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One of my friends mention to me that a digital camera (especially of the Superzoom type) will lose its abilities in taking photos (as compared when it was first brought) if it is left without use for a period of three months or more.

Another friend mention that it is overuse which will result in the camera not taking as good photo as before it was first bought.

So, does a digital camera (especially the Superzoom) really lose its abilities in taking good photos if it is left without using for a period of time or used too often?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

No. It does not. I own currently 7 digital cameras and I have used some after being unused for over two years without any problems.

Even the Lithium-Ion battery still had some charge after that period. Those who use AAs will note that rechargeable NiMh ones lose their charge after a month or two unless they are Imedion or Eneloop (low-self-discharge).

Lenses may jam as oil form on aperture blades I was told but even after not using lenses for years at a time (which I currently have over 30) I have never seen it happen. Some super-zooms do not even have aperture blades at all, so that won't apply to them.

All in all, I expect cameras with more mechanical parts like DSLRs to fail first due to use. Some small cameras do not even have mechanical shutters either, so there is one less thing which can fail.

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There's two distinct questions here.

On the first — will a camera break down from neglect? — the answer is "probably not". Dust could accumulate where it shouldn't, and I suppose some greased parts could dry out, but in a reasonable timeframe, there's not much to worry about. There are a few exceptions: If the camera has a lithium battery, that will diminish in capability inevitably whether it is used or not (although it will take many years to go completely). And, stand-alone flashes often need to be discharged at least every few months or the capacitor can fail — this probably applies to the built-in flash on cameras too, although I've never seen it mentioned.

On the second — can a camera wear out from overuse?, the answer is "certainly yes". It's a precision device with a lot of moving parts, and with electronics which generate heat and can fail as all things do. But in this case, unless you're abusing your camera, you should feel good about it. You're using it to do what you bought it for, and nothing lasts forever.

In both cases, we're at a point in history where camera technology is undergoing extremely rapid development. I think we're through the most dramatic points in that curve, but still, three years from now, any camera you buy today will look sad and poor next to the shiny just-announced models. That's a much bigger factor than either use or disuse.

Life is short: buy a nice camera, and start taking pictures. Don't beat up on it, but don't be afraid to take it out and put it to work, either.

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No. If the camera is properly cared for, the idea of losing capabilities is just absurd.

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Any device will degrade from both over use and neglect. Anything, from a tiny electronic watch to an aircraft carrier.

Consumer cameras are designed to be used by consumers, which means often sitting in the closet for months without use.

How many months? don't know, and it depends on too many things to make a firm statement, but easily six months at a time. Back in the film days, consumer film was designed to be able to make images when you shoot some shots of the Christmas tree in December, and some at the beach in July.

Jack, you are asking a huge number of question that seem to be focusing on "best" and how long things will last. You are clearly thinking of an expensive superzoom or a low end DSLR, each of which costs less than $1000.

Just buy it and use it, and enjoy. Leave the worrying to someone else. If you find you don't use it much, sell it. If you find you use it every day and take lots of photos, why would you be sad if it wears out in a few years?

I have a Nikon F that is 40 years old, it still works. I also have a Canon 50D that I like a lot. It has shown zero impact of my use of it. I expect that if I take a lot of photos, in a few years it may show some wear, perhaps the shutter limit will be reached. But if I've taken 100,000 images with it, it won't have owed me anything, I'll be happy. The reality is that by the time I've taken that many images, Moore's law will have made far better cameras so cheap I'll want to buy a Canon 7d mark 3 or whatever is cool.

Relax, buy something and learn to use it.

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