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Thread: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

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    PhotoByTrace's Avatar
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    Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    I realise that this issue is being discussed heatedly in other forums across the web. I don't want to repeat that or bash the D600; I adore this camera. It is versatile and fits me perfectly. So there are two reasons for this thread: 1) to ask whether other CiC members are still experiencing sensor spot/dust problems or whether it has been rectified for them; 2) to ask if there are any shortcuts in post-processing to dealing with cloning out multiple repetitive spots across numerous photos.

    I knew about the sensor dust issue before buying the D600, though at that point the general consensus seemed to be that the spots will stop generating after a couple of thousand shots. That hasn't been my experience. I've had the sensor officially cleaned twice. I have over 7000 shots and it is still generating new spots on the sensor. The last official clean was at 4500 shots. It is not yet 8 months old.

    I'm not finding the sensor spots especially an issue when shooting dogs/sport or even portraits at f/4 to f/5.6. The sensor spots are still there but not so evident unless looking at 100% on a plain background. But the minute I want to shoot a landscape with a closed down aperture it haunts me. It is especially painful across panoramas.

    So while I was aware of the problem, I didn't appreciate the extent of how it would affect my shooting. It has become a disincentive to shoot some landscapes. I find I've been choosing waterfalls and rainforests over skies... which isn't a bad trade-off, but aggravating nonetheless when I live just 5 minutes from beautiful beaches.

    So advice on either your own D600 experience or post production cloning shortcuts are keenly sought...

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Hi Trace,

    If you're using ACR as your RAW converter then you can synchronise spot removal across all images. Depending on whats under the sampling area, the results can be a bit hit and miss though.

    If one has a DSLR camera then one will have dust spots sooner or later -- just part of the game I'm afraid. They're not too difficult to remove though, once you get used to doing it.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    The software that I use allows me to copy the adjustment step that gets rid of the malcontent spot. When I open the next image, I can paste that adjustment step into it. I can automate that process by batch processing a group of files.

    However, the cloning tool in my software is not content-aware. So, if the images are different and if the spot is not on a plain background, I doubt that the process would be effective.

    It seems to me that cleaning your sensor before each shoot would be the ideal thing to do. If your camera produces dust spots so quickly and frequently that they appear in a shoot immediately after cleaning it, I sympathize with you.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Hi Trace,

    Don't put up with it - it's still under warranty. Get a replacement or another model. Better still, ditch Nikon and get a proper camera...

    Ah've had my Sony A700 for 5 years now. Apart from my AF lenses, ah use around 8/9 vintage manual (with adaptors), so lots of putting on, taking off and never had sensor dust/spots problems. Checked it regularly at f22/white wall etc. but stopped as it never shows. Mebbe the mild,damp, Scottish climate helps, though we've had a very dry summer this year.

    Hope ye get it sorted.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    It seems to me that cleaning your sensor before each shoot would be the ideal thing to do. If your camera produces dust spots so quickly and frequently that they appear in a shoot immediately after cleaning it, I sympathize with you.
    Yes.

    My Canon DSLR's have all suffered from contamination but thankfully they did get slightly better with time.

    Whenever I'm going out for the day I try to check my camera the night before. I set my focus to manual and infinity and shoot a series of images of a white door from minimum aperture to wide and then check the results on my pc.

    If there is contamination visible at f22 but not at f12 or so or whatever minimum aperture I think I'll use (I rarely use the extremely small apertures) I probably wont bother cleaning the sensor but if I'm feeling the call of OCD (I usually am...) I'll clean the sensor and repeat the test process until I'm happy.

    I may just test the camera again when I get home too.

    For cleaning I use Eclipse fluid and a Pec Pad wrapped around a slice cut from an old credit card. The theory being that the slice of credit card has enough give in it to ensure that no real force is applied and it seems to work in practice as I can usually clean my sensor to f22 and I've done it many many times without causing any damage.

    Cleaning the "sensor" can be a bit daunting but I think that it's just a fact of life and something that we have to get to grips with.

    PS. I did once send a Camera to Canon for cleaning and it came back worse. Lesson learned there! D.I.Y.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Trace, get some of these (check that the Eclipse swabs are correct for the D600) and clean your own sensor whenever necessary. It's not rocket science and once you have done it a couple of times, it will become a simple process.

    http://www.vanbar.com.au/catalogue/product.php?id=75329

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Hi all,
    Thanks for the replies. Colin I'm not using ACR, but your post and Mike's post did make me look into Lightroom's spot removal, and I've found that I can synchronize the spot removal across multiple photos. Though I'm not clear whether it adapts the content aware source across images, or if the source spot is simply synced too. Even if it is the latter, it will be somewhat helpful.

    As for the spots themselves; Sorry I re-read my original post and realised I didn't make myself clear. I am cleaning my sensor myself also. I just wanted to have clarity in the original post that it is not just my dodgy skills but also being done through a Nikon agent under warranty. I'm not doing a wet clean before every shoot; just every 1000 shots or so (kind of depends on how much shooting I've been doing; as when its a dog sports weekend there will be a 1000 in a day probably). Neither the blower nor the camera's self-clean shift these spots.

    This was the preprocessed image from yesterday, about 1500 shots and not quite two weeks after I cleaned it last myself.

    Nikon D600 and living with dust spots


    I certainly wouldn't have got spots like this on the D90 across even a year of shooting, which is why I feel like it is abnormal. Though I recognise I didn't change the lenses as often then, but after your replies I'm wondering did I just get lucky with the D90? Since there seems to be quite a bit of "noise" around the web about D600s and dust spots in particular, I'm left questioning myself as to my next step.

    Boab, I guess I'm wondering about that; broader searching I've done is suggesting that a replacement won't necessarily be any better and I do LOVE every other aspect of this camera. That's kind of why I was wondering if anyone else has had success getting the problem rectified or if it will go away if I just keep clicking?

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    Hi all,

    This was the preprocessed image from yesterday...
    Gosh, you do have a problem. Such a pity as I've tried my friends D600 and it's most impressive in every other respect, but I haven't had the opportunity to inspect any of his images for dirt. I have an ageing D70 and a D2Xs neither of which have ever have a sensor clean, other than a quick blast from a rocket blower which seems to clear any dust that shows up. I hope the problem is resolved by Nikon or in your case by clicking away.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    Hi all,
    Thanks for the replies. Colin I'm not using ACR, but your post and Mike's post did make me look into Lightroom's spot removal, and I've found that I can synchronize the spot removal across multiple photos. Though I'm not clear whether it adapts the content aware source across images, or if the source spot is simply synced too. Even if it is the latter, it will be somewhat helpful.
    Sorry, I should have thought to mention that LR & ACR have the same processing engine.

    I'm not sure about the latest revisions, but up to CS5, it wasn't doing a "content aware fill" per se - just the usual "cloning tool". Generally for landscapes it's not too bad as the spots tend to be most noticeable in the sky, but that's also the easiest place to clone them from. In reality I shoot dozens of frames for any given landscape, but only process "the chosen one", so it's not a big deal for me to remove them. (sometimes hundreds).

    Easy technique is to use a sensor kleen pen and then an Arctic Butterfly or sensor stamp. I never do a wet clean these days - usually more trouble than it's worth.

    Not sure why any model would be any better or worse than any other -- as I see it, it's more a function of environment and use, not design (bit like cleaning a car).
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 24th August 2013 at 10:23 PM.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Boab, I guess I'm wondering about that; broader searching I've done is suggesting that a replacement won't necessarily be any better and I do LOVE every other aspect of this camera. That's kind of why I was wondering if anyone else has had success getting the problem rectified or if it will go away if I just keep clicking?
    Hi Trace,

    Ye are, of course, not actually cleaning the sensor, it's the uv/ir filter just above it (as in many other cameras)that's being cleaned. AFAIK it's not a sealed unit; there's a wee gap between the two which may be exacerbating the trapped dust/spot problem. That'd make it, imo, a design fault. Ah doubt if ye could remove it personally and mebbe the tech support isn't doing so either and simply doing the same cleanup as you.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 25th August 2013 at 03:45 AM.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    I'm up around 9000 clicks on the D600 and have administered just two sensor cleanings which have quieted things down to a very dull roar. The first cleaning was at about 1k clicks and the second was at about 5k. The last dust photo was at about 8.5k and it shows minor specks at f/22 that would be easily missed in any sort of busy texture but are still subtle enough to miss at low res against a fairly uniform background. The spots are invisible at f/11 and below and start to become more evident as the aperture closes down. The current display is as nothing compared to when the camera was younger.

    How did this lot get there? Impossible to say except that currently they don't seem to accumulate at a rate that in any way suggests the shutter mechanism is still sloughing off debris. I'm careful but not timid about changing lenses in the field. Consider the fragment of plant matter that took up residence in the lower left corner of the sensor (upper right in the image) that looked for a whole series as if I were shooting from underneath overhanging branches in very close proximity. That one was a bear to persuade out! I get the feeling that the sensor shaking/cleaning is modestly under-judged for the attractive forces exhibited by the sensor/AA pair.

    In LR5 it is possible to synchronize spot removal across many images and, while the identical solutions seem to be propagated, they do appear to be individually adjustable in the downstream images. Even so, I have modified my shooting behavior to avoid physically smaller apertures and don't feel particularly constrained. The untypically (for Nikon) low base ISO helps keep apertures open as would any sort of ND or grad filter.

    Thinking out loud, if it were a matter of producing a panorama with moderate aperture (i.e., at the sweet spot) but maximum depth of field, I could imagine a mixed regime of focus stacking and panorama stitching. Focusing could be managed by enabling the focus-point wrap so that only one button press would be needed to change focus point from top of image to bottom. This would allow a total capture time only slightly more than twice as long as a typical panorama (thinking of motion within a relatively slowly changing scene).

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Not sure why any model would be any better or worse than any other -- as I see it, it's more a function of environment and use, not design (bit like cleaning a car).
    Hi Colin, Sure... Except that the dust is also being generated internally by the camera in this instance/model. So it is a function of design is my understanding. As Henrik mentioned, it has been said that it is the shutter mechanism creating the debris. In Nikon's words "Some users have indicated the appearance of multiple granular dust spots in images captured with the Nikon D600 digital-SLR camera. These granular dust spots are reflections of internal dust generated with camera operation, or external dust particles that have found their way into the camera, either, or both of which, have adhered to the camera’s low-pass filter." I'm certain I also add external dust during lens changes and general operation but I find it hard to believe that I have environmentally generated this much mess in just two lens changes since its last clean. I'm not 4WDing it across the cape

    I haven't tried a butterfly but the lens pen didn't really work for me. It may be that these spots are kind of oily in nature, or the number of them, or perhaps it was my technique. I use the eclipse fluid on disposable swabs; it does leave the sensor cleaner than before I start, through I find it difficult to really get the corners clean.

    Ye are, of course, not actually cleaning the sensor, it's the uv/ir filter just above it (as in many other cameras)that's being cleaned.
    Of course Sorry, just using the popular short hand. It is of course the filter I am cleaning and which is accumulating the debris

    Hendrik, thanks for your response. While I'm not happy that you have also had issues, it does make me less anxious that others in this community have had similar experiences. I am using LR5 so will familiarise myself with the sync and try it across multiple photos. I also like your thinking out of the box for the panos. While it would probably be a feasible solution to focus stack, I'm really hoping that the dust will diminish as seems to be indicated, and appears to be your own experience, or I guess, I'll increase the regularity of my cleans to happen before any planned landscape shoots. That isn't quite as time consuming as the way I have been cloning to date. I'll just need to stock up on swabs.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    As a Nikon fan I'm a bit surprised by this.

    I've always had really good service and advice from this company.

    It sounds to me that this model has serious flaws in it's construction and should have been recalled.

    I'd want my money back.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Trace is correct that some of the debris appears to come from either the mirror or shutter mechanism and contains some of the grease from the slide areas. I had a few spots like that early on with my D7000. An attempt to remove them with a brush only smeared them and it took some effort with wet cleaning to completely remove the residue. Usually the problem goes away after awhile. I hope you are near the end with your camera.

    John

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    I haven't had this problem yet Trace, at least not as you describe it. You do shoot a lot more than I do though, so that might make a difference. Still, I am at over 5k shots now and shoot a lot of macro at f/11. I have had the occasional spot of dust, but so far it seems that it was easy to clean with the combination of a blower and the internal cleaning.

    It was cleaned by Nikon just recently (due to the fact that I dropped my camera on the ground and the mirror got stuck - they repaired this under warranty and cleaned the sensor in the process), so I'll see how it behaves going forward.

    I might have a slightly younger model and maybe the problem was solved eventually at the factory, although that has never become really clear. Having read about this for months I do feel kind of lucky so far.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Just for comparison, my D3 sees daily professional use sometimes in industrial/filthy/dusty environments which includes lens changes as required, certainly not in some rarified dust free clean room!

    I clean the sensor around every 3-6 months using an arctic butterfly (dry), and find this little set up with the magnifying scope works a treat. I have a set of swabs and fluid by the same manufacturer but it has never been necessary to use them. I would certainly suggest that you give one of these Canadian devices a go. They work a treat and are worth the (somewhat expensive) money.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Quote Originally Posted by shreds View Post
    Just for comparison, my D3 sees daily professional use sometimes in industrial/filthy/dusty environments which includes lens changes as required, certainly not in some rarified dust free clean room!

    I clean the sensor around every 3-6 months using an arctic butterfly (dry), and find this little set up with the magnifying scope works a treat. I have a set of swabs and fluid by the same manufacturer but it has never been necessary to use them. I would certainly suggest that you give one of these Canadian devices a go. They work a treat and are worth the (somewhat expensive) money.
    I'm much the same. In my case I usually start with the Arctic Butterfly - then have a good look at it with an illuminated loupe - and then give any spots a "polish" with a sensor pen - then repeat with the Arctic Butterfly (or use a sensor stamp). The sensor pen has worked well - great for loosening welded dust and small silicon smears.

    I've got the wet gear too, but like you, don't normally use it - it just seems to leave streaks, which I then have to polish off with a cleaning cloth, which introduces more dust - which I then have to blast off

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    While I'm not happy that you have also had issues, it does make me less anxious that others in this community have had similar experiences. .. snip .. That isn't quite as time consuming as the way I have been cloning to date. I'll just need to stock up on swabs.
    In truth, my experience, while not storybook ideal, is entirely bearable and it has given me no trouble in the sense of lost shots (apart from those dust shots I take sporadically and the before/during/after cleaning shots). I have shed nary a tear over the matter. The bonus has been to persuade me to keep apertures out of diffraction territory, something about which I was not terribly responsible with the camera's predecessors. Given the superior resolving power of the sensor, this is all to the good. Its truly wonderful ISO characteristics mean I have lost substantially fewer shots to noise than with previous cameras. I'm happy with the trade-off even if, down deep, I feel it should not have been an issue.

    To date, I have cleaned the sensor/AA fewer times than the previous cameras (D70, especially). What seems to be different with the D600 is that the tendency for dust to weld itself to the AA filter is far greater than with the others in the stable. This means that I consume more swabs in a cleaning than I have when cleaning any particular DX body. So, yes, do bulk up on swabs. But, above all, enjoy using this marvelous piece of technology.

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    I have a Sony a350 , brill camera , but a few dust spots inside , would the can of compressed air do the job or i have a price of #117 to send it to Sony for repair and service , any advice out there ....Thanks Joe

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    Re: Nikon D600 and living with dust spots

    Quote Originally Posted by niphotos View Post
    I have a Sony a350 , brill camera , but a few dust spots inside , would the can of compressed air do the job or i have a price of #117 to send it to Sony for repair and service , any advice out there ....Thanks Joe
    Hi Joe,

    Generally the advice you'll get re using caned air is a big NO! - mostly because what comes out the can isn't just air (it includes propellants), and isn't guaranteed to be dust free either. Add to that that some dust often gets "welded" to the "sensor" and it all adds up to bad news.

    There are various techniques to clean a sensor - some easy, some not so easy ... some cheap, some not so cheap.

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