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 DSLR timelapse and shutter failure 
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Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 9:01 pm
Posts: 6
Post DSLR timelapse and shutter failure

I am researching the best options for putting together a decent and reliable timelapse rig from scratch for myself, and I would like advice from your experience with an important consideration.

The heavy wear taken on by the shutter of any DSLR used for timelapse is nothing new, but I would like to know if any of you have experienced the sudden failure of your shutter mechanism due to such heavy use. I figure it is probably a common thing for consistent timelapsers. After 150K to 300K (depending on your camera), the shutter is no longer guaranteed to work and most often than not it will soon stop working altogether. At that point, you can either buy a brand new body, or try to send it in for a replacement shutter, at a considerable price.

So, my specific questions are:

1) Is this problem as common as I think it is among experienced timelapsers?
2) Has anyone had experience with trying to send in a body to get just the shutter replaced, and if so, at what monetary cost?

One thing that I have been considering is purchasing an extended warranty when I buy my camera. B&H offers a seemingly worthwhile option (worthwhile for timelapsers, that is) called "Sagemax Warranty". For $200 or so, Sagemax will cover your camera for 3 years form the date of purchase, covering "normal wear and tare" and "mechanical failures" among other things. Of course you need to CAREFULLY read the fine print, but I have done that and it would SEEM like the shutter failure is covered. Clearly, they don't expect amateurs to use their shutter so much in 3 years (and generally that's true), but for us timelapsers it is a different story, so it might very well be wroth while purchasing. Any thoughts/experience with this?

Thanks in advance!


Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:35 pm
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Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:30 am
Posts: 824
Location: Sydney, Australia
Post Re: DSLR timelapse and shutter failure
This is a difficult subject to reply with a definitive answer.
I believe there is a strong element of chance involved with the camera build.
For example on a project last year we used 8 x 40D's - a couple of them failed @ 50,000 cycles and one of them is still shooting after 500,000 shots.

Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:29 pm
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Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:54 pm
Posts: 888
Location: Aars, Denmark
Post Re: DSLR timelapse and shutter failure
There is a site that collects user reports on shutter life in a database. Since anybody can submit a report not everything in the database can be expected to be valid, but it may still give a good impression of how long you can actually "expect" your shutter to last, strongly depending on your luck. ;-)

I haven't purchased extended warranties for my sub-$1k cameras and had my 300D fail twice (probably around the 50K expectancy) and my 40D once while it was still under warranty. Shutter replacements on those models are around $200. On the higher end models I'm not sure anybody here knows what is actually charged for shutter replacements, but potentially it could be significant - I've heard rumors of $700 shutter replacements on the 5D (I, not II). Problem is, there is only one source of shutters (the manufacturer) and they don't have to be shy about the price since your choice is between new shutter or bricked camera. For that reason I've purchased extended warranties for my full frame models, though I went with the cheaper Mack worldwide warranties. There are plenty of bad stories to be found about those, but when it comes specifically to shutter replacements I couldn't find any ill customer reports, so I'm crossing my fingers. Haven't had to use them yet. :-)

Nikon D3s, D600, Canon 5D II, S3, SX100.
Feature film Beneath the Aurora on Vimeo.

Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:54 pm
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