Thursday, 20 July 2017

Checking the shutter count on an Olympus OM-D E-M1

Having recently purchased a ‘mint’ E-M1, I was keen to try to find out exactly how ‘minty’ it actually was. There are many factors that go into assessing the condition of a second-hand camera, but the one that most buyers want to establish is the shutter count – often referred to as shutter actuations.

Shutter count is seen as important for establishing the ‘life’ of the camera. Why shutter count? Well, if/when the shutter goes in your camera, you can pretty much kiss it goodbye. Yes, you can get the shutter unit replaced, and maybe that’s worth considering if the body cost you $4k? But many will consider it cheaper to ‘upgrade’ their camera instead. Although to be honest, most photographers will have upgraded their camera body long before their shutter has reached its limit.

Secondly, the older the shutter unit, the more likely it is to be ‘out’ in terms of shutter accuracy. You probably won’t notice it, since it may only be out by mere fractions, but it still won’t be as accurate as it was when it was new. When buying a second-hand camera, I like to see the shutter count at less than half its rated value. I have passed on at least a couple of DSLR’s whose shutter counts have been approaching 3/4s of the manufacturers recommended life.

Most manufacturers will quote an expected shutter count that a particular camera has been tested to – say 100,000 shutter actuations – although this is by no means a certified guarantee. Think of it as more of a guideline. The more ‘professional’ a camera, the sturdier it’s shutter, and therefore the more shutter actuations it will be rated at. For example, Canon and Nikon’s 1D and D4 series have been rated at around 350,000 shutter actuations, with many users claiming at least double these figures. From what I can establish, it seems that the OM-D E-M1 is rated at around 150,000 – which is quite a few photos!

Checking the shutter count on a camera is a case-by-case scenario. On some it is relatively easy, on others it is more difficult (if not down-right impossible). Depending on your make and model of camera there is probably a software programme that can easily spit out the shutter count for you. I’ve successfully used Camera Shutter Count ( on many cameras – but it doesn’t work for all of them. Olympus OM-D cameras keep track of shutter actuations (among other things), although it’s not an intuitive process to retrieve the information. It can be done however – and here’s how:

Navigate to the 'Wrench' icon and the 'Adjust Brightness' Menu
First, with the camera turned off, hold down the ‘Menu’ button and turn the camera on. Once on, release the menu button. Then press ‘Menu’ again and navigate to the ‘Wrench’ icon. In the wrench menu, go to the ‘Brightness Adjust’ sub-menu and enter the Brightness Adjust sub menu by pressing the right arrow on the control pad. Once there, press the ‘Info’ button on the camera, and then the ‘OK’ button (in the centre of the control pad). Now press the ‘Up’ arrow, the ‘Down’ arrow, the ‘Left’ arrow and the ‘Right’ arrow (in that exact order) on the control pad. Lastly, press the Shutter button and then the ‘Up’ arrow again. This will get you to Page 1 of 4 pages of extra camera data! Finally, press the ‘Right’ arrow on the control pad again to move to Page 2 – the page that actually contains the cameras shutter count! Hallelujah, you made it! Could they have made it any harder to access? It is a lot easier to actually do than it is to explain in words, but still….

On the screen of the camera you should now see a series of letters with numbers beside them. The first four are the important ones in terms of shutter actuations. The first, ‘R’ is the shutter release count – this is the number you’ve been looking for. Whatever that number is equates to the number of times the shutter has been fired. My number is 002428 – meaning the cameras shutter has been pressed just 2,428 times. Wo-ho!

All the important numbers should be now visible...
The second letter ‘S’ refers to the number of times the flash has fired (no, I don’t know why it’s ‘S’ and not ‘F’ either?). My camera didn’t come with a flash – and I guess the previous owner lost it almost immediately, because my number is 000001. That’s right, the flash has fired – once!

The third letter – ‘C’ refers to sensor cleaning. If you have accessed the cameras menu to clean the sensor it will register here. My camera has never had this menu accessed.

And finally, the ‘U’ stands for Ultrasonic filter count. This is a helpful figure because it indicates how many times your camera has been turned on (since that’s when ultrasonic cleaning of the filter is activated by default). My camera has been turned on only 542 times. So yeah, I guess it pretty much is ‘minty’ fresh. There are other pages, with other figures, but I have no idea what they mean to be honest. The four above are the all-important numbers if you want to know the ‘life’ of your OM-D. Check yours out. You may be surprised at exactly how many images you’ve actually taken?


  1. Hello Wayne

    I have only just discovered your blog and now look forward to reading your other posts, so thank you for sharing your experiences with your secondhand Olympus EM1. Like you, I too purchased a used EM1. In my case, the camera was just 4 months old with 282 recorded shutter releases. One small point, Olympus OM-D series cameras do not have a mirror, so I'm unsure as to why you believe the EM1 has a mirror lock up feature. Finally, you seem to have started with an EM5 Mk2 and then purchased the older EM1. Can I ask why? The only reason I ask, is that I am seriously considering replacing my backup camera (EM5 Elite) with the Mk2. I am now wondering if I would do better buying another EM1.

    Best wishes, Tim

  2. Hi Tim.
    Yes, you are absolutely correct! My reference to 'mirror lock up' was completely incorrect since by it's very definition the E-M1 is a 'mirrorless' camera! I have revised the article - thank you.
    Secondly, yes, I have come from an E-M5 MkII - and it was a camera that I loved using. But I did find the layout without the grip a little cramped, and much prefer the ergonomics of the E-M1. Without doubt the E-M5 MkII is a fantastic camera, but I found that the 'extra' features it had over the E-M1 were ones that didn't add any value to 'my' style of photography. For example, I never used the 40MP high res mode, so it doesn't bother me that the E-M1 doesn't have it. What does bother me is the way a camera 'feels' in my hand, and for me the E-M1 'feels' better in my hand. In the end it simply came down to ergonomics. If you go back and read some of my earlier posts, I'm sure I discuss this. Go here:
    Thanks for your feedback. It is very much appreciated.


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