Not Surprisingly, D600 Dust Issue Gets Better Over Time

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A while back, I started an article on this topic with the sentence "We tend not to get too excited about sensor dust problems here; we clean sensors on every camera after every rental, so it’s just routine."

Unfortunately, it seems that everybody else did get excited. Some people freaked out and ran screaming to the hills. Fanboys (including some with Nikon Authorized Service Center email addresses) went in full-attack mode, claiming we just don't know how to clean sensors. I'm not sure that explains why we manage to keep the other 600 cameras clean, and only struggle with the 60 D600s we have, though.

At the end of the article I said I thought over time the dust would work it's way out and the problem would lessen, and that we'd take another look in a couple of months to see. Which we just finished doing.

In the first post, we looked at 20 consecutive copies of the D600 getting inspected for rental. Routinely we need to clean 1 in 4 cameras, but all 20 copies of the D600  we looked at needed cleaning. This week we pulled another 20 copies and repeated inspection including  f/16 blank wall photographs. We have about 60 of these cameras so these aren't necessarily the same 20, but all 60 were delivered within a week of each other and all are from SNs SN 300xxxx or 301xxxx.

At the time of the first article, the cameras tested had all been rented once or twice, now they've been rented 4 or 5 times. If we were right, and the dust was something that was going to clear up with time and use, we hoped the difference would be showing up by now.

The Verdict

Things are definitely better. Where 20 of 20 cameras required cleaning 6 weeks ago, only 11 of 20 did this time (our average for all SLRs would be about 5 of 20).

The location of dust also is looking more normal. When we took all 20 photos and stacked them up in the last article, virtually all of the dust was in the upper left 1/3 of the image, and they were large round specs. While there was still some upper left tendency this time, it wasn't nearly as pronounced and dust was more evenly distributed around the sensor. And instead of big round chunks, the dust was much smaller in general. In other words, the D600s look more like other camera's dust after a couple of months of use.

Like we did in the first article, I took all 20 images, stacked them in Photoshop using "darken if" to give you a summary of all the dust on all 20 cameras.  Again, 20 cameras, not one single sensor. (Now when some Fanboy reposts this picture and says it's a single D600 sensor, we will have documented that they can't read.)



As you can see, the dust particles are smaller (except for a couple of threads that were from one camera) and more evenly distributed, as they are on other cameras. There's still more in the upper left portion, but not nearly so concentrated as we saw two months ago.

So it looks like the problem is going to be something you see early in ownership that clears up over time. For our renters, we'll keep the warning up for another couple of months since they still have a bit more dust than most. It's always a good idea to double check before you go out and shoot those irreplaceable shots.


Roger Cicala


November 29, 2012

51 Responses to “Not Surprisingly, D600 Dust Issue Gets Better Over Time”

Johnny Babcock said:

Thank you for the article. I have a 301xxxx series camera and yes the spots showed up after a few thousand shots, but only in video.
I was reluctant to give may $2000 dollar sensor a blow job but after a few passes and testing I was happy to note the spots were gone. Thank you for your ability to test this on many cameras and report on it.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

WE haven't purchased any new ones yet. Demand for Nikon FF bodies has slacked off a lot compared to last year.

C Velo said:

@Roger - was curious to see if LensRentals had purchased any new D600's and if those newly purchased ones are still showing the "dust issue"? (if not, would be curious to know the Serial Number range of the new ones).

Fred Mueller said:

Hi Rog,

Just a question - just wonder if you could elucidate LR cleaning protocol; especially how do you "blow" (yuk yuk). No seriously ... I actually use a can of duster (Bessler DustGun 100); I know this is supposedly verboten, but I am quite careful - empty new cans to about 50%, do a couple of test blasts to check for liquid in the nozzle/wand, hold the can still, bring the body to the can, just do a few short bursts. Point being, WAY stronger than the typical rocket/doggie chewy toy. (I've only had to retrieve the mirror twice so far .... just kidding !!!).

My 600 started with "some" dust right away - if it had not been for all the internet chatter, I think I would not have even thought twice about it. As it was, just cleaned mine a few times in the first months and kept an eagle eye out when I realized "this was an issue". There were a few suspiciously large "chunks" from time to time - so I am prepared to believe something wacky happened to these cameras, design, mfg, tsunami, whatever. But now I am about to cross 20,000 clicks and this camera seems normal - (well, except for the Sony sensor which is just superb).

In a way its been good for me, as I have developed better hygiene (camera that is), where previously I would let the D700 (now backup) practically choke before I'd get the swabs out ...

ps - Have rented three lenses from you so far - great hassle free service - if you are successful, you guys deserve it from my p.o.v.


Fred Mueller

Southborough, MA

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

JR, we did see it some, and we saw the D3x edges problem. We've never mentioned it because it never was this dramatic before.

JR said:

Hi Roger,

I was surprised when you said that you've not seen other cameras with this "upper left" sensor dust/oil problem. My D7000 had oil accumulation on the "upper left" and it was a relatively well-documented issue on the net. I was able to remove the oil after a wet cleaning; which was pretty easy, though nerve-racking.

Have you seen this problem with the D7K, too?

Lou said:

Hi Steve,

Good find. I suddenly realized that you've become a voluntary quality tester for both Nikon and waiters like me. LOL. I'm going to wait more time to see. Thanks for your testing!

Steve Bingham said:

Hi Roger,

Well something might have changed! I took one shot when the D600 arrived. I couldn't find a single speck, in spite of shooting blue sky at f16. So I pushed levels and curves HARD and still no spot. So, for grins, I cranked off another 200 shots at 5 fps. Still not one speck of dust. This is the 1st Nikon I have ever had that was this clean (over a dozen). Really puzzled. Have they changed their assembly and cleaning procedure? Maybe found the problem? #3060xxx from B&H arrived on January 22. I am amazed that Nikon USA wouldn't offer your company some explanation. Oh well, that's Nikon.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:


We're not seeing nearly as many spots on older cameras, although they do still have the tendency to to stay in the upper left corner. I assume the location is because of the design, but that the initial 'burst' of dust over the first couple of months was from either debrit in the camera during assembly or perhaps coming off of some part that had friction. These latter two things seem like things that could be fixed in production, so I assume that's why some people with newer serial number D600s aren't seeing much dust.


Andrea Magugliani said:

Hi Roger, you are becoming an authority on this oil issue for the D600 on the net. I was wondering if you could give us a follow up on this regard. I guess now toy have cameras that took at least 8/9000 pictures. Did the spots come back?
I bought a D600 in Decemberb and got a lot of spots after . I cleaned it once and I am now wondering for how ofte will have to do this procedure. Thanks.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:


We inspect under a sensor loop and take a shot at f/16+ every time, but don't necessarily clean every time.

I've never noticed a dust free camera. There have been a couple that had a tendency to have more dust than others -- we've always just felt that was some electromagnetic charge thing.

There have been a couple that were always a PIA: Nikon D3x and all IR modified cameras, for example. But the D600 is the only one with dust localized to a specific region like this.

All of the mirrorless seem to be just simple: because the sensor is up front like it is, simply blowing dust off is usually the only thing necessary.

Rick said:

I'm curious. You state that you clean the sensor on all cameras when returned. Does this mean inspect and then clean or just clean regardless? In particular I would be interested to know how the various brands and models stack up. For example oly fan boys tout the mirical abilities of the oly dust reduction system. Is it really better?

Oh, and yes I own an oly OMD EM5, EPM1 and E30 and E1 before that. Don't know if that makes me a fan boy or just susceptible to oly marketing.


Eduardo Suastegui said:

Hey, guys. Thanks for posting this. Since you have a large enough number of cameras, Nikon should be deemed crazy not to give you a call and use your statistically significant sample size to isolate the problem. I have 2 D600 bodies myself, and they are more or less following the same pattern. For me it also appears to be predominantly a dust (not lubricant) issue, mostly resolved with a blower.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

We use Dust Aid stamps.

Lou said:

Great work, Roger! Your posts are the most reliable information to me about the D600 oil/dust issue. I've never thought that I would have spent so much time on a camera rental blog. Since I started looking for a good camera at this price range, I've been closely checking the status of your posts. Keep going, Roger. Although it's your routine work to clean cameras, I've saved myself just $2000 by reading your posts. I've bookmarked your blog and will keep checking for updates. Thanks so much!

D600-owner said:

Roger, do you have a recommended silicone stamp? I couldn't find much info out there. Many thanks for your advice, many of us D600 owners need help with this issue.

Jose said:

Thanks a lot for your quick response ;) ... I'll keep watching how this situation keeps ongoing in the near future ;)

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:


We haven't done any further checks - rental business is so slow in December that many of the cameras have only rented once since the last update.

Jose said:

Hi Roger,

It's been a while sine you last updated us with this information. I'm just about to buy a d600 but would like to know whether you maintain your thoughts about this dust/oil issue. On the bodies you rent, did you keep finding less and less dust with more and more shots?

Chris said:

thanks Roger, has around 6000 shots and still continue with the stains, I hope this ends soon, in video is a real problem!

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