I started a post about finding the number of shutter actuations about a month ago, then shelved it when I realized Canon doesn't let you get at the number of shutter actuations in their low and mid-range cameras. No idea why, maybe they just don't want us to compare our cameras to Nikons? So, I forgot about it until a post on DPChallenge brought it back up like my daughter's dinner when she has a cold.
Oh, was that too graphic? Sorry... Yes, it is a sad fact that my daughter, if she has dairy products when her phlegm is running, throws up. Anyway, back to shutter actuations...
All cameras have counters inside them that keep track of how many times the shutter has been actuated. Just like the odometer on a used car, a shutter counter can be useful if you are buying a used camera. Except... for Canon cameras, it doesn't always work. Apparently only a qualified tech can really read out the information with special machines. Forgive me, but I'd love shutter count to be a menu option, it'd be handy to know what I was getting into when buying a used camera (For Sale: Used 20D with only 15,218 actuations).
The basic theory is this: many cameras will place the shutter actuation number inside the EXIF data in each image file. So, if you want to see the mileage on your camera, shoot a JPEG image and load it into software that lets you view the shutter actuation data in the EXIF. Voila, you have the number of shutter actuations!
For instance, here's a forum discussion at Sportshooter which describes the process with Opanda's IExif and some results. IExif is a freeware program which is very easy to use. Apparently it works on Nikons, but I couldn't find an appropriate field on my Canon 350D (and others have tried too). If you try it, make sure you use a file straight from the camera; editing and resaving will rewrite the EXIF data.
But, you can view it on Flickr. Upload an image (again, which hasn't been edited) and then in the lower right you'll see a line that says: Taken with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT and below it More Properties. If you click on More Properties, it will bring up the EXIF information, including shutter actuations.
For my camera, an image from 12/23/06 (right after I got it) read 15,118 actuations and an image from tonight read 20,745. Except, wait a second, another from today didn't even have the shutter count field. So I took another just now, and it read 20,745 again. I think Flickr is mis-interpreting shutter count. To back that up:
- Here is the Flickr thread which describes the process for finding actuations and the inconsistent results people have been getting.
- Here is a DPReview post that says it is secret information. Check the replies to the message I linked, that's where the meat is. Also, note how the first reply mentions using the file counter (more on that later).
- A thread on FenceCheck (aviation photography site) that talks about how long shutters last. Really long, but lots of useful tidbits.
- POTN post reinforcing the notion that Canon doesn't supply the needed info.
Since I never use other cards and I've never reset the counter (or let my battery go dead), I can say with confidence that my shutter count is 9,273 in a little less that six months. My first photo is IMG_3221.JPG and my last photo (as of two minutes ago) is IMG_2494.JPG. I might also be able to assume that the camera only had 3,220 actuations on it when I got it, unless B&H or someone else stuck in a card with images on it.
If you've kept track of your actual shots or have never reset the count by inserting a CF card that had a higher number (thus resetting the counter), then you can know.
For example, I know my shutter count (to within a few frames) simply because I've never allowed any CF cards to be inserted into my camera that I wasn't sure of and I've always left the camera set to "continuous" numbering.
Except for one time when I purposely reset everything and shot a frame for a guy to test with to see if he really COULD determine the number of frames on my camera - he couldn't. I then reset the camera back to where I left off by inserting a CF card with the appropriate folders and files still on it. In that case, the camera sets itself to take the next picture as the next possible number.
The moral: if you shoot Canon and want to know your shutter count, manage your cards and image numbers so you can keep track. If you are trying to buy a used body, you're pretty screwed unless you want to pay a Canon tech to look at it.
Ok, back to the original link.
Apparently Oleg Kikin has set up the Camera Shutter Life Expectancy Database which allows users to log how many shutter actuations are on their camera and whether it has died yet. Interesting idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired because it is way to easy to enter bogus data. With a proper management system (program to automatically extract relevant EXIF data from submitted photos?) it might turn into a useful resource.