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Nikon D600 sensor’s dust spots caused by a gap around the shutter?

Nikon D600 shutter unit

Lensrentals noticed that all of their D600 rental units needed sensor cleaning after being used. What is even more interesting is that all spots seems to be located around the same area - the upper left portion of the sensor:

Pattern of dust spots from twenty different D600 cameras (20 images layered into one)

Lensrentals did some additional investigation and found that "D600′s shutter curtain opening seems a bit larger than the other Nikon cameras with a bit of a gap around the shutter curtain. It may well be the shutter movement is pulling dust onto the sensor":

Recessed D600 shutter curtain, showing fairly large gap around the shutter (image credit: Aaron Closz)

Similar dust/oil spots have been widely reported on Amazon's customer reviews, on [NR] Forum and other websites. As of today, there is no official statement from Nikon and I don't think there will ever be one.

Just a reminder that many of the first D800 cameras also had an unusually high amount of oil/dust spots on the sensor. It seems that this issue was resolved with later shipments.

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  • d

    anyone noticed the huuge gap around the shutter mechanism? this looks like a great “dust-bag”, too.
    my D600 has some 4 hours out of the box, 153 clicks, maybe 10 careful lens swaps and over 30 specs on the sensor. most of them were there in the 4th shot. plus some dead or hot pixels showed up in some pictures, will have to check on that. hope that’s the only “cheap” side of the camera

    • d

      ** Sorry, I ment APERTURE MECHANISM, not SHUTTER

  • Joel

    Here is what I’m getting on mine:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/77021438@N08/sets/72157631846839693/with/8120622659/

    3 week old camera (thereabouts) with only 1 lens change.

    Picked up some cleaning supplies today but now I suspect these spots are likely oil. Going to call Nikon tomorrow. A salesperson at the camera store where I bought the D600 said that I could take it right to Nikon’s office and they’d probably clean it on the spot. If I sent it in through them, they said it would take 8 weeks (!) I only live about 1 hr away from Nikon’s repair centre, so I might give that a shot.

    I’m tempted to do it myself, but can’t find all of the recommend supplies (Eclipse/VSwab, etc) and don’t want to screw anything up, especially if it is oil (i.e. smear/streaks), before Halloween since I need the camera to be working properly.

    • Joel

      Seems like the D800 has this (or similar) issue as well.

  • FF

    I saw a comment in the flickr forum that Nasim Mansurov has pointed out the problem since his first review:

    http://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-d600

  • JamieH

    I had this after about 2000 shots with my D600. I wasn’t even looking for it, I was just taking shots at very low apertures and as I looked through the images on my PC I actually thought a flock of birds had flown into the shot!

    I really don’t think this problem is dust. Dust looks very different to this. If you hike the levels and look at them at about 400% you will see that these are actually more like rings as they are darker on the outside edge than in the middle. I’m not really bothered by dust on the sensors of my cameras (I was back in 2005 when I got my D70s but I learned how to clean the sensor and all has been well with the D300 and D7000 I have had subsequently) and used my Rocket Air on it but to no effect – dust normally moves a bit at the very least.

    So, out with the Eclipse and senor swab – after a couple of passes the image was clear and I was left convinced that it is oil, not dust, which is the real problem here.

    It shouldn’t happen and there really isn’t much excuse for it (shutter and mirror mechanisms are not really new technology and oiling them properly cannot be pioneering stuff) but it is easily fixed. I have now taken a couple of hundred more frames and I cannot see a recurrence.

  • Ray

    Just made decision to buy D600… But this issue happens. If the spots are dust I don’t care because dust is easy to clean. Oil should be big problem, it will be hard to clean by yourself. Who wants to go to Nikon service every month for cleaning the sensor? I have no idea to buy which slr now within limited budget. 5D mark II seems so old and I can’t afford mark iii or d800…

    • d

      if you don’t care about video, the D700 is still a great camera. I thought D600 would replace D700 for me 100%, but there are still a few things where D700 works better for my particular shooting. most important is better AF – more coverage, more accurate, more sensitive in low light. If you don’t try to compare to the new nikons, image quality is also excellent

      • d

        I’m not really saying you shouldn’t buy the d600. I really haven’t seen anyhing around the net from this camera that looks like oil. These are mostly speculations. Mine has dust problems, but t’s just dust. Also, there’s more and more info from users, that nikon’s replacing their mirror boxes when they send it in, so there might be a fix

  • Dawg89

    4,854 shutter releases and no dust spots.

  • Vin

    Looking at this shutter it is quite simple compared to a professional quality film slr Nikon shutter. My F4 has more leaflets then most modern DSLR’s. Granted the F4 was built to shoot at 6+ fps, and last a very long time under extream weather. I am do not see the same build quality in the D600, so they may be changing out the whole mirror box and shutter as one part if there is space for an oil leak. Dust is one issue, if its always in the same place on multiple D600 that needs to be addressed asap! Oil indicates another huge issue, I am really considering buying a D600 for my wife as a gift, now I think I should wait a few months. Does anyone have production numbers on how many D600’s are being produced a month? It seems like somwhere on the production line they really need to be checking fit and finish. Perhaps the size and build of an FX camera needs a little more care and quality control coming from the Thailand plant

  • Alessandra Romano

    My D600 arrived with dust spots on sensor. I’ve sent the camera back which has cost me £27 in postage with no hope of the dealer ever refunding me. Nikon told me that there is no issue with this camera but I do not believe them for one minute. Very upset and very fed up with Nikon customer service at the moment. I’ve waited so long to get a good camera, it meant a lot to me, but I can only advise everyone to be very cautious and wait it out.

  • Ray

    I just came back from one of the biggest camera retailer in london to collect d600. The staff told me the camera is brand new. but it really looks like some one tested for many times. I thought if the camera is fine i will pay for it. when i tried to test the camera there are 3 black spots on the left side of screen i dont even zoom in the photo. When I asked for another one they said they didnt have, I m not allowed to see each camera, actually still in stock displayed online. I will go to another store to take a look. I think nikon should seal their cameras.

  • Kirk Schaefer

    Just stopped by my local best buy. They have had a d600 out for a few weeks with a lens with a lock on it. I ck’d it for dust and it had specs all over the upper left corner. You had to
    Zoom in but very noticeable. I was gonna get one but not sure now may just wait
    A bit. Very sad to see that poor quality from Nikon.

  • http://- KP

    Can anybody give an indicative date by which Nikon could have done some correction to this oil/dust on sensor issue…anyone recollect how long it took for D800 to overcome this issue?

    • Rebel

      interesting question!
      how long Nikon took for D800 to overcome this issue?

      ps for this problem on D800, were there official Nikon notice?

  • Alejandro Espeche

    After 250 shots my D600’s sensor :(

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/71893109/Terror.jpg

    • d

      Alejandro – looks like someone at the factory has much dandruff! Actually, something dandruff-like was in my mirrorbox, too.

      I also have the scratch they point out at dpreview

  • Rebel

    it seems the problem could be some scratch right below the reflecting mirror
    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3290303

  • http://- KP

    Rebel,
    I think my question was a little confusing.
    I know Nikon – no official response on D800/D600.
    What I meant is – only observation by others in the forum that the problem might have subsided….say it took 3 months..6 months or it is still existing in current shipments of D800…

  • http://www.alejandroespeche.com.ar Alejandro Espeche

    I think we’ve a winner D600… Mine

    Looks my mirror and sensor…

    https://picasaweb.google.com/102653065300906689797/NikonD600

  • https://www.facebook.com/seksak.s seksak

    i am dusty full f rame

  • http://www.photocoffee.com.au Kingsley

    Note also the D600 is made in Thailand v’s D800/D4 made in Japan.
    Have had the D600 on loan for a few weeks and not happy with the feel and quality of it compared to the dearer cameras – but that is just it – you get what you pay for, however it would be in Nikon’s best interest to fix the dust problem – if so a great camera for the price!

    • Joel

      I really don’t think the place of manufacture has much to do with this issue. Did the D800 not have focus issues and oil/dust spots as well (there was a link posted above somewhere.) My D600 also feels well built and “tight” – nothing misaligned or loose feeling.

      • desmo

        +1

  • desmo

    something that bothers me about this whole thread is how would aperture f22 vs f4 help resolve the dust spots on the sensor.

    as aperture helps the lens resolve what is infront of it not behind or to be exact the focal plane which is what this is

    by virtue of being on the sensor the dust or oil is photographing itself.

    you either see it or you don’t
    you either have it or you don’t

    750 clicks plus , don’t see it on my d600
    don’t see any scratches on or around mirror or shutter either

    ser# 300xxxxx

    • http://NR jim archer

      I liked your experience with your D600……My second D600 will be arriving soon from Amazon.I am thinking about waiting for a later production run…

    • Andrew E

      Smaller aperture definitely increases the visibility of dust spots. Depth of field works either side of the lens, and you can see dust spots resolve from smudges to more distinct dots as you stop down. This is true for all cameras.

  • http://NR jim archer

    I returned my first D600 to Amazon for spotting.In my case,I shot a dozen “sky f22″ pics.and each one revealed spots…..Amazon is sending me a replacement….Now after reading so many comments about this issue,it may be prudent to return second camera to Amazon and wait for a later production run..

    • Samir Maluf

      any camera, even new ones have spots, specially at F22, the issue is when they progress quickly, like in 1000 shots you got four or five times more spots and usual…
      if you buy any canon or leica cameras eventualy they will have spots…. specially depending on the enviroment and usage…

      I own a D600, and yes it does have spots, I cleaned and after 3 or 4 k clicks you have to clean again, no big of issue.

  • Leonardo

    why do not we try to reach a significant number of people with this problem?
    http://www.change.org/petitions/nikon-nikon-d600-dust-on-sensor?javascript=false
    sign and share… please

    • Leonardo

      I’ve re-posted the correct address below!!

  • Leonardo

    Mine Nikon D600 has the problem, too!

    why don’t we try to reach a significant number of people with this problem and report it to Nikon?

    http://www.change.org/petitions/nikon-nikon-d600-dust-on-sensor

    sign and share… please

  • Michael Choong

    So disappoint on nikon, my d800 start to focus fraud after sc10k, test with 85 1.8 and 50 1.8 the left side is obviously back focus, right side is front focus, now I can only use center point with fine tuned -5 to -8 to focus and recompose, and stop down to f/4 to get more depth, after shooting of this weekend will send to Nikon malaysia and provide sample fraud picture, will force them to do serious repair. Don’t ask me why as I have perfect focus at the first 10k pics…

  • Ben Dover

    So far so good: 3.000 clicks and no dust/oil at all on my sensor.

    But any way, reading all these alarming post isn’t very reassuring…

  • http://www.facebook.com/franckgazzola Franck GAZZOLA

    Terrible experience also with my 3 weeks old D600. It’s a second body, so I change lens much less often than before when I used to shoot with my D90 only (which I only cleaned 1 time in 2 years). The spots I see are almost exactly as the one shown in the example above.

    Other issue: batteries. In every shooting, the camera shuts down, just like there is no batteries or flat batteries. I switch the camera on/off a couple of times, or open the battery slot, take it out, and back in again…and it works.

    Pretty lame result for a 2 grand+ camera.

    I’ll be going to Nikon next week and bring it back. Let’s see how they handle the claim. Having an issue with a product: that can happen. How they will deal with it: that’s the real question.

    • RayRay

      The D90 was that last of the classic “bullet proof / trouble free” cameras that Nikon produced. The D80 is another sweet DSLR from “Back in the good ‘ol days”… Where quality control was priority #1 at Nikon.
      Things have changed… Sad to say.

  • zapper 9

    No shocks here Nikon’s QC is pretty awful with D800 AF problems, oil splatter on the D7000 widely reported now the D600 is hit again. Nikon look great on paper but suck big time for QC

  • Scott H

    Wow, it’s bad! looks like someone sprayed schmutz all over my lens…just shot this in New Orleans over the weekend. Whaddya want for $2,100+tax. Quality??? f**k.

  • Jorge

    bye bye nikon.

    Canon is waiting me

  • hgpilot

    I so much want to buy this camera, but user complaints re: this issue exist on every website I’ve looked at for reader comments (Amazon, B&H, etc). Called Nikon twice today and they won’t admit a problem. Really don’t want to drop this kind of money on something I’ll have to send right back….

    • Samir Maluf

      Just buy it, its no big problem…
      this was something with the the first units….
      or just get a D610…..
      I have one, and never bother me….

  • http://twitter.com/VignotoPhoto Michael Sidney

    Did a time lapse with my D600. Dust all over it: http://youtu.be/keoXmYcp-2I

  • Dipo
  • Martin

    I just had my D600 replaced for the second time!! 35+ spots after 700 shots is not something I would have expected on a camera in this price range…or on any camera at all! If the next D600 has the same problem, I’m going to get my money back and stick with my D90 for now. Shame really, as I bought the Tamron 24-70 and the new Nikon 70-200 because I switched to full frame :o/

  • DM

    Nikon did the same thing with their P7000 faulty AF system…….come on Nikon its our hard earned money………

  • Breaking news

    First info : in Japan we have Nikon centers in which they clean your low pass filter in 1 hour 7days a week and for free during the warranty. This was already great but not enough if like me your travel a lot outside of Tokyo for shootings. They also have some training programs (seminar) for free to teach you to clean yourself the low pass filter with the Nikon cleaning kit.
    I have a breaking news from this month : in Japan, if you really request it in a Nikon center, they start to replace the D600 shutter unit with a new type one (they send your camera at the Japanese factory for replacement, it take 10 days). Which confirm that the problem came from this. Mine was changed this way. It’s not official news yet, and I guess not yet worldwide, but it will come step by step. Don’t be impatient but continue to make claims to Nikon.

  • Vietnam grinder

    Somehow thanks for your sharing since this somehow helped me decide to buy D700 instead of D600. Yes I only have 12MP, and older technology but that is perfectly okay for my work. I don’t mind having the latest technology of D600 and its full featured oily sensor or shutter.
    I currently own D3000, D90, D300S and now D700. Now am planning to trade the APSC cameras to D7100 and so far am still looking for issues of early adopters.

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