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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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  • jenn

    Slightly off topic, but can we expect to ever see a “true” D700 replacement? I want to get into FX (I currently have a D7000), and I’m not sure whether to buy a used D700 or wait for it’s update…

    thanks!

    • Rob

      No.

      • FF

        Unfortunately, I think you are right.

      • I AM

        No, because I AM Nikon. Mwahahahahahaha.

    • LeadWrist

      @jenn – Can we stop kicking the dead horse?

      • preston

        +1

        • RC

          + 1

    • Alex

      I have been waiting for a “true” D1 replacement since 2000. Any word on when we will see one? I think any more than 4 megapixels is way too much!

    • 103david

      The absolutely best thing about the D700 is that you can happily relax and wait for its replacement…You know, the DXXX that the future holds…while the wannabees duke it out in pointless, not-ready-for-prime-time entertainment for the fanboy crowd.

      (That’s a bait for the posers and the fanboy crowd…Bring it on, fanboys…)

      • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

        I think with the D600 and D800, I seriously doubt there will be another D700 replacement.

        • True

          the replacement of d700 is now 5mkllll

    • RC

      jenn, what does the D700 have that the D600 doesn’t, and from that list, what do YOU need?

    • What the?

      An FX sensor in a pro body? Can you say D800?

      The only FX you’ll see is the brilliant but flawed D800, or the Fisher Price bodied D600 that fills up with dust and other detritus.

      Yay Nikon! *cough*

    • http://jcaptures.com chad

      I have (2) D600s and both get the sensor dust is the upper right of the frame.
      My 5dmkII never had this issue. The cameras are 1 month old with 4 weddings on them.

  • Gt

    I’m not sure I would even consider this a problem. I have a D300s that I use extensively for outdoor photography, landscape, wildlife, etc. I have to change lenses a lot outdoors, from a macro, to wide angle, to telephoto. I’m incredibly careful about changing lenses and I have to clean dust off my sensor all the time. All the time is usually at least every other time I’ve been out hiking and switched lenses a few times. I’ve just gotten use to cleaning the sensor and although it’s a bit of a pain, the fear of doing it has gone away and I don’t have to be obsessively worried about using my camera the way I want to!

    • http://www.itsrich.info rich

      Try getting a lens pen sensor cleaner! they are inexpensive and you just draw on the sensor. A lot safer and easier than wet swabs.

      I found out how bad they can be, the first time I cleaned a sensor several years ago. I did a wedding without thinking about checking the camera and had to manually clean 1000+ dirt marks on each image eeek!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/learningcameras Dan

    I had dust spots and 2 dead pixels on my D600. I never even took the lens off either because I only had the kit lens. I did a review on my youtube channel and you can see the dead pixels in the low light test and the dust in the dynamic range test. The picture quality was awesome but this camera had some issues that were tough to get around, especially the dust and dead pixels.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/learningcameras

    • d

      nikon is likely to map the dead pixels for free, so it’s worth trying.
      just so it doesn’t sound like I like nikon’s service, the only time I got dead pixels in my d700 was when I got my sensor cleaned by them – the camera got back with some 30 shiny dead pixels! and it took sending the camera back twice until they solved this. but they’re mapped, there’s no trace.

    • LOTR

      One does not Simply by a brand new Nikon and expect it to be faultless.

  • Hunt

    So after years of field testing no one found this problem before. What are the testers paid to do?

    • http://thecoog.wordpress.com Arie

      The problem with testers is that they like getting free stuff. If you praise the products they give you then they’ll pick you again the next time around. If one were to point out issues, they won’t get any more free cameras next time.

      • Tester

        Sure. And then, when problems are detected by the customer, they’ll select those bad testers again, next time?

        Hogwash. The fact is that even the most extensive tests not always are watertight. Murphy’s Law.

        • http://thecoog.wordpress.com Arie

          Call it hogwash if it makes you feel better, but it’s human nature. Go to amazon and look at reviews of products. Some are reviewed by members of the Vine Program – People that amazon sends free products to review. In all the cases I’ve seen, they tend to give 5 star reviews vs. those who had to pay for it. Check out the reviews of Quickbooks for instance.

          • IdahoJim

            I seriously doubt it even in todays crazy world.

            I’ve run beta test programs for a large tech company. We spent huge money to identify problems. You have R&D literally breathing down your neck to identify and define issues as quickly as possible so that they can be fixed without blowing the targeted launch windows.

            If testers aren’t finding problems we’d start investigating to be sure they were actually using the product as per our agreement when they signed on.

            Moral of the story is, your assertions while remotely possible, defy all logic associated with creating and manufacturing high tech products.

    • AlphaOne

      They clean sensors regularly.

  • MartyRatcliff

    I guess I’ll be checking my sensor on a more frequent basis. I’m glad I took a 2nd look at the caption below the dust spots image and realized that the image is a compilation of 20 images. Counting as many tiny specs as I could, it seems roughly 40+ spots, averaging about 2 per camera, much less upsetting than my initial reaction. But that 2nd image showing the apparent defective shutter seems like something Nikon should repair regardless of their position on publicly commenting.
    While this shakes my confidence a spec in my decision to jump on the D600 and into the FX world at announcement, I have to say that I have been absolutely thrilled with the camera’s performance and image quality. So enjoyable, during first month I have managed to rack up more than 5,000 images — several times my average over past few years.

    • chris zeller

      Thanks for pointing this out. I missed the caption. It seems less of an issue now.

    • Dave in the USA

      Unfortunately, If you check the threads in the D600 Club group on flickr, you’ll see examples of single sensors that are about half that bad after only a short amount of time.

    • Marty

      Well, after a quick inspection with test images at 60mm/f16/infinity focus/bright sky, I have to say that the upper left quadrant of my test images is covered with dust or oil spots that do not disappear after several of the built-in cleaning cycles. In fact, I don’t see any difference after cleaning compared to before — does that imply the likelihood that they’re oil spots and not dust?

      • Naveen

        Yes, I too have the same problem. The top left part of the image have these dust( I don’t know whether it is oil part). It is not going after cleaning a couple of time by blowing air using a rocket air blower.

    • LeadWrist

      So I checked my D600 after reading this and indeed I have some dust on it. Not to fear, I pulled out my trusty super giant blower and well what do you know, no more dust. Anyway I have a #300xxxxx serial model. I personally don’t see any concern here, dust on sensors is part of the joy of owning any DSLR, my D7000 has just too. So really, Meh.

  • Naveen

    My D600 also has dust. I didn’t expect dust on a new camera and when I read a review mentioning possible dust on D600, I also did a test shooting at f22 range. There was dust inside my sensor. I did clean once, but the dust is still there. :( Around 30 days, used 3-4 days only :(

  • Joven

    What’s funny is I never had a problem with dust on my sensor (D600) and until I JUST (after reading this article) went to look at it and now I have dust on sensor or mirror. I’ve changed lenses pretty frequently and haven’t had a problem. I look through the viewfinder and see black spots. Is that the sensor or did I get something on my mirror?

    • Dirk

      If you can see it through the viewfinder, then it has definitely nothing to do with the sensor.

  • PeterO

    “Dust? What dust? There is no problem. We are Nikon. We are Silent.”

    • Pablo Ricasso

      Oh My GOD. Dust? The camera has DUST??? I CAN’T IMAGINE DUST getting inside a camera!!! I’m switching to PINHOLE!

      (Let’s everyone send our cameras back to the Amazon. They have a great return policy…)

  • Bradford

    Ok all rants aside – a serious questiona bout this. Is the left side of the sensor the “left” side of the screen when you view a photo or is it reveresed? I only ask as after reading this I looked at some shots on my camera and noticed spots but I thought it was from my lens. I took some “blank” shots into a light with a lens off and noticed some spots in the upper right side of the camera’s screen. Does that correlate to the left side of the sensor or the right side of the sensor? I know this may seem like a silly question but when you think about it is – left is right and right is left in a lot of this stuff. So is it “Left” when I am looking into the camera itself (have the front of the camera facing me) or is the “left” side of the senseor when looking at the camera’s LCD screen? I want to clean my sensor with air and such but want to know where to start from to see if I have this problem with my 600.

    What frustrates me the most is I will not at all want to send this back to nikon for a cleaning because it takes literally forever. Sent a lens in in august – didn’t get it back to mid october for a cleaning after someone put a “parts hold” on it when there were no parts needed. Sent in my D7000 for a dead pixel issue, at the same time, it sat there nearly 8 weeks to then be returned to me saying that no problem was found with the camera.

    If someone could let me know about the left/right question that’d be awesome as I figure at least a few others are wondering the same thing too.

    • Dirk

      I would be tempted to say that the top right becomes the lower left if you stay behind the camera. If you now add the fact the you turn the camera to actually look at the sensor, it should be top right on the image becomes bottom right on the sensor (when looking at it through the open mirror).
      But this is just a rough guess, not sure how complicated the lenses are and if they flip the image more than once or not at all. From my optics classes at uni, this would be the case.

      • Michel

        Flipped and reversed, upside down and back to front, left becomes right, top becomes bottom, right becomes left, bottom becomes top.
        Its a bit bit tricky, AND becomes trickier. Is the complaint about the sensor as the sensor is viewed from the front of the camera, that is looking at the camera sensor with the lens off, the mirror up and shutter open or otherwise? (in which case upper left could be upper right, or is if from the image in which case upper left would become lower right. Where exactly to spray air at and brush our little static charged sensor cleaning brush?

  • Raz

    This sounds eerily reminiscent of the oil spot issue my D7000 had which took months and three returns to Nikon to get fixed. Now it’s safely out of warranty the AF likes to randomly fail periodically so I’m utterly fed up with Nikon. Really seems like their quality control is slipping in recent years. I look back with fond memories of my old problem free D90…

  • http://snailartphotography.daportfolio.com/ benjamin

    just an thought.. could it be that the high MP count is capturing dust that is equally present in all previous cameras but too small to be captured on them?

    • Sahaja

      @Benjamin

      The pixel density on the D600 is less than on the D7000, D5100, D3200, or D800 – so that can’t be it.

  • Splotchy

    I took this shot yesterday: http://ppl.ug/WjlMQ4E0kls/

    It matches up pretty well with everything [NR] says in the article above. Too bad. Design flaw, or shoddy workmanship?

    Maybe this will work itself out after more activations. Maybe not. The CLEAN IMAGE SENSOR function did remove all of the dust, though.

  • FX DX

    My trust and pride in my Nikon equipment is disappearing quickly. Above all, Nikon always denies all issues and stick with their own BS. I have a D800 and I don’t have any problem with mine, but this is getting ridiculous. Nikon, get your act together.

  • Dweeb

    Nikon will NEVER admit to anything, other than those bad chinese batteries that governments forced them to recall.

    At best you may get a comment out of the Indonesia service depot, probably advising the customer induced problem can be solved by not changing lenses.

  • geza

    I have it since the release, I’ve just checked it, not even a single dust piece is there.
    And i havent even used the built-in image sensor cleaning…
    (I bought mine in china, maybe this is already a later batch then the us ones…,
    hmm, in this case I dont mind any more that it was more expensive here…)

  • headclouds

    That explains those spots in my pictures. Luckily I have one week left to return mine to Amazon!

  • Naveen

    I have no problem with dust if it can be removed by cleaning. I won’t return it if the dust can be cleaned ( mine is now 32 days :(). I just want to make sure that dust comes in just because of the normal usage of a DSLR and not by other means like the one mentioned here – gap in the shutter.

    • headclouds

      Definitely rushing home to clean it and run some test shots. If all goes well I keep it. If not, I least I still have a week left.

  • Robert

    Nikon, you need to photographers to test their equipment before they are released? Here we are!

  • mike
  • Mike

    I have seen a lot of dust (or whatever) on my D800E camera, but from what I understand full-frame sensors are dust magnets. That may be normal. The article here states “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.”

    So, does this mean previous models are stuck with the problem or does it take care of itself over time? Can I send it in to NPS for a fix?

    Thanks!

  • Ronan

    No worries guys, Nikon will come out with the SC-01, a $99.95 sensor cleaning kit.

    I am CLEAN.

    • yes

      hehe

  • http://www.culturesnap.ca Henry Toronto

    Man this is frustrating to learn. I just got my D600 (for a great price!) shipped to me yesterday and it’s still unopened. Now I’m thinking of returning it and sticking with my D7000 for now. I don’t want a camera that is known faulty from the start. I’m so ready for full frame, but…

  • Vin

    Well this is slightly conserning I was considering buying a D600 as a carrying around, all around snap shooting camera. I guess maybe by December they will have this sorted.

    • Vin

      Perhaps it would be better to wait for a 24mp Dx that is compatible with older lenses. D7000/D300s replacement?

  • tattewonu

    Dust is normal….. Just do a search in the DPReview forums for any new camera, and you will find an many, many complaints about dust/oil on every new DSLR that comes out. Learn to clean your sensors, and then take your cameras out and enjoy them. Hell, you paid enough for them.

    • RC

      Did you even read Petapixel’s article? There is more dust on D600 sensors than any other camera.

  • Pablo Ricasso

    Oh my GOD!!! It’s not just the sensor! I bought a lens the other day and it has dust on it too!!! WHAT WILL I EVER DO?????
    Now that I noticed it I checked ALL my lenses and I found dust on them as well. This is HORRIBLE quality control and those folks had better get their * together. I expect MUCH better when I plunk down 99 bucks on a kit lens!!!

  • Thomas

    1) Is there hope that the Nikon guys can fix my D600 problem permanently?
    2) Even if I have to pay for myself?

  • Vin

    So is this a dust issue on all D600′s or is it just from the manufacturing pipe line. Or is this a design flaw in some of the cameras. After being clean i am not sure to much dust particles could be sucked into a closed environment inbetween lenses and mirror.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gaeger2/ Gil Aegerter

    I just got my D600 back from Camera Tech for cleaning — after only five weeks of use! It indeed had dirt/spots on upper left of each frame, radiating toward center. If this keeps up, I’m going to have to take it in on warranty — having to have this body cleaned this every month would be an absolute pain.

  • Too quick to market

    Well, well. Thoose little DX sensors might just have their place after all. Although in saying that, I wouldn’t touch a D400 for a year if they ever get released. With Nikon’s current track record of autofocus problems, dead and hot pixels, internal dust and oil, LCD problems, and just general shoddy quality control, my money is staying firmly in my pocket.

    • tiny tim

      I had 4 D7000′s and the AF blew on every one all over the place with tons of back focus. Anyone buying a Nikon is either very brave or just unaware of just how bad their AF problems have been.

  • Michi

    Stop crying! Make photos!

    • Rowly

      Yeah of course . . . .

      “Stop crying! Make photos!”

      and of course “Spend ages cleaning up the images so they can be used”

      My last shoot with the new D600 required me to spend a lot of time cleaning up the images as the spots are VERY noticeable. Nothing was needed for my D90 images. shutter count D600 ~600 vs D90 ~30k

      I have my workflow sorted with LR4 and dont want to have to buy Capture NX2 just to fix a problem that Nikon have caused.

  • Marty

    Regarding my earlier comment where I found a very large number of dust/oil spots on entire left half of image (and smaller quantities across right half)… the built-in cleaning cycles seemed to do nothing at all while subsequent rocket blaster seemed to rid most spots — those that were “loose” dust. This result, along with the apparent “silent” cleaning operation, leads me to believe that the built-in cleaning isn’t doing anything (as in: not even trying). Can anyone with a D600 tell me whether they can hear any fluttering or vibrating noise when forcing the D600 to clean the sensor via the menu or via automatic off/on cleaning?

    • Naveen

      The built in sensor cleaner on my D600 doesn’t seems to have any impact. No sound or fluttering as well, I thought it is a silent smooth system :) For me the most of the dust is on the top left part of the image.

  • DAve

    I guess it’s taken a month or so for any potential problems to become apparent. Hopefully nikon will sort it out quickly, as there does appear to be a problem. I’ll be waiting until the dust settles before parting with my hard earnt cash.

  • Bokeh

    When I got my D3 in 2008 I had severe dust/oil problems in the upper left sensorside ( seen on screen). There was some attention to the problem by a few serious testsites, but not a big common problem es I remember. The spots – often dozens – was refractive to “home cleaning” . Nikon-Denmark solved the problem quickly several times – for free. I suspect it was oil- did not feel or present it self as ordinary dust, though Nikon newer admitted or aproved my suspicion.

  • appendix

    Minimal noises but al lot of dust.

    Save your money and buy a D7000. The D600 is only a big deal for Nikon!

    • Mark

      Sure, if you want back focus issues!

  • xmeda

    Just buy Pentax and be happy too :)

  • Matt

    pardon my ignorance, but what do the yellow areas represent ?

  • Willis

    Interesting… 3 out of the first 5 units I received needed a sensor clean straight out of the box.

  • Time to update

    Thanks Nikon, you’ve now proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that you can no longer make descent cameras.

    I’ve been waiting for too long to upgrade, and having lost most hope of ever seeing one, I now don’t think you’re capable of making one.

    So the decision is made. I’m on ebay now and am about to replace my ageing D300s with a lower shutter count D300s. At least I know what I’m getting.

    Such a shame I can’t experience some of the technological improvements from the last 6 years.

    Damn it.

  • photoretouchpro

    See my post here:
    http://jbsnaps.blogspot.com/2012/10/returning-d600.html
    I emailed all the major review sites with this info weeks ago.

  • Nikon_Boy

    My D600 does not have this dust problem…..My camera is working great!

  • nikonnian

    I shoot 2000 shots in three weeks, and I just checked it, there is no dust or oil on the sensor. It looks very clean.

  • BenS

    This is sad. Another issue on a new product release. I hope this is not a sign that Nikon quality control is spiraling out of control.

  • jdsl

    I am RECALL

  • christof newseler

    Love my D600! Best camera ever.
    Mine also had a couple spots in the upper left corner of the frame, had Nikon service clean it for free.
    Larger sensor area > more dust but why only in upper left area?

  • Astrocsi

    The D600 is a camera suitable for astrophysics, comes with at least part of the galaxy included.

  • Aegis

    First day of shooting today with two fresh out of the box D600′s – 2 bodies, put +250 shots on each. Image reviews showed multiple oil spots/circular blobs on left side of the spectacular images.

    Great, now what to do? Keep and clean after and during use? Or return? :(

  • alwyn

    WTF is happening there at Nikon? I had a D90 for a year and a half and had NO ISSUES whatsoever. I never cleaned or had the sensor cleaned and swapped regularly between 3 lenses. At time of sale it had just over 20 000 clicks and looked brand new. Now I’m onto a D7000 and had to have the damn sensor cleaned 3 weeks after purchase. Don’t tell me this is the start of the adoption of that Canon ‘we don’t give a crap’ attitude.

  • Joel

    I picked up a D600 and a 50mm 1.8 last month to replace our aging D80. My wife and I absolutely love the new camera but, recently, I did notice some faint grey blobs on the top left of my images after doing a bit of landscape photography (just playing around really.) The spots were really only visible against a blue sky.

    I never really thought much of it until I read this article today. Did a more thorough check and sure enough, I have 3 grey blobs top-left and 2 bottom-right. I tried using the built-in sensor cleaner but that didn’t work so I’m going to pick up a Rocket Blaster and maybe an Arctic Butterfly (I’ve got steady hands…I think :))

    I don’t really mind having to clean dust off the sensor (occasionally) but I certainly hope this doesn’t become something that needs to be done regularly; I don’t shoot in dusty environments. I’m sort of hoping that this dust made its way into the camera when I exchanged my 50mm f1.4 for the 50mm f1.8 – probably wishful thinking but it’s not the end of the world…at least right now. :)

    Other than the dust, the camera has been a *huge* step up from our old D80 and I imagine I’ll spend more time taking photos than complaining. With that said, I can see how this potential issue would be a real nuisance to someone using this camera on the job.

    • roy

      Why did you buy 50mm 1.8 if you already have 50mm 1.4?! Just being curious :)

      • Joel

        I exchanged them because I found the 1.4g to be a little too soft for my liking and had a bit too much fringing. The autofocus was also slower than the 1.8; the 1.4g’s focus ring seemed to require more movement to focus, which is probably better for video and fine manual focusing, but yielded slower auto focus.

        • Ben Dover

          I had the same experience : the 50 1.8g gives much better results on my D600 than the (more expensive) 50 1.4G.

          I never noticed that previously on my D7000.

  • Keith

    Lot of discussion in this flickr forum: http://www.flickr.com/groups/d600nikon/discuss/72157631700055703/
    Conversation more around oil spots than dust.

  • Laurent

    My new D600 has developed this problem as well. I only have one lens and never removed it. The problem started roughly after 1 week of using the camera with one speck, now my pictures are peppered with it. I do not dare removing the lens and cleaning it by myself and will end up sending the camera to UK service.
    Does anyone know if all they will do is cleaning or they will do something to prevent re-occurance? I am totally gutted as I was waiting for this camera and saving for quite a long time. I emailed Nikon but al lthey tell me is that “they are not aware of any problems with D600 dust on sensor and they cannot comment on any comments posted on Nikon Rumors”. Lame response if you ask me. By the way has the D800 focusing problem find a hapy end ?

    • Nikon Service

      Thank you for your query.

      Further investigations into the D800 issue have revealed that the world is infact slightly out of focus, and it is the startling accuracy of the D800s autofocus system, coupled with the phenomenal resolution of the sensor has simply highlighted this fact. We are now in the process of rewriting all the pyhsics and science books to reflect this exciting new fact.

      We have discovered the world is particularly out of focus on the left side, and that it seems to be a little dusty there too – more so at the top left. We suspect the dust that our cameras are seeing is left over matter from the big bang, seen at a quantum level by our new high resolution sensors. We are having difficulty accounting for the oil, but we suspect it involves black holes somehow.

      Thank you for purchasing Nikon, and we look forward to updating you on the world as seen by our products.

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