Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nikon D600 spot issue

Having owned well over a dozen Nikon DSLR cameras and having NEVER experienced a problem with any of them I am usually pretty skeptical about reported problems. Generally one person makes an exaggerated claim and posts it on a popular internet forum and that gets the ball rolling and the next thing you know there's an epidemic of major proportions. So I generally take these reports with a grain of salt.

When people started complaining about dust spots on the the D600 I wasn't convinced it was a real problem. I was almost positive that people were buying up old full-frame lenses from eBay that were covered with dust and that was one of the problems. I was so sure that the "problem" didn't exist that I didn't even bother to check my sensor.

Last week after shooting a fair amount of pictures during a festival I went out to my front yard to do some macro shots. After downloading the photos I opened up Bridge to take a look and that's when I noticed them. Hundreds of spots. I changed my lenses a fair amount of times during the festival, but I'd done the same thing in worse conditions more times than I can count and never had I seen my sensor this dirty. Even a macro shot wide open with extremely shallow depth of field I had to retouch every image extensively.

click to see full-size

Upon further investigation most of the spots were in the upper left corner, just as was being reported all over the internet. This is a very disappointing development. I had just decided to sell my D800 and to keep the D600 as a small FX camera for general photography and now I have to spend an hour retouching every image I shoot.

Nikon has yet to issue a statement acknowledging the issue, but I assure you it's a problem. There are many theories out there as to what exactly is causing the problem, but no definitive answers. Some are claiming there's a gap around the shutter that's letting in dust, some claim there's a larger front shutter curtain, which is sucking in dust, some claim it's not dust at all, but oil spatter.  I don't have anything new to add in the way of suppositions of whether this is dust, oil spatter, or whatever. All I do know is that this problem is real and seems to be affecting the earliest D600's, generally those with serial numbers in the 3000XXX range.

As far as a solution, some folks are having success with cleaning the sensor with a blower, some are wet cleaning the sensor, and some people have been sending their cameras into Nikon under the warranty.

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