Dust on the Sensor

Surprisingly (?) it’s not a topic I’ve heard much about at PPS. But many of us experience it one way or another – particularly with interchangeable lens cameras.

The new Nikon D600 camera, which has received rave reviews for its image quality and high ISO abilities, is currently the subject of much internet grumbling over the frequency of dust on it’s sensor. This is claimed to be much greater than normal – to the point of suggesting that a manufacturing/design fault may be to blame.

Canadian photographer Kyle Clemens just bought a Nikon D600, but rather than get straight out and start shooting with it, he decided to investigate the widely-reported claims of a ‘dust problem’. Clements set his D600 up with a fixed 50mm F1.8 lens, pointed it at a white wall, and shot 1000 images. Then he created a timelapse video which shows the slow accumulation of debris on the camera’s sensor.

So what about your own experience of dust?

With a brand new Sony NEX 5N camera these two frames were captured within two minutes of each other. The weather was sunny with no wind and the camera lens remained attached throughout.

The left hand image is clean of debris, but at least three large spots (of something) appear in the right hand image – ringed in red here.

In common with many cameras, the Sony has a “dust removal” setting causing the sensor to vibrate at high frequency – to shake off any dust. The debris in my case proved shake resistant and could only be removed by a wet clean using sterile swabs and Eclipse Cleaning Fluid.

I think the debris got onto the sensor from inside the camera, since the lens had not been removed between these adjacent frames. In a new camera, it makes you wonder!

So what’s your experience of dust on the sensor and how do you deal with it when it occurs?


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