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.

Sea of Branches

This is the first real image made with my digital view camera setup. Just went out to get familiar with the camera, do image quality evaluations and some stitching tests. But during one of those stitching tests the left side of a tree captured my imagination.

Sea of Branches

Shot with the Cambo Actus-G, Rodenstock HR Digaron-S 100mm f/4 and Canon EOS 5DS R. A little front tilt, 15mm back fall and a few millimeters of shift to the left was used. The elegance of movements still blow my mind. Focusing was done in Kuuvik Capture.

A few words about the aforementioned stitching test. If you ever dreamed about extremely high resolution images that are pin sharp from corner to corner, this rig can easily deliver wonderful 100+ megapixel files.

Choosing Lenses for the Actus-G

Choosing lenses for the Cambo Actus-G isn’t trivial. Partly because the abundance of choices, and mostly because concrete numbers – based on which one can decide whether a lens will fit – are scarce. With this post I’m trying to shed some light on the problem, provide a few numbers and simple formulas for your own calculations. I’ll illustrate the concepts using large format view camera lenses (the Rodenstock HR Digaron-S 100mm f/4 in particular), because my goal is to use Rodenstock glass with the Actus. But will also mention how things apply to medium format lensboards (such as Mamiya and Pentax).

There are a couple of distances one needs to consider for a given configuration, depicted on the following image (with the bellows removed, of course).

Distances for a lens focused at infinity

Lens flange focal distance at infinity (a). This is the distance between the lens’ mounting flange and the sensor, when the lens is focused at infinity. The lens will not normally come closer to the sensor than this (focusing closer will pull the sensor away from the lens). Data sheets for large format lenses contain this number. For medium format lens boards, this number is the flange focal distance of the lens board’s mount.

Flange to lens end distance (b). The distance from the mounting flange to the end of the rear lens barrel for large format lenses. The number is available from manufacturer data sheets. For medium format lensboards, this is the distance from the mount to the rear end of the board. Unfortunately Cambo does not publish the thickness of their boards, but in general Hasselblad and Mamiya RB/RZ will work with DSLRs, while others require a mirrorless “back”.

Mount holder and mount thickness (d). It’s 11mm on the Actus-G for the AC-78E bayonet holder and Canon bayonet.

Camera flange focal distance (e). The lens mounting flange to sensor distance of your camera. 44mm for Canon EF, 26.7mm for Fuji G, 18mm for Sony E, and so on.

Lens to rear standard clearance (c). This is the important number that indicates whether a lens fits or not.

c = a – b – d – e

If it’s larger than zero, the lens will be able to reach infinity focus on the Actus. A negative value indicates that the lens is a no-go for the given setup (will have no infinity focus, but might work for closeups).

Simple? Well, there’s another caveat. Lens movements and even the bellows need some clearance. On the following image a white line indicates where the lens end would fall with no movements applied.

Clearance required for movements

This clearance depends on the diameter of the rear barrel, and may limit the amount of tilt/swing if (c) wasn’t too large to begin with. 8mm or more for (c) is a safe bet.

The following table summarizes values for Rodenstock HR Digaron lenses. Why those? Because Rodenstock is the only company still in the business of making large format view camera lenses, and because they seemed pretty good from the data sheets (my experience with the HR-S 100/4 confirms this). I assumed (d) being 11mm for Sony E and Fuji G mounts as well.

Using a Sony A7 camera will allow you to go as wide as 50mm (with limited movements) on the Actus-G. But don’t forget that you have shift, so stitching can be used to increase field of view. There’s a way to go wider with large format lenses, and that’s the Actus-DB2 with a digital back (and the associated problems with crosstalk and mazing artifacts with wide angles – a bag of worms I don’t want to open).

The original Actus also had a special rear standard with no rotation and with a fixed bellows that lets you use wides down to 32mm. But as mentioned in a former post, I found the non-geared movements of the original inadequate, and thus skipped that version. The numbers above refer to the Actus-G.

So it’s not a surprise that my first lens is the 100mm f/4. The next one is going to be the 180mm f/5.6, but that presents another aspect to think about. Maximum extension to be exact.

Maximum extension

Theoretical maximum extension (f) is the maximum distance between the lens’ mounting flange and the sensor, with the telescoping monorail fully extended and the focusing mechanism in the farthest position. Naturally it must be larger than (a).

f = monorail_length – 28 + d + e

The stock Actus-G monorail is 152mm long, the Actus-DB2 monorail is 174mm, and there are 300mm and 450mm options.

There’s theory, and then there’s practice. You might have noticed on the above image that the rear standard tilts backward a bit (check the bubble level). This is due to the flex between the monorail and the sliding base of the rear standard, as well as the flex between the sliding base and the focusing mechanism. To avoid the flexing, you want roughly 10mm more overlap between the monorail and the sliding base, and don’t want to pass the 50mm mark on the focusing scale. So the flex-less practical maximum extension is:

f_practical = monorail_length – 50 + d + e

Of course you can compensate for the backward tilt using a front tilt, but the extreme extension pictured above also puts undue stress on the parts of the camera, so I’d recommend to stay within the practical limit.

I bought the Actus-G with the DB2 monorail with the intention to provide enough extension for the HR Digaron-S 180mm f/5.6. In theory, it would allow 201mm, with ~23mm of focus travel over the 177.4mm flange focal distance of the lens. Well, this was before I discovered this flexing. My opinion now is that the HR-S 180 will need the 300mm monorail for better stability. I don’t regret getting the DB2 rail, since it makes my system more rigid with HR-S 100. As usual, stability needs sacrifices in terms of weight and ease of portability.

There is another way to increase extension by turning the swing mechanism 180 degrees and mounting the lensboard to the very front of the camera. It gives 45mm more, but it’s slow and inconvenient to do, and the zero swing marks are a bit off in the reversed position. I’d definitely choose a longer monorail over this. But it could come handy in case of emergency.

Note that you may also need a longer bellows as the 3-fold shipped with the camera extends only 120mm.

— ooo —

That’s all regarding the “which lenses will fit” question. By now you know the requirements and the limits. This is where I stop today, movement limitations with Canon DSLRs being the topic I’m planning to explore in an upcoming post.

Product images were made with a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Zeiss Apo Sonnar 2/135 ZE lens. Focusing was done in my Kuuvik Capture app. Guides in Kuuvik Capture came in handy to make sure the camera alignment is square with the Actus.

Rodenstock HR Digaron-S 100/4 + 5DS R Crops

If you were wondering what kind of performance the Rodenstock HR Digaron-S 100mm f/4 lens is capable of with the Canon EOS 5DS R, here are two 100% (actual pixels) crops from my test shoots for your pixel peeping pleasure.

Click the image for 100% view on non-retina displays.

While the sRGB and JPG conversion kills some of the magic the files have, you can still see the stunning resolution and lovely rendering. Both files are straight out of Capture One 10. The lens is in the same league with my high-resolution Zeisses (28 and 55 Otuses, and 135 Apo Sonnar).

Click the image for 100% view on non-retina displays.

Aperture for both shots was somewhere between f/5.6 and f/7.1. The lens and the 5DS R were mounted to my Cambo Actus-G view camera. Focusing and capture was done in Kuuvik Capture.

These crops are from the 5-10mm vicinity of the image center, but you get the same quality to the edge of the 70mm advertised image circle.

The 70mm image circle allows for 15mm shift along the longer image side and 18mm along the shorter. There’s a 12mm-ish practical shifting limitation along the shorter image side with Canon DSLRs, however (more on this in a later post).

You can shift all the way to 22mm the Actus is capable of along the longer side – going well out of the advertised image circle. But you’ll start to lose edge/corner sharpness past 17-18mm. To put it in perspective: with 22mm horizontal shift the corners are comparable to what you get at 12mm shift with the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II. Impressive. Think about 150-180 megapixel stitches with this shifting potential.