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Another Week of Shutter Actuations Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

9 July 2018

We looked over yesterdays shots from the top of Twin Peaks only to find this metaphor staring back at us. It's Monday and this shot reminded us another week has begun.

We've been researching refurbished cameras recently as something of an antidote to the fever that has plagued digital photography since Day One. At first it was just a question of megapixels but this far in (almost a generation now), we wonder if some better cameras are not older models.

We've become very happy shooting with four very old models, frankly, which it would cost a fortune to replace. And we've heard recently from other photographers who are not only holding onto their gems but actually buying used models.

With a computer, it's easy enough to evaluate whether it's a bargain or a millstone. How much RAM does it have, what size is the hard disk, is it solid state, how fast is the processor, how many cores does it have, is the screen high resolution and on and on.

But how do you evaluate the useful life of a camera?

But how do you evaluate the useful life of a camera?

We haven't yet had as digital camera give up the ghost because its sensor failed or its shutter froze. Our Kodak EasyShare One did forget how to focus, earning it a birth in the Museum of Useless Articles here. But that's the only digital camera we've used for years that has failed.

The Exif field ShutterCount will tell you how many times the shutter has been fired. That isn't a great indicator of anything. The camera may have lived out its life in the tropics or the poles or some desert for those shutter actuations. Or it may have lived life in the controlled temperature of a studio.

It may have been fired in rapid succession in Continuous mode at numerous sporting events or meticulously for art shots in Single Shot mode.

Nikon notes a shutter life of at least 150,000 actuations for its professional models and that's good enough for us. Entry-level cameras don't do much worse at 100,000 actuations but Nikon does note that a firmware update can reset the count so it isn't a completely reliable mileage indicator.

Our Nikon D200 has counted 4,109 shutter actuations. Our Nikon D300 has counted 12,868 shutter actuations. Our archive has over 60,000 images.

So despite their age, our two Nikon dSLRs are pretty young at heart. By our calculations, our most heavily-used camera should last another, well, longer than we will.

Which is not as comforting a thought as we hoped it would be.

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