Nikon’s Dirty Secret

Nikon Rumors has a post about dust spots on the D600’s sensor, taken from a post by Lensrentals saying there appears to be a heavy concentration of dust on the upper left portion of the sensor, not just on one or two cameras, but on many.  Lensrentals says, “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.”  Nikon Rumors adds:

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.

They also point to Amazon’s D600 listing and the reviews there (49 5-star reviews out of 66) and how some of the reviewers are mentioning issues with dust and oil.

There are, as of this writing, 54 comments on this post, many from people (including myself) complaining about similar problems with the D800.  I can tell you that in the year that I owned a D300 and the 2-1/2 years I owned a D700, I never needed to bring either camera in to Nikon for cleaning.  I’ve never needed anything for those cameras other than using the “clean sensor” function from the menu.

However, I’ve had to bring my D800 into Nikon twice in the six months that I’ve owned it.  I’m pretty careful about holding the camera down when I change lenses, not changing lenses in a windy or dirty environment, all the stuff one is warned against.  I use the “clean sensor” function and a Rocket Blower and still see an incredible amount of schmutz on the lens when viewing it with the Sensor Scope (which is proving to be a very useful accessory).  I purchased the Visible Dust brush but I think I have the oil problem and it seems to just smear that around.   I have some of the swabs but they don’t seem to resolve that well.  Then again, having brought the camera into Nikon twice for cleaning, one would think that they’d spot this and mention it to me.  Well, I have to bring the camera back to Nikon for focus calibration (another frustration) and will print out the article and ask them about this issue and see how they respond.

It is incredibly frustrating to know that a $3,000 product can have such poor quality control.  It’s frustrating to read that the issue was resolved with “later shipments” which means what to me, exactly?  That people like myself who thought themselves lucky to get the camera early on are now screwed, since there’s no official word from Nikon about this?

I’m certainly not ready to sell off all of my Nikon gear (9 lenses, speedlight, battery pack, etc.).  And I’m certainly happy with the photos that I took over the weekend with the D800 at The Wanch’s anniversary shows (taken, incidentally, immediately after taking the camera to Nikon for a cleaning).  But given that these issues first arose with the D800 and have continued with the D600, I’d have to think long and hard about buying another Nikon DSLR in the future.


One Comment

  1. UII October 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    Go to bythom or rockwell’s latest posts to hear more of the same regarding Nikon taking their foot off the accelerator.

    I’ve just invested in Pentax medium format.

    When I want small and light? Sony 1″ (RX100 and successors).

    When I want smallish and fast? APS-C (my choice is Pentax because of superior build-quality compared to Canikon, in-body stabilisation, and weather-proofing when needed).

    When I want the best IQ I’m willing to lug and afford, albeit at the sacrifice of speed? Medium format (my choice is again Pentax because of the huge amount of well-priced, high performing glass).

    Having said that, MF is still a bit of a trophy system if I’m to be totally honest.

    If anyone offered a FF digital with the features I insist on (in-body stabilisation, weather-proofing, high quality body, optical viewfinder, in-built flash for fill when I don’t want to carry an external flash, and fairly compact dimensions), then I’d probably ditch the APS-C and MF and blend them into a FF kit.

    DOF control (the more the better) has always been my particular soft-spot, and this post shows how MF isn’t all that much better than FF:

    However, Canon and Nikon can’t fight a MF (and ultimate IQ) battle as well as Pentax can, so expect Ricoh to put some focus in this area.

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