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

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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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  • Patrick

    C’mon Nikon! Get your act together!

    • Not Surprised

      All part of the Nikon master plan. The D800 focus problem fore-sold the D600. This fore-sells the D400. With these “design specs” (womp womp womp), D600 owners will be ready to shell out big money to the D400!

      It begins!

    • Hercules

      Unbelievable.

      Nikon’s reputation for quality was already looking tarnished, if this is right about the D600, it’s time to clear out the stables.

    • Smudger

      ……and Nikon won’t fix dirty sensors as a warranty issue will they?

  • T.I.M

    The next Nikon DSLR will be:

    Shutterless
    AA filterless
    focusing sensorless
    useless

    :o

    • And of course

      Pay more for less

    • yes

      How about a Nikonless photography? Is it that hard to imagine?

  • Dm

    This is what happens when companies test only pre-production gear instead of samples from production batch. Happens more and more these days.

    • Test Pilot

      What are you talking about? They just tested about a 100,000 units. And even better, the early adopters who love mechanical problems, paid for it! Thanks guys, my D600 will be perfect 6 months later.

      • GREED

        Apparently the Marketing departments overtook the dictatorship in most of the companies: “time to market is everything” That’s just greed.
        It is not understandable, that an otherwise very capable engineering would let get all the glitches and quirks we see in these days through. The philosophy has become: “Why should we worry about the customers? The competition isn’t better in this concern.”
        And yes, after have been waiting for so long for a particular product, many customers pull the trigger right after the announcement, though knowing about the expect-able fade of early adapters. Tell you what: it’ll become worse! Observing the mind-set of may people for instance by turning others down for repeatedly mentioning how a maker deals with obvious product problems and with the customers. That means we (as a society) don’t even want others to try to use the power of the internet to increase the pressure on the makers.
        And by the way, after the full-bodied praise of the XQD cards the D4 ist still the only camera of the world using them. As superior they may be technically, there isn’t much space for the faith that these cards will become a wide spread standard and thus may become one more add on Sony’s track record… An experiment, the customers pay for.

  • Brian Lee

    Yup!

    It seems to me that some D600 cameras are more prone to this than others. I had to return one as dust spots kept coming back again and again each time after a cleaning. I even had to clean out a brand new camera out of the box. The 5D Mark 3 occasionally needed sensor cleans but it was never that often.

    In terms of everything else about the D600, I’m satisfied.

  • Homer Hernandez

    Since I bought the D800 I have had to have the sensor cleaned 3 times by Nikon! They insist there is no problem.

    • Sahaja

      They are never going to admit it is a design problem, so you’d better learn to clean it yourself.

      Fortunately it is a problem users can learn to deal with – though it is a hassle to have to do it more frequently than if the camera didn’t have this “feature”.

  • palefire

    Just another reason to never buy a Nikon until the reports from the beta testers, oh, I mean early buyers.

    • J Shin

      That’s my policy on just about everything. :-) I’m always surprised by how many people are willing to be early adopters, and even more baffled by how many then complain about the imperfections. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathtub_curve . But, capitalism needs early adopters, and so do I. :-)

  • Kiki Lavier

    Nikon needs to come clean! By keeping it under the lid.

    Right off the bat, my sensor was dirty. My vendor is going to replace it with a new unit.

    I wouldn’t accept just a cleaning because the problem isn’t going to fix itself.

    One would assume that later production models will not have this problem.

    • Sahaja

      Yes, they will probably quietly fix this.

      But I suspect it might take them a few months to re-desgin the shutter, test it, and get it into production. Meanwhile it seems likely that they will continue making cameras with the shutter units they already have.

  • Richard

    Woaa…again issues in new released cameras? damn. Was about to buy one for backup..I guess I can wait out a bit longer till Nikon comes up with a solution

  • http://www.wongsim.com wongsim

    hmmm…if the problem is real, hope nikon can solve this asap…

  • UA

    Yup, definetly Nikon has propably (by accident, of course) inserted a vacuum cleaner inside the camera that sucks up every bit of surrounding dust when you change your lense.

    I have had DSLR for over 5 years now, and I have never needed a sensor cleaning. Where the heck do you people photograph? Do you even try to avoid dust when changing the lens?

    It is just absurd to say there’s a dust problem in a camera, if it is not straight from the packet, when it is due to dusty manufacturing etc. However, shutter oiling the sensor would be a real problem.

    • Gutter Sensor

      Are you photographing all of your subjects in a dust-free white room?

      After 5 years of use I suspect your sensor is filthy… do yourself a favour and learn how to check. Dust happens and it is unfortunately impossible to prevent every single particle of crap floating in the air from getting into your camera body and being attracted to the electronically charged sensor. Additionally, average wear-and-tear on the internal mechanical mechanisms in your camera body can cause miniscule particles of debris to accumulate and potentially land on your sensor – even if you’re not changing lenses.

      My opinion above aside, a brand new camera should NOT have dust on the sensor and should certainly NOT have oil splatter. I briefly owned two D800′s and while I returned them both because of the infamous left-focusing issue, the both also had oil spots on the sensor which were disappointing.

      I’m an employee of a manufacturing firm and I’m fully aware of the limitations of design (and physics)… but it’s pretty unfortunate that we have to deal with this nonsense on brand new bodies.

      • RC

        I have had a D300 from the beginning and I cleaned the sensor for the first time a couple weeks ago, and it wasn’t because I saw dust in the images. It was because I looked at the sensor and noticed that it was nasty. Why did I look at its sensor? Because my D600′s sensor had a mark on it, so I decided to check my D300′s sensor. All this talk about dust is making me have second thoughts on my 2nd D600 order. I returned my first one because of the mark that wouldn’t go away.

        But to tell you the truth, the D600 is so good that if a monthly cleaning is all that it takes, I’m willing to put up with it. Cleaning the sensor with Sensor Swabs is easy, and it only costs a few dollars per cleaning.

    • yes

      Yes, I can’t understand all those people who shoot at anything other than WIDE OPEN either! :P

  • Chris

    I purchased an early D800E and I had problems with dust/oil on the sensor from the first day I got it so I’ve recently sent it back to nikon and hopefully it’s resolved as it’s damn annoying.

  • Brano

    The same was with 700, shit with Nikon

  • Lionel

    Dangit. I just tested my image sensor for dust. Sure enough, I have dust on the top-left side of the sensor too.

  • Joe Nikon

    Here we go again…..

  • peterw

    great rumor this
    this is what rumors should be like

    keep um coming :)

  • gt

    I appreciate that NR posted this — itll get nikon to hurry up and fix it.

    I’m going to wait until December or January to pick up a D600. Hopefully issues will be resolved by then.

  • bratvlad

    Perfect timing to learn how to clean your sensor yourself!

  • Aldo

    lol Taiwan… love my d800

    • babola

      Thailand.

      Get your geography right, please.

      • Dave

        Learn how to correct someone without sounding like a douchebag.

        • Aldo

          he is just bitter cuz he don’t know if hes cleaning a vacuum or swapping lens on his d600 lol… and about the taiwan thailand… similar QC which was my point.

    • FF

      It doesn’t seem to be an assembly problem but an issue with the design of the whole shutter system.

  • bert

    I have my D700 4 years now, and never had the sensor cleaned manually. It looks much cleaner than this pic, even if you devide it by 20. Weird stuff!

    • Rob

      How often do you shoot OOF at F/22 into the sky? Try it, THEN tell us you don’t have any dust.

      • desmo

        You have to be good at panning to keep up with the F22

        That’s if you can find it in the first place–
        it’s kinda stealthy

        • Pablo Ricasso

          Good point. It’s probably best to start with the F16, or even the F4, especially if you’re a retiree.

  • Michel

    I just checked mine, and I dont have any dust spots I can see on the sensor. The image here with the dust spots looks horrible but it is a composition of he 20 cameras tested, overlays, so not all the dust on the one sensor. It would be disappointing to find this on your new camera.
    This was never a problem with film of course, well not to the same extent for obvious reasons. I think every older lens I have does also have dust inside the barrel, and with most photographers using zooms, air is being sucked in and out of the lens and most certainly also out of the camera body. I guess too that the atmosphere is more polluted too nowadays with bits of crap floating around, a bit like the mid Pacific and mid Atlantic garbage dumps, but with airborne particles accumulating inside the bodies of DSLRs. A serious matter indeed.

    • peterw

      (several of my slides have serious scratches;
      the nicer the picture, the more scratches…
      … happily the value of even the nicest of my slides is void)

      : each storage medium has its difficulties

      as problematic as conservation of Hard Discs is, in the end preparing digitised media for ‘high end’ presentation is so much easier.

      However, a systematic error in a shutter like this is unacceptable.

      • 103david

        Is this actually in English?

        • RC

          go away grammar patrol

        • peterw

          You are very welcome to help me translate David.

  • Nikon Joe

    Dang! And I was just about to pull the trigger on a new D800.

    Has anyone else had dust issues with the D800 ?

    I have a D300 and a D7000 and have never had to clean the sensor. I am very careful when changing lenses in the field though.

    Starting to lose a bit of confidence in Nikon engineering and QC

  • http://spikesphotos.com Spike

    I’ve had a D300 and a D700 and never had to have a sensor cleaning. My D800 has been back to Nikon twice in 6 months for cleaning. It’s 10% reassuring to see that I’m not the only one but 90% worrying. How can we force resolution from Nikon on this?

  • Bob Dickens

    Well it looks like I’ll be postponing my purchase a little longer. I cant wait a bit longer maybe the price will come down a bit, or some better deals will be out there when everything is fixed

  • Ron

    I only shoot gravel pits so the D600 is great ;-)

  • Rowly

    Yep, got the same problem. I was about to put the D600 for a clean tomorrow anyway but this info helps. I just put it to using it on windy conditions on the beach, but my D90 has nothing like the same amount of dirt, and it had more use, and more lens changes in the same period.

    • Worminator

      Of course it has fewer dust spots, the sensor is smaller!

      :)

  • Funduro

    Looks my decision to buy 5 year old technology wasn’t such a bad one in June of this year as the last of the brand new D700 went on sale for $2,200. Reason number one I made the decision was based on the “value” price of the rumored D600, I did not want to buy a de-content FX DSLR plus the possible unknown new product issues.

    • Rob

      Has there ever been a thread here where you did NOT make a post where you try to convince yourself buying a D700 was a good decision?

      • yes

        oh you and and your shiny brown Nikon-branded boxes

      • Funduro

        bob: I do NOT have confidence in Nikon when releasing new products. D7000 dead pixel, D800 LF, D600 dust on sensor, . . . … As some one wrote I DO NOT WANT TO BE A BETA TESTER AND HAVE TO PAY SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR THE PRIVILEGE. oops sorry for causing your ears to ring. My bad.

        So yea, I like the FACT I made a decision that I’m 100% comfortable with.

        I heart my D700 ! (Sure it would be nice to have bought the D800, BUT I also decided NOT to buy that puppy too)

        I see your not comfortable in allowing me to state that. BTW Bob is you last name Castro? Do I live in Cuba?

        • Michel

          Maybe you do live in Cuba, then you would feel right at home driving those beat up 1950′s cars they all have there, mind you they are probably still using film in Cuba too. Don’t get me wrong, Cuba is a great country, and the only self sustainable country on the planet, they don’t use chemical fertilisers, have a higher literacy rate than the US, better doctor patient ratios, are actually returning vast tracts of land to forest, and have large community vegetable gardens instead of supermarkets and huge car parking lots. Dang! All that AND you have a D700?

    • FF

      @Funduro

      +1

      I wish a had bought a D700 before the price went up. :(

  • Roberto

    All the reviews on amazon 1-star and 2-star talk about this problem. I read all the reviews and comments on the reviews, a total of about 20 people already with this problem.
    I also read also the topic of NR. I would have to buy it Friday in a local store, but now I’ll wait

  • Dawg

    Dear Nikon, please refrain from selling any product until you have at least 12 months of experience selling and servicing the product. Quit duping us with your imperfect new technology. And please fix the chromatic aberration on my 50mm 1.4D. I prefer less aberration to more.

    • peterw

      … refrain from selling …
      … until you have at least 12 months of experience selling…
      Please explain how Nikon could achieve this?
      ;)

      By the way, if Nikon wouldn’t have presented this camera, meanwhile Canon coming out with its (what is it called 6D?), your fellow respondents over here would be crying were the xxx Nikon is staying with its D600. Look at the D400 comments :)

      There is no problem at all, if Nikon (if) supplies correct after sales service… which would start by recognision of the problem.

      • Sahaja

        By the time the 6D is available, Nikon will have fixed this in new cameras.

  • Chris

    My D600 had a few bits of dust on the sensor from the first time I used it, and worried it might be oil, not dust, I got it professionally cleaned which seemed to fix it for a few days until the dust seemed to creep back onto my shots (I shoot mainly interiors, stopped down with a 14-24mm – this tends to make dust stand out more).

    Locking up the mirror and using a Giottos Rocket blower I got rid of 90% of the dust myself and will continue that technique until something else comes along.

    Full frame cameras always seem to attract more dust than DX but this is silly…

  • chuck

    D600 “Nikon we have a problem…”

    Nikon “………………….”

    D600 ” Nikon we have a problem… ”

    Nikon “…………………………….”

    Repeat of the D800 fiasco, so sad, have they learned nothing.

    Luckly my D4 is health, no focus issue and no oil yet, knock on wood

    • Cathy

      Don’t forget the D7000 focus issues.

      If I were Nikon, I would be VERY VERY worried! I am starting to “hate” that company, really, as stupid as it sounds. Mostly because they don’t ADMIT the issues! And of course, this kind of continous issues with several models is not acceptable. Something there is VERY VERY wrong indeed! You just cannot treat customers like this!

      • Ronbenson

        Cathy, not everybody is experiencing focus problems with the D7000. Yes, it tends to backfocus with some lenses (especially VR less) in very dim lighting conditions when pointed at surfaces that doesn’t have patterns or that are mostly white and red when using the remote flash red AF assist lamp. In that particular case, using the white led focus assist lamp solves the problem. Telemeter assisted focussing using my manual lenses always gives me satisfactory results, even in extremely dim lighting conditions.

      • Pablo Ricasso

        Cathy! I thought to told you to use your powershot on a tripod. Have you learned nothing?

  • Worminator

    I remember a big broohaha when the Pentax K-5 came out and there were oil spots on the sensor, sometimes under the AA filter apparently so you could not simply clean them off. I was fixed and complaints fell off.

    I wonder if the D600 issues can be put down to the new production line, or if it is an unforseen design flaw with the shutter mechanism.

  • pierre wajeman

    better to buy a D7k more performant than D600, definitly…

    • Joel

      If performance is defined by pixel density, for sure. If it’s defined by image quality, high ISO performance, tonal gradation and dynamic range… it’s probably not :P

      • FF

        So I guess we don’t have much options for camera now.

  • dacian

    I just checked my 2 week old d600 and indeed there is a lot of dust on the sensor, especially in the top left corner. After some cleaning with the giottos rocket most of the dust went away but not all of it. I also checked my 2 year old d90 and there’s not a single spot of dust on the sensor. In 2 years of using it with a lot of lens changing I have never had to use a dust blower on the d90 sensor.

  • Hans

    I understand the silence of Nikon around this subject. The more we talk about this, the more dust we will stir up.

  • FOTO’S

    Maybe this is the effect that the factories have moved where we have cheap labor prices have been on the same level, the equipment is sold in containers on a kilogram in supermarkets when it comes to the quality of the new camera is getting worse. We will miss MADE IN JAPAN.

    • Sahaja

      Well many D8oo cameras apparently had the left AF problem – and they are “Made in Japan”

      Nikon have been making cameras in Thailand for a long time now – D90, D300 etc. – don’t hear many complaints about them.

      I’m sure Thai workers are just as conscientious as Japanese. This is a design fault in the shutters that were probably designed by a Japanese engineer, but not tested properly.

      Personally I’m happy to buy Nikon products that are made in Thailand – however I don’t like to buy those that made in China because of that country’s appalling record on human rights.

  • http://alexandre-huet.com alx

    Mine seems to be ok. There is three or four spots of dust, but not concentrated on a corner, very common.

    I suppose lensrental buy there DSLR grouped, maybe a bad series.

  • Chino Chao

    I had one of the firs D800s in my area. It developed what a tech described as “shaving particles” off of the shutter, in a reproducible pattern (i.e., after cycles of cleaning). I sold that camera at a small loss and got myself a D800E, which has had both the left focus issue and the oil on the sensor issue. I sent it in to Nikon USA and they tinkered with the AF (still have to verify the fix), but the sensor came back even dirtier than when it left (visible dust everywhere and oil just moved around)!

    I was so disappointed, and decided to just have the sensor cleaned locally rather than send it back and forth yet again, before I even determine if the AF issue has been resolved.

    That being said, the good images I’ve gotten out of both cameras have been lightyears ahead of my last camera, and these poor QC issues seem completely avoidable. I hope they’ve made corrections in production already because I’m ordering a backup D800E body this week.

  • theredrider78

    Don’t care, it’s still the best camera ever.

    • dacian

      that’s right. i just checked and the problem shows up on my camera, but i never saw it in photos so far. I shot the sky at f/22 and then it’s obvious. i won’t lose any sleep on this. if there will be a recall or fix i’ll send my camera in. if not, i’ll just use the rocket blower every now and then.

  • Joel

    Much in the same way that my D7000 suffered badly from oil spots during it’s first 10,000 actuations, requiring cleaning every 2000 or so images. Given the spot’s proximity to the gears, I’d say it’s likely some sort of lubricating agent being thrown off in the same way that it was with the 7k.

  • Jon S

    I’ve had nothing but a dirty sensor since I got the D800 and now I know why.
    I shoot Motorsport which is is a dusty environment anyway but have never had the problem on my other camera’s before
    It gets dirty so often I’ve had to learn to clean it myself which of course is a risk and a extra expense.
    Would Nikon swap my camera for another one now?

    • Worminator

      And here I was thinking everyone cleaned their own sensors. That it was a rite of passage for dSLR ownership~

  • eduardo silva

    This problem exists since the launch of D7k. I bought a D7000 in December 2010 and after around 15000 actuations it still have some oil spots in the sensor…
    Most part always in inferior right corner.

  • Kenneth

    This should be explanation why mine has dust again and again. That’s enough. I will put mine on eBay.

    • Pablo Ricasso

      HOW MUCH??????????????

  • Roy S.

    This is complete failure in QC and QA case study in photography industry. Nikon probably should outsource their QA to others.

  • $$$$

    seems that digital photography has risen to the head of Nikon ($ $ $)

    Not losing market was better with the misfortune that befell their factories than negligencial this way?

  • Camaman

    LOL they composites 20 image to get this.
    Talk about fools errand.
    Should have just reverse mounted a short prime! That shows the spots beautifuly!

  • Dr Motmot

    damn, I was so looking forward to getting a D600.

  • Worminator

    There is no control experiment. Just : hey look at all this dust on a bunch of D600s we lent out. We would need to see a similar composite from D7k or D700 lent over a similar period to make a judgement as to whether this level of dust is normal or not.

    Also: take the composite and divide by 20, i.e. nineteen in twenty dust spots removed. Well, I’m sorry, but every dSLR I own currently has at least as much junk on the sensor. Fact of life if you switch lenses a lot. Unless you shoot at f/22 and up, though, you’ll never notice…

    • Sahaja

      Come on – no review site, or normal user, sees as many camera bodies as Lensrentals – and they certainly have nothing to gain by pointing out problems like this if they are not real.

      It also ties in with the large number of complaints about dust on D600 sensors we have been seeing from users on sites like DPR and other forums. Before this, I was discounting most of those claims – but now I believe them.

    • RC

      They specifically said that every D600 that came back needed a cleaning and that not all other cameras needed it.

  • Backupoh

    I have used Nikon for more than 30 years. My father used Nikon to take my baby pictures. We both liked it because of quality of their bodies even if not the most innovative.

    Having some issues in new bodies due to current market competition and need to bring new equipment faster is forgivable even though not desirable. The attitude Nikon has in last few years lying and pretending that there are no problems and mistreating their own consumers are unforgivable.

    The top choice for my next camera is a Nikon but I decided to go for the second choice as I refuse to give business to companies with that attitude. I will gladly come back to Nikon when they recognize their issues and start treating customer the right way.

    • Sahaja

      There is no needto bring products to market faster, just greed.

      If they keep getting “issues” like this with new cameras it will soon tarnish their reputation and hurt them far more than they gain by getting the camera to market a couple of months before the competition.

  • CGL

    Glad I sold ALL my Nikon gear (except my V1). First the D800 left focus issue and now this! (NO, I did NOT by Canon). I love Nikon gear but they better wake up!

  • FF

    This could be a show stopper for the D600. Unfortunately.

    If you have to clean the sensor very often it will get damaged eventually. It is not a good idea.

    I think the most important is how Nikon will address this issue.

    • Worminator

      Same as always, deal with it quickly and quietly on the production line, act like it never happened.

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