Oh please not another D600 sensor dirt question

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
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Re: Oh please not another D600 sensor dirt question
In reply to lorenzo de medici, 10 months ago

Same advice I am going to give you that I gave to the last god knows how many people on here and private message conversations I have had on here.


The issue:

I purchased my First D600 in october of last year. Serial number US 302xxxx. The camera was tested in the shop before leaving and found to have a clean sensor. Got the camera home, and at some point did a shoot that was fast paced of a puppy. I was in CH/CL modes and shooting very quickly to keep up with the running dog. Was shooting in the 5.6-8 range. Upon editing my photos, I found spots. At first they appeared to be normal dust but with further testing, came to understand that this was not normal dust but internal debris combined with lubricant. A clear pattern emerged when I discovered that shooting at high speed got the lubricant on the parts going more and I could see a clear increase in spots between test shots.

I started writing on these boards and people would regurgitate how they dont have the issue and to "just send it in" or "it is normal dust" or "how often are you changing a lens?" or "are you using a zoom that sucks in air?". Well the issue to me was clear that this is lubricant coming off of the parts and getting on the sensor and combining with the internal debris to make a hot mess. This was not just a f11-f16 issue but even down to 5.6.

I held off on sending in the camera because I knew after the d7000 lubricant splatter issues, that Nikon would have the same mixed "fix" for this issue and history has a way of repeating itself. In the end I knew sending it in would end with me being without my camera and also more frustration if all they did was clean the sensor or replace the shutter with another one of the same design (excess lubricant).

Clearly a number of these cameras have this issue but we have no solid numbers of how many people see it or have it so this argument will continue much as it did with the d7000 or other bodies that have the lubricant splatter issue. I can only tell you that my new 1 month or so old second D600 (serial number 307xxcx US) has this issue too.

My solution:

This issue can be less or more depending on what d600 you hold in your hand and that is why no conclusive results can be found. No two bodies have the same exact amount of lubricant so one sample may be okay and the next can be a mess. I am not going to argue the numbers because I dont have solid data but I do know that you have limited options here. I can only tell you that my two samples have the issue and reports of a "fix" are just as mixed as you already know.

-Selling the camera: This is an option but I will tell you that I came from shooting weddings with two d90's and a d7000. The D600 image quality is beyond amazing for me and I was heavily invested in Nikon glass/flash/triggers when this issue started. I also knew the d800 file size was something I did not want to deal with when shooting weddings and storing and editing thousands of files per event. I also knew I would rather have dust vs left AF issue. I also knew I needed the AF of the d600 and dual card backup feature so the canon 6D was not an option for me. Switching systems made no sense for me since it would be at a huge loss.

-Sending it in: When the issue started to show up more and more, people started to send the cameras in. This was because they felt that this issue could/should be fixed and some would write "have not had a chance to test yet" and disappear off these forums and some would come back and say "spots again". Rumors of a new "fix" would surface once a week and some would buy into it and send in the camera again for the "new fix". I had a sneaky suspicion that the dealers and nikon are playing the same game "we have never heard of an issue" is what nikon and the dealers would say. I knew that was a lie but finally nikon came out with a "statement" which did not really say much beyond "send it in" and yeah yeah we know your sensor is dirty. The problem remains the same as day one, nikon has no real quality control when it comes to what is taking place with parts pertaining to the mirror box/shutter assembly and how much lubricant is making its way onto these parts and also seems to have issues with internal debris with this body. Either this is a vendor issue or an inherit design flaw but either way sending it in is no real fix as you know. I also need to point out that each visit to nikon that ends with a shutter replacement means your camera is taken apart and all sort of fun parts are disconnected, reconnected, removed and remounted and who is to say what happens to these parts long term when this is done over and over. I personally would rather clean a sensor vs risk a major failure when your warranty is up because your camera was taken apart over and over.

-Paying someone to clean it often: $35-$50 us average cost per cleaning.

- Cleaning it yourself: Well welcome to the part that makes sense when it comes to this issue. Good job hanging in and reading along. First I must warn you that this is not for the people that cant hold a spoon right or have no sense of reading and following directions. You do this at your own risk. What is the risk you ask? well a scratched AA filter (sensor) which is about a $700 fix but that is a very very very very rare event and I personally have seen only one situation of this and that was because the person was careless and did not do it with proper tools. Nikon will void your warranty should you damage it while cleaning it. Now that the frightening stuff is said, I have now done it a bunch of times and before every shoot and never had an issue.

What you will need:

-go to copper hill images site and read the entire process.

-Buy the copper hill images quikstrip 18mm basic sensor kit.

-Buy a good sensor loupe (like the visible dust 7x loupe)

- Buy a good large blower

-Buy a tweezer that has no sharp edges

-Buy some plain PEC PADS from copper hill images

1-First make sure to FULLY charge your battery and remove the lens and put on the camera lens mount cap.

2-Use the blower to clean most of the dust on the outside of the camera. Pop up the flash and blow out inside that area.

3-Put a few drops of eclipse on a pec pad and wipe the body off  (especially the area around the lens mount). The cleaner the area is the less chance of dust falling into the sensor once you go to take the body cap off and clean it.

4- Go in the menu and lock up the mirror for cleaning (read your manual on how to do it correctly) Take the cap off the body, tilt the camera so that it is facing down and Using the blower, blow out the sensor a lot. Try to get anything off the sensor that you can with just the blower. Use the light to check the sensor. Keep blowing till you can get most of it off. If all you have is normal tan dust particles you may continue. if you see anything that looks like plastic or metal on the sensor, STOP. Send it into nikon for the cleaning. You dont want to drag metal or plastic particles across the AA filter and scratch it.

5-okay so if all you have is normal dust, put the cap back on and press the shutter button to lower the mirror.

6- take the swab (quikstrip) and drop 1-2 drops of eclipse on it. Raise the mirror for cleaning again and make one single pass either at the top of the sensor or bottom. Use just a little pressure (like writing). Read more about this on the copper hill images site. Too much pressure is not good as you can damage the AA filter (kind of hard to do unless you are being careless) I would rather use less pressure and use more quikstrips vs too much pressure and damage something. I only use one side of the quikstrip and make only one pass. I know some people will flip the quikstrip and use the opposite side of the pad to go across the opposite side of the sensor but I dont do that because I dont want to risk picking up something from the edge and dragging it across the sensor. This include excess lubricant.

7-Put the cap back on and press the shutter button to put the mirror back down.

8- Prepare a new quikstrip. Use the tweezers to lift up a new quikstrip instead of pulling it across another pad. This prevents the friction from creating loose fibers on the pads. repeat the process now cleaning the side you did not do the first time. You may need to repeat the process many times till the sensor is clean and you may need to take test shots of a white sheet of paper at around f16 and Iso 100 to check how you are coming along. Use the sensor light often to see what is left on the sensor and blow out any lint at the end of the process. Take your time doing it and dont rush. Dont try to get a perfect sensor.

A few things. This process will get the sensor clean but the lubricant splatter will return as soon as you start clicking away. This will happen until the camera runs out of the excess lubricant and that all depends on how much you shoot and how much lubricant your copy has. Do not expect a perfect sensor because if you test 200 shots later, you will see new spots. If you really care to see where the splatter is, clean the sensor fully, use the sensor light and tilt the camera and keep looking at the sensor. Once you get just the right amount of tilt and light on the sensor you can make out the halo patterns. shoot off a bunch of shots and look again. On my two bodies, the lubricant splatter happens along the lower part of the sensor (image top left) so most my spots are on top left of image.

In conclusion, this issue is not going to go away over night and it is the result of poor quality control on nikons part but as an end user, we need to either find our own solution, sell off the camera, sue sue sue LOL or complain to nikon over and over and ship the camera in over and over and maybe end up with a refurbished unit with some unknown other issue or get a refund. I have taken the path that allows me to shoot with the cameras because in the end I want the better image quality and not much can touch the nikon d600 at this price point with the same features that I use. You have to do what is best for you. I did what made my life easier and gave me control of my problem.

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Canon EOS 6D Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM
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