A dusty sensor and a reasurring sunrise

In October of 2012 I purchased my first DSLR, a Nikon D600. From the moment I first used it I was sure that the research I had done had paid off and that the camera was the right one for me. That Honeymoon lasted nearly a year when I began to notice an alarming amount of dust in my images. An internet search revealed that, due to an oily residue which was being dispersed by the shutter, the sensor of the D600 had been plagued with problems from the day of its release. [For those with interest, the dust was settling on the low-pass filter which is part of the sensor. A low-pass filter, also known as an anti-aliasing filter, is intended to eliminate moiré, a pattern which occurs when a scene contains repetitive detail that exceeds the sensor resolution.] I had two options, I could send the camera to Nikon for repair or try and clean the thing myself. Given my fear of damaging the sensor, I posted the D600 to a Nikon repair facility. About a month later the camera returned, the dust was gone (Nikon had replaced the shutter and cleaned the sensor) and I was overjoyed. About two weeks ago (nearly a year after the repair) I noticed that my images were showing dust again.  Although I did not count, I would estimate that there were upwards of one hundred bits of oil and dust on the sensor, and every last one could be discerned, clearly, in a digital RAW file. Joanna and I were planning a bit of a road trip and I didn’t want to take the camera along with the sensor in the shape it was in. I didn’t have time to send the thing back to Nikon and I surely didn’t have the cash to purchase a new body (a Nikon D810, by the way, for those who might consider themselves benefactors). What was I to do? Joanna suggested I clean the sensor myself. This was the very thing I most feared. To make a long story short, we drove to a local camera shop and purchased cleaning materials made by Photographic Solutions. I am ashamed to admit that my hands shook so violently when preparing to clean the sensor that Joanna had to apply the cleaning solution to the wand which is drawn across the delicate low-pass filter. I took a pass to the right and across the sensor, flipped the wand, and took a return pass to the left. I took some test shots and discovered that I had not destroyed the sensor and that the cleaning had been effective. There was, however, a bit of dust remaining so I tried once more and was able to clean the sensor to my satisfaction. To say that I was relieved would surely be an understatement. Below is one of the first images I was able to capture with my newly cleaned sensor. There were just one or two spots which I was able to remove in post-processing, but nothing like the number that had been there before. The image is of a reflected sunrise. I hope you enjoy it … I absolutely guarantee it to be dust-free.


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