Each time a DSLR camera takes a picture, a mobile part of the camera, the shutter, is activated in order to expose the camera sensor.
This mobile part is currently the weak point of DSLR cameras for long term photography. On one side we can produce the best possible image quality, on the other side we know that after a (very) large amount of pictures, this part of the camera is going to fail.
When it happens you can either replace the shutter (+/- 250 euros/dollars) or replace the camera, it will depends of your budget, camera model and its age.
The above picture is a typical example of a shutter failure, it got stuck in front of the sensor when the picture was taken. This particular picture has been taken by a Canon EOS 1000D/Rebel XTI installed for 18 months. This camera captured 298 359 pictures, at an average of 550 pictures per day (or one picture every 3 minutes).
We implemented variable capture rate on this particular camera, average frequency therefore doesn’t have much meaning. Capture rate was between once every 15s and once every 30mn depending of day of the week, time of the day and site’s activity.
So we received an email automatically when the shutter broke and quickly replaced the camera.
No wonder why a lot of timelapse photographers are really waiting the arrival of shutter-less camera (in fact there will be an electronic shutter). Apparently it is theoretically feasible (not far from what is used on compact cameras) but as of yet no DSLR cameras have been developed with such a feature.
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