Sunday, 17 July 2011

Was that Image number 330,501 or 330,502?

Guest Blog by Owen Lyell
A common question that seems to be on the lips of every eager photographer is “Just how many images have I taken?”  Well fret no more because there is an answer, and it’s easier to find than you might have previously thought. It’s called shutter count.

With the advent of high tech digital photography and superior Nikon craftsmanship (apologies to all other photographers who use different makes but I have to keep the boss happy somehow), almost every aspect of your image data is recorded for prosperity. Everything from camera make and model, lens data, ISO and what you had for lunch not to mention that damned elusive shutter count, is recorded with every image you take. All you need to know is how to view it.

Ok, I might have been exaggerating about the lunch thing, but in all honestly it is slightly maker dependent. But generally speaking there is a whole lot of love recorded with any given image. So “How do we see it?” I hear you ask, I hope the following will help to shed some light on the subject.

For most images you can locate the shutter count for a particular image in the “Exif” data (Exchangeable Image File Format) that is recorded with almost every form of digital camera.  Usually, this data isn’t readily apparent as most software assumes this is not critical information, and therefore only shows data deemed essential for post processing. Depending on the manufacturer, this extra or “auxiliary” data can be viewed in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Bridge, other third party software applications or with online web utilities. 

Canon Cameras
Whoops! Canon cameras do not record the shutter actuation details in the EXIF data (Nikon : One ~ Canon : nil). So for Canon, things are a little different, the best program to check your shutter count is EOS Info.

EOS Info is a cool freeware program by AstroJargon that will provide the user with shutter count, serial number, camera model and firmware version, as well as other critical data. EOS Info works with almost any DSLR, except for the 500D. Just connect the camera to your computer, run the program and – voila! If for some reason it does not work, you might consider trying 40D Shutter Count, a previous edition, which despite the name, works on almost any DIGIC III/IV DSLRs, the exception being the 1D series.

Nikon and Pentax Cameras
Nikon users rejoice! There are a number of options open to you to extract the Exif information. In Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Bridge, click on the “File” drop down menu in the top left of the menu bar and select “File Info”. Depending on which version of Photoshop or Bridge you have, this will open a new window with a number of tags or menu selections. Search through these and click on “Advanced”. This will open yet another window.

Select and expand the line that contains “”. This in turn should list a variety of data, but we are looking for “aux:imagenumber:”, the number following this is the shutter count for that image.

 Image 1.
Shutter Actuation Count in PhotoShop CS3, CS4 and CS5 are slightly different windows. Important note * Images processed using Adobe Lightroom may have this data removed.

Alternatively you can use the following software applications, to extract the sought after digits. These are freeware and some may ask for a donation so it’s up to you if you want to use them. 

My Shutter Count requires an internet connection where you simply upload a JPG or RAW and get your results. This is free to use but you will require access to the internet. I found Opanda IExif  and IrfanView also retrieve the required data. Just download the programs and have a play, all the Exif data is able to be displayed if it is there.

As a novice I found Opanda IExif easier to use but it’s really a matter of taste. Same same but different if you know what I mean. IrfanView may be a trial version so expect to cough up some dough if you intend to keep using it.

Olympus Cameras
Olympus cameras do not store the shutter actuation details in the Exif data, but conveniently, there’s a nice trick one can use for Olympus bodies. Simply follow these instructions:
  1. Buy a Nikon, or if no cash proceed to step 2
  2. Turn your camera on
  3. Open your memory card door
  4. Press “PLAY” +”OK” at the same time
  5. Press on the dial, in order: up, down, left and then right
  6. Depress the shutter release button fully
  7. Press up on the dial
Sony Cameras
Unfortunately it might not be possible to find your shutter count on a Sony. You can try using Opanda IExif,  My Shutter Count or even EOS Info/40D Shutter Count, however, there’s no guarantee they will work.

All the software listed here has only been tested on Windows based machines with the exception of EOS Info , so if you are a Mac user please let us know how you go if you try out any of the programs above. 

If you’ve found other ways to display shutter count data we’d love to hear from you, just post them on our Facebook page under the link for this blog so that this may become a resource for others.

So what does it all mean? And why do I want to know this singular point of information other than to impress other snap happy photographers. Everything, including that expensive camera you’re sporting, has a life expectancy. Listed below is a very approximate listing of shutter life expectancies and is only included as a basic guide.

As with our own mortal souls, nothing is guaranteed. How well you look after your body (I mean the camera of course as well as yourself) will either increase or decrease the number of years you can enjoy the company of your camera.

For pre 2010 Cameras
Entry-level    max shutter recommended        30,000
Mid-level      max shutter recommended        50,000
High-level     max shutter recommended        100,000

For newer Models
Entry-level    max shutter recommended        50,000
Mid-level      max shutter recommended        100,000
High-level     max shutter recommended        200,000

And finally, as a point of trivia, just in case you were wondering, I pulled the data from Danielle’s Nikon D700 and D3.  Drum roll please ~ a staggering total of 39,008 shutter actuations to date which puts Ms Lancaster’s cameras in their teen’s.  No wonder the damn things are so rebellious and never do as they are told!