Take a stress pill: shutter actuations

What is the maximum shutter actuations for the Nikon D700 [or Leica M9 or whatever]?

There is nothing such as “maximum shutter actuations.” People act as if there were some magic number. People freak out about this. The rated number is unlikely to be reached for most amateur photographers. It’s unlikely to be reached by two amateurs using a camera back to back. Maybe even three or four, unless one used the camera at the beach or somewhere gritty.

  • The rating itself is the MTBF, or Mean Time Between Failures. That means that on average, Nikon’s rated shutters last 150,000 cycles. You don’t know whether that means most last to 250,000 and relatively few go 50,000 or whether all of them are somewhere around 150k.
  • There is no warranty that a shutter will get to 150,000. Your two year factory warranty will expire one day, and it could be at 18,000 exposures or 180,000. Doesn’t matter. Nikon is not fixing it for you for free.
  • Inside the factory warranty, Nikon does fix it for free, shutter count notwithstanding.
  • Likewise, Nikon is not fixing your used camera, even its original sale was within 2 years ago, or even if the shutter failed at 8,000.

It’s all marketing.

By the way, when Nikon was coming up with its 150,000 exposure MTBF, that was 4,166 rolls of film, which was more than most people shot in their lifetime. For a pro, a new shutter (which in those days was a $250 repair) cost nothing compared to the cost $12,000 in film you shot before you got there!

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3 responses to “Take a stress pill: shutter actuations”

  1. Paul De Zan says :

    No (additional) pressure, but please be advised that the gradual (glacial?) return of your terrible, utterly outdated archives will be most appreciated!

  2. AJ says :

    Consumer rights are a bit more extended. Duration of a guarantee in EU is by law extended to a reasonable amount what consumers may expect. I.e suppliers can’t just tune it down to something they like. Also, second-hand camera’s remain under guarantee. And top brands will repair somewhat past the end of the guarantee, that is how they get their reputation.

  3. Lou says :

    I’ve been thinking of this a lot lately as my trusted Sony A900 shutter died on me with no chance of getting it repaired. I was looking at second hand replacements, carefully enquiring about the shutter count. In fact I think you should consider the logarithm of the shutter count. If the current shutter count is 30k and the MTBF is at 150k, you may think you have plenty of shots left, but from a logarithmic standpoint, you are much closer to the MTBF (0.7) than from the brand new one (4.48).

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