Monday, January 21, 2013

Nikon D600 Dust Update

Here is an update on the status of my D600's dust spots.

- At 2000 shots I noticed spots at f/8.  I thought they were oil spots.  I had mine professionally cleaned.  All the shop did was use a blower, which got rid of the spots (although a few small spots could be visible at very narrow apertures).  Related blogpost here.

- At 4500 shots I didn't see spots but checked the sensor.  I could not see spots on the sensor but when I took a shot at f/32 and maximized the contrast, I could see small spots (again, those spots don't show up in my normal shots).  I used a blower to clean the sensor.  Related blogpost here.  Here is what the frame looked like at f/32 (desaturated to make it easier to compare):

- At 5700+ shots, I checked for spots.  I have been changing lenses often (at least once every time I shoot, and often more than that).  Other than the blower I used at 4500 shots, I haven't cleaned the sensor.  I still don't see spots in my typical shots (usually f/5.6 or wider).  I took a test shot just now at f/11 I noticed *one* speck.  It was not round.  It looked like a small piece of fabric on the upper left corner of the frame.  I believe I can blow it away.  I also took a test shot at f/29 and noticed many small spots (similar to those I saw at f/32 with 4500 shots).  I did not clean the sensor (not even with a blower).

- At 6300+ shots, I still don't see spots in my normal shots.  Anyway, I checked for spots again.  That one speck I saw at 5700 shots is still there.  Here is what my frame looked like at f/29:

Some of the spots in the 4500 shot are still there (such as the biggest spot in the lower right hand of the frame).  But other than that one "thread" in the upper left hand of the frame, there is no noticeable increase in spots.  (If anything, it looks like there are less spots, though I don't understand why because I didn't clean the sensor between the previous shot at 4500 and this shot at 6300.)

Anyway, I used a lighted sensor loupe to inspect the sensor.  I could see a few very tiny specks but they weren't showing up in the shot.  Conversely, I could not find the "thread" in any of the corners.

I nonetheless tried to use the blower several times.  The few very tiny specks were moving around (but not getting removed).  The "thread" on the other hand remained there.  After 4 attempts of blowing and checking, I gave up on trying to remove the thread.  Here is what the frame looked like (at f/29, with contrast and clarity maximized).

I compared the shots before and after cleaning and it appears that virtually all of the spots were not removed by the blower. Argh.  The good news is that these tiny spots don't show up in my shots.  Here is what the frame looks like at f/11, f/16, f/22 and f/29, all before cleaning.  These are at the usual 1600 pix size that I most often use.




I'm not worried about the spots that I am seeing on my sensor.  Perhaps if I shot more landscapes or shots at narrower apertures I might be more concerned.  But the reality is that whether they are dust or oil or some other substance, they are simply not showing up on my shots.  Furthermore, at least with my camera, it seems that the spots have stopped increasing at 4500 shots or before that.

Meanwhile, I am wary of using the sensor swab on the D600 sensor to try to remove the 'thread' and the tiny spots.  If ever the spots begin to bother me, I am considering a Firefly blower, which is designed to blow both positive and negative ions to discharge the static electricity that's causing some of the dust spots to cling to the sensor.

Nikon D600 Resource Page (see under "Dust Spots")
Firefly DSC-2000 Review


  1. Hi,
    Interesting post. Do you use the shake-it-off sensor cleaning that I guess the D600 has? Have you noticed this does anything?!
    Also why are you wary of using the sensor swab on the D600? I have just bought sensor swabs to use on my D3 but have not cleaned it yet. I only noticed some spots that wouldn't blow away recently when I shot a few snow scenes but I don't get anything in the usual (wide aperture) shooting so I'm not in too much of a hurry to clean it if there is a reason not to!

    1. Hi there!

      I have tried the dust self-cleaning function of the D600 but I find it very strange because I can't hear anything at all. On my other bodies that had it, there was a high pitched sound that told me it was doing something. On the D600 it's just total silence. Weird. In any case, it doesn't seem effective on any of the Nikon bodies I have had. :(

      As for the sensor swab, I've tried using it on my D70 and found it to be easy to use but very difficult to use it *well* (i.e. being able to remove the dust). On top of that I got an error on the D70 that may or may not have been triggered by the sensor swab. Finally, Nikon has microscopes or some similar devices that enable them to determine whether you've touched your sensor. If they determine you have done so, your warranty is void. I guess not really an issue for the D3 but anyway check out the sensor swab post:

      Best regards,

  2. Thanks for the great ongoing sensor dust report updates. Your reports are thorough, as you report the image #, as well as the results of shooting at smaller apertures. In reading other websites reports there is nothing more frustrating in reading someone posting "I have shot XYZ number of images, and I don't see any dust". Criminy sakes don't they know the problem occurs at smaller apertures, but they never bother to report what f-stop they made their observations at! This renders their report absolutely useless. However, your website reflects well thought out reporting...Thank you! Please keep up the D600 dust reporting, as it is valuable.

    I was wondering, have you inspected your mirror box for that rubbing at the bottom edge, which others think is the source of the dust?

    In regard to not cleaning the sensor due to invalidating the warranty, how long is the warranty period? I assume after this period is over, you will proceed to clean the sensor yourself?

    I am stilling mulling over whether to buy a D600, but if I did, because of the hands-off cleaning the sensor during the warranty period, do you think it is worthwhile to buy the D600 locally, instead of through the internet, in order to save aggravation, worry, and cost of having to ship the camera to Nikon USA for their in-warranty sensor cleanings?

    Finally, it was reported on another website, that the D800s and D600s have a slight green cast to their outputs...have you noticed this at all with your camera?

    Thank you for your website, please keep up the good work!

    1. Hi and thank you very much! I did look at the shutter which some say gets micro-shaved and there were what appeared to be a slight scratch on them. Will post a shot next time.

      I think it is worth buying locally if you know the shop gives good service. You might even ask them specifically beforehand what they would do if you found lots of dust spots on a camera you bought from them. In my case the local shop i bought from cleaned it for free.

      As for the lcd tint there seems to be something slightly off about the lcd color. Personally i think sometimes it looks warm. However i always shoot in raw and color-correct in lr4 so i never paid attention to it. As for an actual tint in the images not just the lcd color i noticed that pinks and reds are a bit exaggerated.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Best regards,

    2. Forgot to add: the Nikon USA warranty for the D600 is 1 year. In the meantime I plan to clean only with a blower. If I had spots that showed up in my normal shots and couldn't blow it away with a blower, I might consider getting the Firefly blower. If that still doesn't work, I would bring it in for service (or skip the Firefly and just send it in for service). Even after the warranty period, I would still be wary of directly cleaning the sensor, just because I cannot afford the cost of damaging the sensor. However, if you have enough skill cleaning the sensor, I'd say why not (after the warranty period).

      Best regards,


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