How to Find Total Shutter Actuations on Nikon and Canon DSLRs

During the last several weeks, I have received several requests from our readers about finding the total number of shutter actuations on their DSLRs. I decided to write a short article on how you can find the total shutter actuations on both Nikon and Canon DSLRs, in case you are interested in seeing how much you have been using your camera or how close your shutter speed is to the manufacturers’ rated shutter life of 150,000 (on most entry and mid-level cameras) or 300,000 (professional cameras).

1) EXIF Data

The information on the total shutter actuations on your camera is preserved in file headers, known as “metadata” or “EXIF”. If you do not know what EXIF is and what it is used for, check out my “What is EXIF” article. Basically, your camera writes all exposure-related information such as date, time, shutter speed, aperture, ISO and a bunch of other important information into the header of each file. Some camera manufacturers like Nikon and Canon also add unique shutter actuations data fields that are used for seeing the total number of exposures or “shutter actuations” cameras have.

2) Switch to JPEG format

If you are shooting RAW, it is best to switch to JPEG format just for getting the required information from your camera. While the camera native RAW format preserves all of the EXIF information that is coming out of the camera, third party conversion software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom can strip out some of the proprietary EXIF data, including the number of shutter actuations. Therefore, switching to JPEG will allow you to view EXIF data straight, without having to import the image into Lightroom or Photoshop first. It doesn’t matter what size of JPEG files you choose – even JPEG BASIC works fine. Once selected, take a picture of anything you want.

3) Download EXIF viewer

In order to view the proprietary EXIF information from files, you need to use an image EXIF viewer that does not strip out anything from the file. Unfortunately, almost all current image viewers only display generic EXIF data that most people use and ignore the rest. Instead of properly reading EXIF data from files and then parsing the results, they typically just look for generic EXIF tags within the file and display them when they are available. If something is not available, it stays blank. To reduce the number of blank items to the minimum, they only provide generic information that is more or less standardized across most camera manufacturers.

Since these kinds of image EXIF viewers are not going to work to find the total shutter count, we will need to use less popular versions of EXIF data viewers, such as Phil Harvey’s “ExifTool” and Opanda’s IExif.

4) Viewing Shutter Count EXIF Data via ExifTool

Once you download the single ExifTool executable from this website, move it to the root drive of your main drive (typically C: on Windows and / on MacOS), then open up the command prompt via Start->All Programs->Acessories->Command Prompt. If you are using a Mac, fire up the shell terminal. Type “cd c:” in Windows or “cd /” in MacOS to be in the same folder where the ExifTool executable resides. Then type:

  1. Nikon DSLR: exiftool source_jpeg_file.jpg | find “Shutter Count”
  2. Canon DSLR: exiftool source_jpeg_file.jpg | find “Image Number”

Obviously, replace “source_jpeg_file.jpg” with the name of your actual JPEG file. The program should return something like this: “Shutter Count: 19889” or “Image Number: 19889” – the number to the right of the string is the total shutter count on the camera.

5) Viewing Shutter Count EXIF Data via Opanda IExif

If you do not want to mess with command prompts, the best alternative is to use either Opanda IExif (for Windows). Just download the latest version of Opanda IExif and install using defaults.

Once the program is installed, open it up and then click the “Open” button to browse to your file. Select the JPEG file and you will see something like this:

Now scroll down until you see either “Total Number of Shutter Releases for Camera” and note the number:

Simple EXIF Viewer for MacOS has a different interface, but works similarly.

If you shoot with a Canon camera and your shutter count is not displayed by any of the above images, check out this website.