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 the 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, Sony a6400, and Sony a6100 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.
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.
|Camera Model||Shutter Count Rating|
|Sony a6500, Sony a6400, Sony a6100||200,000 shutter clicks|
|Sony a7 III||Not Available|
|Sony a7R III||500,000 shutter clicks|
|Sony a9||500,000 shutter clicks|
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.
“The Sony cameras have all been tested for a certain amount of release cycles. They Sony a6500, Sony a6400, and Sony a6100 have been tested for 200,000 shutter release cycles and the Sony a7RII, a7RIII, and Sony a9 have been tested for 500,000. We don’t have information for the Sony a7III, but it’s likely to be the same as the Sony a7R III at 500,000.“Sony Customer Service Team
“Honestly, shutter count lifespan is pretty overrated for your camera. Most people will never reach the shutter count lifespan number during normal use. In addition, even if the number was reached, it doesn’t mean your camera will just stop working. The official shutter count lifespan for the Sony a6500, Sony a6400, and Sony a6100 is 200,000 and 500,000 for the Sony a7R III and Sony a9.”Glazer’s Camera
The official recommendation from Sony for shutter count lifespan is 200,000 for the Sony a6500, Sony a6400, Sony a6100 and 500,000 for the Sony a7R III and Sony a9. In reality though, it could be less or could be more.B&H Camera
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.
The online tools that I used are www.camerashuttercount.com.and http://tools.science.si.
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
You can also go to http://tools.science.si, but for this example, I’m going to show you how to use www.camerashuttercount.com since I like their interface a little better.
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?
I got 265k out of my a7iii and the shutter failed 11 months after purchase. I do Real Estate Photography 9-5 and maybe take a few vacations per year and when I do, I take my film camera!!!
Hey Cameron, thanks for letting me know. Sorry to hear that happened to your a7iii at that shutter count. Did you let Sony know about what happened? Based on my conversation with the camera stores and Sony customer service, the a7iii should be able to handle much more than that.
I ran a couple of my ARW’s through EXIF and came out with a current image count of 11,542. However, I’ve taken well over 100k images with my a7R3. Because I’m often photographing quiet events, I almost always use the electronic shutter instead of the mechanical shutter – even when I don’t ‘need’ to. So the image count is only counting mechanical shutter activations and not all images captured with the camera. At this rate, I won’t hit a 500k “Image count” until sometime mid-next century.
Thanks for your comment and for the information. I had actually not thought about if or if not the shutter release cycles were counted when shooting in silent mode. That would make sense if they were not counted since it uses the electronic shutter. I have just updated the article based on your info, so thanks again for your help!
p.s. that’s nice your shutter count is so low even after that many images. Maybe I’ll try to use the silent shooting mode more from now on.
I buy a lot of used Sony gear. Shutter count was much more valuable when camera’s were mostly used for stills (and did not use electronic shutter). Because in the Sony world Video is so prevalent, all bets are off. Two things effect the duty cycle of electronics, Moisture and Heat. As anyone who Videos knows, the sensor gets very warm during Videoing. Many cameras have a limit to how long they can Video without a cool down break because of this. In my opinion, shutter count on a new Sony is something to take into account, but no longer hold the same weight it used to in the old days. I would really like to see an ‘hour meter’ for video / electronic shutters – just like on a boat.
Hi Chuck, thanks for the info! Yes, I would agree it would be nice if there was some kind of mechanism to show you how long a Sony camera has been used for video or how many electronic shutters have been used. I imagine this kind of info would be nice to have for someone who buys used Sony gear like yourself. Maybe this will come in a future iteration of Sony cameras…
Hello i wanted to ask: i bought a new sony a6600 and i tested how many images it has on it and it said 15. why? its supposed to be brand new!
Hi! Thanks for your question! I think that might be from testing in the factory during its production. With that said, I think the best bet to find out is to contact Sony customer care directly. Here is the link to their US customer service, I’ve contacted them a few times and they’re always very prompt and helpful.
Hi Tom. I tried to upload the raw photo to check the shutter count but I got zero exposure. Is that possible? If I upload one photo, then that means automatic 1 shutter count right?
Hi Ken! Thanks for your question. I don’t think that should be possible unless you haven’t taken any photos? May I ask what shutter count tool you used?
Hi guys, question, im thinking of buying a used sony a7r4 from mpb, condition is stated “as new”, but this is basically cosmetic, when i asked shutter count they say they dint release this info because shutter count can be altered by pressing other buttons rather than the shutter release button, should i be worried? Is this normal practice? Should i pass on this camera? I mean, its second hand but still a large amount of money, i just want to avoid buying a camera like this just to start using it and it suddenly dies on me after a couple of thousand photos taken.
Hi Ernesto! Thanks for your question and sorry for the late reply! It looks like MBP is a legitimate. With that said, I’m curious about what they said about shutter count too. The reason why I say that is because shutter count should only count the shutter release actuation. So, even if another button was pressed which released the shutter, that would still count as a shutter actuation. Additionally, I would assume that people would only want to manipulate the shutter count to decrease it vs to increase it.
With that being said, I think the most important thing is that shutter count is just for reference. Even though Sony has a max shutter count, you can actually use the camera well passed its supposed shutter count life span.
I just bought off eBay- a used Sony Alpha A37 -It is in very good looking condition(no reall blemishes and works well-so far. I just discovered the shutter count to be 35531. I don’t think this is very high-but what do you think. previous owner did not have it listed or knew how to find it. It came with a lens battery charger and Sony 18-55 mm. for around 200. Deal or no deal -thanks
I think for around only $200, I’d definitely still consider it a deal. To be honest, the shutter count is more of a reference point and not the most important factor when buying a camera, so as long as it’s in good working condition, you’re good to go!
Hi there. Nice and great article. I checked my Sony Alpha7 iv and it show’s 1200 shots. Which surprised me, because I bought this camera new from an official sony dealer. I only made myself about 400 shots.
I contacted the Sony support and they told me that the camera is tested before it is sent out of factory.
800 shots can be a plausible count for tested shots from my camera
Do you have any information, or personal experience that can verify this information?
Hi Lars, I don’t have any personal experience that can verify this information, but I also wouldn’t worry too much about it as that isn’t that many shots to be tested in the grand scheme of things. Hope that helps!