Shutter Actuations in Nikon DSLRs

Hidden away in the EXIF data for Nikon’s newer DSLRs is a count of the number of shutter actuations for the camera.  In what is known as the ‘maker note’ section, there are quite a number of Nikon-specific tags, including ‘Total Number of Shutter Releases for Camera.’  This is where the magic number can be found.

Updated 12/2/2010. Added online EXIF reader to main body of article.

Updated 2/17/2010.  Added ExifTool information to main body of article.

Unfortunately, this value is not read (to my knowledge) by any of Nikon’s software; and the incompatibilities between Adobe PhotoShop and Nikon EXIF are legion.  Thankfully, there’s a neat litle freeware program from Opanda, iExif, that will do the trick.

Opanda Title BarInstall Opanda, and it automatically adds itself to the Windows context menu for JPG files.  Right click on the file you want from Windows Explorer, and select ‘View EXIF/GPS/IPTC with iExif’ from the context menu.  As the menu implies, not only does the program reveal EXIF data, but any IPTC or GPS tags as well.  Very handy for looking at the ‘guts’ of a file.

A helpful reader also informed me of a free on-line tool, Jeffrey’s Exif viewer,which can read EXIF data from images on the web as well as from your computer.  I’ve tried it and it’s fairly impressive.

This trick only works for the D70, D2H, and later cameras.  (I’ve not tested D1H/D1X/D100, but it does not work with D1 files.)  The files must also be straight from the camera — files that have been post processed in Adobe PhotoShop lose this information (along with much of the other EXIF data, sadly).  And it doesn’t work with RAW files, which aren’t supported by iExif.

Additional options. Minimalists out there may be interested in ExifTool, a freeware command-line utility.  No interface to speak of, but those of you who were undaunted by MS-DOS might find it handy.  It is available in both PC and Mac flavors and the Perl source is available as well.

118 thoughts on “Shutter Actuations in Nikon DSLRs”

  1. I am looking to buy a Nikon d40 and I am told the shutter count is 15,550. Is paying $300 too much for it?

    Thank you
    Great article…glad I found it!

    1. When checking market prices, eBay is a good source. 15k shutter clicks is not too bad; I don’t know the D40′s expected shutter life, but I suspect the MTBF is at least 50,000. Of course, that’s just an average – any given camera can fail at any time, and there are lots of reasons a camera can fail besides the shutter. But 15,000 is not an excessive number.

  2. if shutter count reach its maximum, does it mean that the camera will die as well? or it will only have to buy or change some parts? and one more question sir, this problem “Error.Press shutter release button again”, does it mean the camera is dead at all or it just have to change or replaced some parts of the camera? thanks… (-:

    1. Keep in mind the rated life is only an average; nothing will happen just because you’ve reached that magic number. A shutter replacement is typically about a $400 repair. The error you have described is not uncommon; it could be an indication of a failing shutter, particularly if it repeats itself. But it could also be caused by a low battery. It’s not serious in and of itself.

  3. Hi there, just bought a second hand Nikon D3000 and i just used jeffrey’s exif viewer. The previous has it for like 2years and it has a 11,459 is that okay?

  4. My current D2x is currently at 385,905 on the shutter. And its still like new. My D200 died at just ovet 260k. Its like everything else. Once you look after your gear and get them serviced you should hsve years of enjoyment.

  5. Sir, I want to thank you for all the great information. You and those folks who visit your site are doing a fine job of helping those of us who don’t know jack about cameras (Nikons). As a senior person, the infor I gather from your site helps me help my grandkids get a better grip on how to use their cameras. THANKS AGAIN

  6. Wow, we just checked and my old D3 is up to almost 400,000. No wonder it is getting flakey. Doesn’t work right above 1/1000.

  7. I found a Nikon D700 that the seller claims is 0 actuations. I tried it, and it did say 0 in the EXIF. When I asked him if he used it before he said “No, zero means no use!”

    I asked that to him because the lens mount has lens mount marks, light scratches on corners, and looks as if a battery has been in and out of the camera several times. I use a D3s and cannot find a setting to reset the actuations. Can you reset it on a D700?

    1. The factory can reset the shutter count. But if the EXIF says ’0,’ then obviously something is amiss because it would have to be at least ’1′ in order to have produced a file with EXIF data. So if he’s lying to you about that…caveat emptor.

  8. Hi,
    I couldn’t read all comments above, but would like to say that I saw the Shutter Count on Flickr.
    Open your last imported photo. Click “Options”, than “View Exif info”. There you will find all informations about the camera. I used Nikon D5000.
    I hope could help you. :-)

  9. Thank you for the information. It really helped me a lot. If I have some questions, guess I’ll have to look for you again. Thanks :)

  10. Hmm, you think my d40 still in good condition? Another thing, what should I do if my camera dies, can the shutter be reset/replaced? Guess I’ll have to minimize taking non-sense pictures. Lol. Thank you

    1. Shutters can be replaced. However, it’s likely to cost more than the market value of your D40, so when that day comes, you’ll probably be able to upgrade for not much more than the new shutter would cost. But again, your count of 16,000 is low. All of Nikon’s current cameras have a MTBF (mean time between failure), or average lifespan, of 100,000 or more shutter actuations. I would guess that the D40′s is at least 50,000. This is an average, mind you; so while your shutter could fail tomorrow, it’s likely that it has much more life remaining in it. Shoot away.

  11. my nikon d40x just died on me and can I check how much actuations on it, don’t know how and if it’s possible since it says Error.Press shutter release button again. I am planning to buy either the d3100 or the d300? I don’t know w/c one is better, I don’t care about the video as long as they take good pictures on close up. And do you know how many actuations on d3000 and d3100? Please help!! Thank you!

    1. The number of shutter actuations is contained in the EXIF information in each photo, so the camera does not need to be working – you just need to have access to a recently-taken image from the camera. I haven’t used either the D3000 or D3100 so I can’t help you there, although I’m sure both do fine with closeups (the choice of lens probably having more of an impact there than the camera).

  12. @becklectic
    you are absolutely right, also sometime when your camera went to the nikon service center it also get reset. At least mine Nikon D70 has been shutter reset once. btw it just about good luck with the shutter, my friend shutter get busted just with 5000 shoot only.

  13. Use caution when buying used equipment and relying on the shutter count number. My Nikon D70s only has 16 bits to store the shutter count in. It rolled over to zero after 65535. The shutter count now stands a bit over 21000, and you might look at the camera and believe it has only shot 21000 images (which seems like a lot if you don’t know any better).

  14. Thanks Sports Photo Guy. Your insights are very helpful. Since that refurbished D3 sounds like a decent buy, I now have a dilemma: buy the D3 (albeit moderately used) or for the same price buy a brand new D700+grip? Or just continue to wait until the new generation of FX and DX bodies come out and become even more indecisive. :)

  15. Thanks Sports Photo Guy for all your helpful advice. My situation: a refurbished Nikon D3 from an authorized dealer for $2900 with a shutter count of 60550. The body and LCD are immaculate, just a few light scuff marks on the bottom. Would you buy it? And do you think the resale value would hold if I sold it again in 6 months?

    1. I’ll say this – sounds like a reasonable price for a body in good shape. 60,000 clicks isn’t too bad on a D3. As for the price in 6 months – anyone’s guess! Nikon will probably have a D300s replacement out by that time, I imagine, and who knows what else.

  16. Thanks for this article very helpful. I can’t believe I only have 6335 Shutter Actuations after owning this camera since 2004. I need to get out there and take more pictures. (D70) Is this still considered a decent camera. I am taking pictures just for fun and enjoyment, nothing else.

  17. I was able to find the shutter actuations using Adobe Bridge – under File info > Advanced > HTTP//:ns.adobe.com/exif/1.0/aux/ then looked under Aux/ ImageNumber:

  18. Can get a D300 w/AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 G for about $1200. roughly 45k actuations. camera body in great condition. Good deal, or keep looking?

  19. For the D70, you need to be aware of a very important limitation…
    Nikon only allocated 16 bits to store the shutter count. Therefore this value can range from Zero to 65535. After that, the count will “roll over” (much like your car’s odometer).
    So, if a camera shows 20,000 clicks, it could have:
    20,000 or 85535 or 151070 or 216605 or…
    Now, somewhere hidden in the EXIF data (or in the camera itself) is a counter of the roll-overs, so Nikon can tell how many shutter clicks you had.

  20. Thanks ‘Sports Photo Guy’. I think I can live with this count. Atleast it makes me think i got a brand new piece. I will contact Adorama to see if i can find out this.

  21. I just got a refurbished Nikon D5000 yesterday and the shutter count says ’10′ on it. This doesnt look realistic for a user can expect more than 50 atleast in a refurbished. Does this ring anything for anybody? is there a way for the seller to reset the count? Got it from Adorama.

    1. The count can be reset by service personnel. But keep in mind a ‘refurbished’ camera can be just about anything – if it’s been purchased and returned, it can’t be re-sold as new even if it has never been used. I would not be too concerned.

  22. Hi Sports Photo Guy!

    I am interested in purchasing a used Nikon D40x (I am a beginner in the dslr world)! The camera I am looking at has just over 4,000 actuations and comes in all the original packaging with a few extras (case, UV filter lens, tripod, etc.) He is selling everything for $350. With all that’s included and the 4,000 actuations- do you think this is a good deal? Is 4,000 high for a D40x?

  23. Is this method infallible?:
    “You can also get the shutter actuation count on a mac in preview, open the inspector (command+I) and click on the Nikon tab under i, and it will give you the shutter count.”
    I have just bought a d200 off ebay advertised as less than 9000 actuations, that shows shutter count as 1650 actuations in previews inspector.
    Thanks

    1. I’m not a Mac person, so I can’t comment on what does and doesn’t work on Apple. However, shutter count can be reset by service. Either way, 9,000 or 1,650 is a very low number so you have a camera with very little “mileage” on it.

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