File Mode in ShutterCount 3

We had received numerous requests to support non-Canon (mostly Nikon) cameras with the app. I thought that since Nikons store the shutter counter in image files it’s easy to get the current value and postponed the project a couple of times. Well, I was wrong.

As soon as I started researching the subject I had to realize that existing methods either require you to install some non-digitally-signed software on the Mac (a major no go in these days), or wants you to upload image files with a host of potentially personally identifying information, such as the camera’s serial number, onto web a site with no privacy and/or data handling policies at all. Even digging out the information with a safe solution (the Mac’s built-in Preview app) is far from being fast and easy – and Nikon only.

Now I totally understand the need for a simple and quick solution.

Enter ShutterCount File Mode

Take a picture with your camera. Pull the memory card and place it into a card reader connected to your Mac (the built-in SD card slot will do). Once the memory card icon appears on your desktop, drag and drop it onto ShutterCount (either the running app or onto its icon). The app automatically scans the card, finds the latest image on it (by date) and displays the result.

The result for my rarely used Nikon D7100. Note that the shutter count and the file number differs – that’s why you can’t use the file number as an “odometer”.

Or if you don’t want to drag & drop, just use File > Scan Memory Card in the menu. Or drop an image file onto the app. Or open an image file with File > Open. ShutterCount adapts to your preferred way of bringing the file into the app.

And you can use any image format your camera can record: NEF or JPG for Nikons, and PEF or DNG or JPG for Pentax models.

Pretty fast and simple, isn’t it?

Nikon and Pentax cameras do not store the owner’s name. So the display changes to “Artist Name”. But other that this, the app behaves exactly as is does for USB or Wi-Fi connected Canons. Even the Plus Pack‘s graphing is available (forecasting is not available only with some models, please consult the Tech Specs for details).

An added bonus: older 1-series Canons

Once I had an improved metadata parser with shutter count reading capability for Nikon and Pentax cameras, it was minimal effort to also add older Canon 1-series models. Actually I had been using a 1D Mark II for 8 years, and became curious…

The very last show made with my Canon EOS-1D Mark II.

There are a few caveats, though. The 1D II (N) and 1Ds II might ruin the counter when restoring camera settings from a memory card (I never did that for my 1D II). And the 1D II and 1Ds III may reset the counter when using auto-reset image numbering (or even under some other circumstances – I’m not surprised since these cameras have Canon’s worst-ever firmware).

So if it works for your oldie 1D, be happy. If it doesn’t, then sorry, we haven’t got the powers to go back in time and fix what Canon messed up in the past.

A fun experiment

My curiosity with the good old 1D II didn’t stop there. So I’ve read the first image of every month during the camera’s service period. Don’t even had to do it in order of taking, since ShutterCount automatically sorts the history by date in File Mode.

8 years of shooting with the 1D Mark II.

Availability

File Mode is included in the base ShutterCount 3 app on macOS. So it is free for existing users. New users can purchase the app in the Mac App Store for $2.99 / €3.49. For the complete list of certified cameras please refer to the Tech Specs page. File Mode is not available yet on iOS and Windows.

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.

Introducing the ShutterCount Plus Pack

Last night we released a substantial update to my ShutterCount app in the form of the Plus Pack add-on. Let me go through all its features.

Graphing and forecasting

This is the most eye-catching addition, and I think the following screen shot speaks for itself.

A few words on how it works, though. The source of the graphs (as well as for the forecast) is your existing history logs. The horizontal axis is time, in month/year format. Vertical axis is the number of shutter actuations in thousands (k) or millions (M). Grid lines are placed automatically. There’s also a thick horizontal red line, representing the camera’s shutter durability rating, which is visible only if you are nearing it.

You have the option to display the trendline calculated from the data. This trendline is also the base for the forecast, which looks for the intersection of the trendline and the durability rating’s line. The app needs at least four measurements in a 30-day or longer interval to make a forecast. But be aware: this is just a forecast, and not future cast in stone. Your shutter may work much longer, but might even die at half of the rating. It helps you plan preventive maintenance before a long and/or important trip, though.

Date/time synchronization

This is the exact same feature we’ve introduced with the latest Kuuvik Capture update, so I’d recommend to read my post on that.

Outdated firmware warning

There are people who go to great lengths to keep their cameras’ firmware up-to-date, but there’s also quite a huge crowd who do not even know that it should be updated from time to time. This feature helps both camps.

Since Canon’s firmware updates aren’t frequent, the app contains a database of current firmware versions at release time. This database is updated with each new ShutterCount version.

History duplicate removal

If you happen to use a camera less frequently, your history logs may fill up with identical readings. At least mine did. It bothered me quite a lot, so the duplicate removal feature was born.

You have two options: manually initiate a cleanup from the history window, or flip the auto-removal preference and let the app do it for you. In case a manually initiated removal, a backup is created from the log (in the same folder as the original).

Availability

The Plus Pack is an optional add-on, and can be purchased from within the Mac and iOS versions of ShutterCount. 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.

In both cases the in-app Store will be displayed, where you can make the purchase. If you have the app on more than one device, then make the purchase on one and use the Restore Previous Purchases button to get it on others. Just like with the app itself, the Mac and iOS versions has to be purchased separately.

The price is $1.99 / €2.29.

ShutterCount on iPhone and iPad

My ShutterCount app is now available on iOS!

It runs on 64-bit devices running iOS 9 or later (that is: iPhone 5s or later, iPod touch 6, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, iPad Pro).

Since Apple does not provide a way to control a camera via USB from an iOS device, ShutterCount Mobile relies on Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection and thus supports cameras having one of those. Either built-in, or utilizing an external Wireless File Transmitter.

So at the moment it will work with the following Canon EOS cameras: 6D, 70D (using built-in Wi-Fi); 5D Mark III, 7D Mark II (using WFT-E7 transmitter); 1D X, 1D C (using built-in Ethernet or WFT-E6 transmitter).

Feature-wise it is equal with the Mac version – besides a simple reading it sports history logging, with the ability to copy the logs into Apple’s Numbers or Microsoft Excel. Plus you can access these logs through iTunes file sharing.

Because of the network connection required to the camera, you’ll need to do an extra step before the reading – pair the app and the camera. ShutterCount relies on the camera’s more advanced EOS Utility connection mode (and thus will not work with the simple smartphone connection mode). Mind this when establishing the connection.

I’ve recorded a short video showing the entire pairing and reading procedure between an iPod touch and my EOS 7D Mark II. The camera is connected through a Canon WFT-E7 transmitter using an Ethernet cable to our office network, while the iPod is connected to the same network via Wi-Fi.

Towards the end of the video I make three test shots and power cycle the camera to show the updated shutter count. Note that the camera needs some time to register itself on the network, and that pairing needs to be done once – the next time the app will automatically recognize the camera.

This automatic connection remains in effect until you either pair the camera to another app (Kuuvik Capture for example), turn off the network connection on the camera, or quit (I mean force quit, pressing the Home button is not enough) the app on the iPhone/iPad.

You may want to read my previous post on Canon EOS camera pairing and the ShutterCount FAQ for additional pairing tips.

ShutterCount Mobile is available on the App Store for $2.99 / €2.99.