Michael Buffington

The Last Thing My Nikon D100 Saw

Friday, June 21 2013

I bought my first “real” camera, a Nikon D100, over 10 years ago. At the time it was probably the best camera, feature-wise, you could get without spending close to $10,000 for a professional digital SLR.

While it wasn’t perfect I can say with confidence that it was the single most useful piece of technology I’ve ever owned. Up until the last frame, it took amazing photographs.

If you’re not familiar with SLR cameras you might be surprised to know that you can count on them to stop being able to take photographs at some point. The mechanical portion of the camera simply wears out over a certain amount of shots. Depending on the camera, some can have more shutter acuations than others.

As far as I can tell, Nikon never published the estimated shutter actuations a D100 was capable of. I’ve seen some people suggest between 20,000 to 30,000 total actuations. This shutter life database, as far as I can tell, says it’s more like 50,000.

My D100 had at least 282,012 shutter actuations.

That number is hard to discover - after doing some searching I found out that the number is stored in EXIF data for every photo you take. If you ever reset the firmware, that number starts over. I’ve done that at least once, so in reality I’ve taken more than 282,012 photos - I’d guess closer to the 300k range.

With that in mind, here are the last thousand or so photographs my Nikon D100 captured. What follows is a timelapse of me building an airplane over the course of several nights. The camera was on a tripod feeding what it captured directly to my computer.

The airplane project was nearly complete when the shutter gave up.

You were a good camera, Nikon D100. May your replacement be even half the camera you were.*

*Who am I kidding? For half the price I paid for the D100 I can buy a modern Nikon with twice as many features, 4 times the megapixels, faster shutter/flash sync, less noise in high ISO shots, and a camera that weighs half as much. I’ll miss the D100 for what it allowed me to do for so long, but it’s death is hardly a tragedy.