Nikon: Get a Cleaning if You’re Bothered by the D600’s Sensor Dust

The whole situation surrounding Nikon’s D600 dust issue is turning out to be eerily similar to Apple’s iPhone 5 purple haze problem. In both situations, there are people who are very bothered by the “flaw”, people who wonder what all the fuss is about and believe the complaints to be overblown, and a slow response from the companies. Now Nikon is also doing exactly what Apple did: respond to complaints saying that what users are seeing is normal.

You might remember that after days without a peep from Apple, a man named Matt Van Gastel received a response from tech support saying that the haze was “normal behavior.” Apple soon released an official support document stating exactly the same thing, and the controversy died away.

Examples of purple haze that iPhone 5 users were reporting back in September

Nikon seems to be following the example Apple set. Dan Havlik and Dave Etchells over at Imaging Resource reached out to Nikon for comment earlier this week after Kyle Clements’s time-lapse video of the issue was published. Here’s Nikon’s response:

Measures to reduce effects of dust or foreign matter are optimized for each model. Therefore, the dust reduction system’s internal mechanism varies with each model. If the effects of dust or foreign matter on photographs become bothersome, customers are encouraged to consult their local Nikon service center.

If “Dustgate” continues to mirror “Purplegate,” we’ll soon be seeing a support document on Nikon’s website reiterating this statement. However, Etchells writes that it could simply be a vague response that allows the company to look into the problem more:

My guess is they’re still in the figuring-out stage (what exactly is the cause, what’s the fix, etc, etc), so they’re not prepared to go into any detail about it yet. I really think they’ll have a solution for people, once they’ve figured out just what that solution needs to be.

Yesterday we wrote that there are theories floating that the specks are caused by scratches inside the mirror box. We also stated that the specks aren’t much of a problem unless you’re doing certain types of photography (e.g. shooting at small apertures).

The Nikon D600 has received glowing reviews so far and a wet cleaning of the sensor has proved effective for temporarily dealing with this issue. It’s just that there are prospective D600 buyers out there who are waiting for a satisfactory conclusion to “Dustgate” before they’re willing to drop their hard-earned cash on this camera.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!

Image credit: Nikon D600 sensor dust problem (recorded with pinhole lens) by Gadget_Guru

  • Ian Powell

    Or buy a Sony DSLR… Same FF Sensor, just built properly.

  • jdm8

    The difference being one is camera phone (jack of all trades, master of none) and the other is an expensive SLR. If its dust mitigation measures are ineffective in an interchangeable lens camera whose lens is never removed, then there’s a problem. New cameras shouldn’t be making their own debris, much less anywhere in the optical path.

  • JosephRT

    I imagine the reason why a lot of Nikon shooters don’t just “Buy a Sony” is because they are already heavily invested in the spectacular Nikkor glass.
    As for new photographers, you shouldn’t even be looking at Full Frame cameras to start with

  • mlieberman85

    Yeah, sadly lately it seems though I have personally tried several Sony DSLRs and never been wowed by any, at least their customer service has been better than Nikon and Canon as of late.

  • keirinrcr

    Except the cost of entry and primary use cases for the iPhone5 and d600 are vastly different: phone w/ a camera vs. professional photography tool. A $2000 camera should not potentially require a cleaning immediately out of the box, not to mention that dust issues would continue for an indeterminate amount of time.

    Potential Nikon customers/converts should take note about the company’s lax attitude towards the problem.

  • fierlingd

    I’ve been fighting Nikon over this issue for ages. Not only have they ignored to acknoledge the problem, but they also have deleted my reviews on…. twice…

  • E

    Did they ever even acknowledge that the D7000 has a serious issue with oil spills from the mirror mechanism onto the sensor? They’re not gonna acknowledge the issue on the D600 just now.. they have years ahead of them to ignore it!

  • Guy

    But what if you want a DSLR and not an SLT?

  • Mansgame

    An absolute cop-out.

  • Brian

    “It’s just that there are prospective D600 buyers out there who are waiting for a satisfactory conclusion”

    Put me in that category. While its an affordable FF option it’s still $2000 knowing you will have to send the camera in for service, which could take weeks. I really can’t stand companies that don’t take care of their loyal customers. I sold all my DX Nikon gear about to go FX, looks likes I might just go M43 Olympus/Fuji X or back to Canon instead…

  • David

    Funny I don’t have any issues with dust with my D5100 and I am EXTREMELY PICKY. When I received it brand new, there were three obvious spots. I cleaned them off, have changed lenses many times in the last year and haven’t gotten any more dust. and I never get oil splatters. My stepson bought 7000 which had lots of oil splatters. He immediately went back to the store and the second unit has been fine. Moral: some models of nikons have more issues with sensor contamination than others. If I spent a couple grand on a 600 I would be very disappointed/pissed if it had frequent contamination of the sensor.

  • David

    that was a REAL problem! (oil splatters)

  • Michael Earley

    I have been waiting for weeks to hear anything on this issue. I had hoped that maybe someone would better reports than this.

  • osh_sektabrand


  • Kyle Clements

    Oh, believe me, my D600 *will* be taken in to be cleaned.

    Follow up tests will be conducted when I get my camera back from Nikon Service. I am hoping this is a problem that will sort itself out after a few thousand shots; the D600 is an otherwise excellent camera.

  • Tom

    Get a cleaning? After every 35 shots which is what I experienced on two different D600 bodies. How about I just return it Nikon? Which is what I did plus the $4000 in lenses I purchased too, as I was switching from Canon to Nikon as I moved to FF.

  • Philip Florio

    I wondering at this point about the option for a class action lawsuit?

  • Ralph Hightower


  • DisneyGuy

    I am a prospective D600 buyer who is waiting for a satisfactory response to the “dust gate” issue. I have owned a Nikon D50 & D90 and have been happy with both units. I had the D90 professionally cleaned after a shoot in the desert which got some dust into the camera. I am not putting down close to $3-4K for a camera and some FF lenses for a cleaning after every shoot.

  • Andrew

    I would have thought with the extensive testing companies do prior to releasing new models that Nikon would have been well aware of these issues, so to release a camera with known flaws is reprehensible, I like others am contemplating buying a D600 as I have a big bag of Nikon lenses that I would like to make use of.

  • Kaveh

    After reading the article I checked my sensor and it was full of spots!.

    Fortunately a blower sensor cleaning removed all but to tidy ones that are only visible in >22.

    I hope it was a braking time for my camera and it does not gather dust so fast.

  • Angie Thier

    Same here…

  • ericnl

    “We also stated that the specks aren’t much of a problem unless you’re
    doing certain types of photography (e.g. shooting at small apertures).”

    ehrm… so you mean something like shooting outside during daylight?
    (not using an ND filter)

  • mlieber507

    If the problem is caused by surface to surface scraping, where are the oil spots coming from? There should only be dust.

  • Anatoli Igolkin
  • RockyRoad2

    Ditto. I’m waiting to see how they solve this. I was looking at the D600 in a store yesterday and talked to someone who had bought one and he warned me about this problem. So I think I’ll wait.

  • PeterC

    I too am a potential buyer of the D600 and am very disappointed, as a committed user of their equipment, that Nikon are not taking a much more proactive approach to this issue. I have nothing new to say on the matter but add a comment in the perhaps optimistic hope that someone monitors this kind of thing and, given enough of it, they will finally act. Nikon’s credibility is suffering – as I think it has done already with the dramatic fall in the price of this camera from its level when lanuched! I would be very unhappy indeed if I had bought a D600 at almost £2k!

  • Guillaume Bouvier

    Agreed. My D600 is in Nikon’s hands since 20 days now, just for a cleaning. 20 days without my camera, and it’s been bought a month ago. So, 10 days for the spots to appear by themselves (I wasn’t seeking them at all, but anyone can see dark spots in a solid blue sky), 20 (or more) days for cleansing, that’s not what I call normal. We’ve got a D70s for ages, we don’t have any visible spots, and never had to clean the sensor anyway.

  • Greg Heller

    I’d really like to buy a D600 but unless Nikon comes out with a solution to this problem, I just might look somewhere else. Nikon right now is run with an attitude that IBM used to have in the 60’s and 70’s, Hey we’re IBM and we’ll let you know when there’s a problem. From what I’ve seen from Nikon their customer satisfaction is a necessary evil. They only make you happy when they want too.

  • Greg Pittman

    You know, the thing about this for me is the issue of trust. If Nikon would publicly weigh-in on the issue, acknowledge that they are looking in to the issue, and assure their customers that they WILL stand behind the product if someone DOES have a problem, I would have already ordered my d600. But this ridiculous habit of thrusting their head into the sand in the hope that the problem goes away is absurd and is the most damning thing of all. No one respects a company that won’t take responsibility for their successes AND their failures.

  • WKYA_Radio

    holy crap…seriously? Thats all kinds of f’ed up. Im a canon guy, but i dont care who make it, this is just dead wrong

  • Curiousnomad

    I’m waiting to see what happens. I have a D7000 and pro glass, but I want to make sure there isn’t a real problem before I bite.

  • Mitch

    My question are the cleanings covered under the warranty? And after the warranty what does a cleaning cost?

  • Scott H – San Francisco

    yeah, give me a break! the dust issue is not a problem unless you just paid $2,100 for a full frame camera and wish to shoot clean shots! you know, such as light blue sky, clean whites…the kind of stuff that happens all the time once you take the camera out of the box. I have 20 specks at least in the picture frame on my D600…and I would really prefer not to wet clean the sensor everytime I start shooting.

  • Ian

    On Friday I was willing and ready to buy a Nikon D600 and a $1,800.00 plus lens. But after reading negative feedback about dust and oil in the camera sensor I guess that now I am one of the “D600 buyers out there who are waiting for a satisfactory conclusion to
    “Dustgate” before they’re willing to drop their hard-earned cash on this

  • Ilya

    It looks much worse AFTER the cleaning!

  • spacecadet

    A bit of sensor dust is completely normal for a DSLR. Lens changes admit dust or produce plastic swarf from the mount. Then the bellows effect of mirror movement draws it in. You don’t have to send it away, just learn how to do a wet clean, vacuum your camera case occaionally and learn to manage it. For a professional like me it’s just another standard procedure.

  • kaveh

    After two blower cleaning my camera seems is not gathering more dust for the moment.
    It seemed to be a temporary problem, at least for me that is fixed after about 4000 shots

  • Rick

    This! It’s an issue of respect. It has taken Nikon long enough to realize this is a serious issue, and their 1:1 response reads like a ‘go F yourself.’

    I understand why this PetaPixel post relates the two, but Apple’s camera is a feature of a consumer smartphone (at $649); Nikon’s camera is the whole professional product (at $2,000). Simply: The D600 is a faulty (but otherwise great) product that deserves a recall for this issue.

    Funny thing is: if they had acknowledged this issue immediately, I’d be a lifelong Nikon customer and evangelist. I will be the exact opposite if they don’t take action before the end of the month,

  • Jim D.

    The D600 sensor spot issue and Nikon’s cover-up is indeed worthy of a class action lawsuit. Nikon continuing to avoid what is obviously a necessary recall will cost them a lot more in the long-run. I think they should save face now, before the end of the year. It’s sad because the D600 would be such a great product without this negligent oversight. Here’s to hoping they recall the D600 to please deserving customers. This issue has cost me a lot of time (and money too).

  • Charles

    “As for new photographers, you shouldn’t even be looking at Full Frame cameras to start with”

    That’s a short sighted point of view. FF is what SLRs were 10 years ago, they were just film, and that included cheapo throw-away cameras. It’s not like FF is beyond new photogs, it’s just pricier. If a new photog has the money why not spend the extra 500 for a D600 or a 6D (or D700/5Dii for that matter).

  • Sten298

    At Nikon they don’t care of their customers’ satisfaction, as Apple don’t. Why should I give 2000 $ to them with a very high probability to receive a defective camera? Fortunately I’m not a religious follower of a brand, I’m not nikonian nor canonian nor…. I just expect to receive a fully functioning camera for that money, and a full effective post-sale assistance, always and everywhere I am, according to the (not so little) price paid.
    I was almost buying the D600, but after having read all the story, I will not.
    The only way to make Nikon listening to their customers is not to buy their stuff, full stop.

  • guyjones

    “Get a cleaning!” What arrogance from Nikon towards customers and prospective customers; just unbelievable. Are they intentionally trying to lose business to Canon and Sony? If so, they’re doing a damn good job of it. Count me as one prospective D600 customer who is now looking to buy an EOS 5D Mark III as a result of Nikon’s totally inadequate and indifferent response to this debacle. I say, “Get a new camera!” To heck with you, Nikon — you’re far from the only game in town when it comes to full frame DSLR’s.

  • JohnP

    I was off to buy a NIKON D600, until I read the thread above. I surely am not the only one that changed his mind. NIKON should take heed.

  • JB

    My 6 year old, heavily used, D80 does not have the dust problem, even at very small apertures. I was ready to buy the D600, but I may skip this generation, if Nikon continues to refer customers to bring their new camera to the service center,

  • justice

    If everyone with this dust problem would simply call the Better Business Bureau in their state maybe Nikon would be forced to do a recall instead of having YOU pay for their problem .Shame ,Shame on you Nikon!!!

  • NikonDropOut

    I wouldn’t buy a D600 until they fix the problem. In fact, Nikon seems to have a pretty bad track record between the flash burn out and the D600 sensor. I read the D7000 has the same problem BTW, so I think I’ll stay with Canon. It’s too bad because I was ready to switch.

  • Techrod

    I have too many Nikkor lenses to contemplate moving from Nikon – so I wait and wait until definite news of a solution before pushing the button on a D600 purchase. Nikon product managers take note – I am not alone in taking this waiting stance as I am sure you are aware.

  • Koorosh Ilami

    In this internet age when a simple review on the issue catches like wild fire, I am shocked at Nikon behavior. The Japanese are losing their mojo and going Chinese on us in the quality department. I was about to buy a D600 and now I am not. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Nikon. Oh, I also found out that the 5 year warranty on their expensive glass is not transferable. Outrageous arrogance.

  • LeftCoastCurmudgeon

    Exactly where I am … long-time Nikon DX user through 4 different models – very nearly dropped the $2K (plus more for a lens) to make the jump to FX just before the first of the year … until I started reading about this. I’ll be waiting for it to sort out now :-(