Should you worry about your shutter count with timelapse photography?


Every few days or weeks someone on Instagram or YouTube asks me whether or not they should worry about their shutter count with timelapse photography.

This is a valid question, as timelapse photography requires your camera to shoot hundreds or thousands of photos per session.

Now instead of typing out a response each time I get the question I can just link people to this post or video 🙂

I want to clarify: This is based on anecdotal evidence, my own experience with a handful of cameras.

But I do have a theory about this, so hear me out.

I have a Canon 5D3 with over 600000 clicks on it and it still works fine. This camera is rated for 150000 clicks. My 600D has over 500000 clicks if I remember correctly, the only thing wrong with that camera now is that the movie record button is broken, not the mirror or shutter.

You can use the app Shutter Count to check this by the way. 

Now time for my theory: Your camera is rated for a minimum amount of shutter actuations. This is based on what I assume is normal camera usage: walking around and shooting and moving and shooting and bumping into things etc.

Timelapse is static, in a semi controlled environment, this is not as taxing or intensive as the other scenario.

So to me, it makes sense, that you can get away with more clicks from shooting timelapses than from running around. right?

Now if you are still worried about this, here’s a few notes:

You can use fully electronic shutter, which just activates the sensor briefly to capture the required data. Nothing moves, this is purely electronic. This can bring in certain artefacts but that’s a topic for another video.

By the way: mirrorless cameras are not exempt from wear and tear (if it’s even there)! No, they don’t have a mirror that flicks up and down for every photo but they still have a shutter curtain that moves in front of the sensor to expose it to the light.

Anything mechanical will eventually wear out. This is why you back up your data because ALL HARD DRIVES FAIL EVENTUALLY. But once again, timelapse photography isn’t as taxing on your gear as travel photography for example.

And then my final note: It’s the only way to get the footage. Gotta risk it for the biscuit. Everything comes at a price. If you are worried about TL photography ruining your camera, then maybe timelapse photography isn’t for you. 

A good friend of mine once said: if you’re not willing to lose your camera then you’re not worthy of the shot.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any cameras that have done a stupid amount of clicks?

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