I found out something very cool this weekend and I thought I would share it with you. As you may know, I had my D3100 up for auction on eBay last week so I could make some room in my stable for the next camera (probably a T3i). I listed the camera as “like NEW” because I had taken so few images with it that it really was like new. Well someone that was interested in bidding sent me an email and asked if I knew just how many actual shutter actuations the camera has had. The truth is that I had no idea and as far as I knew, there was no real way to find out so I sent him back a reply and told him it was probably under 200 but I had no way to know for sure. He was nice enough to answer back to tell me that the shutter actuation info is actually recorded in the EXIF data. He also recommended a program called Opanda IExif for reading it.
I have a lot of photo programs so I thought that surely I already had something that could read the EXIF and wouldn’t need to download anything else. First I looked at Lightroom since I already store my images there. I went to the Library and clicked on the Metadata tab and set the Metadata Set to Exif but there was no shutter info to be found.
Then I right-clicked on the image thumbnail and had Lightroom find the image in Explorer. I right-clicked the image in the Explorer window and then clicked on Properties, thinking that maybe the info I was after would be in the Details section, but once again it was not.
Having failed twice, I was sure my next option would be a winner so I opened the image in Photoshop CS5 and then clicked on File – File Info… to open up the rather extensive information window. I scoured through every tab in the panel, starting with Description and ending in Raw Data but I couldn’t find what I was after.
I finally decided to bite the bullet and downloaded Opanda and installed it (it’s a Windows only program). I opened it up and then just dragged the image from my Windows Explorer into the program window. Almost instantly a thumbnail of the image appeared in the upper-left corner and the right-hand panel filled with a bevy of camera data. Every little detail was there; camera make, model, date, time, ISO, shutter-speed, etc., etc. It took me a little while but after reading all the data I finally found the nugget that I was looking for – Total Number of Shutter Releases for Camera – 120.
So here’s what I found out, this particular program only works with JPEG files so you won’t have any luck trying to drag RAW images in. There is a Pro version that supports TIFF files but I couldn’t find anything about RAW support so we will just assume it doesn’t have it. Also, the Shutter Actuation thing does not work with Canon cameras. Apparently Canon does not import that information into their EXIF files. There is supposedly a way for a Canon service person to determine the number of shutter actuations but nothing the regular Joe on the street can do. I don’t have any info on other camera manufacturers but I would be interested to know if any of you Sony/Pentax/Olympus folks out there have looked.
So why is the camera shutter actuation so important? Well, I guess it’s like knowing the actual miles on a used car. Most dSLR cameras have shutters that are said to be good for at least 100,000 actuations. It’s true that a shutter can fail long before that, but wouldn’t it be nice to know if that camera you are thinking of buying has been gently used or is nearing the reasonable life-cycle for the shutter and might be staring at some service time in the near future.
The Opanda IExif software is free to download and can be found here. If you know of any other software or methods for viewing this full Exif data, I would love to hear from you.