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Does the Digital SLR "wear-out"?

Kristin Pia , Jun 10, 2008; 09:25 p.m.

I recently bought a new Canon 40D, and before I go off rapid shooting I have a concern... Does the camera ever wear-out from taking pictures over time? For example, do digital cameras have a certain amount of photos that they can take and then the quality diminishes? Is this true for memory cards as well?

Also, does the rapid shooting hurt the camera? Especially when the red light is on processing one picture, and I take another one right after?

Please help me as I am new at this and I love my 40D and want to keep it in good condition!



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G Dan Mitchell , Jun 10, 2008; 09:37 p.m.

The mechanical systems (shutter, etc.) are subject to wear over time and can eventually wear out.

The quality of the images should not diminish over time - e.g. the sensor isn't going to wear out.

There is no problem with taking a photo while the previous one is being written to the card.


Jason Hall , Jun 10, 2008; 09:42 p.m.

As with any mechanical devise it can and will wear out. The mirror and shutter in this case are the most likely followed by the buttons and switches. This is not unique to digtal, any camera film or not is subject to wear. The quality of the photo should not suffer just due to wear but sensors and the electronics that support it can also fail causeing all types of image problems. But it will be clear when that is happening.

No about your fear of wearing out your camera....the 40D is rated at 100,000 shutter cycles. That is a heck of a lot of photos and unless you are a pro taking 100s or 1000s of photos everyday, you will get tired of the camera and ready for a new before it "wears out".

BTW, shutter cycles is how folks rate a camera. Many high end models have shutter counters to show the total cycles over the life of the camera. It like Miles on a car or Hours on a Heavy and Farm Machinery.


Alan Peed , Jun 10, 2008; 09:44 p.m.

The batteries will wear out after a while, and you will need to get new ones. But that probably wont happen for about 2 or 3 years.

I expect that after taking an extremely large # of pictures, that the shutter mechanism would wear out.

Memory cards do not "wear out" in the classic sense of the word. But they do have electronic cells that can experience "hardware failure" due to any number of causes. In that case, the FORMAT operation will fail, and that indicates a hardware failure. In that case, just toss the card, and reload a new one.

Modern CPU Auto-focusing lenses have minature motors inside them, which provide the hi-speed focusing. Its conceivable that these motors could wear out from lots of AF use. But probably not anytime soon. Probably not for a long time.

Jason Hall , Jun 10, 2008; 09:49 p.m.

Forgot to answer the memory card question. All flash memory also "wears out". It comes down to how many times it is writen too, cleared and writen again. The number of times depends on the quality of the card, but they all have a life cycle. I have no idea how many cycle they are rated for, most of I have read is about thumb drives, but they use the same technology.

bottom line is....go ahead and shoot like crazy all you want, that is what the camera was made for and what you pay for!



Kelly Flanigan , Jun 10, 2008; 09:58 p.m.

A common failure is that the unit takes a tumble or bump and the cost of repairs exceeds buying another used unit. Or the unit gets some water damage or a few buttons get wonky. In some old P&S digital units that are real old I have on drains the replaceable AA batterys like mad; like a capacitor now has alot of leakage. With another unit the screen works; but I cannot erase the card or images from the camera anymore.

Bob Atkins , Jun 10, 2008; 11:20 p.m.

The less you use it, the longer it will last.

In terms of cost, every time you press the shutter you should put aside 1/4 cent to pay for the replacement when it fails.

Geoff Francis , Jun 10, 2008; 11:25 p.m.

"The quality of the images should not diminish over time - e.g. the sensor isn't going to wear out. "

Sensors can wear out. I have had this happen in a P&S and I know of someone else that it has happened to. When the failure occurs deterioration is rapid. In my experience the camera was working fine for several years with no deteriotion in image quality. When it failed it took about 10 shots where the images increasingly looked like mush before total failure occured. The failure was due to a manufacturing defect that cause part of the sensor to corrode. The bottom line is that dust, corrosion, heat, etc can cause electronics to wear out, though normally they wrok fine up until or near the point of total failure.

I have also had a memory card fail and bought one that didn't work to start with (which was replaced by the vendor).

Tommy Lee , Jun 10, 2008; 11:33 p.m.

Everything can wear out in time even the so call solid state electronic device. They typically wear out by many ways include tiny mechanical fatigue in those micro connections (from thermal expansion). Those circuit can also break open by microscopic electron migration. Flash cards (memory) also has a built-in re-write-able limits. Some 10 thousand times and some much longer. There is also electrical vesrion of run-over-by-a-bus type accident in the quatum mechnical world (ie: static discharge, glitch induced latch up and etc). IMHO, new DSLR last a lot shorter than a properly maintain old mechnical film camera.

G Dan Mitchell , Jun 11, 2008; 12:07 a.m.

"The failure was due to a manufacturing defect that cause part of the sensor to corrode."

Right. That was not in the nature of the sensor. It was - as you point out - a MANUFACTURING DEFECT. A non-defective sensor won't have this problem.

I guess that when you come down to it _everything_ "wears out" eventually - entropy is just SO hard to defeat...


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