Nikon Spending up to $17.7 Million on D600 Sensor Spot Debacle

Nikon D600

It took Nikon quite some time to fess up to an actual problem related to the D600. Nikon released a D610 model on a fast track release schedule but offered no acknowledgement of a problem with the D600 – even though the D610 was the same camera with a new shutter mechanism.

After it replaced some D600 units with new D610 units for some customers, it looked like the problem was headed to a class action legal battle (it still might be). While the class action lawsuit was just starting to swirl, Nikon seemingly came clean and agreed to replace the shutter mechanism in all users’ D600 cameras.

This little sensor spot problem has proven quite expensive for Nikon – to the tune of 1.8 billion yen (or $17.7 million USD).

In a Q&A document related to Nikons 2013 year end financial results, Nikon provided the following details on the D600 sensor spot debacle.

Q:  What can you tell us about the warranty reserve for the D600?

A:  With regard to the issue of the D600 digital SLR camera that we announced on March 28th, 2014, we allocated 1.8 billion yen for warranty reserve in the year ended March 2014 to cover the cost of repairs and replacements. We are taking this matter very seriously, and we will continue to offer users of the D600 a special service and , while we will be taking steps to restore confidence in the Nikon brand.

Q:  What can you tell us about the inventory level?

A:  We have no concerns for the level of our inventory on hand. Regarding the amount of channel inventory, we have somewhat of a surplus at the moment due to the downturn in market conditions, but it is approaching proper levels compared to the situation at the end of December, 2013.

(emphasis added)

Nikon’s problems with the D600 are likely not over. There is still plenty of inventory still out in retailer channels around the world. It sounds like that $17.7 million was only allocated for Nikon’s prior fiscal year. Will 2014 take another big chunk out of Nikon’s bottom line for D600 warranty repairs?

Also, there’s that pesky class action lawsuit wherein Nikon’s willingness to repair D600 units doesn’t quite cover everything involved. There are plenty of consumer protection claims in the class action suit that don’t necessarily hinge on actions taken after the fact. There are probably also going to be D600 owners who have sold their cameras and lost money in those transactions, which is something that a free repair won’t cover.

What a thorn in Nikon’s side the D600’s defective shutter has been. On the one hand, I hope this can be quickly resolved and Nikon can get back to focusing on producing solid new products. On the other hand, I know there are many bitter Nikon customers who were so frustrated that it took Nikon so long to admit that the D600 was defective. Nikon has taken a nasty black eye when it comes the confidence of many pro and prosumer customers thanks to its unwillingness to be up front about a problem it knew existed all along.

Hopefully, those making the decisions at Nikon HQ have learned a costly lesson. Trust is so easy to lose but very hard to regain. And when you are asking people to pay thousands of dollars for your products, losing that trust can have a devastating effect on your bottom line.

[via Nikon Rumors]



  1. Bradley Ward says

    What I rarely see mentioned is that this D600 debacle was preceded by the same sort of faulty engineering and bad business decision making with the Nikon SB-900 flash. When used in manual mode (as in off camera flash, “The Strobist” type stuff, etc.) the SB-900 will overheat and shutdown very quickly. And rather than fix the problem, they did the same thing; discontinued the SB-900 and brought out the nearly identical SB-910, thus screwing all of us SB-900 owners.

  2. says

    I read this article with great interest. My wife and I are owners of two Nikon D-300’s, a D-800 and a D-4. All four cameras have had problems with oil spots caused by the mirror mechanism. I sent my D-800 in to be cleaned by Nikon and they confirmed oil spots on the sensor as noted by the Nikon technician with the return repair paperwork. The oil spots returned to the sensor after taking four photographs. I have cleaned my wife’s D-4’s sensor which also gets oil spots. This is a $6,000 camera. Between us we have over $20,000 in lenses and camera investment, all Nikon. The problem is not just with the D-600 it is with the mirror mechanism on most if not all Nikon DSLR’s. My goal here is not to destroy Nikon but to get them to own up to this problem and correct it no matter how costly it is for them. I believe they knew this all along. I have a friend with a D-800E that is less than a year old with oil spots on the sensor. My D-800 has approximately 10,000 shutter actuations and still constantly has oil spots. It’ s time for the Nikon user community to stand up and demand Nikon make good on its product if they ever hope to regain the trust of photographers worldwide again. It makes me sick to think how much I have invested in what I thought was a trusted brand and how much I stand to loose monitarily if I were to switch brands at this stage. If you doubt my word take a photo of the blue sky at f/16 with nothing else in the image only sky. Download the photo to your computer and look over every square inch of blue. The oil spots will be a perfect round circle with a darker smaller circle inside of the outer circle. The majority of the oil spots will probably be in the upper left corner. Lets see how many of you have the same problem and which Nikon DSLR are you shooting with. Thank you for listening.

  3. James Gregus says

    I sold all my Nikon stuff because of the D600 and now proud owner of Fujifilm X-E2 and the X-T1 cameras with 35 mm f/1.4, 14mm f/2.8, 18-55 mm f/2.8 and the 55-200 mm lenses.Very happy with system and don’t regret it at all. The lenses are better than my Nikkors and the pictures are as good or better.

  4. John Church says

    With detailed records and test photos to match I went through five D600’s before Nikon got my intention that I wasn’t about to give up. In the end replacement shutters and then replacement cameras were shot and examined for problems on a laptop in my vehicle right outside of their offices in Mississauga, Ontario. The final camera, a new replacement showed oil spots on the sensor with the shutter count only at five frames. Within minutes Nikon took the camera back off me and instructed me to bring everything to them for a full refund. The cheque for the full amount arrived eight days later (I still keep the cheque stub for proof). That was in April 2013, why it has taken Nikon so long to accept this world wide problem is unknown. All I know my confidence in them bruised over my issue is now non existent with their failure to look after their other customers in a timely manner.