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Timelapse Photographer Explains Why He Doesn’t Worry About Shutter Count

Every week, several people pop into photographer Matthew Vandeputte‘s DMs or drop into the comments on his YouTube to ask the same question: do I need to worry about my camera’s shutter count if I start shooting timelapse. In this video, Vandeputte explains why you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

As every photographer knows, each camera comes with a shutter “rating” attached. Typically, faster sports cameras have higher rating; for example, the Nikon D5 and Canon 1D X Mark II are both rated for 400,000 actuations. For non-sports cameras, even expensive ones, the number can be much lower; the Nikon D850 is “only” rated for 200,000.

Knowing only this, you would think that time-lapse photography would definitely kill your camera faster, since you’re likely to get to that 200K or 400K number much faster if you’re out shooting tens of thousands of frames every weekend. But as Vandeputte explains, this doesn’t play out in real life.

To be clear, Vandeputte’s advice is based on “anecdotal evidence” gathered over about 8 years of shooting timelapse photography professionally. But based on his experience, every single one of his cameras has gone far FAR beyond the actuation rating of their respective shutters.

The question remains: why? Why is it that a regular photographer’s camera might crap out at 50K or 100K above the shutter rating, but Vandeputte’s own Canon 600D—an entry level camera—has nearly 600K and still works flawlessly? He believes that it has to do with how these ratings are conceived; that it’s not just about the number, but about how much wear and tear a manufacturer expects those numbers will represent.

“[For timelapse photography], you put your camera on a tripod and you let it click away in a nice, chilled, controlled environment without running and gunning and banging it around,” says Vandeputte. “To me, that means less pressure, less stress, on the shutter mechanism.”

That, in a nutshell, is why Vandeputte doesn’t worry about shutter count. To hear a bit more from Vandeputte about this subject—and a tangent on why, if you are worried, maybe timelapse photography isn’t for you—check out the full video up top.

(via ISO 1200)

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