The Sleeping Giant's Sea Lion

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My friend has an old Canon 300D which he recently inherited. I heard him take a picture with it and I noticed how sluggish the mirror flipping sounded, even @ 1/250. Perhaps the sound is best described as using a toilet plunger: *klllllluuunnnkkk.... kllllluuunnnnkkk*

Anyways, curiosity got me, so I opened his last photo with IEXif only to see Image Count at 1.15 million! Seriously?! He said his pictures were generally rather un-sharp too, though that could just be because he's still using the original kit lens, poor boy!

I have some P&S (PowerShot) cameras which I use extensively for time-lapse projects. One of my cameras has 2.6 million actuations according to IExif and also seems quite sluggish when taking pictures, but I've had the camera for so long I couldn't say if that's how it always sounded.

Does anybody know if using a DSLR or P&S camera with such high actuation count will have any negative side-effects, aside from sounding sluggish?

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There is a very similar question here: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/3813/… –  asalamon74 Dec 8 '10 at 18:06
    
I read through that thoroughly beforehand, however, nobody mentioned anything beyond "well, if it still works, it still works". I'm interested in knowing if this has any impact on image quality and whether we should consider buying new cameras. Also to note, the shutter life expectancy database is unreliable, anyone can anonymously type anything they want there, which is why for example the Nikon D5000 has 3 entries between 3 and 3.6 million. –  glenneroo Dec 8 '10 at 18:20
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I had/have that camera and it has always sounded rather slow/sluggish. –  ahockley Dec 8 '10 at 19:43
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I assume your friend is a pro? 1.15 million actuations on a 300D, provided that he bought it when it was introduced in October 2003, is around 450 photos per day, every single day. And 2.6 million would be the same per day if the other camera you mentioned was about 15 years old (probably impossible if it's a P&S). –  sebastien.b Dec 8 '10 at 20:11
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@sebastien.b Nope, but his friend is semi-pro and I'm guessing is the one responsible for the first 3/4 million. The last 300k I'd attribute to him being a noob and over-shooting combined with shooting many performances where 1-5k images per session is the norm. As for the second camera it's a 5 year old PowerShot A640 and I use it exclusively for time-lapse projects i.e. it regularly shoots 10-100k images in a given period. I have several other time-lapse cameras with similarly high actuation counts. –  glenneroo Dec 8 '10 at 22:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

A few points on this one:

  • Most P&S cameras don't have a mechanical shutter or iris so there are no moving parts and hence the number of images they can capture is practically unlimited (think how many "images" a digital video camera shoots in it's lifetime!)

  • Every Canon I've ever used has it's own very distinctive shutter noise, so it may be that the 300D (one of Canon's first DSLRs) has always sounded that way.

To answer your question there are a few disadvantages to a worn out shutter:

  • Increased noise (and possibly slower mirror movement hampering rapid fire).

  • Increased likelihood of the shutter giving up completely in the middle of a shoot.

  • Loss of high shutter speeds. Basically the first and second shutter curtains can get out of sync, giving you unpredictable exposure times, the faster the shutter speed the more variation.

The last one is important, when I've had shutters go the high speeds 1/4000 & 1/8000 went first and the 1000 - 2000 range became unpredictable, giving me a bit of a warning it was going to fail.

Having said that, if it's still working then it's still working. The shutter shouldn't affect image quality - provided it's open at the right time! The sensor should be unaffected as it has no moving parts, if it fails I would expect an outright failure not a gradual degradation, though the number of hot/dead pixels may increase over time. It is possible, though very unlikely, for the sensor to have shifted out of alignment (which could, incidentally result in soft images). A knackered mirror assembly might affect the viewfinder image and AF (since light is directed onto the AF sensor via a second mirror which hangs down from the main one).

At the end of the day, a shutter replacement on a 300D would almost certainly cost more than a camera upgrade so your friend might as well shoot it 'till it dies!

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All the 300Ds I've used have been quite thumpy/loud by today's standards, so your probably spot on that "it's just as it is" –  Rowland Shaw Dec 8 '10 at 19:00
    
I don't understand why they all sound so different even between consecutive models in the same line with similar specs, you'd have thought the shutter unit would be shared across many models.. –  Matt Grum Dec 8 '10 at 19:10

In this page of this review you can find a sound recording of the shutter of a 300D to compare with.

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Nice find! Wow, no his camera sounds a lot different! I should record it and put it online somewhere ;) –  glenneroo Dec 10 '10 at 1:43

Sure -- it's entirely possible that the shutter is worn out in such a way that it's problematic, but still functions to some degree.

Additionally, a camera that's taken that kind of use may have other things out of alignment as well. Like, say, the reflex mirror mechanism could develop problems.

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