Beginner Does shutter speed vary over the life of a camera?

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Conan
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#1
Hello everyone, I have a question regarding shutter speeds over the lifetime of a camera, DSLR specific.

For example, say at the moment, my camera is quite new, and I chose 1/2000th of a second. As the shutter is a mechanical component, over time is it possible that this will actually change with wear, and be slower or faster?
If so, is there a general acceptable amount, and how would I know?

Thank you for all of your help.
 
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Dave
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#2
I don't know but probably yes.

Due to normal use there will be some wear and tear that will probably change the shutter speed and my guess would be that it will become slower.

I suppose what is acceptable is any change that doesn't adversely affect the image. Without some other equipment - probably some light detecting equipment and an oscilloscope - you'll never know by how much.

Dave
 
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wayne clarke
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#3
It was well known years ago that shutters would slow down with age, and even new tended to read under when tested, that said shutters have changed a lot since then. I don't know what the official line is these days, but I'd assume wear and tear will have some small effect over time. That said how much difference it'll make and will you notice is another question.
It's not something I'd worry about personally.
 

Nod

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#4
A quick Google (I was interested, not being snarky!!!) found me THIS. It seems that +/- 20% is acceptable at slower than 1/125 and +/- 30% at faster speeds. Not sure how things change with age.
 
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Richard
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#5
If a camera has an electronic shutter as well a mechanical can you test one against the other under constant lighting conditions? Presumably the electronic would remain constant?
 
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droj
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#8
Yes a dslr shutter might be mechanical in its final delivery, but overall is surely governed electronically. So I wouldn't give it a thought.

A more crucial thing, right from the off, is developing a sense of how to judge what a good exposure is, relative to what the in-camera meter seems to be dictating. Which is to do with the interpretation of lighting and its tonal range. The main thing normally is to protect significant areas of highlight (to stop them blowing out), and this varies from image to image according to conditions, so is something we need to be on our toes about, and is an essential part of the craft of photography.

Auto and semi-auto modes, whether shutter or aperture priority, often need user modification in this regard.
 

DK602

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Doug
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#9
I do believe most modern DSLR's have an electronically timed shutter and if the shutter of the camera 'falls out of range' an error message will be displayed?
 

Nod

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#10
At least with digital we can instantly review shots and make suitable adjustments if we feel the need. As long as any errors are (reasonably) consistent, they're not too much of a problem.
 
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Phil
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#11
If so, is there a general acceptable amount, and how would I know?
You wouldn’t.
It’s a left field question; I’m fairly certain that over the dozens of cameras I’ve owned, there’s absolutely no chance that the shutter speeds on all of them is exactly the same, but it’s something I’d never given s thought to.
30% is s massive amount in engineering terms, but it’s 1/3 of a stop - an easy fix for a photographer, and something no one else will notice.
Add to the above, none of your lenses apertures will be totally accurate or uniform either.

So if you’re expecting your exposures to be predictable within engineering levels of precision; find a new hobby.

OTOH if you’re expecting your cameras to be usable to create great images - crack on, there’s nothing to worry about.

(File this curiosity under ‘bizarre things I was concerned about that are completely irrelevant)
 

Caerus

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#17
I doubt it is a problem though. Some Canon pro sports photographers claim to have had bodies that did over a million actuations and were still using them to make a living.

If it was a problem then surely a sports photographer would not keep a body in daily use after noticing it.
 
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Redsnappa
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#20
A quick Google (I was interested, not being snarky!!!) found me THIS. It seems that +/- 20% is acceptable at slower than 1/125 and +/- 30% at faster speeds. Not sure how things change with age
But that experiment was done with a very old mechanical film camera so the results will not be the comparable with shutter speeds on modern cameras with electronically controlled shutters.
 
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Nod

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#21
TBH, I doubt that it would be too much different. Modern shutters are still mechanical, whatever their control system.
 

StephenM

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#22
But that experiment was done with a very old mechanical film camera so the results will not be the comparable with shutter speeds on modern cameras with electronically controlled shutters.
I couldn't see any mention of what the camera was, and couldn't identify it from the photo. Clearly, I've missed the information as you can say it was a very old mechanical film camera (given that relatively new film cameras are available, and even some forty years ago electronic shutters were about on film cameras). What were the cameras tested, since both 35mm and 2 1/4 square were mentioned?
 
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Jonathan
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#23
Since the 'shutter' is actually 2 curtains - one which opens, and a second which closes, I wonder if the effect of wear on 'shutter speed' would be partly self-correcting, and the main impact would be on flash sync speed.
IE As both shutters 'age', if this meant they were slower to move, as the 1st curtain slows (so opens more slowly), the 2nd curtain would also slow and close more slowly - leaving the actual exposure time unaffected.
Sync speed, however, would be impacted, as (if they slowed) the shutter speed at which the 1st curtain was fully open before the 2nd curtain started to close would be change.

Alternatively, the effect might be somewhat more random, as one or both curtains start to stick - so you get a variation in the open / close speeds between shots.
 

StephenM

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#24
I'm not au fait with modern focal plane shutters, but the original designs depended on two parameters to control the actual speed - spring tension and slit width. If this is still the case (and it may be a BIG if) then I'd assume that slit width wouldn't change with age (unless the control mechanism had some slippage) but spring tension could affect the speed that the slit moved at, with the result of no compensatory effect. Slit width is what controls flash sync speed, as the entire film gate has to be exposed for the duration of the main part of the flash (phrased that way in case anyone uses bulbs still :)). And obviously, this may well have zero relevance to shutters in DSLRs.

Thinking further, I wonder what "electronic timing" actually means. A timer counting down to the second curtain release?
 
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conanthewarrior
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Conan
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#25
You wouldn’t.
It’s a left field question; I’m fairly certain that over the dozens of cameras I’ve owned, there’s absolutely no chance that the shutter speeds on all of them is exactly the same, but it’s something I’d never given s thought to.
30% is s massive amount in engineering terms, but it’s 1/3 of a stop - an easy fix for a photographer, and something no one else will notice.
Add to the above, none of your lenses apertures will be totally accurate or uniform either.

So if you’re expecting your exposures to be predictable within engineering levels of precision; find a new hobby.

OTOH if you’re expecting your cameras to be usable to create great images - crack on, there’s nothing to worry about.

(File this curiosity under ‘bizarre things I was concerned about that are completely irrelevant)
I didn't realise that lens aperture is not accurate either, but nice to know.

I fall into the second category- crack on :). I do ask some bizarre things, not that they really matter, I just like to know how things work and what is possible. I don't know if this comes from my studio/sound engineering background, or if I became interested in that in the first place because I like to know details that wouldn't bother most people.

I guess I'm just a little strange lol.
 

StephenM

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#26
Ansel Adams used to indivudually calibratehis lenses to correct for errors in marking, which could be severe at small stops.
 
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Iain McClements
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#27
Cameras have shutter count, about 150,000 before the shutter starts to go, I think. But most cameras will go beyond this, so I would say not to worry to much about unless you are having big problems with it.
 
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Richard
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#28
Don't worry about it. Really not a problem these days.

When you think about what they do, focal-plane shutters are frankly astonishingly capable and reliable, but tend to fail in obvious ways rather than just becoming inaccurate. Shutters and flipping mirrors are also expensive high-precision components, which is another reason why manufacturers are keen on mirrorless and the all-electronic shutters that are beginning to appear.

Shutter wear could well be a problem with old film cameras, though. I used to have a shutter speed tester for magazine reviews, back in the 70s and 80s when SLRs commonly had horizontally-running focal-plane shutters with cloth blinds and mechanical timing. Top speed was usually 1/1000sec and often tested nearer 1/800sec* but a more common problem with use was uneven exposure across the frame that could be noticeable on say a plain blue sky. 'Shutter bounce' was another issue when the second curtain would bounce back into the frame after hitting the buffers creating a brighter strip at one end. In those days, all-mechanical shutters could be serviced and adjusted both for speed and evenness.

As mentioned above, in terms of exposure accuracy there are quite a few other variables, like lens T/stops (actual light transmission vs theoretical f/numbers) and aperture accuracy/consistency particularly at high f/numbers. Lenses for video are usually marked with T/stops.

*Hasselblads with their in-lens leaf shutters had a top speed of 1/500sec but I never saw higher than an actual 1/350sec.
 
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#29
Years ago in AP and SLR magazine they used to test the accuracy of shutter speeds as part of the reviews.
There was always small 10% ish inconsistencies, as there was with the amount of light transmitted by lenses.

Hence the need to index film to a particular camera as per Ansel Adams Zone Sytem.

It still applies today for accurate exposure. But try telling Tony Northrup that!
 
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Richard
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#30
You could argue that modern techniques like ETTR (Expose To The Right - of the histogram) employ similar principles to the Zone System, but in practical terms that's not much help. It's hard to trip up T Northrup on technical stuff.
 
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