The Nikon D600 Has Sensor Dust Issues

We tend not to get too excited about sensor dust problems at LensRentals; we clean sensors on every camera after every rental, so it’s just routine. When we started carrying the Nikon D600, they all arrived with a fair amount of dust, but that’s pretty routine, too. Manufacturing and shipping can be a dusty experience.

When our techs started complaining that D600s were all coming back from their first rental with a lot more dust (despite being freshly cleaned before leaving) we didn’t pay much attention to that either. We all remember the oil/dust issues the D3x and D3s had. Those mostly cleared up after a few cleanings.

But the dust kept reappearing with every rental, and, more impressively, it was generally in the same location (in the upper-left 1/3 of the image). That did get our attention, so we started looking into the matter a bit. We kept dust pictures for 20 consecutive D600s returning from rental and saw that the problem was very real.

In general, about 1 out of 4 cameras requires sensor cleaning after a rental. All 20 of the D600s did.

Here are a few typical examples (f/16 photos of a blank wall with contrast and exposure increased). I would point out that these are downsized to 800-pixel wide images. What is barely-visible dust on this is quite obvious on a full-size image. The large specs on this are quite huge at full size.

It’s probably pretty apparent that the dust is mostly on the left side of the image. I took all 20 images and layered them onto one in Photoshop, using ‘darken if’ to show the pattern of dust from 20 cameras:

Photoshop summary of large dust particles from 20 D600 sensors. The left and upper side tendency is clear.

Again, with these downsized images, only the really large dust specs are showing up, but then again, those are the ones most likely to show up in a photo. I would also add that these almost all seem to be dust specs, not oil, since most of them can be blown off or stamped off using a Dust-Aid. They don’t require wet cleaning to remove as oil spots do.

There have been, however, a number of comments from experienced photographers who are having oil spots on their D600s. I’m not sure whether they’re seeing the same phenomenon as we are, or a different one.

We aren’t absolutely certain about the cause, but when we have to look at the sensors for all this cleaning one thing is quite apparent. The D600′s shutter curtain opening seems to be a bit larger than the other Nikon cameras, with a bit of a gap around the shutter curtain.

It may well be that the shutter movement is pulling dust onto the sensor.

D600 shutter curtain, recessed, showing fairly large gap around the shutter.

The real question is: Will the dust eventually stop accumulating on the sensor? I think probably so. There’s some dust inside the camera that is getting blown out during early use through the shutter opening. But that’s just an educated guess; only time will tell.

For now, though, we suggest looking fairly frequently for dust accumulation.

P.S. All of these cameras were from SN 300xxxx or 301xxxx. We have another 40 D600s but since they, too, are from these SN runs I don’t plan any further comparisons. We’ll check again when we get higher SNs.

About the author: Roger Cicala is the founder of LensRentals. This article was originally published here.

Image credit: Nikon D600 by Zanthia, dust photos by Adam Remsen and Scott Rambin, shutter curtain photo by Aaron Closz

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    I assume ultra-sonic sensor cleaners are no good for this kind of dust?

  • Rob

    This has been happening to me. I thought that I was crazy at first, Cleaned my lenses on both sides, cleaned the sensor with the program inside the camera.. but nothing… Sorta upset about this!

  • Michael Zhang

    Are you seeing the dust in the same area of the frame?

  • JJ

    The same problem on mine. Allways at the left side of the image, in similar places as shown on the above images … Praying it will be less with continous use …

  • monteraz

    It has been extensively commented in the Nikon Spain forum since the end of september, and the problems seems to be located in the same area of the frame too.

  • Finphotoshootter

    awesome that i didnt bought this crap… 300€ i increased my budget and bought awesome D800 with free orginal nikon batterygrip.

  • Mansgame

    It’s not just dust but oil splattering the way the D7000 did. It’s going to run out of oil sooner or later but in the meantime, the best thing to do is contact Nikon, ask for a pre-paid UPS voucher and send it for cleaning as many times as it takes. This is not acceptable for a $2100 camera out of the box.

  • Michael J Traynor

    I brought a D800 on a backpacking trip in the Rockies, carried it outside almost all the time in high wind, rain, dust etc. Not a spec on the sensor. My D3S would have been filthy after that trip.

  • D600pig

    I too have noticed this on my one week old D600. I used the Rocket to blow off most of it, but it does seem to reappear quickly and in the same ‘proximate area of the frame too. No oil drops however.

  • Anonymous

    I have the same problem, all of the 3 bodies in shop had this issue. For example this is a brand new camera sensor: SN: 600xxxx. Not so cool, because I mostly take pictures in f/11 :(

  • arnalpix

    The same phenomenon has been happening with my D800 since I bought it. Regardless of whether I change a lens or not, within 5 or 6 shots of cleaning the sensor there is more dust waiting to be dealt with. It has been cleaned, literally, after every job (I shoot at least 4 assignments a week) since April and the issue persists.
    The other issue I have had is the “mirror lock up for cleaning” has on 4 occasions been… not so much… coming down on the swab. Once it actually cause the shuuter to self-destruct and has been replaced by Nikon. The problem has continued with it happening once since the repair.
    It seems they are in such a hurry to get new technology out that there are a few issues slipping through the cracks.

  • Melissa

    So another Nikon product with problems?

    Color me completely unsurprised.

  • Chris Newhall

    Umm, the same could be said for a lot of Canon releases… (Including the 5DMarkII and III).


    I had the same issue with my D700 when new, after a few cleans by nikon the issue minimized and got good at cleaning my own sensore when it needs now. I still clean it every 3 to 4 months.
    I just got the d600 in the mail and though about how bad the oil splatters where on the 700, small issue for great images.

    It the user know your equipment and working with it, to get what you need out of it.

  • Vincent

    I just vacuumed my whole house with a D600. Better than a Dyson. ‘I Am Dyson’

  • kileak

    it happen with my 5d III too… its normal use, buy a compact if you dont want dust

  • KR

    9000+ shutter releases and no noise that I can see SN 3009XXX Maybe I got lucky? This thing is grinding on the sidelines too so its not like I am being gentle with my new girl

  • 3pac

    nikon is a dirty company…..

  • canon800mm

    better a light leak then a dust leak.. nuff said…

  • FoToEdge

    I do have visible oil droplets in the sky some times … I have been spotting them out. It could be dust.. It is not always in the same spots. So probably dust… the thing is that I have never taken the 24-85mm lens off since I put it on about a month ago when I got the camera. Hopefully Nikon will offer us a free cleaning at a service center soon. But I do like the files.. nice and clear.

  • DrZak

    i had exactly this kind of dust with D600 when i got it at a release dates… i had cleared it twice already too.
    lenspen sensorklear fixed it meanwhile but

  • Greg

    Can confirm this on our for sale model in thw UK serial number starting 600. More than a few dust specs on the left side of the frame.

  • whiskered bat

    My camera is on its way back. Brand new and exactly the same problem. Nikon is not aware of any problem at the time of writing.

  • Picasso

    I have had the same sensor dust problem with my new D600. I have been going back to the camera store and they have exchaged it with a new one 4 times so far. Each time, I have had sensor dust problem in various locations (but mostly on the upper left hand corner). I understand cleaning the sensor is expected from time to time; but, not so frequently and not for a brand new camera!

  • Wally Yau

    Got the same problem after only 1000 shots with my D600, on the upper left as well. This is truly disappointing.

  • Wally Yau

    Got the same problem after only 1000 shots with my D600, on the upper left as well. This is truly disappointing.

  • Matt22042

    I am having the same issue with my D600 – Specs mostly in upper-left but do tend to spray across the top and to the right – Rocket blower seems to work. Never had this issue with my D7000. SN301xxxx

  • Kristopher

    Does this make you feel better as a Nikon user?

  • Armin H.

    Thank you, Roger, for your post! After reading it I checked my new D600 and also found spots, particularly in the left upper quadrant of pictures (when taking pictures of a white surface at the smallest aperture). I will return my D600 for now and hope Nikon can fix this design issue…Will miss the camera though…

  • Blue

    I don’t think my D600 have this dust problem. My serial number is 8,xxx,xxx

  • Fred J

    Just did my first cleaning of my D600 after around 3.500 clicks and a month in Europe. I didn’t even use the dust-aid platinum, just my super air-blower and all the dust is gone (yes, it was VERY visible before that, but now is gone. If that is all it takes, I’m good with it).

  • Roy

    Mine is 3012XXXX and no issues after 300 shots.

  • Dodgey Bruce

    yes it does

  • desmo

    or you could take meaningful pictures
    of meaningful subjects( not a white wall)
    at realistic apertures(much above f8 and diffraction sets in on digital)

    just a thought

  • Dave

    I have the same problem in spite of great care changing lenses. Just had the sensor cleaned at Nikon SA. So far, the worst Nikon I have owned:-(

  • Jose

    I bought my D600 one month ago and the oil spot problems in just a week, after 220 shots. I sent it to Nikon a week ago. I contacted them today and they told me that they have cleanned it up and return by mail this morning. I will probably receive it next thursday.

    I asked them if i would expect the problem comming back soon and they answered that the problem will not repeat shortly; that only in longtime I can expect having dust as normaly happens to any camera, but not the same issue.

    Has anyone already known the problem back after a clean-up by Nikon?


  • CaringaboutMaine

    I sent my d600, purchased 1/13 for $2000, in on 9/13 for a cleaning after many attempts to clean the sensor myself of both particles and oil spots. Shortly after
    each cleaning I performed, the oil spotting would show up the most. The dust particles were a lot fewer, but still appeared. The cleaning kit cost $25. The cost to me to send the camera to Nikon service with insurance was $40. Nikon honored the warranty by cleaning the camera and replacing various components. After about a month back from the cleaning and service I noticed additional oil spotting. I cleaned them again. After a few cleanings I decided to contact Nikon again and arranged to send it in, by now the date is 10/13 with thousands of photos shot. In the mean time I contacted the company I purchased the camera from, because I did not want to keep spending my money for shipping and insurance. They told me to bring it in and they would replace it with a newer d600. They honored the exchange however I was hoping for a replacement with the d610, but to no avail.

    I asked if there were issues with dust and oil spots with the newer d600. They assured me Nikon fixed the problem. Does anyone know if the issue is fixed with the newer d600 with serial number starting with 307….? I am sure I will find out the more I use the camera. I have to say, after 40 years using Nikon products, I am tempted to try Canon out the next time I want to upgrade.