Although I am not planning on doing this, I was wondering what parts of a camera could possibly wear out over time if it were to be used as a webcam all day. For convenience, perhaps it would be kept on perpetually. This would entail the camera being set on "video mode" and kept like that.

I presume that there would be no effect on the shutter life of the camera as the shutter would have to be flipped up once to activate the Live View mode. I am also assuming that the camera is powered using a dummy battery, so that battery wear is negligible.

Are there any points of failure in the camera with such a setup? One issue I could think of is that it may wear out the autofocus motors in the lens, which are likely not designed to be used for continuous use for many days. Are there any other potential points of failure that would come quickly with this setup?

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    I don't have an answer, but regarding the autofocus motors: isn't that simply remedied by setting it to manual focus and pre-focussing? The webcam use I'm familiar with requires a single focus distance anyway. – Saaru Lindestøkke Nov 4 '20 at 8:26
  • Possibly overheating due to the sensor being active permanently (if it is an DSLR) – Jonas Nov 4 '20 at 8:47
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    Since it's a DSLR, I would wonder about what keeps the mirror up. Springs could be help compressed and subject to metal fatigue – xenoid Nov 4 '20 at 21:36
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    Everything wears out eventually... – Michael C Nov 5 '20 at 2:43
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    @xenoid At least with higher end Canon cameras, it's all electrical now. That's why the mirror will reset to the normal position if an image is not taken within thirty seconds after the mirror is locked up in order to save battery power. Both mirror up and mirror down movements are driven by an electric motor. I've also seen older Nikons (D50, etc) that had a solenoid activated "hook" that held the mirror up, at least in mirror lockup condition. – Michael C Nov 5 '20 at 23:54

You didn't mention which DSLR you are using but ... highly doubtful. I say this because astrophotographers regularly use DSLRs to image the night sky and these cameras are left capturing continuously for hours and hours on end without a problem. A single exposure might be as much as 5 or even 10 minutes long ... but as soon as the exposure ends the software immediately re-opens the shutter for another image, and another, and this goes on for hours.

What will happen is the camera will generate a bit of heat via the sensor and it will put a drain on the battery. The battery will generate even more heat as it provides power. You can reduce battery heat by switching to an AC adapter (many DSLRs can accept a "dummy" battery which is connected to an external power supply. Those "dummy" batteries do not get hot like traditional rechargeable batteries because all the heat from the AC to DC conversion is lost in the adapter (which may get warm) ... but that isn't inside the camera body.

  • Great answer. Just one point—normal batteries also provide DC current, so I don't believe there should be that much of a difference when using a dummy battery vs a normal one. – Skeleton Bow Nov 5 '20 at 22:43
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    @SkeletonBow Normal batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy. These chemical reactions are exothermic, thus heat is produced by the chemical reactions in the battery as electric power is produced. A dummy battery has no chemical reactions taking place within it. It is simply a shell the proper size and shape to connect two wires from an external power source to the camera. The amount of heat generated by the resistance of the wires passing through the dummy is miniscule compared to the amount of heat released by the exothermic chemical reactions taking place in a battery. – Michael C Nov 5 '20 at 23:47
  • I see, I would have thought that the exothermic reactions from the battery would also be negligible! Thanks for the information. – Skeleton Bow Nov 7 '20 at 0:37

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