Camera Flash Life Expectancy

In looking at how many pictures we take and how many times the flash on your digital camera is used I decided to do a little research about the life expectancy of a flash. After talking with a couple camera experts, I found out that the typical internal camera flash is rated to flash about 100,000 to 300,000 times before it burns out. Now this may sound like a lot of flashes but
when you break it down for 360 virtual tour shooting it may not last as long as you hope.

If you consider that the average tour has 5 pans and 10 stills then you figure that you shoot at least a minimum of 70 pictures for this virtual tour, not including all the retakes when the pictures didn’t turn out correctly. Now let’s say that at least 4 of the pans or 48 pictures plus 6 of the stills were taken indoors giving you at total of 54 indoor pictures. And let’s say that you used your flash on at least 70% of the pictures or 38 photos. That means that you have used 38 flashes for this one tour. Now to be realistic lets add at least another 12 pictures to this total to cover poor shots that were deleted off the camera. We have now used 50 flashes for one virtual tour shoot.

Let’s say that you shoot 4 – 360 tours a day for 6 days. In one week you have used about 1200 flashes! Inside of 51 weeks (giving you a week off for vacation) you have used 61,200 flashes (not including all the pics from the family vacation). Now out of our 100,000 plus flashes that we are supposed to get, we have used a little more than half of the useful life of our flash. At this rate it is not unlikely that the built-in camera flash may die within 2 years time.

So when you think about getting your next camera keep in mind your flash usage and how long you plan to keep your camera. You may want to make sure it has a hot shoe for using an external flash. An external flash lasts about as long as the camera’s built-in flash, but I would rather burn out a $200 flash than burn up the flash on a $400+ camera rendering it useless. For those of you who currently have a camera that has a hot shoe for mounting a flash, I would recommend that you consider investing in an external flash. This will allow you to save the built-in flash on your camera. In the event that your batteries in your external flash die you can still use the flash on your camera as a backup to finish the shoot. An external flash is also stronger than your camera’s built-in flash.

By Ben Knorr
Real Tour Vision Lens Engineer and Camera Setup