Funeral for a friend | Last rites Nikon D600 – D610

Friday afternoon 23rd August I walked into Harvey Norman Penrith for what was ostensibly the last time with my faulty Nikon D610 by my side. I’d been holding off trading across to the negotiated D800 body because I didn’t feel that paying the extra $300 in the difference was a demonstration of good faith by a retailer who had stalled on doing anything for the last 17 months. It’s a long saga and not necessarily worth launching into an abridged recount here.

I had hoped to be simply able to swap out the D610 body and 24-85mm lens from the old D600 for the D800 body but management wouldn’t budge despite on their price which is nearly $1000 dearer than anyone else in the country. Had it not been for a well informed friend pointing out that I could end up banging my head against the franchise battlement for as long as they chose to hold out, I might have pushed on. 

So I’ve paid my money, cut my losses and taken the high road. 

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Light at the end of the tunnel | Nikon D600

Update on current status.

I dropped my D600 into Nikon Sydney today to get it checked out for the third time after a new round of contamination appeared on the sensor. I had pretty much given up on Harvey Norman doing the right thing in terms of replacing the camera or camera body point blank or if not in a way that required me turning myself into a human pretzel to meet the requirements and; I’m kinda tired of rolling that story out Ad nauseam. However, today the clouds rolled back, and it looks like there is a good possibility that Nikon Sydney will replace the camera body. I take the quality of service at Nikon Sydney as a given but this extra step took me by surprise and certainly cemented my belief that Nikon Sydney take the integrity of their customer service seriously.

If the worst of the waiting is over, then I’m a mightily relieved man and I can get back to the business of doing the work that the D600 was designed to do.

Upon reflection, it’s been a valuable learning experience. I realized that whilst my first post was a little acerbic and I was responding to a disagreeable sense of disappointment it’s been worth it to hold on and not abandon ship. My first shots with the D600 proved to me first up that it’s is a worthy contender. However further testing did two things, it opened me up to the full capability of the camera and it revealed my particular D600’s only flaw.

So now it’s just wait and see how NIkon call the next shot. I’ve grown to have a deep sense of appreciation for the D600’s capability and I’ll be more that happy to have a replacement back in my hands sooner than later.

Nikon D600 in the soup again | A recurring nightmare on oil street.

After 5-6 years of problem free shooting; firstly with a Nikon D40 and then a Canon 50D, I’m at a loss to explain the rash of sensor related issues I’ve been experiencing for the last 6 months with my Nikon D600. No dust problem at all with the Nikon D40, a little dust (that required only a few rounds of cleaning) with my Canon 50D (and that was due to me regularly rotating zone plates, pinhole caps and Diana lenses) and certainly no issue with oil on the sensor with either camera. But with the D600 only the first 20-30 or so shots were usable. After the last clean and inspection with Nikon in Sydney I got a handful of usable shots (20th June) but nothing since that hasn’t required a big overhaul in Photoshop.

Read the original post.

I picked the D600 up from Nikon’s new service center over at Rhodes on 20/6/13. The guy on the service desk said the repair team mentioned cleaning dust from the sensor and from the mirror box (my request). However they were apparently of the opinion that the dust on the sensor was environmental. Now…. unless there is a trans-dimensional vacuum inside the camera body that specifically targets and sucks in dust through some huge gap in the body, there is no way that dust from the environment could enter the camera. The camera is kept in a sealed case when not in use, I don’t shoot at construction sites in India and the lens has not been off the camera since I picked it up. According to Nikon the D600 has the same degree of effective weather-sealing as the D800. So I don’t buy the environmental dust story from the repair team. One of the weird parts of the story (the other is currently withheld from publication) is that when I took the camera in for the second time (after the first repair) the technician there said that only dust spots were visible via the software connected to the camera that displayed the sensor surface on a monitor. I was curious, since the reference images I have by the bucket load clearly indicated that the sensor had a healthy covering of some other translucent substance. In relation to the agreed dust marks I mentioned that I suspected that the mirror box might require cleaning, since this had been a recurring theme appearing across a number of Forums as a suspected source for internal dust. I asked if they wouldn’t mind checking that out and cleaning it. I didn’t mention all the other marks on that visit but just decided to lay low and see what the prognosis was. Since they couldn’t detect oil on the sensor I doubted that the people at DigiCam would be able to either. So I kept my cards and asked them to clean it and I would wait and see if anything else developed after I picked it up.

Now to backtrack, the reason I had taken it in to Nikon for the second time was that I had initiated a claim against the warranty with Harvey Norman and the people at the claims dept wanted me to ship the camera off to DigiCam in Adelaide to have it inspected / and or repaired prior to any further action being recommended. I thought that this was a little suspect and odd, since the camera had been sold to me in the first instance with a faulty component which Nikon had replaced/repaired despite prior remonstrations from the people at Harvey Norman in Penrith that the problem with the camera was either in my imagination or due to my usage and that if such an issue actually existed; Nikon would have issued a recall and they hadn’t so… (this is documented in earlier posts). I also wanted a second opinion and statement ready to go in case the guys at the other end (DigiCam) fudged the findings or the camera went missing in transit. By the way DigiCam ‘s preferred courier TOLL PRIORITY only provide minimal insurance to the value of $500 as an optional buy in.

After I got the call to say the camera was ready I returned to Nikon with a reference image loaded on my laptop and a small case to carry the camera body (the rest of the camera was packed and ready to go to Adelaide if necessary). There was no one at the service desk so I booted up the laptop and had it ready to go. When the service guy came back I mentioned that I had something I wanted him to look at in relation to marks on a particular image. I said that I suspected that the larger dark marks were dust and then asked him to look at a whole swag of other marks that I thought were oil. He agreed there was something worth checking out. The camera was retrieved and further checks were done on the sensor to ensure that the sensor was clear of debris. He asked for a copy of the reference file and passed that on to their tech people. I took the camera home and put the original 24-85mm lens back on and took some test shots that returned zero contamination.

I thought we were now back on the road to a peaceful co-existence. However……..visible evidence of sensor contamination began to surface relatively quickly and once it appeared it was literally a matter of less than 100 shots before the sensor had a healthy covering of either oil and or dust.

Since nothing had changed in terms of the cameras exposure to the environment it’s impossible to attribute this increase to external causes. The contamination, whatever it is, is internally generated.

The image below was one of the first where I detected some contamination of the sensor.

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This following image demonstrates an increase in sensor contamination. Only about 10 shots separate these images.

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The image below again demonstrates a significant increase in contamination of the sensor. The UV filter had been cleaned prior to this shot. Only about 20 frames separate these two images. I’ve used a number of contrast based processes to push the visibility of the marks.

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The reference image below (taken a day after the image above) demonstrates a moderate increase in contamination of the sensor.

I took these just shooting for some open sky so that whatever was on the sensor would be easier to ID on the file.

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This shot below was taken today (1-7-13) after cleaning the UV filter (front and back), cleaning the lens (front and back) and running multiple sensor cleans to remove dust if any was present. As you can see not much has changed, there are some new marks (due to either being able to push better contrast or an increase in contamination) and the previous still remain, despite some on the upper right side loosing visibility due to lack of adequate contrast. Some may even argue that on closer examination it’s obvious that there are more that I haven’t identified.

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Frustrating? Sure is…….(to the tune of ‘Trust British Paints’)

…and it’s back to Nikon tomorrow for Round 3.

Dust and Diesel Update – Nikon D600

After Nikon Sydney replaced the shutter mechanism + seal (under warranty) and gave the sensor a wet clean, the problem of oil splatter on the sensor still persists. It’s nowhere near as bad as reported in the initial post but after 800+ actuations, the telltale spots are back again. I ran a series of time lapse shoots to get the shutter actuation count up and then took some stills to check for marks. The 50mm prime lens hasn’t been off the camera since I collected it from Nikon’s Sydney repair center. I must add, that to their credit, that the guys at Nikon did a great job with no hassles. But there’s a bogy in the weeds somewhere here. The new shutter mechanism and seal should have fixed the problem. Reports of the issue reoccurring are in circulation and you can read a similar account in Martin’s first comment in my original post.

I’m prepared to wait and see if it worsens or if the marks on the sensor are the end of it. What’s beginning to annoy me a little is that Harvey Norman at Penrith initially refused to acknowledge there was a problem. Despite me providing a detailed account of the issue, the same that I gave to Nikon, no one (except for the guy who actually worked in the Photography section) seemed to be prepared to entertain the idea that this problem could be caused by a fault in the camera or the manufacture of the camera. Whether they actually got in touch with Nikon, as promised, I never found out, because that call to me was never made and no discussion about whether the camera should be replaced took place nor in that context was it suggested or offered despite the ‘replacement warranty’ details being on the sales record copy they printed out whilst I was there.

Nikon D600 | Dust and diesel, dead in the water

Thinking of buying a Nikon D600…..hold that thought. You may want to read the following before jumping in.

Whilst some may argue that the overall performance of the camera weighs in against the inconvenience of the dust and oil issue, I’d have to counter-argue, that there’s nothing worse than coming back with a swag of useful shots and suddenly finding them loaded with lots of visible spots out of the blue and (not even as in my case) be able to palm it off to a lens change gone horribly wrong. And if that’s not enough, conventional cleaning fails to remove the junk from the sensor so the camera has to lay idle until the sensor can undergo a wet clean. Which has in my case now been something like three weeks. That’s clearly not what you buy a camera for. i.e., you don’t go out and buy a good camera just to have a part time relationship with it.

All might be well in the ideal world if the ‘free clean’ offered by Nikon staved off the wolves, but apparently it doesn’t and you can, by all accounts, expect the issue to re-appear in the not too distant future. And then, hi-ho it’s off to another round of clean’n’go.

This is the first time that I’ve experienced visible particles at open apertures. I had a little dust on a Canon 50D which took two rounds of cleaning at Canon in Sydney, but in this instance the particles were sparsely scattered and visible only on shots taken with a Pinhole Cap (f/166) and a f/45 Zone Plate. However on the D600 the particles are visible on conventional lenses at apertures down to f/1.8 on both stills and video.

These two shots are about 30 min apart and the increase in what appears to be both oil and dust is clearly visible. Both crops are from the top left of the frame and are consistent with most other reports. They were visible under magnification in the preview and the lens filter was cleaned between shots to eliminate the possibility of anything foreign on the filter itself.

Also read the most recent post on this here

D600 oil

D600a oil

Cropped from the original images

 

I had to eventually shut the Nikon down and go out with a Canon G1x which returned some good shots of the same environs as shown below.

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