Some Nikon D600 DSLRs Not Closing to the Apertures They’re Supposed To

A little earlier today, we reported on how Sohail Mamdani of BorrowLenses had discovered that one particular Nikon D600 he was testing was consistently overexposing photographs by two stops. After searching long and hard for the cause, he stumbled upon the culprit: the D600 wasn’t closing the aperture blades to the correct opening size.

The photograph above shows two D600 DSLRs. The one on the right is defective, while the one on the left isn’t. Both cameras have their aperture setting set to f/8.

A closer look at the size of the two openings

When the depth-of-field preview buttons on the front of the cameras are pressed, the defective copy has an aperture that’s much larger than it should be. It lets in roughly two stops of extra light compared to the correct f/8.

The issue isn’t a lens issue, as they’ve tested both 3rd party (Sigma) lenses and official Nikon lenses.

So far, Mamdani has tested four D600 copies owned by BorrowLenses, and two of them had this defect. He tells us that he’s not sure whether it’s an issue on Nikon’s end, or whether the faulty D600 bodies were somehow damaged by renters over the past couple of months.

If you shoot with a Nikon D600 and have been noticing consistent overexposure (something that’s hard to detect if you only use one camera body), you might also be experiencing this strange aperture issue.

Is the Canon 6D Under-Exposing? UPDATE: No, It’s Not. [BorrowLenses Blog]

Update: Here’s an update from Mamdani:

Turns out it’s most likely not a defect (or at least, we don’t think it is). The prong that pushes the aperture closed was bent on the defective bodies. See the following photos. The top is one of the busted D600, the bottom is a D7000. This is almost certainly the result of damage; the cameras were maybe dropped with a lens attached?


Image credits: Photographs by Sohail Mamdani/BorrowLenses and used with permission

  • Peter Neill

    I know mistakes can be made in anything, but a flaw like this is pretty unacceptable for a professional camera. The fact that two out of four bodies had it, and even if it was down to renter damage, for this same particular defect to occur seems very worrying.

  • Trey Mortensen

    I was actually considering getting a D600, but with as many problems as it has been having with the dust and now this, I don’t think I’d spend the money on it

  • Sohail Mamdani

    I kind of want to point out that so far, I don’t know of any customer complaints about this issue, so it really might just be that these two were damaged somehow. I have also not read anything online about D600 overexposures by more than 0.6 stops, so I’m hoping that this is a case of damage over defect. Fingers crossed!

  • JosephRT

    If it turns out to be a widespread problem (which I don’t think it is) it will be funny to find out that half of the new D600 owners aren’t even experienced enough to know this was going on, with so many people point and shooting DSLRs nowadays. (Not funny if you are an owner though)

  • affinityseattle

    I’ve long suspected my D4 to have this issue, too. On manual, I can sometimes rap off 10 fps and all of the images have wild exposure differences. Sure, there’s gonna be some statistical error, but not this much.

  • sandermartijn

    I can’t imagine how that would be a customer damage issue. If it was I would expect the aperture being off by different amounts. My guess is it is indeed a manufacturing issue, but hopefully one that only affects a certain lot that you just happened to get 2 from. I’d love to hear Nikon’s explanation if you get one.

  • Curtis Gibeaut Jr.

    I have not seen any issues with mine yet, but now I will be keeping a closer eye on it.

  • Raymond Murphy

    This is pretty disturbing. It’s only been a few months since serious focus problems surfaced with the D800. No this….

  • Michael Greening

    I rented one from you for the past two days and sent it back today. I noticed it over exposing images by a small amount but dropped the exposure compensation down 1/2 stop and that seemed to be the right amount. I had a much bigger issue with the Auto Focus only working part of the time and when it did, it would jump all over the place and not stay on any one location. Even if I held the shutter down for a 3 exposure bracket, the auto focus would change for each exposure. I ended up going to Manual focus for half of my shooting with it.

  • Rusty

    I had over-exposure issues with a new out of the box D600 in Australia….. How widespread is that? :( (I didn’t narrow down the issue to a root cause, but it’s more than likely to be the same issue.)

  • detoi

    Sticky aperture blades, anyone? :)

  • HocusFocus

    This site is doing a good job at marketing Canon…

  • Peter

    can this camera release get any worse for Nikon?
    oil and dust on the sensor, focus issues and now over exposures.
    If were in charge of QC at Nikon I would be packing my bags

  • itchin99

    Really? Every time a single camera has a malfunction we’re going to get a blog post, picked up by another more prominent blog, picked up by an even bigger blog as if a camera– or two– is representative of the whole? Hundreds of thousands of D600 sold and two cameras showing over-exposure is a big deal? And no one bothers to ask why a professional wouldn’t use a light meter to check the correct exposure as opposed to comparing it to other cameras? Does understand that comparing their D600 to other DSLRs is actually a primitive way to check exposure? Clearly, this problem isn’t indicative of the D600 line as a whole, but it sure makes for great marketing for, doesn’t it? And for those who may be wondering, yes, I own a D600: minor dust issues I can correct myself with minimal effort and no over-exposure problem. If I had two D600s with perfect exposure, would that make news?

  • Diego Noriega Mendoza

    Although it might be a possibility, the fact that both cameras present consistent exposure issues due to rental damage seems too coincidental. To damage two cameras, that were most probably rented to entirely different people at entire different times, in the exact same way seems very unlikely. Unless the renters happened to be the exact same person, and he/she was a videographer shooting 3D on a rig and happened to drop it, topfirst, to the ground, or that he/she was a jerk who thought it might be fun to test the D600‘s ruggedness with someone else‘s gear, the fact that both cameras sustained the exact same damage indicates a weak point in the camera‘s build, which is, in and of itself, a factory flaw.

  • miki

    it’s not hard to notice, when you use flashes and a lightmeter…

  • Zenon

    I’ve tested my D600 with Av from f1.8 to f22 and all of the exposures are exual. Another test – I took 1 second exposure with different f/stops (1Ev difference) and it looks quite OK, so probably my D600 doesn’t have this issue. Unfortunatelly after 6500 shots it still collects dust on a sensor :(

  • Sohail Mamdani

    Hi Itchin,

    We posed the article as a question, then, with feedback from many of our readers, worked to answer it. Testing with my trusty Sekonic L-508 was on my list today, but we found the issue with a reader’s help before that.

    I dig the D600 myself, and plan to get one as a second body, so clearly I don’t think the two we’ve found this issue in are representative of the whole. Also, as Michael Zhang points out, I’m not certain these two weren’t damaged during use. We see stuff like this from time to time – a while back, we started seeing the ring holding the front element of the Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens just falling off. If we’d had a blog back then, we would have mentioned it. It makes for interesting reading, that’s all.

    There’s no evil marketing scheme here to hype ourselves; we’re saving that for our world domination plans ;-)

  • Sohail Mamdani

    Sander, if we hear back from Nikon, I’ll post about it on our blog…

  • Mansgame

    I just don’t know what happened to Nikon. The 6D has a few issues too but at least Canon came out and admitted it.

  • Big D

    It’s ONE camera folks. This isn’t a problem. It’s irresponsible journalism.

  • brob

    so many issues lately with the camera’s companies are putting out. Perhaps products are a little too ‘rushed’ just for sake of being the latest and greatest in the market?

  • auriz

    might be a bent aperture lever. can’t believe nikon still uses such a dumb method to close aperture. had such problem on my d3s. fixed with some tweezers :))

  • Michael Lieberman

    Actually it was 2 out of the 4 cameras they had and at least one other person not related to BorrowLenses claimed they were having a similar issue.

  • A2Flyer

    I got a new D600 about the day they came out. I thought the images were a bit light when I took my first shots with it in A, then I put it into manual mode (where I usually shoot) and noticed that the best looking images were two stops ‘underexposed.’ But after shooting a few 900 frame time lapse sequences, the shutter seems to have settled down. Can’t explain it, just as the tester can’t explain why some cameras stop down properly and some don’t appear to have closed the iris as far as it needs to be closed. Since it’s an electrical mechanical issue, there must be something else going on here.

    P.S. I never seemed to have any of the dust issues either.

  • harumph

    Why does the article say that “noticing consistent overexposure [is] something that’s hard to detect if you only use one camera body”?

    You don’t need two cameras; all you need is a pair of eyes. Seriously, how difficult is it to notice that all your shots are overexposed by 2 stops?

  • Sohail Mamdani

    HI Michael, Big D – yeah, it was two cameras, and more than one person, in this article, the other one PetaPixel posted, as well as a couple of readers on our blog have noticed this.

    I think that itchin99, one of the commenters below, has a point though – these are still a very, very small percentage of the number of D600’s sold, so I still have some strong doubts as to whether this is truly a manufacturer defect. I guess we’ll wait and watch, see what happens. I’m still getting a D600 as a secondary body though – I really did like it a lot.

  • jc

    I need to check mine. I have consistently noticed the camera exposed “brighter” than I thought it should. And often use ISO to compensate. Was thinking it’s the low light capacity doing a fabulous work…

  • jc

    And what focus issue are you guys talking about? The other night I was shooting inside a bar, the auto focus refused to engage, I had to put on Manual for the camera to work, is that it? Oh lord, I do hope this are firmware fixes…

  • jc

    sorry, I meant exposure compensation not ISO.

  • jc

    I just checked mine. The aperture seems to respond to setting changes when preview is pressed. However, I do often use compensation to under expose shots to get what I consider the right exposure. So hopefully this is a firmware fix at the most.

  • Jonas

    No problem! I’m yet a Fujifilm X100 user who have had mine repaired due to sticky aperture blades… ;-)

  • ulfson223

    not that nikon shooter would notice that… :)

    nikon… what´s next?

  • 12nospam

    but hey you dont have to buy a dust devil if you buy a D600……

  • Albin Roussel

    Oh dear, first oil splat, now this.

  • J. Dennis Thomas

    You have THREE cameras and TWO people reporting a problem out of the THOUSANDS of cameras sold and someone jumped to the conclusion that it’s a massive manufacturing defect?

    That’s kind of presumptuous don’t you think?

  • Michael Greening

    As I am going through the images I took with the rented D600 at Disneyland, I am finding the opposite problem. I was shooting 3 exposure brackets at F/11, ISO 100 at night time with the 14-24 F/2.8 lens and most of my images are underexposed by 2 stops. I am having to increase the exposure 2 full stops in the RAW editor on each image, including the one that was +2 in the bracket.
    I hope this helps with your research.

  • Charles

    I had this same problem with my D700, the repair was $300.00

  • Sohail Mamdani

    J. Dennis – sorry, I might not have been clear in my comment above. I didn’t think it was a manufacturer defect, but I also didn’t know what it was.

    That’s primarily why we posed our entire article as a question to our readers, and solicited their input and suggestions to try and find the cause of this issue. With their help and feedback, we nailed down the cause. Turns out that it was most likely damage caused by renters, as Mike points out in the article above.

    As an aside, we were completely blown away by the engagement, support, and advice we got from our readers on this article. My thanks to everyone here who provided their input as well.

  • Sohail Mamdani

    That’s kind of weird! But it seems like you got lucky with the dust issue.

  • Sohail Mamdani

    Yes, that’s exactly what it was. We didn’t try taking tweezers to our cameras though, just sent them off to Nikon :-).

  • Happy D600

    Sample size is small

    Suggest to bring to Nikon to investigate.
    Could be lens or body or both to determine.

  • LongTimeNikonUser_NowFuji

    Dust, oil spots, focus problems, aperture malfunctions – is this built on embedded Windows? :)

  • Morgan Brandon

    Snob Troll!

  • Michael HINTLIAN

    Having similar problems with a brand new, out of the box D600 – it fails to reliably stop down a 35mm f2.0 AF-D – noticed blatant and unexplained over exposures. Working manually with AIS lenses the camera works very, very well…when the AF-D lens is attached not so much.

  • JRP

    My D600, which I’ve owned for six months is displaying this EXACT problem of overexposing by two stops. My D600’s shutter arm isn’t bent, though.

    I stumbled across this problem today while shooting with my 28-105mm f3.5-.45D lens. All was fine when I was shooting at f.35 to f5.6, but as soon as I shot at f8 or higher, bang! I would get the dreaded “ERR” message and the camera would lock up.

    I then tested with the following lenses: Nikkor, 16-35mm, 80-200 f2.8 and 50mm f1.4

    ALL of these lenses metered perfectly up until f8; at which point they began to overexpose by two stops.

    The easy test to prove the problem: while having any of these lenses mounted on the D600 I pushed the DOF preview button which clearly showed that the camera was setting two stops less than what I had asked for.


    I must admit that I’m HIGHLY dissapointed with the D600 purchase. I’ve taken some incredible pictures with it, but betwee the spots on the sensor and this last problem, I’m ready to hang up my Nikon gear.

  • JRP

    You need to update this blog, my friend. This is indeed a problem.

    Today’s date is February 14, 2013 and I’ve just logged the *FIRST*
    customer complaint of this kind with Nikon. In fact, the tech I spoke
    with could not believe what I was telling her and told me that mine was
    the first issue to be logged for this “overexposure” problem. She had me
    on the phone for over 45 minutes; trying this and trying that;
    resetting everything that could be reset on the camera…and nothing
    worked. The camera overexposes.

    If you’re concerned whether you’re hitting this problem, the easiest way to test is to use your DOF(depth of field) button:

    Test #1: Choose a lens with at MOST an f2.8 aperture(not an f1.4…a 3.5 is OK). Set your camera to Aperture priority mode(A on your dial), then choose f4. Take a picture using whatever shutter speed the camera decides per its metering system. The image should be expose correctly.

    Test #2: Set your camera to Aperture priority mode(A on your dial), then choose
    f11. Take a picture using whatever shutter speed the camera decides per
    its metering system. The image should be overexposed by TWO stops. What to prove that? Use the exposure compensation button and hit “-” several times until you’re at -2.0. Retake your picture at f11. This picture should now look like that taken in Test#1.

    Test #3: This is the most convincing test. Use a lens where you can manually set your aperture(f-stop) and with the lens UNMOUNTED from the D600 choose the smallest aperture, f22(if available). Move the aperture blade on the back of the lens and observe the size of the aperture. It should be the size of a pea.

    Now, mount your lens on the D600 and set your aperture to f22 in Aperture mode(A on your dial). Set your controls to use your Fn button for DOF(depth of field preview). Once you have it set, press the Fn button and look through the FRONT of the lens and observe its aperture.

    The aperture should be TWO STOPS larger than f22!

    Now, is this is a mechanical or firmware problem? I will soon find out when I send my D600 to Nikon.

    If this is an engineering/design issue for which they have no solution, then the can of worms opens.

    I will post more when I have feedback from Nikon.

  • JRP

    (see my post above, dated February 14, 2013 where I hit the TWO STOP aperture issue and have reported it to Nikon)

    This problem is FAR LARGER than overexposure. If it were only that, I’d simply use the exposure adjust buttons and whala….and life would go on.

    Where this problem gets HUGE is for the user who’s being fooled by the camera into thinking that F11 is F11 when in reality it’s f5.6…or f16 is in reality f8. Should I have to explain why this is a problem? Specially to landscape shooters ;-)

  • JRP

    Another point which hasn’t be discussed and is FAR worse than “overexposure” is depth of field; or lack there of.

    If my D600 tells me that I’m shooting at F16 when in reality I’m shooting at f8, the camera is lying to me and my images will lack the depth of field necessary for landscape and some forms of studio work.

    My D600 has not been damaged; nor does it have the “bent” aperture arm. I can only conclude that this is a manufacturer defect and not damaged caused by user; specially since the TWO STOPs of overexposure is completely consistent.

    For anyone who cares, I bought my D600 from B&H, September 2012 and was one of the first ones to test this camera. Will your D600 hit this issue? Only time will tell.

  • Keelan Hunte

    thanks for the info, i got my macgyver on and fix the bent prong