Canon: Why Make Shutter Count Inaccessible?

Yesterday I finally decided to part with my Canon gear. I tried everything to make it work but it doesn’t work for me. See my Canon EOS R5 Disappointment post.

So, the first thing I thought a potential buyer of a camera might want to know is the shutter count. It is kind of the milage of the camera. Mechanical shutters have a maximum life expectancy that is published by the camera manufacturer. My Canon EOS R5 has an impressive shutter life of 500,000 actuations. That is a lot even for a professional camera body. Compare that to the shutter rating of the Nikon D850 with a mere 200,000 shutter actuations.

I knew my Canon EOS R5 had a low shutter count. After all, I wasn’t using it that often. In most cases I took it for city and landscape photography. You don’t usually shoot a burst of photos to capture the perfect instance of a landscape or a street view. So I was looking for a way to display the shutter count.

This tiny weeny little detail turned into a major issue. Not only is there now way to display the total shutter count via the menu or via the “Info” button. There is also no simple way to extract that information from EXIF information of photos shot with the camera. Canon somehow managed to obfuscate that information and neither Windows nor Linux EXIF utilities could display the shutter count.

Searching the Internet showed that others had similar issues. One solution was to purchase the ShutterCount application for Mac OS, which I did. I had tried some online shutter count sites but none worked. Nor did some free apps I tried. I paid somewhere around $8 for the app.

Canon EOS R5 shutter count in the Shuttercount application (serial no. truncated)

Connecting my Canon R5 camera via USB to my MacBook Air and switching the camera on and off and on again would finally reveal some information. But the best I could get was “<10,000” actuations. Not exactly a precise shutter count. I hope the buyer will swallow that. Of course there is the issue of “electronic” and “mechanical” shutter count. Electronic shutter doesn’t produce any wear and tear as no mechanical parts are moved. Whereas the mechanical shutter is – you guessed right – a mechanical device that is exposed to wear when used. That’s why there is a shutter life expectancy.

I really don’t get the mindset of Canon executives. What is wrong with their heads? Why don’t you make that information available like all other manufacturers? One way or another you can get the shutter count of a Nikon, an Olympus (or whatever they call that company now), etc. In fact, I bet the information is there in the first place, just obfuscated. My Linux EXIF viewer finds tons of information but many parts are undocumented or somehow encrypted. I had no luck with Adobe Lightroom or the Canon DPP software.

The more details I discover about my Canon products, the less I want to own them. Canon is making my photography life miserable and I can’t let that happen. I hope I find a buyer who can make better use of that equipment. I’ve lost all confidence in it.

Perhaps you have had better experiences with it. Please share in your comments.

Author: Heiko Sieger

The day has 24 hours. If that isn't enough, I also use the night.

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