Story   Photographer   Editor   Student/Intern   Assistant   Job/Item

 Front Page
 Member Index
 Latest Headlines
 Special Features
 'Fun Pix'
 Message Board
 Educate Yourself
 Equipment Profiles
 Classified Ads
 Monthly Clip Contest
 Annual Contest
 Current Issue
 Back Issues
 Members Area
 "The Guide"
About Us:
 About SportsShooter
 Contact Us
 Terms & Conditions

Sign in:
Members log in here with your user name and password to access the your admin page and other special features.



|| News Item: Posted 2002-08-31

WARNING: Count those 1V actuations
By Al Tielemans, Sports Illustrated

The following note is a heads up for photographers using the Canon EOS 1-V camera. I experienced three malfunctioning shutters in this camera. As a satisfied Canon user since 1977, I was concerned, not alarmed.

However, when Sports Illustrated's baseball editor Nate Gordon told me there had been four shutter malfunctions of staffers' 1-V's in the same week (June 23-30), in addition to my three that malfunctioned the past twelve months , I decided to contact Canon directly.

I explained that the number of shutters malfunctioning in this time frame was disproportionate to the number of times I lost shutters on my previous Canon cameras (F-1, T-90, EOS-1, EOS 1-N, EOS-3), and that other photographers were losing shutters as well.

Photo by Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated

Photo by Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated

Yikes! Don't let this happen to you!
I worked closely with Canon Pro Market Rep Dave Sparer, and allowed him to read this document to make sure my terminology and details were correct. Because this is a relatively new camera (released in Spring 2000), and since the malfunctioning shutters occurred almost simultaneously to five photographers without each knowing about it until recently, I have no concrete information to support any conclusions. (The cameras were repaired individually before any information could be saved.)

Subsequent emails to several sports photographers, however, produced responses from six photographers with a total of nine malfunctioned shutters. I felt that putting this out there as an issue to BE AWARE of was important.

My only Canon EOS 1-N shutter that malfunctioned exploded with a "car wreck" sound. My latest experiences, and those of my staff mates, have been more troublesome. There is no initial difference in sound or motor drive performance. One of the shutter blades becomes loose and the resulting band of white across the horizontal plane of the film destroys the image. The shutter blade may eventually break off and leave a dark shadow across the frame.

Because the only shutter curtain you see when you open the camera back is the first, visual inspection is not sufficient. The second curtain is not visible. By holding the camera up to the light and firing a burst with the back open, you can see the brighter band of light as the shutter moves. My own experience produced a band of light across the horizontal middle. (Image attached)

I spoke with Dave Sparer at the SI offices on July 1 about the four EOS 1-V shutters malfunctioning that week. He began to look into the issue immediately. One week later I lost another fourth (on my three 1-V cameras) in about a twelve month period. (My three cameras are approximately 2 years old.)

I asked Dave two questions based on the EOS 1-V's increased motor drive speed of nine frames per second (FPS), compared to six FPS for the EOS-1N:

Could the higher FPS of the 1-V damage the shutter, causing it to malfunction before the expected life of 150,000 frames? (The technical term for "frames" is actuations) Could the shutters merely reach 150,000 actuations sooner because the FPS are higher?

(I compared the 1-V with the 1-N because they are both 1/250 flash sync cameras with similar shutters. The EOS-3 has a faster FPS than the 1-N, but the shutter is heavier as it is only a 1/200 sync.)

I have no actuation totals for my first three repaired cameras, but the fourth malfunctioned after just over 30,000 actuations.

The 150,000 - actuation life expectancy of a shutter should accommodate more than 4000 rolls of 36-exposure film. I know that with three bodies rotating through my assignments, that such film totals are impossible for me in that time span.

Actuation counts are available from Canon at events where they have a Canon Professional Services presence (US Open Golf, US Open Tennis, Super Bowl, etc.) and from a Canon Service Center when a camera is sent in for repair. But take note, YOU MUST SPECIFICALLY REQUEST THE ACTUATION COUNT FROM THE SERVICE CENTERS. It is not something they do automatically, nor is it recorded for future reference.

Also, a camera sent in specifically just for an actuation count will be subject to a charge. A malfunctioned shutter will be replaced, the actuation count noted and the count restored to "0" for the new shutter, but you must request the information to receive it. I recommend a written request wrapped around the damaged camera, AND calling ahead to verbally make the request to an individual.

Dave provided me with this statement from Canon:

"According to Canon, the EOS 1V has not been experiencing any unusual problems with its shutter units. In fact the durability of this shutter remains as advertised. Shutters that have been replaced are usually due to other factors than the end of the shutters' life.

If a photographer feels that their shutter is nearing the end of its life, or if it has failed, they should send the camera to one of Canon's Factory Service Centers. The camera will be thoroughly tested and evaluated. Canon's service staff will work with the photographer to equitably resolve the problem to their satisfaction on a case by case basis."

Photographers still need to be aware of this issue. As I mentioned before, there is not enough information to draw any conclusions about when the shutters are malfunctioning. However, even if the shutters simply reach their life expectancy sooner because of the higher FPS, photographers must become even more aware of the total number of frames their cameras fire.

I will continue to monitor this for Sports Shooter, with your help. If your Canon 1-V shutter malfunctions (without apparent cause), simultaneously e-mail me at and Dave Sparer at Include the serial number of the camera, the number of actuations, and the age of the camera, and maybe we can figure out what, if anything is happening. Under subject, please put 1V SHUTTER so we can stay organized. Also, try to attach a sample of the damaged image(s).

(Al Tielemans is a staff photographer with Sports Illustrated based in Philadelphia.)

Related Email Addresses: 
Al Tielemans:
Dave Sparer:

Contents copyright 2020, Do not republish without permission.
Need an event/tournament in West Virginia covered? Click here for a pro! ::..