Last Updated on July 25, 2020 by Tom Shu
Obviously, when you invest in camera gear it’s not cheap, and it’s just that, an investment.
So, it’s understandable if you’re trying to get a sense of how long a new Sony camera might last you or how much life your existing Sony camera has left.
The shutter count on your camera is kind of like total mileage of a car and is one of those metrics that give you an idea of the lifespan of your camera.
For Sony cameras, the Sony a6500 has been officially tested for 200,000 mechanical shutter release cycles, and the a7RII, a7RIII, and a9 have been tested for 500,000 mechanical shutter counts. As a note, shutter release cycles are not counted when shooting in silent mode as the camera uses the electronic shutter in silent mode.
Even though the cameras have been tested to these shutter counts, the number is just a number and doesn’t really tell the entire story.
So in this article here is what we’re going to cover:
- What Shutter Count is and What Does it Mean?
- What Sony and Professional Camera Stores Thought of Shutter Count
- My Own Experience with a High Shutter Count on my Sony a6500
What is Shutter Count on your Sony Camera and What Does it Mean?
In your everyday life, no matter what electronic device or piece of technology you’re using, it has a maximum lifespan.
The same goes for your Sony camera.
In short, the shutter count on your Sony camera is how many total photos it has taken in its lifespan.
It’s a good reference of how much wear and tear it has gotten over the course of the camera’s life and how much life span it has left.
Disclaimer: I go over how to find your Sony camera’s shutter count a little later in this article, so if that’s what you’re looking for then feel free to skip straight to it.
You might not know this, but every single time you hit the shutter button to create a picture, the camera will record it as one shutter count.
In technical terms, each picture was taken = 1 shutter release cycle.
So if you’re anything like me and you like to use the Sony’s burst functionality, then with one click of the camera, you might go through 10 or even 20 shutter release cycles!
The good news is that Sony Alpha cameras like the Sony a6500 have an official shutter count lifespan of 200,000, while the Sony a7RII, a7RIII, and a9 have been officially tested to take 500,000 photos.
On the other hand, the bad news is that you are getting closer and closer to the end of the camera’s life with every photo taken.
A good comparison of the shutter count on your camera is the total mileage driven in your car.
Every car has 10k, 20k, 50k, and 100k+ milestones.
Even though a specific car model has been tested to drive 150k miles, it doesn’t necessarily mean that once you hit the 150k milestone your car will break down.
Some people will be able to drive the car well passed this point, while others may run into problems well before this point.
The reality is that a test is just a test and until you start using the car in real-life situations you won’t know how your car will start to perform once it reaches a certain age.
A lot of it will probably be determined by how well you take care of and maintain your car.
The same can be said with cameras.
Depending on how well you take care of your Sony camera, it may last well past the official shutter count lifespan.
On the other hand.
You could also be one of the unlucky few who has a camera that shuts down before this point, but again it all depends.
So 200,000 and 500,000 is the Shutter Count Lifespan for Sony Alpha Cameras?
Yes, if you have been paying any attention at all, then you will have seen that the official shutter count lifespan from Sony is 200,000 and 500,000 shutter release cycles.
Again, that is the OFFICIAL number from Sony.
Originally, I had found these shutter count numbers through a little Google research and from forums like www.sonyalphaforum.com and www.dpreview.com, but I wanted to go a step further to make sure these numbers were accurate.
So, in order to make sure I had the right shutter count lifespan numbers for these Sony cameras, I went ahead and called Sony’s customer support, Glazer’s Camera, a very popular professional photography store in Seattle and the famous B&H out of New York.
Here is what they had to say about the shutter count lifespan for Sony cameras.
As you can see, all 3 companies were very consistent with the information about Sony Alpha Cameras.
What I want to bring attention to again, though, is how Glazer’s called the shutter count number overrated.
I definitely agree with this and here’s why.
If you think about it, it’s very unlikely that you will use your camera until the shutter completely shuts down.
Most people will only take photos when they go somewhere new. For a normal person who works a steady 9-5 job, this will only happen a few times a year.
I’m just randomly throwing out numbers, but if you do some basic math, an average person with a 9-5 job might average 5,000 photos a vacation.
This person will go on 3 to 4, week-long vacations a year, which means about 15,000 – 20,000 photos a year just from time spent on vacation.
Throw in some random photos of pets, family, and friends at home and you’re looking at maybe 20,000 – 25,000 photos taken in a year.
Even with the Sony a6500’s shutter count lifespan of 200,000, that means it would take this person 8 – 10 years to reach that amount of photos snapped.
In that period of time, it’s much more likely that this person would switch cameras or replace the camera after breaking it accidentally.
How to Find the Shutter Count on Your Sony Camera without Downloading Software?
Finding the shutter count on your Sony camera is really simple to do and you don’t need to download any software to do it.
The easiest way to find this information is to upload an original JPG or Raw file to an online tool that will read your file and spit out the shutter count data.
You need to use an original unedited file as any changes you make to the photo will change the data.
Supposedly, you should be able to find this information through Photoshop, but after trying for over an hour, I still could not figure it out.
Anyways, the online tools are much more user friendly, so this isn’t a big deal.
In the below example, I uploaded the same photo to 2 different online tools to ensure the accuracy of the data, but they work the same.
Pro Tip: During your Google search you might see software or apps to download to view your camera’s shutter count information. These are unnecessary since you can find the same information with these free online tools.
Step 1: Navigate to www.camerashuttercount.com
Step 2: Click on “Choose File” and select an original unedited image in JPG or RAW file format
Once you hit the “Choose File” button, it will open up your computer’s file explorer. From this point, navigate to the original unedited image that you want to upload.
Again, it’s important that you choose an unedited file. Once your photo is edited, the file information will be changed so your shutter count information may not be accurate.
Step 3: Once your file is chosen, hit the upload button
Depending on your file size this may take a few seconds, but once your file is uploaded you will see your camera’s shutter count number.
I use Windows and my computer will show the % upload progress in the bottom left-hand corner so you can also look at this if you use a Windows computer too.
That’s it! Super simple to do, right?
My Own Experience with Shutter Count on the Sony a6500
Like Sony’s customer service, Glazer’s Camera, and B and H have said already, the shutter count really is just a number for reference.
That shutter count you see of 182,787 is the actual shutter count from my Sony a6500, so it’s getting very close to the official Sony shutter count lifespan of 200,000 for the a6500.
In theory, if the recommended shutter count is such a big deal, then I should have had some issues with my Sony a6500’s shutter mechanism already.
The reality is that up to this point, I have run into absolutely 0 issues with my camera and all the wear and tear are mainly cosmetic.
There have only been a few times when my a6500 doesn’t recognize when I switch to a new lens, but all I have to do is remove the lens, blow on the back connection points and it’s good to go.
These minor issues are obviously not related to the shutter mechanism, so it’s clear that my a6500 should last well past the recommended 200,000 shutter count.
Of course, this is just my experience and some of you reading this may not have been as lucky with your Sony camera.
I’ve mostly used the Sony a6500, so I can’t say what the a7III, a7RIII, or a9 might be like once their shutter count gets closer to its shutter count lifespan, but if they’re anything like the Sony a6500, then I bet you won’t run into any issues either.
Like I said before, the shutter count on your camera really is just a number for you to reference, so use it as such.
What is your experience with shutter count on your camera?