Checking the Shutter Count on Your Digital DSLR

Did you know your camera’s shutter has a shelf life?

The shutter is easily the hardest working mechanical part inside your camera and won’t last forever. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the actuation count of your shutter and take it in for regular routine maintenance to make sure it doesn’t give out early – or worse – during a shoot.

If you try to sell your camera body in the future, any knowledgeable buyer will want to know the actuation number your shutter has before plopping down their hard-earned cash.

No problem! You got this.

If you’re a Nikon shooter and also a Mac user, finding the actuation number for your camera is super easy because it’s contained in the EXIF data of your images. Simply open an NEF or Jpeg file in Preview and bring up the Inspector window (Tools >> Show Inspector). It looks something like this:

Once you have the Inspector window open, click on the More Info tab and then the Nikon tab, and your shutter count will be clearly labeled.

If you’re checking a Jpeg, you’ll click on the Exif tab instead and scroll down a bit. Here, your shutter count is listed as the Image Number, as shown below:

Easy, right?!

For all of you Canon users, unfortunately, finding your shutter count won’t be quite this easy. But the good news is, some kind soul developed a simple program that will make it almost as easy, once installed. It’s called Simple EXIF Viewer and it’s for Mac OS X users. Check it out here. If you’re a Windows user, consider buying a Mac, or, check out this program. ;)

So, now that we have this information, what does exactly do we do with it?
Well, you’ll want to find out the estimated shelf life of your shutter. Most camera makers have listed the estimated life expectancy of their shutters somewhere, but that’s not very accurate. Thankfully, someone has done some surveying to give us real world examples of how much camera shutters out in the world are lasting.  Check out the Camera Shutter Life Database to see how your type of camera is holding up for other photographers. It’s super helpful for figuring out whether or not your camera’s shutter may be close to kicking the bucket.

Have a technology-based question that you think would be a perfect topic for Tech Tip Tuesday? Let me know in the comments section or shoot me an email!

  • Molly Denson - Learned something new today! Thanks Heidi!

  • Huoy Chen - Yeah for Tech Tip Tuesday! Love this tip. I’m hoping to take some summer photog courses to increase my skills too :)

  • Cristal Wallin - Thank you!!

  • David Apeji - Thank you for this very useful tip!

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