A tale of woe

I have decided that those who read this blog are being way too polite! Why did no one comment on the artifacts so obviously visible in the image taken from the Hyner overlook? And what about those in the photo of the Piper Cub? Either no one saw them, which is hard to believe, or you’re all afraid of hurting my feelings. Come on people, look at all of those spots! It all began a few months ago when I began noticing what looked like dust in a number of my images. The spots were small enough but numerous in views which included large expanses of sky and taken with small apertures. Post processing provided a quick fix but didn’t isolate or solve the problem. I was convinced that my 14-24 mm lens was the culprit, for I read that its massive (and convex) front element was notorious for attracting dust.  I cleaned obsessively … with little effect, the spots remained. So, I did what any other connected person would do and scanned the internet to see what I could discover about this issue. It didn’t take long (thanks Google for providing 282,000 hits on this topic in just 0.38 seconds). It seems that many who use Nikon’s D600 DSLR already knew what I did not – that the image sensor was particularly efficient at attracting and holding on to both dust (from the environment) and oil (from the camera itself, the shutter, in fact). I proceeded to spend my evenings watching YouTube videos which described how to clean the image sensor of a DSLR. I learned about dry techniques, wet techniques, techniques which use puffs of air, techniques that use fancy brushes, wands, swabs, and Q-tips, and techniques that employed fluids to dissolve away the offending detritus. I spent nearly $100 on a viewing loupe which allowed me to visualize the nasty accumulations. Just as I was about to try and clean the thing myself I learned that doing so would have voided my Nikon warranty. What should I have done? Deal with the dust and rely on processing to remove it … for as long as I continued to use the camera? [Sure, why not? That only takes hours for each image.] Attempt to clean the sensor myself? [Ya, right.] Send the camera to Nikon to be professionally cleaned? [This would have, I’m sure, been akin to launching the thing into a Black Hole.] To make a long story short … my D600 is now at a Nikon service facility in New York. To my surprise, Nikon recognized the problem and agreed to clean the sensor and to replace the shutter mechanism, under warranty. So, I am without my D600 for perhaps 10 -14 days. What am I going to do? I don’t suppose it’s really all that bad for I do have the Sony HX9V as a fall back and that is what I used to capture the image below. [Sony just announced the release of its RX100, by all measures an even more exceptional compact camera than the HX9V.] The image isn’t too bad even in the light of limitations imposed by its JPEG format (you can click the image for a slightly larger view). It’s gonna be a long ten days … I WANT MY BABY BACK.


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