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How Long Do DSLR Camera Bodies Last?

Do DSLR cameras wear out from normal use? 

I guess the first question on your mind is probably do cameras actually wear out. After all they’re not cheap right? So surely they need to last.

But exactly how long do they last and do they actually wear out?

Well the short answer is;

Yes, DSLR cameras do wear out. 

Since DSLRs have moving parts there is always going to be a lifespan and the main reason for this will be the shutter.

Luckily this so-called lifespan is very long and it can be measured to an extent. 

The most common way to measure the lifespan is the shutter count.

What Is The Shutter Count?

The shutter count of a camera is the amount of times the shutter has been actuated. 

To be actuated is just a fancy way of saying ‘to put into action’. 

Every cycle of the shutter will increase the shutter count and this is roughly equal to the number of images taken by the camera.

The reason it is not the exact amount of images taken is because the shutter opens and closes in other scenarios such as when the sensor is cleaned. 

Every camera will have a shutter lifespan.

What Is My DSLR Camera’s Shutter Life?

DSLR cameras are well researched and well tested pieces of tech and the companies that create them put them through rigorous processes to work out how long they will last. 

The shutter life is a guideline to the minimum expected number of actuations the shutter can go through before the shutter fails.

For example, if the shutter life of a Canon EOS SL3 is 100,000 then this means that Canon is stating that the shutter for the Canon EOS SL3 should last for 100,000 shutter actuations. 

In reality, a lot of cameras will last way longer than this shutter count but there will be some that can break before the shutter life – at the end of the day it is an average. 

There are people that have cameras which are rated for 150,000 that have taken over 200,000 shots without any issues.

While it can be a guide, it’s not as if the camera will all of a sudden just fall to pieces as soon as you hit that shutter life number.

How Important Is Shutter Count?

While it is useful to know the shutter count of your camera and the shutter life expectancy it’s worth noting that it is not something you should worry about too much. 

Of course if you are going to buy a used DSLR then, with everything else being equal, you would go for the one with a lower shutter count since that would suggest it still has a longer life ahead of it. 

But then again you could have a low shutter count DSLR that has chips and cracks in it which suggests it has been knocked about a lot more so there could be more potential damage to it that can cause problems.

What Other Things Can Cause A DSLR To Stop Working Besides The Shutter Count? 

The main thing will be accidental damage from the operator. This can be anything from water damage to damaging the body from dropping it or knocking it against things.

As long as you take care of your camera and aren’t in super harsh conditions then your DSLR should last a very long time. 

There are reports of people that have shutter counts close to a million, but their cameras work just fine. 

How To Check My Camera’s Current Shutter Count? 

Online tools:

DSLR cameras have the shutter count recorded in the EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) data and there are plenty of online resources that make sense of this to tell you what your camera’s current shutter count is. 

All you have to do is upload a picture to one of the tools on the following websites and they will give the shutter count of your camera. 

How To Check Shutter Count In Photoshop

If you have Adobe Photoshop then you should be able to find the shutter count from the file info through Adobe Photoshop.

  1. Upload your photo into Photoshop.
  2. Go into the file -> file info -> raw data.
  3. Search for the shutter count using the phrase “shutter count”, “image count” or “image number” and you should find the shutter count. 

For best results you will want the raw image without putting it through any other programs as that could affect the data depending on what you have done with the image.

Will I Get To My Shutter Life Expectancy Before I Need A New Camera? 

In most cases, photographers will probably get to a stage where they upgrade the camera or damage it through accidental damage before the shutter dies on them.

Technology is a fast moving industry so DSLRs that are only 4-5 years apart can be very different in terms of what features they have. 

Because of this a lot of people may upgrade in this time period way before their camera is on its last legs. 

To put into perspective how long shutter life can be, let’s look at an example: 

If your shutter life expectancy is 150,000, that means if you took 100 images every single day it would take you 1500 days to reach that shutter count. That works out to 4.1 years. 

That’s from using it every single day.

Keep in mind the shutter life expectancy is just a guideline and if your camera shutter dies before its shutter life expectancy within warranty then you will probably get a free repair or replacement.

How Many Years Does A DSLR Camera Last ?

Nowadays pretty much any DSLR from a major brand is very well built and should last you anywhere from 3-5 years quite easily. This can be shorter if you are using it in more extreme  conditions. 

On the other hand if you look after your camera well then you can see a camera lasting way more than 5 years quite easily.

An easy way to keep your camera ‘healthy’ is to give it regular cleans with a basic camera cleaning kit.


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