How many shutter actuations can your dslr survive?

Not normally an important question this becomes relevant when you start doing time lapse, which means very large numbers of pictures taken.

Consider a 1 hour time lapse at one shot per 5 seconds, that’s 720 frames for the one hour.

Particularly I’m concerned about camera models which do not have time lapse built in, so the manufacturer had a different expectation of what the total number would be that you achieve.

The camera makers have their own estimates of the total shutter life of each camera, however a more interesting exercise is actually collecting data on this and that has been done here

For my two cameras that is:

I encourage you to look up your own model, then see how many you are up to now, then do some simple calculations to know how much of your camera life you are using up by doing time lapse before getting started.

Although shutters can be replaced the general consensus is that it doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective.

You can use ExifTool by Phil Harvey to check your shutter count (instructions here), or upload an unedited jpg to flickr and look at the extended properties of the image.

If a one hour time lapse is 720 frames that is about 0.7% of the life of my D40 shutter.

DIY White Seamless Background Howto Part 1 of 5

This is the first part in a little series, which I expect to run to 5 parts, about my experience with doing a “white seamless background” look, with mostly DIY parts; and weaving in the use of tethering software.

  • Part one will discuss why I’m writing this, why you should read it, and why you might want to do it anyway.
  • Part two will be how I set up the physical environment with totally inadequate space and inappropriate materials; a too small room, off-white crumpled fabric, not quite white wooden boards and at least one bamboo lightstand.
  • Part three will be how I set up my lights and determine the correct power level for the flashes using a combination of a grey card, spot metering, tethering, Adobe Camera Raw, some logic and a healthy dose of guesswork and trial and error.
  • Part four will be actually shooting in this environment, mainly using tethering in order to do self portraits and also to check results as I go.
  • Part five will then be post processing, particularly how I compensate for limitations in my studio, my equipment and my skills!

It may take me a while to get to all these parts, but hey, a guy has to have goals in life, right? 🙂

So first, why I’m writing this, why you should read it, and why you might want to do it anyway

My main reason for myself is that I was pleasantly surprised with the results I managed to obtain when I did this for myself. I had read various tutorials and guides and knew that I was missing some essential ingredients to do this “properly”, most importantly the sufficiently large space and the seamless paper.

As my stubborn insistence on trying anyway has lead to some usable results I wanted to capture what I’d done in writing, and by writing about it and therefore forcing myself to go through the whole process again methodically, perhaps to improve what I have done.

Why then should you read what I am writing here given that I’m clearly an absolute-beginner who has done this about 3 times and probably doesn’t know what he is doing. Well firstly I suppose you could be an even less experienced person who has done it zero times. But in that case shouldn’t you be reading advice from someone who has done it a thousand times? Of course you should read that, but I believe that as a beginner who has only just had his “ah ha” moment I’m closer to it and perhaps can describe things in way that will interest another beginner.

Of course another reason you might want to read this is so you can laugh heartily at my many mistakes and downright errors! If so, please feel free to keep your comments to yourself. 🙂

More charitably (on my or your part) perhaps you’d want to give me some pointers to improve what I’ve done? Criticism, constructive or otherwise, does not sit easily with me I will admit, but advice is always welcome.

Lastly, why would anybody want to shoot on a white seamless background – and a DIY one at that.  For me it was initally just “because”, it seemed an interesting thing to do and a bit of a challenge.  Combined with that is seeing those posters of models in clothing stores (where I live it is Uright and Bossini) blown up to about twice life size that always look so cool.

Once I had done it though I realized it presents a few additional advantages:

  • You don’t have to worry about composing the background, there is no background. For me that was a big one as I’m still struggling a lot with backgrounds; I have not yet trained my eye properly to see everything in the frame through the viewfinder.  And so find most of my shots tend to have unwanted things behind or intersecting with the object I am trying to capture.  While I will continue to work to train my eye meanwhile I’d like some nice shots of my wife and kids which are not ruined by junk in the background.
  • Compositing suddenly becomes a lot easier.  You want to duplicate yourself 3 times in the same shot?  Now you don’t have to worry about difficult cutting out and not matching edges.  Every edge is white, it becomes easy.
  • Your background suddenly becomes expendable; you want it to appear that you are on a larger set?  Just expand the canvas.
  • And of course there is room for type if you’re doing a Christmas card!

As for why DIY — well because it is cheap and because I can get it here and now with materials at hand.  Where I live getting a 9 foot roll of paper delivered is not really and option.

So there you go.  Why I’m writing this, why you might want to read it, and why do white background shots anyway.  That’s all I have for part one and now that I’ve started I’ll have to finish this one day!

Well another day wasted..

Seems the spammer has finished his holiday and resumed spamming. And the clean up I did last time wasn’t good enough (I’m on the current version of WP).

So another day wasted doing clean up — and this time I’ve done a lot more WP hardening. Hopefully that’ll fix it and I can get back to some more productive things!