With so many high-tech companies making expensive new cameras every year with tons of features, it can be tempting to buy a gently-used, older model of a camera instead of contending with the high prices. Like with all resales, you have probably wondered if the shutter count on a camera is an accurate way to tell how much use the camera has seen.
No, consumers cannot reset a camera’s shutter count. Only the camera’s manufacturers know how to reset the shutter count.
Refurbished cameras will still have the same shutter count. You can rest easy knowing that the shutter count is an accurate way of measuring the camera’s previous use. If the shutter count is zero, the camera has never been used. Resetting the shutter count is extremely difficult and would be considered fraud. Read on to find out more about shutter counts.
Can You Reset a Camera’s Shutter Count?
The simple answer is no; you cannot reset a camera’s shutter count. Camera manufacturing companies protect the method of resetting the cameras’ shutter counts in order to prevent consumers from resetting them. This protects used camera buyers and the company. If someone could reset the shutter count, they could fraudulently sell the camera as new.
This also protects the company’s reputation by ensuring that people who want to purchase a brand-new camera will actually get one. If people were able to buy used cameras thinking they were new, those cameras might have defects from previous use or would not last as long, and that would damage the reputation of the camera manufacturer.
However, there is another count on the camera, which people often confuse for the shutter count. This count is what numbers your photos as they are taken and then names the file numbers for the photos. It is usually based on the camera’s shutter count, which is why people get confused about them. That picture numbering count can be reset.
What Is a Shutter Count?
A shutter count measures how many photographs a camera has taken. The shutter slides back to allow light into the camera for a certain amount of time and then slides forward to end the exposure. When people talk about a slower shutter speed, that means that the shutter stays open for longer and lets in more light for your picture.
Every time you take a photo with your camera, your shutter zooms back and forth and the shutter count, often stored in the memory of the camera, increases by one. The shutter count is also sometimes called shutter actuations. The shutter count measures the total number of photos that the camera has taken throughout the course of its existence.
If you plan to buy a used camera, you should check with the seller to find out the shutter count on the camera. Although the shutter count alone will not tell you the age of the camera, it will give you an idea of how often it has been used. Most shutters have a minimum of 150,000 actuations before the shutter needs to be replaced.
However, many shutters last quite a bit longer than their minimum. The specific minimum depends on the manufacturer. Some high-end cameras have a minimum of twice as many shutter actuations, meaning over 300,000 before the shutter might need to be replaced.
How Do I Check a Camera’s Shutter Count?
Depending on the camera’s manufacturer and the tools you have at your disposal, this might be quite challenging. The shutter count is usually recorded in the memory of the camera. This does not mean the memory card, but the internal memory of the camera itself. This cannot be accessed through normal channels for consumers.
The most reliable way to check a camera’s shutter count would be to take it to a store run by the camera manufacturer and ask them to use their proprietary software to check it. Alternatively, if you own Adobe Photoshop or a similar program, you can dig into the metadata of a photograph you have taken with the camera.
You can use this metadata to see your ISO and aperture, but it may also show you the internal shutter count for the photo. This does not work with every camera model, though. In fact, most manufacturers hide the shutter count to prevent people from hacking in and resetting it, which also makes it difficult for consumers even to check.
Does Shutter Count Matter?
The shutter count that is advertised by camera manufacturers is not a hard and fast number. If your camera has a 150,000 shutter count and you reach that number, probably nothing will happen. The shutter count given by the manufacturer is like a warranty. Your camera may easily exceed that limit before needing maintenance.
The reason that manufacturers list a shutter count is to show that they have tested and researched their shutters and cameras. So, a 150,000 shutter count would demonstrate that their cameras last until that point, and after that, some cameras need maintenance whereas others do not.
A good rule of thumb when buying a used camera is to think about the year that the camera model was released and figure that, on average, a camera would take about 10,000 pictures per year. If you are buying a two-year-old camera, it should have no more than a 20,000 shutter count. Ideally, it would have less.
You will know in no uncertain terms if something happens to your shutter because the camera will cease to function. Without the shutter’s ability to let in light and then stop the exposure, you cannot take pictures. If that happens, you will need to take the camera to a repair shop and likely get your shutter replaced.
Does Shutter Replacement Reset Shutter Count?
Whether the camera manufacturer chooses to reset the shutter count when replacing the shutter is at the discretion of the company. Some camera companies prefer to reset the shutter count whenever a shutter is replaced so that the shutter count is an accurate measure of the shutter itself, instead of the entire camera.
Some companies have been known to reset the shutter count after performing maintenance or cleaning on the shutter, even when it has not been replaced. Other companies leave the shutter count as is in order to let the count reflect how much the camera as a whole was used. Because of this, the shutter count may not be a reliable method for determining a camera’s usage.
If you are curious about a specific manufacturer and their policies for resetting the shutter count, you can likely find out through their websites or by visiting one of their stores and consulting with someone who works there. That may give you some valuable insight about their cameras and how to navigate buying one that has been used.
It is difficult for a consumer to check whether or not the shutter on a refurbished or gently used camera was replaced unless they check the serial number on the camera or call the manufacturer to check directly. If you are buying a used camera with a low shutter count, you should investigate the serial number to see if the shutter was replaced.
The shutter count of a camera measures how many photos the camera has taken. This count cannot be reset by consumers in order to prevent people from resetting the count and fraudulently selling the camera as new.
However, the camera’s manufacturer can reset the shutter count and may do so if the shutter is cleaned or replaced.
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Roy is the leading content creator here at Your Photo Advisor. He is a hobbyist photographer that loves the business side of things. He blogs about IT, cybersecurity, business, and more at Davis Tech Media.