If you read the title to this article and wondered what it means, actuations in photographic terms refers to the amount of times the shutter has been fired/cycled on a SLR or DSLR camera. So in this post I am going to teach you how to freely extract this information from a Canon DSLR camera, which happens to be information that is normally stored in real-time within most DSLR camera brands, but not so openly provided to the camera owner.
If you are wondering though why it matters how many times the shutter has been used on your camera, it is because on DSLRs the shutter is one of the few remaining components that is actually still mechanical. This means it is one element that can still wear out from steady usage over time. On some of the lower level Canon DSLR bodies, shutters are rated for as few as only 50,000 actuations before they might need to be replaced. That is not much and some people may shoot that many frames in only 1 year.
But on some of the higher level Canon DSLR bodies, like the 5D and 1D Series bodies, Canon rates them for as many as 150,000 actuations. But this doesn’t mean that this is how many actuaitons you will actually get from your shutter. Sometimes it ends up being less or more before it wears out. If you want to check your camera’s shutter life expectancy though there is a free and useful database here which provides actual user shutter data for many different DSLR models and brands.
Here are really the 2 main reasons though why you might want to know this information to begin with:
1 – If you have shot a lot with your camera already then you may want to know if your shutter may be getting close to reaching the number of actuations it is rated for. This doesn’t mean the shutter will need to be replaced at the rated amount, but if you are planning a lengthy photo trip for example, and the actuations on your camera are already very high, then it might be a good idea to replace the shutter first rather than risk a camera failure during your travels.
2 – The more important reason is because that these days people often upgrade their DSLR bodies every couple of years. Which means if you plan to sell your existing body to someone after upgrading, then almost all potential buyers are going to want to know how much use the camera has undergone before they buy it. And the same goes for you if you are planning to buy a second hand DSLR from someone else.
So let’s discuss how this information can be extracted from your Canon DSLR. There are various ways, including sending your camera to Canon to have them provide you the information, but sending it to Canon may include a cost, is more time consuming, and in most cases it isn’t necessary.
Below are a number of fast, free and easy ways you can check the info yourself. 1D Series DSLR bodies are harder to check, but there is at least one method for some of these models offered below. Basically most of the other newer Canon DSLR bodies manufactured since around 2008, starting from from the Canon 5D Mark II and on down, are the easiest to check.
Method 1 – EOSInfo is a free software that can be installed on all Windows based PC computers and will provide the shutter count for any Canon DSLR except most 1D series bodies and it also won’t work with the original 5D and the 10D, 20D, 30D, 300D, 350D, and 400D. If you are a Mac user though you can install its sister program called 40D Shutter Count, which will do the same thing.
Method 2 – This one is my favorite. Magic Lantern is a free, open-source firmware add-on for Canon DSLR cameras, which provides the information on the camera’s preview screen itself within the Magic Lantern debug menu screen. No computer needed at all for this. All you need to do is download and install Magic Lantern on the memory card of your Canon camera and away you go. Again, this is not an option for any 1D series cameras I am afraid or the original 5D the 10D, 20D, 30D, 300D, 350D, and 400D because Magic Lantern will not run on any of these models. At the moment Magic Lantern supports the Canon 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 6D, 7D, 50D, 60D, 500D/T1i, 550D/T2i, 600D/T3i, 650D/T4i, 700D/T5i, 1100D/T3, and EOS M. And there is a beta version of Magic Lantern for the 70D available here. You can also see a full list of all Magic Lantern versions here. Below is a screen shot of Magic Lantern running on my older 5D Mark II:
Method 3 – If you have a 1D series camera the is a free option called 1D Count that you can access here, which can check the actuations for some of the 1D series cameras. It seems it will work with all older 1D Series DSLR bodies but not with the 1D/1DS Mark III or some of the 1D Series bodies newer than that. It may work though with the 1D Mark IV, the 1D X, the 1D C and the original 5D model I heard, but I can’t personally confirm which models it will work with exactly. But since it is a free software/website, there is nothing to lose by simply trying it with any of the above mentioned Canon DSLR models if you own one.
Method 4 – This is not a completely free option, but if you happen to already own the DSLR Controller app, as I do for tethered shooting with a Canon DSLR and an Android tablet or Smartphone, then the shutter actuation info is something that is automatically provided in the DSLR Controller’s menu system already. You can purchase the App for around US$10 from the Google Play Store if you don’t have it yet. You can also see a screenshot of the info being provided by DSLR Controller for my Canon 5D Mark II on my Samsung tablet below:
Below is a list of all the Canon camera models being supported by the DSRL Controller app at the moment and I assume DSLR Controller should be able to provide shutter count information for any of the camera models that it is able to run on:
So those are the best methods for checking shutter actuations on Canon cameras that I am aware of. I just use the Magic Lantern method whenever I want to check my camera since I am always running Magic Lantern anyway and it only requires a quick check on the camera’s menu whenever I want to check it.
If perhaps you have one of the Canon bodies which isn’t supported by any of the 4 options I provided, then you can consider sending your body to a Canon service center to get the shutter count information if you really want it. There is also a website which I have not tested yet and which seems to be able to provide shutter count for many Camera brands and models. The site is called Camera Shutter Count and you can click here for it. And for Nikon users you can try the Nikon Shutter Count website, which seems to be able to check all Nikon cameras manufactured since 2005.
*UPDATE #1 / 1-March-17* It seems the website of Method 3 listed above in this article is not working at present. 1D Count’s website seems to have gone down, but I left the link there in this article in case it happens to come back online again in the future.
There is a new site called ShutterCounter, which mentions 1D series cameras on its homepage. So it may either be an alternative or replacement site for 1D Count. Please click here to visit ShutterCounter. Another new site to appear is My Shutter Count here. It also seems to support various makes and models.
I haven’t tried either of these 2 newer sites yet, but, if they work for you, then please provide your feedback on them below for other users who may also be interested.
Also, if you are interested in the DSLR Controller app, (Method 4), you can check the site for an updated list of cameras it supports. At the time of writing this article in 2015 it did not support as many cameras and Android devices as it does now. It also has support now for the Canon 5D Mark IV. So the above list of cameras it supports is definitely no longer up to date. I decided not to post the current list as it may continue to change. So click here to see the most up to date list of devices and cameras it supports on the developer’s website.