Nikon D7000 Oil on Sensor Problem - James Pictures
Nov, 25 2012

Nikon D7000 Oil on Sensor Problem

So my camera is just over 12 months old and I have been having problems with my Nikon D7000 Oil on Sensor Problem.

The recommended time for a sensor clean is approximately every 9 months or until you start noticing dust / dirt on your photos, or so Google would have me believe, again im no expert but the main point to take from this sentence is “or until you start noticing dust / dirt on your photos”. Then action is defiantly required!

I had started to notice the problem on my pictures a few months ago and was cloning it out in Lightroom but 2 weeks ago after a sunset shoot I got home to view the pictures and was horrified as the dirt / dust on the images was just so bad I was having to delete them, so I started to investigate more as I read a post regarding the new Nikon D600 oil on sensor problem, I started to find groups on Flickr and articles on the internet about the Nikon D7000 oil on sensor problems.

Image ruined due to Nikon D7000 Oil on Sensor Problem

Image ruined due to dirt or oil on the sensor of my Nikon D7000

Here is one of my pictures that I saved for reference that is potentially useless and got me looking for answers. What I did notice whilst browsing that all of the spots were of similar sizes and were new or seemed faded, but all similar sized.

I found several people in groups on Flickr uploading pictures of the oil spots and the lengths they had to go to to get Nikon to do something about it, but as im new to photography I wanted to make sure 100% that this was oil and not dust before complaining so that I didn’t make myself look silly.

I googled “Dust on camera sensor” and looked at some images and to be honest they all looked very similar so I decided to take my camera to an Approved Nikon Repair Centre luckily I have one which is only 10 minutes drive away 🙂

I explained the problem and asked them if I could get it fixed under warranty.

They said they would have a quick look at the camera and tell me if it was dust or oil, he also explained that Nikon would not clean the sensor under warranty.

So no sooner he had taken the camera away he was back within 60 seconds to tell me that the technician had inspected the cameras sensor and it was indeed dust and would only believe 3% of what I read on the internet, typical I thought, but im a newbie to all this but there was a little bit of doubt still so I asked if I could still send it to Nikon for a second opinion anyway.

I could tell the chap was annoyed but pleasant at the same time he said our Nikon collection is every Wednesday your more than welcome to bring it in on Tuesday and well get it sent off for you.

My next little dilemma was I had a week of so I wanted to go to Scotland with my beloved camera and didn’t want to send it off just yet but I knew that if I got any decent shots they would be no good because of the dirt on the sensor, so I swallowed my pride and asked how much it was for a sensor clean, initially they quoted me £50 +vat so I was annoyed but had my hands tied, so I had it cleaned not on the same day I went away and booked it in.

Whilst I was at home I decided to do a little test, and some more reading.

I found a very cool website explaining how to do a quick sensor test, you can find it here >> Inspecting the sensor

I then took an image and examined it

Before using the blower on Sensor

Before using the blower on the sensor of my Nikon D7000

It was filthy, I also noticed on the newer darker round spots that there was a white “halo” around the spot, indicating a type of grease or oil ?

So I then got my Giottos Air Blower out thinking that if its “dust” some of it would shift if I blew on the sensor, so holding the camera upside down with the mirror up I blew onto the sensor, this was the image after blowing on it.

After using the blower on the sensor of my D7000

After using the blower on the sensor of my D7000


As you can see its pretty much identical I cropped the top left corner and I was able to notice 4 spots had moved in total it was starting to look more like oil more and more !

So the day came to take the camera in for a sensor clean, I printed of the 2 pictures and showed this time to a lady and whilst she was sympathetic I explained my case that I needed the camera for next week and couldn’t afford to send it of, but I would like to.

They charged me £36 total for a cropped sensor clean so I was happy in the knowledge that the sensor was good and if i got some nice images they would be muck free 🙂

On picking the camera up from the shop, the same lady told me they had noted on the invoice “We note faint marks on the sensor Do not show on image” I asked what it was and she simply smiled and said “probably what you were complaining about, and you should book it in to go to Nikon on your return”

Once I got home I ran the same test, ISO 100, F/22, 2 second exposure, Manual Focus moving the camera towards the screen over the 2 second exposure.

This was the result after the sensor clean

Nikon D7000 straight after sensor cleaning

Nikon D7000 straight after sensor cleaning


Defiantly not perfect, I wasn’t expecting perfection though, and you can still see faint spots I wonder if it was tricky to remove it all ? And how come there are a couple of new looking spots, ive only fired 1 picture ???


So I went on a Sunrise Photo Shoot in the Peak District and fired of over 100 exposures and ran the same test again when I got home and this was the result

Straight after sensor cleaning plus 108 exposures

Straight after sensor cleaning plus 108 exposures


As you can see the initial spots straight after the sensor clean have faded slightly and there is a few new ones, not many but there is still some new ones.

I’m defiantly taking the camera to be looked at by Nikon after my week away, from reading other peoples experiences once they change the Mirror Box it seems to resolve the problem, so fingers crossed in a few weeks all this will be history.

After sensor cleaning plus 1200 exposures

After sensor cleaning plus 1200 exposures



Update 03/12/12

After a long week of photography and shooting over 1000 images I have done another sensor test (see image above) and it would seem that the oil is still getting on to the sensor. I have been doing some more landscape shoots and noticed a few spots in the sky of my recent exposures so did the sensor test as described in the link above. The image below is the result and as you can see there is lots of oils spots back on the sensor, so im sending it of to Nikon tomorrow. I want it sorting, its been 2 weeks and its needs cleaning again.

Update 13/12/12

Camera has now been away for 9 days, and to be honest its killing me, the weather here in the UK is having a lovely frozen spell, white trees, freezing fog and snow on the high ground and I wanted to get out and shoot some landscape but I cant.

I was also worried that It wouldn’t be back in time for Christmas Holidays and noticed on the website that they closed down from 22nd December – 3rd January so I decided that I would need to get it back before they closed up for Christmas.

I have just had a little chat with the Approved Nikon Repairs local to me who have been great. They do Nikon runs to the Nikon Service Department in Kingston, Surrey every Wednesday so I asked them to bring the camera back to there shop on the 19th December regardless of whether it was repaired or not so I could use it over the festive season.

They phoned the Nikon Service Department for an update and my camera was fixed late last night (just after they left!!) so it will be defiantly back on the 19th December (hopefully fixed)

Update 20/12/12

2 weeks without my camera at Christmas, not good when you have a young family, I missed taking pictures of both of my daughters in there School Christmas plays. I also missed the chance to get out in some amazing snow we had last week and when I had a week free, I instead wrote 3 website articles!

So I got the camera back and was a little optimistic about the repair hoping that it had been resolved something seems a miss though, on the workshop report form it doesn’t say much at all, the repair details just says:

CCD    CX (C= Clean X= Check)
Test Fully

Now to me that looks like they have cleaned the CCD and checked it, and then fully tested the camera. (not being funny but I paid to have that done 3 weeks ago by the approved repair centre listed above)

I decided to do the exact same test as all of the above tests for consistency, and low and behold there is what seems to be oil on the sensor already straight back from the Nikon Repair Centre…. what the hell!!! im not impressed to say the least.



After Nikon Repair

After 2 weeks at the Nikon Repair Centre, and there is still oil present, which leads me to believe it has not been fixed.

Update 20/12/12 – Continued

I will use the camera for 200 more exposures and do the test again, if it is still throwing oil onto the sensor I think its time to return to point of sale as a faulty product.

Update 23/02/13

So The camera is away again back to Nikon as I type. I sent it back in January 2013 as the sensor was covered in oil again. I was impressed with the turn around from Nikon Warranty, all of 5 days from me posting it to them to getting it back. I was however al little less unimpressed with the outcome. All they did was clean the sensor and said that the oil was in fact dust !!

I wasn’t impressed. This is a picture of the sensor straight back from the 2nd warranty return, and you can see there is still oil on the sensor!!

I let it go, tested the camera and there was already oil on the sensor so I knew the problem had not been resolved, it would return for sure as and when I kept using it, and sure enough… I was right.

I have just returned from a week in Scotland where I took over 1600 exposures and the sensor on my D7000 was covered in oil again!! I boxed the camera straight up and fired it back to Nikon Warranty for its 3rd time.

Just got to wait for it to come back, but from my previous experience, and the fact Nikon UK have just released a statement about the D600 Dust on Sensor and not Oil issue when it is in fact Oil, I find it hard that there going to admit there is a problem!

I know for a fact its not dust, because when you use the blower on the so called “dust” the oil smears onto the sensor !! and none of the “dust” moves either, as if it is stuck to the sensor…

Having the same problem ? Please leave a comment !!


About the Author:
I didn't get into photography overnight, it started whilst out walking getting some fresh air, admiring the sunsets and wanting to share them with others. Here I am today posting photographs of my local national park.


  1. Rob
    June 04, 2013

    Hi James,
    Sorry to hear the trouble you’ve been going through. Got my D7000 as my first d-SLR in January and I have just sent my D7000 away today myself because of oil on the sensor (all of 6 months), a fairly big spot that I noticed since coming back from Edinburgh last month.
    I took my camera into a shop that everyone I’ve spoken to recommended ( ). Up until I walked in to the store it self, I didn’t even consider it being oil and had thought it was just sticky dust/pollen or sometihng after attempting to use a rocket blower (bTw been recommended not to do this as it is more than likely to just blow the dust around your camera into different areas). I had expected it to cost me around £35 for a sensor clean but after the chap did a check with some engineer in the back, he came back and said it was oil and it should be sent away, for free.
    I’ve left it with them today (around 5pm on a Tuesday) and they reckon it should be ready for pick up on Friday.

    I’ve not done the testing you’ve done in this post, but plan to when I get it back. I think there is only so many times you can send your goods away before you lose trust in the product, and either switch to a competitor or ask them to change it completely. Maybe take this route with them if you are still unhappy.

    Good luck, I’m off to check out your pics now 🙂

    • james
      June 11, 2013

      Hi Rob, I’ve been away so just seen your comment.

      I gave up in the end fighting them, they kept saying it was dust and its normal, I knew it wasn’t normal and I shouldn’t have to pay to have my sensor cleaned after every 1000 exposures.
      My only other alternative was to pay for an external second opinion, but again im not sure where this would have got me.
      Ive now switched to a Sony Nex 7 after using Nikon gear for the best part of 10 years on and off as an enthusiastic amateur I just lost faith in there product and there customer service.

      I like the Sony Nex 7 for landscape photography but I miss some of the Nikon features for when im shooting my kids. its a fair trade of though in the size and weight department.

      I may try a full sensor body in 18 months time, not sure it will be Nikon though 🙁

      Keep us updated, and I would take a sensor test shot when you get it back, and then another one at 1000+ exposures to see how much oil its throwing onto the sensor.

      it infuriates me that Nikon confirms there are problems with the D600 (pro body) yet they ignore the D7000 (amateur body)

  2. 4dogsken
    June 13, 2013

    Sent my D7000 to Mack for this problem. They just cleaned it! Had given them the mirror driving unit part #(1 H998-128-1)and explained that the lens was never off the camera as this oil kept accumulating . Called the repair supervisor and he tells me “you can’t believe everything you read on the web”!!! Plus, he had the gaul to tell me that because I had it cleaned professionally,I technically voided the warranty! STAY AWAY FROM MACK WARRANTIES!!!

    • james
      June 13, 2013

      Yup my Nikon repair centre said not to believe everything on the web too…. I was a little annoyed at there take on it, but why would there be so many people complaining about it ? You cant ignore the fact that people are getting this problem, be it dust, dirt, oil, grease or anything else… its ruining my pictures!!!

      Unfortunately though the majority of D7000 owners will not be aware that there sensor is filthy until its to late and there warranty has expired.

      I was also under the impression my Nikon warranty would be void too if I tried to clean the sensor myself, but I asked them over the phone and they said it would not void my Nikon warranty.

      I guess D7000 users need to start learning how to clean there sensors 🙂

      Ive now jumped over to the Sony Nex 7, its the same sensor as the D7000 but at 24MB pixels its better quality image resolution than the D7000 and its half the size. I like it for landscape work, but prefer my old Nikon for faster work.

  3. 4dogsken
    June 13, 2013

    Japanese companies used pride themselves on being honorable. Not any more, I guess. Too bad. Started into DSLR’s Dec.,’09 with a D90. Had Sony been in the DSLR business then I’d be shooting a Sony now. Had 3 Sony p&s from ’04 to’10 and loved ’em all. For a massed produced lens,those Zieiss lenses are amazing. My main use is landscape too,so I’ll just keep shooting and see what happens. Still have 13 months left on the Mack( The supervisor came to his senses eventually).Shooting long exposure lake/sky/horizon stuff this summer so any spots will have no where to hide! Out in the woods/ fields/streams I didn’t notice how bad things had gotten till I did some tight, long exposure rapids shots. Still havn’t ruled out making the switch to Sony. Enjoy, Ken

  4. Luciano
    December 05, 2013

    My name is Luciano. About three weeks ago I bought my first DSLR, a nikon d5100. Two days ago I started noticing some small grey/black spot in a couple of images. However, in my case they do not look so noticeable like the example at the beginning. First I thought they were death pixels, but they are noticeable only at f22 o f36. I wonder if I’m having this oil issue with the d5100. This oils spots, Are they only noticeable at small apertures? Luciano.

    • james
      December 05, 2013

      Hi Luciano, sorry to hear you have noticed dirt / oil on your sensor. Typically you will only see the spots in the sky shooting at smaller apertures (F/8 and over) or long exposures. I didn’t really notice for a few months, so I had the sensor cleaned privately and monitored the spots by doing this >> it takes all of 2 minutes (just remember to use the exact same settings for a good comparison) If you start to see dust / oil after 100 exposures you probably have a problem, hard to say without seeing example images. You can use the contact form to email me if you want to send an example.

  5. James B.
    February 15, 2014


    I had the same kind of dark spots that you had on my Nikon D7000. I sent it to the Nikon repair service in Los Angeles. They cleaned it for free. I ran tests on it and the spots were all gone. But, after less than 50 clicks the dark spots have returned. I don’t think this is dust. I think its oil. I wrote Nikon to ask what I should do. Still waiting to hear back. I’ve had 3 other Nikon DSLRs and have never had this problem. Thinking I should ask for a refund or a credit to get a D7100.


    • James Pictures
      February 15, 2014

      Hey James, I wish you luck!! I would have returned mine but the shop I brought it from went into administration, so I had to deal directly with Nikon. And I never got far, It was like banging my head against a brick wall, they kept on playing the dumb game and all they would do was clean the sensor. That to one side, im hearing now that the D7000 had the same Nikon Multi-CAM 4800DX sensor module as the D600 and D5300 which apparently all have the same oil on sensor problem.
      I moved from the D7000 to a Sony Nex-7 (same size sensor) but found it to small, ive now gone and purchased a D800, and so far so good. Ive used Nikon for over 15 years and I was absolutely disgusted with the customer support regarding this issue… like I said I wish you luck. Please keep us updated!

  6. James B.
    February 25, 2014


    I sent the D7000 to Nikon Service for the 2nd time. If they replace the mirror box and not just clean the sensor again I will keep it. If they simply clean it one more time I’m going to dump it on Ebay. I will probably try getting a D7100. Not ready to go to a FX body. I don’t have very many high quality full frame lenses. My old pre-DSLR Nikon lenses are crap and I have a rather large collection of pretty good DX lenses. If I were to get a D800 or a D610 I would want to get the good lenses but I can’t justify spending that kind of money as I think in my hands its a waste. To be honest, I should have stuck with the D90. It worked great. Never had a single problem. Having said that I know I will upgrade to an FX body in the future. I would love to try out a D800. Do you love it?

    –James B. (Los Angeles)

    • James Pictures
      February 25, 2014

      They replaced the mirror box on mine, but it didn’t fix the problem so make sure you carry on testing. I was extremely disappointed with Nikon after there blatant ignorance to resolve my problems with my D7000, sure I could keep sending it back to the Nikon Service department but it was with them for 7-14 days in my time and at my inconvenience. I didn’t buy a camera not to use it! And I begrudged sending it back time and time again for them to simply clean the sensor!!

      So in the end I decided to sell ALL my Nikon gear and try something totally different. A friend had a Sony Nex 7 and was getting great results and it was the same sized APS-C sensor as the D7000 but in half the package. Im glad I tried it, It took amazing quality pictures and was extremely portable and easy to use.

      I just missed my Nikon, which because I had used for over 10+ years I knew where every control was in a flash. in hindsight I should have got the D7100 but I didn’t know if it suffered from the same problem, as I was reading how the D600 was suffering with it too.

      Do I love my D800, hell yeah!! its everything I expected it to be, a little heavy and not very portable if your out walking all day. If you have all DX lenses I would go with the D7100.

  7. James B.
    February 26, 2014


    When I was younger I always wanted a Nikon but they were out of my reach so I used a Pentax. I like Nikon but they have behaved badly lately by not owning up to this oil sensor problem. If I was smart, and thats a big “if” I’d punt this D7000 & my vast collection of soon to be worthless DX lenses and get a D800 and that Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. And, maybe a 300mm f2.8 if I win the lottery. What is your take on DX vs. FX? Are we all going to be using FX in the near future and will DX lenses be almost worthless?

    –James B.

    • James Pictures
      February 26, 2014

      Id hold out if you can. Whilst I love the D800 the Sony A7R does the same at half the size/weight and price. It also depends on what you shoot I guess, but for me (landscapes) im 50/50 right now. 50% Nikon simply because I know how to get the best from my set-up and 50% Sony A7R because it appeals to my style of photography.

      I say hold out because cameras are getting smaller, the D800 + 24-70mm is a heavy piece of kit, and darn expensive. Yes you will get the results no doubt, but you’ll also have a bad back lugging it around all day! If your D7000 gets fixed (I doubt it will) push for a D7100 for your next jump, so you wont need new glass. I reckon in 12-18 months we will see some really good compact cameras on the market.

      This might be a little bias but im basing this from my genre (landscape photography)

  8. James B.
    March 20, 2014


    I sent the D7000 back to Nikon for the 3rd time and this time they replaced the mirror box. I did not test it. I put in in the box and sold it back to Amazon for $387 USD. Mine was a 2010 model. I get the impression that the batches from that time had a lot of issues.

    Good luck,

    –James B.

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