Nikon D600 Speck Issue May Be Limited to First Few Thousand Shots

Photographer Kyle Clementstime-lapse showing specks accumulating on the Nikon D600 over the first 1000 shots has been seen by nearly 200,000 people around the web in less than a week. Through the exposure his experiment has gotten, Clements received a good deal of feedback and suggestions regarding further experiments and what the specks might be. He has since done two new time-lapse experiments that sheds a little more light on the issue.

For the next thousand shots with what Clements believes can be “one of the best damned cameras on the market”, he pointed the camera straight down to see if gravity has any effect on the accumulation of specks:

Clements discovered that hardly any new specks appear when the camera is pointed downward:

The results aren’t nearly as dramatic this time around. in fact, this time around, it hardly looks like a timelapse video with 1000 frames. [#]

Another point that has been popping up since the beginning is that the specks appear to be oil/lubricant splattering onto the sensor rather than dust accumulating. Clements thinks this is the case, as he wasn’t able to clear the specks with both a rubber air-blower bulb and the camera’s sensor cleaning option:

I’ve run the automatic sensor cleaning option a number of times without seeing a single spot disappear. (is this a real function, or just a placebo option? I can press my ear against the camera while it’s running the self cleaning and not hear a thing.) [#]

I did use a hand pump blower to blast away any loose dust that had build up, and that did eliminate several spots, but the vast majority of them remain stuck to the sensor, and a DIY wet cleaning would void the warranty, which I am not prepared to do on a piece of equipment that is only one week old. [#]

Specks of liquid spatter isn’t an uncommon issue with new DSLRs, but the good thing is that it’s a short-lived issue. After shooting a few thousand shots (3000 is supposedly “the magic number”), you likely won’t see any more spatter. It’s just that the D600 seems to have a particularly nasty case of it in one particular corner of the frame.

Upon hearing these things, Clements did a third test. He redid his first test with exactly the same setup and settings, just to see if the problem is starting to disappear:

The answer turns out to be: yes. Although a few specks do appear, the spatter is nothing close to what we all saw during the first thousand frames.

If you’re the owner of a new Nikon D600 and have been torn between your love of the camera and this speck issue, here’s what you should try: go ahead and use it, and after about 3,000 or 4,000, take Nikon’s advice and get a thorough cleaning done. The issue might just disappear along with the specks!

P.S. Ken Rockwell dismisses the issue entirely in his review of the camera:

My D600’s sensor is clean. I wouldn’t worry about what you may have read over the Internet from people you’ve never met. These things always happen for every new camera: one guy of many sees it, and the Internet spreads it like wildfire […] People spread these things all over, and they greatly multiply themselves over the Internet.

My D600 is fine, and if it weren’t, Nikon would fix it under warranty. It doesn’t bother me, but I’m astounded at how many impressionable people have gotten all terrified of this not because they’ve ever seen the problem, but because they read it somewhere as posted by some stranger.

So according to Mr. Rockwell, DPReview now qualifies as “some stranger.”

  • t3mujin

    Dust trapped inside the shutter?

  • Jackson Cheese

    Nikon has always made an inferior product, so these issues are certainly no surprise.

  • Marcus M Monaghan

    Did you read the article?

  • Mansgame

    This is still something that should have never ever happened with a $2100 camera. Also, Ken Rockwell is a tool.

  • Craig Dickson

    Of course DPReview qualifies as “some stranger” — unless you’ve ever met their reviewers. I wouldn’t say their reviews are all that good, either. You never get the sense of a real photographer reporting his personal experience from their write-ups — it’s all lab measurements and dry fact(oid)s. One of the biggest problems with today’s cameras and lenses is that they’re all becoming the same because they know they’re going to be reviewed in the same standardized, number-crunching fashion. You can’t put out a lens that renders beautifully but may not be as sharp or as well-corrected as the competition because the tech-oriented reviewers like DPReview and Dxo will trash it and sales will suffer accordingly.

  • bgrady413

    So to use this new camera you have to shoot it 3000 times before you can get shots that are usable? Is this like the old break in periods for cars to let the seals seat right? Are these cleanings going to be covered under warranty, seems like if you are buying a brand new piece of equipment you would want it to work right out of the box without maintenance being required.

  • Spider- Man

    WOW I am glad Ken Rockwell stepped up! I feel 100% better about things! /sarcasm

  • keirinrcr

    Why are so many photography media outlets accepting such a pardoning tone on this issue? Let’s see, for photographers who would use a d600 professionally, waiting 3000-4000 shots could easily mean:

    – 1-3 weddings
    – 2 sporting events
    – 5-6 Live Concerts

    Keep in mind, the shutter number is still indeterminate — “Magic Number”…? Wishful thinking, as far as I’m concerned. Nikon’s advertising dollars at work…

  • OSAM

    Well, if Ken Rockwell says it, it must be true! He’s such a paragon of useful, factual, accurate, and unbiased informaahahahahahahahahhahaa

    Sorry, lost it there at the end.

  • Swade

    Clean it. Problem solved. If it starts to happen after a certain amount of photos, clean it again. Oh no, you’ll have to clean your camera more than others? Don’t care.

  • mlieberman85

    I love how he makes such blanket statements like only one person has reported it. There are dozens of reports of the spec issue and perhaps only one person began really testing it out. He has such obnoxious black and white observations. Though I’m sure that’s what he wants so he can drive hits to his site.

  • Jared Monkman

    Sharpness and being “well-corrected” are both important factors in a lens rendering a scene beautifully

  • Craig Dickson

    Not always, and not to the exclusion of all other considerations. Lens design balances a number of factors, but the obsession with lab measurements by modern reviewers (most of whom show no sign of being able to shoot a pleasing photograph) encourages manufacturers to tilt the balance in favor of the aspects that affect those measurements, such as sharpness. Of course, if you’ve only used modern autofocus lenses, you couldn’t be expected to know that.

  • Mansgame

    Covered under the warranty – yes because of the PR nightmare, but you still have to pay for the shipping and insurance.

  • Mansgame

    The joke’s on him because I use adblock on his site.

  • Michael Zhang

    I’m pretty sure most of his income comes from affiliate ads at the end of reviews, when people click through and buy the gear he recommends.

  • Photoretouchpro

    This should be done at the factory before shipping. Run the shutter, clean, repeat until the occurrence is negligible. Maybe give customer this option?

  • Bart Heirweg

    I dont’t understand what all the fuss is about. My camera has been perfectly clean from the start. Haven’t noticed any more dust than any other camera I owed.

  • Craig Dickson

    This is exactly the issue Ken Rockwell raised. Is this really a common problem or just something that became a big deal because a few people posted about it on well-known photo gear sites like DPReview? I don’t think we really know the answer to that question.

  • Bartek Nowakowski


  • Tapo

    Inferior to whom ?

  • Ben Schmanke

    Second that.

    Have had the D600 and shooting continually w/ it for 3 weeks now, and absolutely no specks or frame issues here. (Best body I’ve ever shot with.)

  • Hmblmgnfcnt

    He’s written that specifically at the end of almost every page on his site.

  • nastyacidnoise

    The speck issue is very real, but probably not the big problem that some people are making it out to be. I’ve taken roughly 1700 shots with mine so far. The specks were there from near the beginning, looking pretty much exactly the same as most of the images floating around the internet. I did my first wide aperture/white background test for them at true shutter count of 36. The specks were clearly visible at f22, pretty well obscured at f16 and virtually invisible by f10. They only started to become troublesome in my pictures at around the 1200 image mark, at f10 using a 100mm macro (visible in bokeh) and f8 with my 14mm (visible in sky).

    I had initially tried blowing the specks out with a rocket blower, with no sign of them shifting. Then the other day I saw on the net that someone else had some success shifting them with a really thorough rocket blow. I tried again, giving it about a dozen close and precise blows and this managed to remove most of them. Now, although not perfect, it’s better than when I initially tested it – some small specks are still visible at f22 but almost invisible by f16 (with a white background test).

    My sensor is now certainly clean enough to stop worrying about, even though I am very much a pixel peeper. Oh and I’ve found that even the biggest of my specks (which match those seen in pictures on the web) were only visible in certain images and easily removed in seconds with either a spot healing or clone stamp tool. So I’m going to get on with taking pictures and just enjoying this remarkable camera.

  • nikonjapan74

    nikon japan covers sensor cleanings for free in the first year and about $12 after that first year. Drop off service takes less than an hour.

  • Dumpster

    I have just returned my D600 to the ProCamera Shop for a refund. I had heaps of marks all over the left side of photographs – esp the top, and blowing did pretty well nothing. I did love the camera so will wait a few months and buy another one. I’m sure Nikon are well aware of the problem, will quietly sort it out and later cameras will be OK. I’ll also win out on price which has already dropped. Meanwhile Ill keep shooting with my D300

  • Chris Joyce

    All this hysteria over sensor dust / unproven oil splatters on the D600 sensor, is just giving an amazing camera a bad negative rep! Just invest in a cleaning kit and become a responsible fx dslr owner and clean your own frigging sensor, it’s not rocket science and any camera when stopped down to f/16 is going to show sensor dust it’s normal.

  • wheel

    i have a D600 and love it however I have seen the black speck problem. I contacted NIkon and they claim there are no problems with this camera. I have shot nikon camera for 30 years and never had a dust/dirt problem. so I have returned my D600 to Nikon two times to be cleaned and serviced. the last time was a few months ago, and so far so good.