A review of the Nikon D600′s Dust Problem.

Picked up a new toy; thought I’d do a boring technical review for you.

The Nikon D600 should be the perfect enthusiast camera with it’s fantastic specs, great low light performance, and an affordable price point for a full frame sensor. However, many reviewers and blogs have been raising concerns over a severe dust issue. Dust has reportedly been collecting on the upper left corner of the sensor at an unusually high rate.

Of course, only those with a problem will speak out; if they sell a million cameras, and 99% of them are fine, that’s still 10,000 people hitting the blogs to raise hell over their defective products.

Is the D600 dust issue as bad as the critics claim?

I thought I would put this claim to the test by purchasing a brand new D600, putting on a 50mm 1.8D lens, and shooting some test shots, before using the camera for anything else.

And, from that I’ve seen, dust on the D600 is indeed a serious issue. Right out of the box, after taking the very first picture, I could see several dust spots, but as my time-lapse series progressed, I could see more and more spots appearing on the sensor. Keep in mind that I am not changing lenses; all this dust is coming from inside the camera.

Where is this dust coming from?

The D600 is a great camera, but do yourself a favour and pick up an extended warranty to go along with it. Trust me, you will be using it.

UPDATE:

I’ve posted unedited copies of the 1st and last image from the timelapse video to flickr:

DSC_0005

DSC_1018

Feel free to take a look, download, inspect the exif data, share, etc.

40 thoughts on “A review of the Nikon D600′s Dust Problem.

    1. Edward Mullins

      I, too, was disappointed by the dust problem and what appears to also be a resultant blur problem as well. Feeling that I’d been ‘sold a lemon’, I brought this issue before Nikon who took the camera back for “repairs” – I had to spend $61 to ship it. But my overall sense is that this camera is just beginning to display bad sectors as well so I suggested online and on the phone that they replace the d600 with the D610 FREE (as rumored by Jared Polin of RAW Talk) or even better, replace the d600 with the D800E with us paying the difference in price. But, so far, no response from Nikon as my suggestions fell, perhaps, on deaf ears which cause me to suspect what one well known photographer recently wrote about his abandoning Nikon for Canon and other brands. This camera issue is a quality issue as well as a manufacturer attitude problem which may be driving us professionals to seek out another camera brand. Why they cannot deal with this problem like cars do with their recalls is beyond me though it does seem to suggest what I hope is not true: they don’t give a damn. Fortunately I have some good backup cameras but was really hoping to stay with Nikon. What they do in the next couple of weeks will help me make that ultimate decision.

      Reply
  1. Kyle Clements Post author

    I kind of set this up to be as unfair to the D600 as possible – to make any speck as visible as I possibly could.

    In normal shooting conditions, these dust specks are more-or-less invisible. I don’t see a thing in my normal shots; it’s only when the lens is stopped down and I am shooting at a bright flat surface that the dust issue becomes apparent.

    Don’t give up on the D600 because of this, just wait for Nikon to correct this minor design flaw in future runs, then you’ll have a great full frame camera. (at this point, the camera will be older and likely cheaper, too…)

    Reply
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  8. Lars Arvid Oma

    I bought this camera two weeks ago, and have already got at dust problem. Good camera, but this is a serious problem for me. It costs me lots of hours in Photoshop, cleaning pictures for my customers.What shall we do with this issue?

    Reply
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  10. Timmi

    I would just send the bloody thing back!
    No matter how much I love Nikon, I wouldn’t put up with that kind of sh!t. At these price points, this sophistication level, it is totally unacceptable.
    It’s probably debris coming off the inside of the body or the mechanisms… or worse, graphite lubricant (solid dust).
    Is that thing made in China by any chance?

    Reply
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  14. Ron Scubadiver

    We have arrived in the age of beta cameras for full price. So far this year we have seen the D800/e AF sensor issue and now the dust problem, which I suspect will be far more difficult to fix. If the dust is flaking off the inside of the mirror box, I don’t see how it can be refinished.

    Reply
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  16. Michael

    Hey, don’t start back peddling with the scientific review of the defective product known as the Nikon D600.
    Your demonstration will probably be used as evidence in the class action lawsuit to follow because Nikon is still selling the item despite having this matter brought to their attention

    Remember the Ford Pinto – Ford, from what has been reported, calculated the costs of what it would spend on civil lawsuits from people killed vs recalling all the defective ford pintos (that blew up when rear ended due to faulty gas tank issues).

    I’m sure Nikon’s board has sat down, and did exactly the same thing.
    All word of mouth of course, avoiding any electronic fingerprints of foreknowledge of the defect – looking for the way out.

    Keep up the good work – try it again, but do if for longer period of time.

    Maybe I’ll buy one just to do the experiment on another unit?

    People are criticizing DPR because they didn’t “catch” it or conduct a simple experiment like you.

    My opinion is that they are add revenue generated, and probably have a warm and fuzzy relationship with Nikon (for their products) (and of course their affiliated links). Do you really think they are going to do a focused review on a defect?

    Heck no, they’ll just link to your site.

    Shows you what they are all about.

    Reply
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  20. Tony Paine

    I bought a Nikon D700 this year when the D800 came out. It also has needed vigorous cleaning several times this year — way more than my older D300. One cleaning tech said the amount of debris was worrisome and encouraged me to take the camera back to Nikon, which didn’t take my complaint very seriously and said everything was fine.
    Obviously this is a pretty serious problem which is not going to get better based on a firmware upgrade!
    Nikon — I’m not impressed!

    Reply
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  23. Marc Faucher

    This looks a lot like what I saw with my D7000 – it took 4000 clicks over 6 months and 2 cleaning cycles to get the camera to stop spitting crap onto the sensor. I don’t want to buy another camera and go through that again

    Reply
  24. Kyle Clements Post author

    @Marc Faucher

    A lot of people have been asking me why I would go out and buy this camera if it had a known dust problem like this.

    The D7000 also had a widely reported dust or oil problem, and every singe one I’ve interacted with has been perfectly fine. I assumed that the reports for the D7000 were overblown, and the reports from the D600 are likely overblown also. So I bought one without much concern, and ran this test, with the intention to publish the results either way.

    Then I saw the images from my test and quickly learned that the reports may not be quite so overblown after all.

    Reply
  25. Liam

    I have a D7000 and definitely have a dust problem inside the camera. It’s like Marc said above, still spitting dust down on to the sensor, I have to clean it once every couple weeks. I love my Nikons, but this really sucks :(

    Reply
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  27. AlphaGeek

    Wonderful job — I was also about to upgrade from my old D200 but now I have concerns.

    Will you have the time or inclination to try the same experiment on the D800/e ??
    Thank you.

    Reply
  28. Jim Felt

    Geez. Other than a piece of electricians tape freely admitted and freely repaired early factory screwup with the 5Dmklll none of our last dozen Canons have had any issues. None. Though we’ve never actually encountered that issue with our bodies not bothered sending them to CPS. And that plus Nikpn’s very late entry into full frame sensors is why I moved from my very long term personal (and professional) favorite Nikon several years ago. The D3 was our last gasp. And its sensitive but otherwise weirdly chosen 12MP chip. RIP.

    Reply
  29. Samuel Cheng

    My D7000 also spit out crap, and it still does even after 24,000 clicks. I did not know what that sticky stuff on the sensor was and how it got on to the sensor until I read from some forum that oil spitting from the mirror motor was the cause. I need to clean the sensor with a wet swipe and that little triangular swipe is expensive. It is a reasonable to bring a class action to Nikon for knowing the problem and still not dealing with it AND allowing the problem to continue with their new products.

    Reply
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