Shutter Counts Explained

Key Points

  • Shutter count is an estimation of how much the camera has been used.
  • Most shutters are rated to a minimum of 150,000 (entry and mid-range DSLRs) or 300,000 (professional DSLRs).
  • Most shutters last well beyond their rated life (indeed no Camera Jungle DSLR has yet worn out).
  • A camera’s lifespan depends on many other factors, such as care, servicing and environmental conditions.
  • All Camera Jungle used products come with a 12 month warranty as standard.

Basics

The shutter count, or shutter actuations, of a camera is the number of photographs that camera has taken. It is an important piece of information when buying a used camera as it gives some indication of how much the camera has been used, but it is not the only indication of wear and the number itself needs to be viewed in context. DSLR cameras have a mechanical shutter mechanism to cover and expose the digital sensor. Each time you take a photograph the shutter mechanism moves back and forth across the sensor at a precise rate according to the shutter speed you selected. This is one actuation and adds one to the shutter count. Like any mechanical device the shutter experiences wear and tear and eventually it will fail.

Usage

As the shutter is an important part of a DSLR’s inner workings people often use the shutter count as a proxy for how much the camera has been used. But there are other indications of the kind of treatment a camera has endured. Dents, chips and excessive mount wear are all indications that a camera has endured a rough life and may not have received the most loving care. These indications can be more important than shutter count. After all a car that has gone a long way with a careful owner and received a regular service, will be a better bet than one driven a shorter distance by a careless owner, bounced off every bollard and never oiled.

Complications

But unfortunately it’s more complicated than that. Not every DSLR records how often the shutter has been fired, and even the ones that do rarely record it in an easily accessible manner. For many the number is recorded in the EXIF data (the meta data they attach to each photograph recording camera settings like aperture and ISO) which can be read by photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop. But many don’t make it this easy and specialist (and often unreliable) software is required to read it directly from the camera body’s hidden internal memory. And some simply don’t record it in any way meaning shutter count is not always the most reliable tool for judging condition.

Manufacturer Rating

Despite not making it easy to find out the shutter count of their cameras, the big manufacturers have often released a ‘shutter rating’ for the shutter in each of their DSLRs. This is the number of actuations the manufacturer has tested the shutter for while mounted in the camera. Of course, in reality the shutter may well last much longer than this and they frequently do, this is the minimum the manufacturer would expect it to go for.

Condition Ratings

At Camera Jungle, we take the condition of our cameras very seriously. We take a close and technical look at the condition each one is in and make an assessment based on shutter count, external condition, wear of the mount, grip and port condition and cleanliness among other factors. We then rate it as either Mint, Excellent, Good, or (occasionally) Well Used. This complete rating gives you a better indication of the item you are buying than shutter count alone. But don’t forget, whatever rating it has, a Camera Jungle camera will be in full working order and covered under our 12 month warranty.

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