Mirrorless cameras are all the rage these days. While it started with Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Fuji, Canon and Nikon finally joined the game in late 2018. But with its popularity, there is still some confusion about the bones of a mirrorless camera.
Namely, whether or not things like shutter count actually matters on mirrorless cameras.
Electronic vs. mechanical shutters
There’s a common misconception that mirrorless cameras only have an electronic shutter. After all, a lot of the benefits to mirrorless cameras include things like silent mode, and an ultrafast frame rate. And while mirrorless cameras do have an electronic shutter, they also have the more traditional mechanical shutter.
Well, while electronic shutters are great, they can only do so much. Traditionally you’re limited in terms of using things like strobes and speedlights. You also can experience things like banding in your images due to the light source in the room. With mechanical shutters, these problems disappear, but of course, you don’t get some of the benefits that electronic shutters have. That’s why mirrorless cameras have the option of both.
What about shutter count?
If you’ve ever sold a camera, you’ve undoubtedly been asked how many actuations the shutter has on it. In layman’s terms, this is how many clicks you’ve made on your camera. This matters because mechanical shutters are rated for a certain number (usually around the 200,000 to 400,000 mark) before they start to fail. Having a high shutter count could, in turn, lower the value of your camera — unless you replace the shutter.
Notice how I said mechanical shutter. When you use the electronic shutter, it doesn’t impact this number. But the other thing to keep in mind is, because there’s no mirror to flip up and down, shutter count does not matter as much on mirrorless cameras. You’ll essentially find a longer life span. That said, shutter count does still matter somewhat.
And, just to be sure, I asked the Olympus for confirmation of this.
“A mechanical shutter count life span does matter with mirrorless cameras as well,” said Mr. Masami Takase, Director, Imaging Product Development for Olympus. “A life span of the camera could [also] be affected by other devices apart from a shutter, for example, the parts that require mechanical movement, such as a release button.”
The fact of the matter is, even though I have a mirrorless camera, I probably use my mechanical shutter 98% of the time. The only time I use the electronic shutter function is when I know I have to be quiet, for instance, during a piano performance.
So should you pay attention to your shutter count?
Yes and no. If you ever sell your camera to a private party, you’ll probably be asked for it. Most mirrorless cameras do not count the electronic shutter actuations in the number presented, so you can be rest assured that the shutter count you receive is truly just from the mechanical shutter.
Depending on your camera, it might be easy or rather difficult to check your shutter count. Each camera is different; consult your camera’s user guide or YouTube to see which method is right for your camera.