Right up front I'll say this is not definitive and certainly open to revision when more evidence comes in. However, based on my own experience and the evidence many others have posted around the Internet, I can now say this:
- Yes, there's a problem, and a significant one. The evidence the folks at LensRentals present, with a statistically significant sample size (20 cameras studied, 60 in use, IIRC) is overwhelming. The D600 is producing spots on its sensor at rates way higher than we're used to.
- We cannot safely conclude what these spots are, or where they come from. We can conjecture and guess, but I don't see enough evidence to point to any one thing. Some say it's oil, but in some cases, the spots move or come off with a blower. "Oil"/lubricant doesn't behave that way. Other theories about grinding parts and flexing plastic are just that, theories, unproven and lacking in evidence.
- We can see a pattern in most units with the heaviest deposit of debree toward the left top corner of the photo frame. Again, we can guess at what that means, but Nikon should look there for root cause.
- The most critical point is whether folks should buy the D600 or wait until this issue is resolved. That's a personal call. In my case, I went in eyes wide open after reading all the reports, figuring I could handle the cleanings myself as I have done with many of my cameras. So far I've had to blow more than I'm used to, and I'm getting great practice at it, but I haven't been sorry I bought the D600.
- All trends and information we see, including my own experience with 2 bodies and LensRentals' reports indicate the problem diminishes with time. That may also help you decide whether you should buy or wait, or go with another camera altogether.
- Nikon service needs to be more pro-active about this. Without getting into details of communications (because apparently, Nikon has the authority -- or is it audacity -- to prohibit me from discussing this online!?), Nikon now is asking me for sample photos, which I'll kindly submit, as if they have no ability to locate thousands of these photos online already. I'm sure when they see my photos, they'll forward me informative links on how to blow on my sensor, how to be careful swapping lenses... none of which deal with the root cause of this issue. In the end, if I'm persistent enough, they'll tell me to send the camera in for a cleaning. What they should do is come clean, even if it is with a preliminary wishy-washy statement saying they are studying the problem and looking for quick, effective ways to address the issue with customers, etc.
- We should stop panicking and over-blowing this issue. Fact of the matter is most of our photos won't be affected by this. We have a way to address this, and wait it out, going about the business of taking nice photos rather than losing all this sleep and burning all these calories typing long diatribes about this issue. Yeah, we have a legitimate concern, but let's put it in context: our cameras are otherwise operating fine (no power-up/down issues, no lines across the image, no major system failures), and with a bit of inconvenience we can still use the D600 to produce some amazing shots. Let's focus on the positive, and we'll be way better off.
I'm sure this won't be the last thread/discussion on this issue, but hey, a boy can hope.
Seeking the heart and spirit in each image