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 http://olegkikin.com/shutterlife/
For my two cameras that is:
- my D40 (currently 30,422) – Average number of actuations after which shutter died: 82,787
- my D300 (14,905) – Average number of actuations after which shutter died: 106,074
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.