If you want to buy a mirrorless camera to avoid shutter life issues and extend your camera’s life, you may be in for a rude awakening.
Mirrorless cameras have shutter lives and can last anywhere from 100,000 to 400,000 shutter uses or actuations for professional models. However, mirrorless cameras can last longer than mirrored cameras since electronic shutters don’t add to actuations.
While you still have to account for a shutter life in mirrorless cameras, you can extend your camera’s life span far past a typical mirrored camera by reading the tips below.
Do Mirrorless Cameras Have a Shutter Life?
Since mirrorless cameras include a mechanical shutter along with an electronic shutter, they have a shutter life. Having both shutters, however, enables you to switch between the two instead of using a mechanical shutter for all photos.
Electronic shutters don’t have shutter lives because they don’t use any moving parts to take a picture. Instead, an electronic shutter scans the object you’re taking a picture of bit by bit (video below). Therefore, you don’t have to worry about adding to actuations when taking a picture with an electronic shutter.
Your shutter life will vary depending on the brand and what camera model you buy. Below are some popular brands and models, and the average amount of photos you can take before the shutter dies.
|Canon 7D Mark II|
|Canon 5D IV|
As you can see, brands are all over the board actuation-wise, so make sure you read a camera’s specifications so you can choose a camera that lasts instead of paying for the brand name.
Other Life Factors of a Mirrorless Camera
While the shutter life is the biggest factor that plays a role in how long your camera lasts, it’s not the only one. Another vital part of a camera that can break is the camera’s sensor. The sensor itself will far outlast the camera’s shutter life if it’s taken care of correctly.
However, you can damage the sensor when changing lenses, you do this by overexposing it to an excessive amount of direct light. To make sure this doesn’t happen, try to have your new lens ready before taking the old lens off the body.
You can also physically damage the sensor by using incorrect supplies or by being too rough with it while cleaning. To mitigate this, make sure the cleaning supplies you use are safe for your camera and that you use a gentle touch while cleaning it.
You can also damage your camera’s body physically through the below instances:
Dropping or banging your camera against something can lead to its death by upsetting the delicate parts inside the camera. To stop issues like this, make sure to use protective and sturdy gear such as:
- Camera straps
- Camera bags
- Sturdy tripods
For outside elements like water and dirt, make sure to clean out your camera after particular difficult shoots. Most cameras have some form of weather-proofing, but they are not infallible.
How to Extend Your Camera’s Life with Tactical Shutter Usage
So if you’re careful with your camera, we’re back to shutter life being the only true marker of how long a camera will last. Does that mean you can’t do anything about it? No!
You can extend the life of your mirrorless camera by using your two shutters tactically. If you use your mechanical shutter only for the subjects that can’t be taken by an electronic shutter, you can keep your mirrorless camera going for a lot longer than a mirrored camera.
How do you do this? Well, take a look at your subject matter you’re shooting and its surroundings and that will determine the correct shutter to use for a professional looking photograph.
Below are the instances of when to use your shutters:
- Quiet places
- Tripod pictures
- Landscape pictures
- Unsure situations
- Rooms with fluorescent lighting
- Objects in motion
If you utilize your shutters according to this list, you’ll avoid many common photo issues, and you can get the most use out of your camera.
Solving Photo Issues with a Mirrorless Camera’s Two Shutters
To further understand why you should use one shutter over another, and not waste actuations, I’ve laid out issues that can arise with each shutter below:
Electronic Shutter Issues
- Requires specific uses
- Rolling shutter
Mechanical Shutter Issues
- Prone to shutter shock
- Blurry auto-focus areas
If you need to take a photo in a situation where silence is key, the electronic shutter will be the option to choose. Since there’s no shutter, there’s no camera click. So go ahead and take that picture of that rare bird or artist at work.
Electronic shutters are also very useful when taking pictures that require tripods because mechanical shutters can suffer from something called shutter shock. Shutter shock happens when the movement of the shutter jolts the camera, causing the final photograph to appear blurry. Shutter shock can occur in the following situations:
- Your shutter speed is at 1/5th sec-1/60th sec
- Long focal length
- High megapixel camera
Furthermore, electronic shutters are exceptionally good at taking crisp landscape photos due to their ability to remain sharp in auto-focus areas. The mechanical shutter, however, is a great all in one shutter, so if you’re unsure of what would be the better shutter to use, you can always fall back on it.
A mechanical shutter is also great at solving the issue that electronic shutters have with a rolling shutter. A rolling shutter is an issue that happens when you take a picture of something at high speeds. Since the electronic shutter scans the subject in sections, it can't keep up with the object, and the final image appears distorted.
The final issue that mechanical shutters solve is something called banding. Banding occurs when you’re shooting in fluorescent lighting. A photograph will appear to have horizontal bands of light throughout the image due to flickering in lights.
Care Tips for a Mirrorless Camera
As mentioned before, cleaning a camera is an important part of maintaining it, but you shouldn't just be cleaning it after nature-heavy shoots.
The roll of the camera is to take fantastic pictures, and if you don't clean out any settled dust in it regularly, broken camera parts and shutter lives aren't going to matter. Dust will build up on your camera’s sensor and cause unsightly spots in photos.
To clean the inside of your camera, first check and see if using the auto-clean sensor function on your camera will suffice, some cameras have this and some don’t; check your manual to see if your camera has this function. If it doesn’t work or you can’t utilize this function, you’ll have to open your camera up.
There are a few things you’ll need to clean your sensor:
Find a clean space to clean your camera and make sure it’s turned off. If your camera also has an image stabilization function, make sure that it's also switched off. After that, you’re free to take off the lens.
Next, use an air blower to clear the sensor of any loose debris. If this doesn’t solve your dust issue, carefully wipe the sensor with the correct swab type with a bit of the solution.
Do not use water or compressed air on your camera sensor. You can damage it and the rest of the camera. Also, different cameras require different swabs. Crosscheck your user manual to see what type of sensor swabs you need.
Most mirrorless cameras can stand up to their mirrored counterparts with many advantages. The ultimate trick to extend your mirrorless camera’s life is to take care of it and use the electronic and mechanical shutters tactically.