First of all, the camera manufacturers publicize the shutter rating of the camera. Most entry-level DSLR cameras are only rated at 100,000 shutter actuations. Mid and high-end cameras have more durable shutters that are rated up to between 150,000 and 300,000 actuations.

How many shutter actuations to most photographers actually achieve?

In my experience and from what I have seen from other photographers online, most shutters make or surpass the 100,000 or 150,000 mark without any problem whatsoever, but it seems that few cameras actually make it to the 300,000 shutter actuations even on the cameras that are rated to that number. Fortunately for the manufacturers, most photographers don't press the shutter button that many times during the warranty period anyway, so they don't have to back up their claims of how many shutter actuations it can handle. (Perhaps I should add this point to my camera manufacturer whine list?)

How many pictures has my camera taken?

If you shoot Nikon, it is simple to find out how many pictures your camera has taken.  Simply download this little program, tell it to analyze one of your recent photos, and it will look at the EXIF data to determine how many pictures you've taken.  If you shoot Canon, there is no easy way to find out how many times your camera has taken a picture on many of their DSLR cameras.  If you're a tech junkie and you shoot Canon, you might want to check out this post to see how to hack it with a hex editor.

If you shoot Nikon, your job will be much easier.  Simply download an EXIF reader and check the number.  If you don't already have a program that reads all the exif data, I recommend this free one for Windows and Mac.

How much does it cost to get a shutter replaced?

If your shutter goes out before the camera has exhausted its technological brains, then you can get the shutter replaced for around $400 by sending it in to the manufacturer. On higher-end DSLRs, it's probably worth the $400, but for most mid and low end DSLRs, it'll mean a trip over to Amazon to buy a new camera.

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40 thoughts on “How Long Will My Shutter Last?”

  1. Hello Jim,
    I happened to find this when I was researching on no. of shutter releases. I have a Sony alpha 33 and a 6000. I wondered how to find out and did not find out. I was impressed by the high number of 100,000 to 300,000 actuations, had no idea about this.
    However, I only found the answer to my question for Canon and Nikon users. Do you have an idea if and how the shutter release count can be found for Sony cameras?
    Thanks in advance

  2. I have a nikon d7000.. my last shutter is 192xxx.. the shutter blade is broken.. my shutter life is extended 20%. Due to timelapse work.. I do replace the shutter mechnsm and success. The d7000 is come alive.. i cannot reset the shutter count. But i dont care about it, my camera is in action now. Hehe

  3. I am using a Nikon D7000 and the current shutter count is at 256,089. The camera is going strong even though it’s rated to 150,000 shutter clicks.

  4. The ‘image Number’ on a Canon camera shows an encoded value of the shutter count. On my 10D it shows 2929222 approaching 3 million shots which is clearly wrong. One EXIF data tool reports the number as 292-9222. That makes more sense – the last image was IMG_9222.JPG. I then realised that the first 3 digits are in fact the folder number on the memory card. Under DCIM there are two folders at present 291CANON and 292CANON. The folders each hold 100 files so the first 3 digits increment once every 100 images to reflect the new folder number while the last 4 digits increase to 9999 then rollover to 0. A twist is that looking at one of the early images I took with this camera is that the folder numbers start at 100 rather than 0. Thus to convert the image number to the number of shots taken we need to do do the following. Split the image number into two parts the last 4 digits call this file number and the first three folder number. We then need to do a bit of arithmetic.
    Shutter Count = (folder number-100)*100 + modulo100 file number
    Modulo 100 of the file number may sound frightening but in reality it means just take the two right hand digits.
    So for my 10D
    Shutter Count = (292-100)*100 +22 = 19200 +22 = 19222 shutter operations

    On more modern Canon cameras each folder holds 1k or 10k ? images so the mathematics needs to be changed

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