ShutterCount Supports New Canons and More

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate…”

– Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner

Shutter count for new Canons

When you spend years on reverse engineering Canon cameras, you are bound to see things… Know things that only a few knows. Things that most people wouldn’t believe. As my better half used to joke: I know more about Canons than what would be healthy… On the other hand this knowledge paves the way for neat things.

Almost exactly two years ago, when I added support to our apps for the 5DS R, I had to realize that Canon did something to the camera’s shutter counter. That something rendered the way ShutterCount used to query the counter useless. We immediately started a research side project to determine what’s going on and to find a way around.

Since I wasn’t comfortable navigating uncharted waters with my 5DS R (and later 1D X II), we bought three 1200Ds for the purpose. So let me introduce the Suicide Squad – these cameras contributed a great deal in bringing you ShutterCount 3.

Cameras in the Suicide Squad (a.k.a. “The Kamikaze”) were ready to sacrifice their lives for the project. All three cameras survived with no damage at all.

It took two years, but I can proudly tell you that all those sleepless nights and hard work weren’t for nothing: not only we can read the shutter counter on all new Canon EOS DSLRs, but ShutterCount 3.0 does something never seen and done before.

Let me show you the camera summary screen in its full glory first. I mean including all the information the app is capable of displaying (total number of shutter actuations including live view related ones, plus the percentage where the camera’s shutter stands relative to its rated number of actuations).

My 5DS R’s info shown in ShutterCount 3.0. Both the Live View Pack (to show live view related actuations) and the Plus Pack (for the shutter rating percentage) are active.

That’s fine, but the app goes further than this. The new Distribution Chart shows a detailed breakdown of shutter actuation sources (you can also hover the cursor over the shutter count value on the summary screen for a textual breakdown).

The Distribution Chart showing the three different shutter actuation sources.

Cameras with electronic first curtain shutter (basically all Canons released after 2014, with the exception of the 1300D) are capable of providing separate numbers for photos taken through the viewfinder, for photos taken while in live view and for live view sessions. A live view session starts when you engage live view and stops when live view is turned off. Movies are part of the session number (no matter how many clips you record during a session it will count as one since the shutter only opens and closes once).

This detailed breakdown is a world’s first.

Older cameras behave a little differently. They only provide two counters: one for photos, and another one for all live view actuations.

The Distribution Chart for non-EFCS cameras (my 7D Mark II in particular).

Live view on non-EFCS cameras has a great impact on the shutter. When you take a shot in live view, the following happens:

  • The shutter opens when you start live view.
  • The shutter closes immediately before you take the picture, since the mechanical first curtain must be used.
  • The shutter opens and closes for the shot itself.
  • The shutter opens again after the shot has been taken to re-enter live view.
  • The shutter closes when you stop live view.

That is, a single shot in live view generates two shutter actuations for the shot, plus one for the session. One of these is counted in the “photos” number, the extra two in the “live view actuations” number. Took two shots in a session? The shutter was actuated 2 + 2 + 1 = 5 times. 2 of these is counted in “photos”, 3 in “live view actuations”. And so on. Movie recording is simpler – the shutter only opens at the beginning of the session and closes at the end, so “live view actuations” increases by one for each session.

Which means that it is really important to know the number of live view related actuations, since it can contribute a lot the shutter’s wear. It may make a huge difference to the camera’s selling price. But at least you can get a more precise picture.

Speaking of precision. I’ve seen things… And my opinion is that the cameras’ internal counters are precise at the scale of hundreds  (that is, 4200 or 4300 or 4400 shots is a difference, but 4210 and 4212 may not be). Unfortunately I can’t publicly discuss the exact details on why, so you need to take my word on it. And don’t stress about less than 100 differences. In one point I was even considering to show the counters only in increments of 100 – Canon does this in increments of 1000 in the 1D X II for this reason. In practice it doesn’t really matter if your camera has 51890 or 51906 shutter actuations, but it does matter whether it’s 51800 or 68900.

File Mode for Nikon and Pentax (and some old 1D models)

ShutterCount 3.0 for the Mac also introduces the File Mode. As the name implies, it uses image files taken with the camera to determine the shutter count – for cameras that actually record the number in the files. It was requested by lots of Nikon and older 1D(s) II/III users, so we added it.

File Mode is a largish topic in itself, so I’ll dedicate a separate post for it during the next days.

Pricing and availability

ShutterCount 3.0 is available on macOS and iOS, and supports all new Canon cameras (released after 2014) in the base app price. The Mac version also supports File Mode. The Windows version planned to be updated later this year with new Canon camera support. Version 3.0 is a free update for existing users. New users can purchase it in the respective App Store for $2.99 / €3.49. For the complete list of certified cameras please refer to the Tech Specs page.

I must repeat, since some people doesn’t care to pay attention: NO WINDOWS VERSION YET FOR THE NEW CAMERAS. Regardless of how hard some wish. Did I mention to read the Tech Specs? macOS only means that the camera is NOT supported yet on Windows.

We tested and certified the app with all the cameras on the Tech Specs page. In other words, we are completely sure that it works. But please, pretty please, check the supported camera list before purchasing.

Live view counters and the Distribution Chart are available when the optional Live View Pack add-on is purchased. For the list of supported cameras please refer to the app’s Tech Specs page. The Live View Pack is available on macOS and iOS for $2.99 / €3.49. On a Mac, click the ShutterCount > Store menu item, on an iPhone or iPad tap More on the tab bar and tap Store in the menu.

Living in a Cave

Cave-dwelling bacteria decorate the walls of lava tubes in the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Living in a Cave

Living in a Cave

Since we went there with a regular tour, there was no possibility to bring a tripod and set up shots as I normally would. So the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II together with the great little Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens, a 600EX flash (was not used for the shot above) and the mighty Nitecore SRT7 flashlight came with me.

The flashlight was used to light this shot. The 35mm is a very sharp lens, and you can handhold it at ridiculously slow shutter speeds. Plus the 1D X II is very good at high ISOs, so they made the perfect combination for this adventure.

Yet Another Puffin Portrait

I can’t help it – I like to shoot puffin portraits. Over time you see so many different faces, different personalities, different, but untold stories. The image below is one of my all time favorites.

It was shot at Látrabjarg, and I was quite shocked how much the bird colony shrunk during the last decade. And again, lots of people everywhere. Interestingly, tourists tend to cluster in all the wrong places – I was completely alone with 5-6 birds for an hour or so. In ideal light, ideal angle, ideal background. But this place was not marked with a “Lay here to photograph the birds” sign…

Yet Another Puffin Portrait

Yet Another Puffin Portrait

Shot with the Canon 1D X Mark II and 500mm f/4L IS II lens plus the 2x III teleconverter. It’s amazing how clear this ISO 1600 image is – not to mention the lovely colors.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Review – Part 2

This is the second installment of my ongoing EOS-1D X Mark II review. You can read Part 1 here. My other posts comparing effective reach of the 1D X II with the 7D II and focus drive speed of different cameras including the 1D X II may also be useful for you.

Dynamic range

You may already saw at the usual camera testing sites that the 1D X Mark II has a dynamic range that’s practically identical to the competition, so “Canon is back in the game”. While this is true, let me approach the topic of dynamic range from another angle. Which is prints. I know that only a few of us print anything at all, and that may explain the number of people obsessed with the extreme dynamic range of today’s sensors. But in reality it is a double-edged sword.

Ink on paper has about 6 or 7 stops of dynamic range, so if you have anything with more range, you may need to be careful when preparing the prints to keep pleasing tonal relationships and prevent posterization. Too much contrast after setting the black and white points could also be an issue that needs to be mitigated. So the saying “be careful what you wish for – you may get it” is really holds in this situation.

Puffin Portrait at Látrabjarg

Puffin Portrait at Látrabjarg

Of course it helps in exposing naturally high dynamic range subjects, like the blacks and whites of puffins. But the dynamic range collapses quickly with increasing ISO, so you may not have that much to work with.

All in all, the 1D X Mark II is state of the art, but I had no complaints about the 5DS R either.

High ISO

As I mentioned in Part 1, I print large, and thus resolution is an important aspect of all images I keep. And despite the hype (may I call it marketing bullshit?) of the camera seeing in the dark in those extremely high ISOs, I consider 6400 the maximum usable ISO. Fine details are starting to get eradicated at 3200, though. The only use I have for the higher values is for preparing long exposure compositions.

I use the camera a lot with the 500mm f/4L IS II and the 2x III teleconverter, and my base ISO in this case is 800 – resulting in very clean images. The following image was taken with this combo at ISO 3200 during the Icelandic summer night.

Redshank at Night

Redshank at Night

RAW file bit depth changes a little with ISO changes. You get the highest usable bit depth (13.81 out of the theoretical maximum of 14) between ISO 125 and 200. At ISO 100, you get 13.71 bits, and 13.65 bits between ISO 320 and 51200. Higher bit depth meaning better tonal separation. I still have a habit to only use whole stop ISOs to avoid the ill-effects of digital compensation when using third stop values. At low ISOs (100 and 200) you have to make a tradeoff between dynamic range (better at ISO 100) or bit depth (better at ISO 200) based on what you photograph.

CFast 2.0 image corruption

Firmware 1.0.2 has been released yesterday to address the possible image corruption with SanDisk CFast 2.0 cards. I also experienced a corruption on my Lexar 3500x card. It looked different than the SanDisk issue, the image was cut after a few kilobytes. I don’t know whether the culprit was the card or the camera, but installed firmware 1.0.2 nonetheless. Should the problem happen again, I’ll let you know.

Resolving fine details

While shooting a couple of long exposure images, picked up the 1D X Mark II with the Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 lens to make some detail shots, just like the following one. Handheld, since the tripod was already occupied by the 5DS R.

Landmannalaugar Detail

Landmannalaugar Detail

The camera is prominently useful for landscape work. While not in the realms of the 5DS R in terms of sheer resolving power, the images are full of fine details. It seems that Canon opted for a weaker anti-aliasing filter in this case (unlike my old 1D Mark II, which had a pretty strong blurring filter).

Due to the relatively low resolution, less shooting discipline is required. Shooting a 135mm manual focus lens handheld is not a problem (something I failed to do successfully with the 5DS R quite a few times). It is also less demanding on lens quality (although using high quality glass pays off), and you can stop down to f/11 without diffraction becoming an issue. All these add up to a more casual shooting experience than the 5DS R.

So I arrived to a very interesting point. While both the 5DS R and the 1D X Mark II have their strengths in different areas, and I prefer to choose them based on these strengths for each image, the other one could do almost as well. I would be in deep trouble if I could keep only one of them.

To be continued…