I notice this webpage seems to come up pretty often when people discuss the durability of their gear.
The site has some neat information. It allows people to enter the number of shutter actuations they've put their camera through and its working state into a database. You'd expect the statistics to show that higher end models tend to outlast lower end ones. I checked the gathered data for Nikon's lineup and to my surprise, they indicate exactly the opposite.
According to the data this site has gathered, the average D5000 will outlive a D300 by over 100,000 actuations and a D3 by over 50,000 actuations. I guess a number of things could be going on here:
- Only outliers are entering statistics. I think the guy who's taken 3 million remote-fired macros of moving train wheels is more likely to document his camera than the guy who takes maybe like a few pictures of his sock puppet collection or whatever on Thursdays. The guy with a bad D3 will go and enter that his camera broke after 9 actuations but everyone else expects theirs to be reliable and don't bother.
- More people own lower end cameras so more statistics get added for them.
- Bitter people are entering false statistics because they are spiteful for not being able to afford higher-end cameras
Are these statistics truth or dumb? Even from how little I've handled different models there's just no way you can't notice the difference in build quality between a D3 and a D5000. Maybe there really isn't very big a gap in the durability of these models if they are properly used and cared for.