NIKON D800 E LONG EXPOSURE ISSUES / PROBLEMS

ONGOING UPDATES HAVE BEEN MADE LATER IN THE POST.

This post touches on these Nikon D800 issues:

  • •White spots in long exposure image files when LENR is OFF
  • •Light coming in through the “back door”
  • •Menu items being “grayed” out

 

After a couple month long wait, and a tough decision to jump the Canon ship and come back to Nikon, the D800E finally arrived in my hands this week.  I hope to get to be able to write about my overall impressions and offer an informal review of sorts, but right now, I’m having some serious issues.

I’m a landscape photographer and 85% of my work is based on long exposures.  I took the camera out last night for an initial test and to get to know her a bit, while using some exposures of 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  The results were not good.

I was getting this weird issue with the contrast horizontally across the image.

It seemed to be right where the focal point is at, here at the rocky line along the bottom edge of the tidepool – kinda funky contrast and color issue…

Here is a close-up of the funky area.  I’m using a 10 stop ND filter and a 3 stop Grad ND.

I decided to bring it indoors the following day to do some tests under more controlled lighting.  After thinking about the issue from the previous night, I though maybe light spilled in from the side, or was reflecting off the filter somehow.  After a number of tests that all looked like this, I was ready to pack it in and ship it back to Mr. Nikon!  I was totally baffled and figured I had a bunk camera.

At this same time, Ben responded to my earlier post and said it might be the viewfinder door not being shut, allowing light to come in and effect the exposure.  Could it be!?  I re-tested…

Feeling a bit embarrassed, this was the problem…or, at least part of the problem.  Indeed, light was coming into the viewfinder and effecting the image in all these tests I was performing.  Hey, I’ve been using the Canon 5D Mark II for 5 years, the Nikon’s before that, and I’ve never had this problem!  Still kinda surprised.

Lesson learned – make sure to close the viewfinder door for any lengthy exposures.

Unfortunately, the issue does not stop there.  I was seeing a white spot issue that others have discussed here.  I needed to get out and do a real test to look for this.  I just got home from shooting under the near-full moon and look what I’ve got:

In an 8 minute long exposure…

Look at it at 100% and there’s a gazillion little white dots, in addition to some of those real hot pixels.  This is totally lame!

These images are all RAW, unprocessed, and shown as screenshots out of Adobe Camera Raw before any adjustments.  I do not shoot with Long Exposure Noise Reduction in-camera, nor will I.  My style of work won’t allow it – light and conditions change too quickly to wait double-time to take the next shot.  It’s just not an option.  This is new technology and supposed to be the best sensor, so what gives?  My 5 year old Canon 5D Mark II never needed Noise Reduction ON and I shot exposures of an hour+ with much less issue than this.

Do you have any thoughts on this?  Are you having any issues with long exposures and your Nikon D800?  Let me know.  I’m not quite sure yet what to do, but I’ll keep you updated – hopefully very soon with good news.

UPDATE

Konstantinos Vasilakis is having the same issue and talks about it here.  He seems to be using Raw Therapee and making it work for him.  Unless anyone has any better ideas, I suppose I’ll have to give that a try.  I’ll keep you posted…

UPDATE #2

I finally had a chance today to download Raw Therapee and try the software to fix the dreaded white-spot-issue and let me tell you – I am extremely frustrated!  Like, I-wanna-kill-the-computer-and-go-have-a-drink frustrated!  There’s nothing user friendly about this software.  I did get the above picture uploaded into the software and used the “Apply hot/dead pixel filter” which seemed to make a big difference:

before (click image to see large)

after (click image to see large)

But then, I really did not figure out how to save a TIF file that I could then open in Adobe Camera Raw.  Aargh!  I think I can only handle so much technical difficulties at one sitting, so will have to re-approach again later.

If you’re working this process, or have another fix to the white spots, please do share with us here.

If you are a Nikon D800 owner and ever planning on shooting long exposures, then PLEASE call Nikon and raise a stink so that they will fix with a firmware update.  When I called, the woman at Nikon said she had not heard of this problem!?  You can call them at: 1-800-Nikon-US  They will then send you through hoops and you’ll have to send in a picture of the problem (as if they can’t just take a long exposure in-house and see the damn issue!). 

I sent mine in today:

I suppose there always is Long Exposure Noise Reduction…I just did a test and this does seem to totally solve the white spot issue, but it SUCKS and I am sure I will miss shots by being forced to use it!

Long Exposure Noise Reduction OFF and ON at 100%

UPDATE #3  -  8/20/12

After a comment by Roberto, I had hoped that Capture NX2 would be a fix to this white-spot issue.  I downloaded a 6-month free trial and did a test.  Unfortunately, it did not fix it.  Here are the results.  Click on the images to see larger:

before any changes

after “astro noise reduction”

after “astro noise reduction” and “edge noise reduction”

after “astro noise reduction” and “edge noise reduction” up close

So, you can see things got a bit better, but did not solve the problem.

Next, I’ll try to gain a better understanding as to using a dark frame like Greg Bradley comments on below, and let you know what happens.  If you’ve found a workable solution, other than LENR ON or RawTherapee, please do share it with us here.  Thanks!

In the meantime, I’ve kinda tweaked the way I’m shooting and have been practicing patience while using LENR ON.  Beautiful high-res image files! and definitely a few missed opportunities.

UPDATE #4 – 9/5/12

Steve, one of our reader/commenters finally had a response from Nikon that I thought should be posted here in the main post so no one will miss it.  Unfortunately, it is not good news and is what I had been suspecting to hear from Nikon.  Here is an official word from Nikon:

  • Dear Steve,
  • Thank you for your update.
  • I have analyzed the sample image provided and consulted it with other Pro Support agents. It seems that the effect you are seeing is natural for D800 sensor and long exposure times – unfortunately there is no other way of removing the white spots than keeping the Long Exposure Noise Reduction active. I agree that it may not be convenient due to doubled exposure time, however currently there is no other solution to this problem due to limitations of the sensor technology.
  • We apologize for the inconvenience,
  • Please do not hesitate to contact us again in case of any questions.
  • Kind regards,

I think this sums up the stance that Nikon is going to take with this, now I suspect all we can do is hope that a software fix becomes readily available.

Menu Items Grayed Out

I used my D800E less than a dozen times and had to send it in due to a number of Menu items being “grayed” out and not being functional – I couldn’t even select them.  They were:

  • 1. HDR
  • 2. Time lapse photography
  • 3. Lock mirror up for cleaning
  • 4. Image Dust Off ref. photo

My sensor had become so badly spotted, that I had to look into getting it cleaned, which is when I noticed the Image Dust Off ref. photo was grayed out and not allowing me to select.  I tried full power batteries, setting the time, and the other few mentions I found regarding the problem, but to no avail.  It’s also very disconcerting how dirty the sensor got after such light use and being quite anal when I switch lenses.  To ship from Hawaii to Nikon with insurance was $130, so I certainly don’t want to have to do that often.  I sent the camera in last week and it’s currently being repaired.  I have wanted to post my impressions on the camera, but thus far, it’s been nothing but issues with slight glimpses of something wonderful beneath it all.

Commenter Exchange – Using a Dark Frame?

I should also add an exchange I had with Greg Bradley through this forum.  He has some suggestions that might be helpful regarding the white spot issue.  Here is the exchange:

  • You need to create a dark frame and subtract it from the exposure in post processing.  This is standard procedure in astrophotography.  There is a quite a lot posted about how to create a dark frame. Its a picture of the cameras thermal noise. Check out Images Plus website as this is very DSLR friendly software.  Basically it could be as simple as putting the lens cap on and snapping a same length exposure same ISO and settings (noise reductions off).  Then using image/apply image and subtract the dark from your light exposures.  More sophisticated would be taking 16 darks and stacking them with sigma reject combine, subtracting a bias frame (a fastest shutter picture of same ISO showing the electronic noise of the camera – again multiple bias at same temp ideally and combine say 16 using sigma reject combine).  Now you can scale your darks so they will work with any length exposure and use it in post processing.  Your darks have a shelf life. CCD and CMOS chips degrade over time from Cosmic Ray hits. So new hot pixels will emerge. They generally last about 6 months or so, so its a slow process. But if your darks stop doing a good job that’s what is happening.  Do it properly and it will clean up totally. We do this every image in astrophotography and it may seem like a lot of work but once you’ve set it up it isn’t really.
  • I wrote him and asked:

  • Hi Greg,

    Thanks so much for your blog post regarding the Nikon D800 and the white spots.  The process you speak of interests me and I’d like to see if it indeed will work with this white-spot issue.  Have you tried it with a long exposure D800 image file?

    Would you mind please sending me some links to the Image Plus information that you mentioned – a Google search on “Image Plus” gives many different results.  A link to a step-by-step of this process would be great too, if there is one that you are familiar with.

    Thanks so much!  Myself, and others on the web dealing with this issue, are very appreciative!

  • His latest response:
  • Here it is:
    • Basically taking a dark consists of same exposure, same ISO and everything else as the light but with the lens cap on or in a dark closet etc.
    • You could just take one and see how it goes. Usually in astrophotography with cooled CCD cameras we take from 6 to 16 and then combine them to get rid of artifacts using a statistical combining algorithim. A process like sigma reject combine rejects values that are too far away from a statistical “norm” for the noise. This then would be things like random non repeatable noise such as cosmic ray hits (more common than you would think) or other random non repeating noises.
    • This then gives you a master dark.
    • If in this process you also subtracted a bias frame you can then scale the darks to match the exposure lengths of the light exposures even if different.
    • A bias frame is again a shortest time exposure, 6 to 16 sigma reject combined. The bias frame is a picture of the read noise of the camera as opposed to the
    • thermal noise. I usually do not use them as of course the data is already in the dark image and I match my darks to my lights exactly – ie 10 minutes
    • at -30C, 6 to 16 sigma reject combined to form a master dark.
    • But if you are taking variable length light exposures and want to only use one master dark that Images Plus can scale to match then
    • you subtract a bias frame from your darks when making a master. It should be in the tutorials for Images Plus.
    • Images Plus is more an astrophotography software but it seems to be aimed at DSLRs rather than dedicated astro cameras  which are 16bit
    • and cooled.
    • How do you subtract a dark from a light exposure?
    • Well you can do it in Images Plus but you can also use the apply image function in Photoshop and set it to subtract and the frame to be
    • subtracted from is your light and the frame to subtract is the master dark you made. You would experiment with the offset number to give a pleasant
    • background and not too dark.
    • I hope this helps.

Admittedly, I find this information a bit over-my-head, not to mention that it seems that the ImagesPlus software only works with PC’s!?  Nonetheless, thanks very much Greg for taking the time to send in this info.  We all appreciate it!  Although for now, it seems the question remains open: have you tried this with a D800 file successfully?

(I can’t currently test this without my camera.)

If you have a working solution to this problem and have solved it with a D800 image file, please let us know and I will post it here.  Thanks so much!  Until then, it’s Long Exposure Noise Reduction ON or BUST!!

73 thoughts on “NIKON D800 E LONG EXPOSURE ISSUES / PROBLEMS

  1. It’s been a while since I commented on this article. I still have my D800e, and it still has the frustratingly annoying hot pixel issue. I was considering taking the plunge with the D810, thinking that Nikon surely would have fixed the issue with their 36MP sensor by now… but seems not!

    https://photographylife.com/nikon-d810-thermal-noise-issue

    There’s mention of a fix…

    https://photographylife.com/nikon-confirms-the-d810-thermal-issue-and-offers-a-solution

    …but I can’t get confirmation from anywhere that LE’s with the D810 and the fix applied present hot pixel free images without the need for LENR to be turned on :/

    Does anyone here have a D810 with the fix applied?

  2. I went the RawTherapee route for a while however I recently opened up some files affected by white dots in Capture One Pro and the Single Pixel slider under Noise Reduction removed them without affecting the detail in the images.

  3. I had a D3 before and used it for landscape shooting. Unfortunately, the round dots in some photos up there looked exactly as what you had with LT exposure. The only way to get rid of them was to manually remove them using the stamp tool in Photoshop. Since it was a handheld camera and a different chip, I am affraid that the problem dates before the D800 batch.
    Reading your comments turned me off to the idea of getting the D800 for a LT exposure shooting. I was planning to replace a film in chemiluminescence detection but instead I would have created more problems. Thanks for the warnings.

  4. Hi Scott and everyone, thanks for your posts.
    I have a D800 which i purchased in May 2012 and its the WORST Nikon of the dozens i have owned. No noise issues but could NOT get a sharp photo.
    Front focus, back focus – twice to Nikon Australia said it was fixed and it was worse.
    I also do a lot of landscape photography and using exposures of 30 seconds or more are the norm.
    I have a heavy duty tripod and still not a sharp image, been doing this stuff for thirty years and never had an issue with anything else.
    I decided to do some tests and I tested this in an environment with no wind or vibration on a concrete floor and there wasnt a sharp image among the 20 images I took. The longer the exposure the softer the result.
    Using both AF and Manual focus to no avail.
    I returned it and Nikon have now accepted that the camera is a problem.
    My problem is that I have all Nikon lenses and other bodies inc the venerable D700.
    I need a large file camera and full frame.
    I think Nikon have a lot of questions to answer on this very expensive mistake – if one reads the forums there is a big noise problem and soft images with long exposures
    What do I do ? Get another D800 and hope for the best ?
    Are the new ones better or ? I will be asking for a recently manufactured model thats for sure.
    Has anyone had experience with the D600?
    Thanks, Peter

  5. Great i found you all! I was getting crazy being the only one with the problem and did not find any images out there with the same problem.

    This is my D800 without LENR:
    http://images.bluemoehre.de/image/91d360dfb800efcf3588d90e1f0d27a5.jpg
    (interesting the brightest colored dots remain at their position)

    Here with LENR
    http://images.bluemoehre.de/image/529f4013919a9fa0c8b6e6e477bb9444.jpg
    (i noticed the white spots here are randomly moving – darkframe usage impossible)

    And on 1/100 shots @ISO6400 i can still find some spots =(
    Thinking bout returning the D800… And i would immediately if there will be someone who tells me, that he can kill the white dots totally with LENR or maybe never had the problem.

  6. Hi,

    I was looking forward to buy the D800 because of the high dinamic range, resolution and the amount of details in the pictures.
    I had a Canon mk ii and reading the reviews between the canon and Nikon 8 was decided about the d800 until i saw this long exposure problem as a landscape photographer this is very disappointing.
    I saw that nikon developed an update but i didn’t read about the fix of this problem. Do you have any update on this?

    Thanks

    • I gave up searching for an answer – I use Long Exposure Noise Reduction for all long exposure stuff. It’s a pain…but, it is what it is. I’ve made it work, and can say – the D800 is my favorite digital camera of all time, thus far.

      • Hi Scott,
        thanks so much for your reply. I’m really confused about what camera to buy the D800 or the 5D MK III and i’m trying to read all the impressions that other photographers are having with them.
        One friend that is a Night Photographer told me that the Mk III is the best that he ever tested, he used to have a Mk II and a D700. Another one that is a landscape photographer has the D800 and complained about the white dots. So the only bad thing in D800 is this white dots but even with this you said that this is the best cam ultil now.
        In your opnion if you had the opportunity to change to 5D MK III that don´t have this issue would you do it?

        And about the research i found this guy that is trying to develop a tool to avoid this issue
        http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/davideanastasia/8359200132/

        • Look at the DXO Mark that rates the sensor here:
          http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Ratings
          The Nikon D800 is the highest rated camera with 96 points of love, whereas the Canon 5D Mark III is a looooong way off with 81 points of kinda-like. That was a big factor for me. I love the D800E and it’s image quality, but it does matter for me – I make my living making big beautiful prints. If I didn’t, maybe my feelings would be totally different. These are all individual decisions and should be based on your personal needs – nothing else.

  7. Well, I’ve read the entire development on this issue and it seems that quite a few months have passed and no really good news on the subject. DISAPPOINTING!!!
    I too will hold on from buying a D800.
    Perhaps some of you may want to expose the issue of LTNR in the D800 in blogs like the ones frequented by landscape, nature, wildlife, travel professional photography groups all emanating from NANPA Group Members Linkedin site. I’m sure NIkon monitors those blogs and there are many Nikon officionados exchanging ideas everyday.

  8. Hi Scott,
    I just came back from a night photography shoot where I used my repaired 800e. I got a shock when I processed the raw files in DxO Optics Pro… I found tiny little white dots everywhere! I first thought DxO was the culprit as I just began to use it again. I opened the RAW file in PS through Camera Raw and everything looked fine until I over applied an unsharp mask just to force the pixels… And here they come… White pixels everywhere!
    I needed to find a solution and went back to DxO where I found a slider under the RAW noise parameters. By pushing that slider all the way to the right (100%), I can get rid most of those white pixels (98%)…
    Give it a try and let me know if it resolves your problems…

  9. Hi,

    I came to this page when I randomly googled around. For bright spot issues, you may want to give dcraw a try. It works on Mac as a command line tool. Just google dcraw, and it’s the first one that shows up. In the man page of dcraw, there is an explanation on how to use the function of dark subtraction. It should work very well.

  10. Hi all, glad I found this article. Just thought you should know that I have the D3200 and have the same issue with long exposure times…huge white spots all over the raw file. I’ll have to try it with NR on.

  11. I have followed this thread with some interest as I have recently purchased the D800, and, with LENR off, the white spots are rampant. I used to have a 5D Mark II and would see the white spots when taking long exposures at summer temperatures but in the cold they were practically non-existent. Either way, LENR took care of it, and, I thought, it would take care of it on the Nikon as well…

    I was taking some long exposures today testing a filter system and a 10 stop filter and the first long exposure, of about 4 minutes, showed a small amount of white spots, LENR on. The second long exposure, initiated roughly five minutes after the first one ended produced a MASSIVE amount of tiny white spots all over the image. Again, this is with LENR on!!

    I would say Nikon has one huge problem on their hands, and their solution to ‘turn on LENR’ (as also stated in the user manual) is not sufficient. I hope this is something that can be fixed with a firmware update, but, if not, I really don’t see the point in owning this camera, especially if long exposures are in the cards….

    Very disappointed.

    • Hi Bob. I have not noticed having the issue while using LENR ON, and have not heard of others having that problem. You might see about exchanging that D800 with Nikon for a new one, as it might be an issue with that particular camera.

      • It has crossed my mind to return it, LENR does make a huge difference but it does not eliminate the spots altogether so it may in fact be a defective sensor. On the other hand, I took some long exposures today and…no spots. I think it is a randomly occurring experience and I would not be surprised if it affected every single sensor made by Sony for this camera. I may end up returning it but I am not looking forward to not having my camera for days\weeks\months, however long it takes for them to fix it.

        It appears to be temperature related in a substantial way as today’s temps were not far above freezing and I think I found a total of two spots on one photo, vs the hundreds I have seen on other exposures.

        • I was out shooting a couple days ago and grabbed a few long exposure images, ranging from 2-8 minutes. The 2 minute exposure was fine, with only a few white spots, however, the 6 and 8 minute exposures were all but useless. LENR was enabled and there are, literally, thousands of tiny white spots covering the entire image. It was a bit disappointing to acquire an 8 minute exposure, followed by 8 minutes of LENR only to find that the image was useless.

          I will be sending the camera back to Nikon for (hopefully) repair of this issue. It appears to be more prevalent once the exposures get above the 3 minute range, but, as I mentioned, LENR does absolutely nothing to remedy the issue.

          I’ll let you all know how it goes!

          Bob

  12. Dear Scott,
    I have the same white dots problem you described very well.
    I noticed that the white dots points are always the same in all photos. It’s like a DNA profile of the camera. Each camera has different white dots points.
    I suggested to the italian Nikon service (Nital) to develop a firmare modification similar to the dust reduction function. For me Nikon shall develop a tool, inside the camera firmware, to shot a reference photo, in certain defined conditions, to be used to adjust automatically and immediately each shot taken with long exposures avoiding the use of the LENR that double the job on tha camera and damage the photographer when the weak last light of the days last few seconds and change continuously.

  13. @Ty – if you think Dust & Scratches doesn’t soften the image then I’m afraid you’re not looking at the detail close enough. The only way around it is to mask off selective areas where you want to maintain maximum detail, then manually remove any residual noise in those areas later. Any filter that interpolates part of the image to remove noise WILL soften it – fact.

  14. **You’re going about it all wrong.**
    For those who care, check this link:
    http://tyronedomingo.com/Long10_Test.jpg

    I grabbed one of the images in question and used Dust & Scratches in Photoshop to remove the noise. IT TOOK ABOUT THREE MINUTES. I promise. I understand that we would rather not have to do this at all but it’s really not that big a deal. I would simply add Dust & Scratches to your normal workflow. My thinking is that your not churning out numerous images form each shoot. You’re choosing your favorites and creating pieces of art, so spending a a few extra minutes is just a part of the process.

    Dust & Scratches DOES NOT SOFTEN THE IMAGE, if used properly. Contact me if you’d like a quick explanation. I find that many people don’t know how to use the filter properly. Photoshop is our friend!! We all already have it; you don’t need to worry about finding new software. You have what you need right in Photoshop. Just learn how to use it.

    Three Minutes Of Work…

  15. Hi Scott (et all)

    I read this thread with interest after checking my first set of LE with the D800e. I too was surprised with the multitude of spots present when reviewing the images at 100%. The longer the exposure, the more dots, and my 2 minute and under shots actually aren’t too bad – very minimal dots. 4 min plus exposures, especially in blue areas (magnified by my LEE stopper filters which have a blue tint tendancy) show quite a lot. So far I’ve just removed these dots with a separate Dust and Scratches layer (R-1, T-2), and masked off those areas where the filtering isn’t required. No issues so far and this allows me to keep peak sharpness where required. Honestly, I don’t think I have the time and patience to shoot multiple reference files at various ISOs and exposure lengths to try and subtract the noise – I’d rather be out shooting :)

    Of course the irony is that I bought this camera (switching from Canon) for its ability to render detail. Now I’m having to soften the image in parts to get rid of this issue. Not good.

    FWIW, the LE noise on my old 5D Mk2 was pretty good, although the hot pixels I got where bigger but considerably less in number. However, I feel you were fortunate to get away without having a light leak issue through the VF. This is something I experienced a number of times until I was forced to fiddle around with that pathetic bit of plastic to cover the VF each time, which was a real pain Why Canon couldn’t fit a VF shutter like they have on the 1Ds series is beyond me and, I must confess, this was another reason I shifted to Nikon.

    As for a fix from Nikon, this is a moving goalpost as the sensor ages so I don’t see how they would address it. I suspect it’s something we’ll just have to live with… although it would have been nice to have known prior to purchase that the sensor, for all its pluses, had this big fat negative.

    Rgds,

    Dave

  16. Hi,
    i am afraid Raw Therapee might be currently really the tool of choice for fixing the hot pixel issue (on the PC it is working quite well even though i did have a few crashes already). By using the “apply hot/dead pixel filter” option AND enabling the “Impulse Noise Reduction” i was able to get rid of all the problematic pixels (only using the hot/dead pixel filter still left some problematic pixels). This link should lead to an image where the location of both settings is illustrated.

    The picture which is processed in this image has been captured at iso 100 and a shuter speed of 30 seconds…

    http://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/~muigg/images/hotpixelremoval.jpg

    Raw Therapee seems to support dark frame subtraction as well… not sure if its necessary since the software-based noise-reduction itself works already this good…

    oh, and i just read, that you also have dirt on your sensor? It seems that some D800s seem to spew excess oil from the shutter mechanism… ill have to send mine in to nikon for cleaning as well :)

  17. Scott – I came across the same issue with the D800 on a recent long exposure just over 3 mins. I only noticed the white specs where there was movement in the water. I was able to get rid of them by taking these steps:

    1. Take adjusted tif from LR4 over to PS5.
    2. Creating a quick mask to create selection around affected area.
    3. Duplicate the layer from selection.
    4. Run Noise>Despeckle about 10 times.
    5. Flatten and Sharpen.

    I found that I wasn’t blurring or causing any harm to the smooth area of the water shadows or highlights with this method and I eliminated all visible white specs when viewing my final image at print size. I have some comparison image crops… if you would like me to send them please let me know.

    • Hey Tim, thanks for the link. Interesting, though I’ve been using the Canon 5D Mark II to make long exposures since the camera was introduced to the market and I never had issues like this…so, not sure what to make of it. It’s apparent that every D800 responds the same way to long exposures.

      • Canon 5D mkII Firmware Version 1.2.4 (17/12/09)incorporates the following improvements and fixes:

        1. Supports the WFT-E4 II wireless file transmitter that was released in December 2009.
        2. Corrects a phenomenon in which visible noise may appear in images taken by continuous Bulb shooting.

        So … I think Nikon has work to do.

  18. So, I sent sample pictures as requested to Nikon Support and now have what appears a fairly conclusive and disappointing response, as follows;

    Dear Steve,

    Thank you for your update.

    I have analysed the sample image provided and consulted it with other Pro Support agents. It seems that the effect you are seeing is natural for D800 sensor and long exposure times – unfortunately there is no other way of removing the white spots than keeping the Long Exposure Noise Reduction active. I agree that it may not be convenient due to doubled exposure time, however currently there is no other solution to this problem due to limitations of the sensor technology.

    We apologize for the inconvenience,

    Please do not hesitate to contact us again in case of any questions.

    Kind regards,

  19. I sent an email to Nikon Uk about this issue and got this reply
    Dear Steve,

    Thank you for your email.

    I would like to confirm that we are aware of noise appearing in long exposures due to limitations of the sensor technology. It can be almost completely rectified by using the Long Exposure Noise Reduction function, however I have to admit that doubling the overall time of taking a photograph is not ideal in some situations.

    In most cases it should not be impossible to remove the noise in post-processing even with the Long Exposure NR disabled. It is may be however that your camera is faulty in this regard would require a repair. Could you please provide an unedited sample RAW file so we could investigate it further?

    To attach a file to this incident please follow the steps below.

    1) Login to your Nikon account here https://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/app/utils/login_form
    2) Click on “My Questions” on the navigation bar on the left of the page and select this incident (120824-000115) from the list of previous incidents.
    3) Enter text in the box labelled ‘Add additional information to your question.’ Entering text is a requirement.
    4) To add an image click ‘Browse’ and choose the location of the file on your computer. Additional attachments can be added by clicking on ‘browse’ again and selecting another file from your computer.
    5) When you have added your file(s) click ‘Submit’ to send the incident back to us.

    Unfortunately, I am not able to comment on other camera’s manufacturers technology and performance.

    Kind regards,

      • Just posted this already but not sure where its gone, the threads here are a little confusing, anyway I sent in my image and here is the somewhat disappointing reply from Nikon;

        Dear Steve,

        Thank you for your update.

        I have analysed the sample image provided and consulted it with other Pro Support agents. It seems that the effect you are seeing is natural for D800 sensor and long exposure times – unfortunately there is no other way of removing the white spots than keeping the Long Exposure Noise Reduction active. I agree that it may not be convenient due to doubled exposure time, however currently there is no other solution to this problem due to limitations of the sensor technology.

        We apologize for the inconvenience,

        Please do not hesitate to contact us again in case of any questions.

        Kind regards,

  20. maybe you try Capture One Pro ©
    There’s two tools for noise reduction, and a tool for spots…
    It is suppose to be the best noise reduction incorporate in a raw editor !

    i was supposed to buy a D800 to complement my digital back… for long exposure…. i will wait for now then…

  21. Well, I am I glad I stumbled across this blog and thanks for posting about this issue Scott.
    I have not as yet done many LE images but a couple of weeks ago I took a few 2 minute exposures using a 10 stop ND.
    It was great image but on zooming in to 100% I was shocked to see thousands of little white dots, I mean imagine trying to clone all those out LOL.

    So I was thinking it was some kind of dust or a damaged sensor but I tried again tonight with a 2 and a 3 min exposure as Landscape is my thing and I will be expecting to take many LE’s with the D800. Well there it was again and after a sensor clean as well.

    So I have searched high and low and thank goodness I arrived here, at least I know I am not going mad.

    I agree with you though that LENR is not good enough, I used to use a Pentax K20d where LENR could not be turned off and when doing a series of 5 minute images the wait was excruciating. I thought I had escaped when I converted to Nikon with a D300s.
    Very dissapointed with this issue on the d800 it is not good enough.

    • Yes, you are not alone and it is an issue with the D800. Hopefully Nikon will fix this in a firmware update. I have not yet tried the process that Greg mentions, but that will be my next experiment. I’ll be sure to let you all know if it’s a workable solution.

  22. You need to create a dark frame and subtract it from the exposure in post processing.

    This is standard procedure in astrophotography.

    There is a quite a lot posted about how to create a dark frame. Its a picture of the cameras thermal noise. Check out Images Plus website as this is very DSLR friendly software.

    Basically it could be as simple as putting the lens cap on and snapping a same length exposure same ISO and settings (noise reductions off).
    Then using image/apply image and subtract the dark from your light exposures.

    More sophisticated would be taking 16 darks and stacking them with sigma reject combine, subtracting a bias frame (a fastest shutter picture of same ISO showing the electronic noise of the camera – again multiple bias at same temp ideally and combine say 16 using sigma reject combine).

    Now you can scale your darks so they will work with any length exposure and use it in post processing.

    Your darks have a shelf life. CCD and CMOS chips degrade over time from Cosmic Ray hits. So new hot pixels will emerge. They generally last about 6 months or so, so its a slow process. But if your darks stop doing a good job that’s what is happening.

    Do it properly and it will clean up totally. We do this every image in astrophotography and it may seem like a lot of work but once you’ve set it up it isn’t really.

    Contact me if you want more detailed advice.

    Greg.

    • Thanks for this information Greg. I will need to do an experiment with this process to see if it works with this D800 white-spot issue. Have you (or anyone else out there) used this process with a D800 long exposure file with success?

      • Hi,
        i have the same problem of white dots showing up on exposures as short as 30 seconds at 100 iso. I have quite some doubts about creating your own dark frames, since it seems, that 30 second exposures with the lens cap on result in perfectly black images… no hot pixels visible there… at least when looking at them on the camera screen and in adobe lightroom. So i guess using these as darks to fix the problem will be problematic since they do not show the white dots… I would assume, that the in camera LENR has more direct access to the sensor data and therefore can identify the hot pixels more precisely.

        As a final comment: i am really glad, that i am not alone with this issue ;)

  23. Well I guess I’m not the only one with this problem. I sent mine back to Nikon for the weird colour shift patterns and yes I also have these white dots on some images. My viewfinder curtain was closed and even on my 1st long exposure (60 sec) I saw the problem. I never had any problems with my D300, OK maybe a slight colour shift towards the warmer spectrum but easily correctable. This pattern is random and I also can’t use the NR on a 3-4 minute image. There are times when you only have 2 minutes for that great light. Really not acceptable Nikon. Help us out.

    • Nice to know someone out there understands! Most people tend to think that LENR is the obvious answer, but there are just too many times where it is not – and would mean missing the shot.

      • I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM!!! FIRST NIGHT OUT FOR TESTING THE BRAND NEW D800 AND ….BANG!!!
        ALL THE FILES IN THE TRASH CAN, THOUSANDS OF WHITE SPOTS.
        WILL NIKON COME UP WITH A SOLUTION OR DO I SELL THE CAMERA??

    • Roberto, this isn’t just hot pixels and artifacts – its dense white spots throughout the entire image. Unless something I am unaware of has changed in the past couple weeks, then no, Capture NX2 does nothing to solve this problem. As far as I know, LENR ON and RawTherapee are the only two workable solutions at this time. Did you test a long exposure D800 file in Capture?

      • Yes, I did. “Astro noise reduction” removes hot pixels, for white spots, activate “Edge noise reduction”. It works.

          • Ok Roberto, I really wanted you to be right and have this work…but, it’s not. I downloaded the 60-day free trial and did followed the steps you said worked for you. It did help the situation, but the white spots are still there just as dense as before, but not as bold. It seems to help make the issue less obvious, but it certainly does not fix the issue – so it’s not really a fix. Can you please email me some before and after pix at 100% of this working for you? I, along with others, would love to figure out if this is a workable solution to this problem, but my testing isn’t showing these results. I’ll post my pix from the test this week. Thanks!

  24. I had these same problems with my Nikon D700.
    Not the end of the world, if you taking a long exposure
    you’ve probably put more thought in to it than just snapping a picture.
    I think it’s worth the wait using the NR in camera and people need to
    calm down and enjoy the results of the extra minutes. I would probably
    be annoyed taking a 30 min. exposure though and having to wait an hour total,
    but I’m not.

    • This comment lets me know that you really don’t shoot very many long exposures. There are many times where this wait-time becomes a BIG issue – for example, it is sunset time and the light is going quickly. There are clouds moving past the scene that would really set off the shot – lets say a 2 minute long exposure. The first one is ok but then another cloud is coming and really lights up with color. This is the shot of the night. With my 5+ year old Canon 5D Mark II, I am ready to start a new exposure and not be hindered by a wait-time. With my brand new (“best sensor ever”) Nikon D800E, I am sitting there frustrated that I am missing the best shot of the night. There are many many times that you can’t anticipate when the optimal minute of light will be, therefore, your camera needs to be at the ready. When it is constantly in LENR ON mode and processing the last image, you are missing shots – it’s just that simple.

      “People need to calm down and enjoy the results of the extra minutes.” I suspect that not only do you not shoot many long exposures, but I’d bet that you don’t have many (or, any) long exposure images with dramatic light. I am sure all of us outdoor landscape photographers enjoy our time in nature and find it very calming, but when you are doing work and have spent thousands of dollars on top gear, and then have spent countless hours and days out in the environment to get that one special moment, only to miss it because your brand new state-of-the-art camera is still processing – it is an issue. Yes, it’s not the end of the world, but for those of us who work hard to capture images like this, it is an issue – one that Nikon should fix.

      BTW – I don’t find the 30 minute exposure to be nearly as much of an issue, because that is the time where you figure out the shot and can make 1 frame and get back to the campfire, or dinner, and check the shot later. It’s the 2-4 minute long exposures during optimal times that is a major issue.

      • “Noise reduction is subtractive, so after the initial exposure, a second exposure of identical length is made with the shutter closed. Noise from the second exposure is subtracted from the first image leaving a pristine, noise-free image. The only downside is the exposure takes twice as long”

  25. Also, I must say that I’m very astonished, that this issue doesn’t create more uproar in the landscaper-community…
    I didn’t see this problem mentionned so far in a single review for the D800 even although every single camera is affected.

    • I hear ya Simon. I too am very shocked that more people aren’t talking about this, and I agree with you – it’s very difficult and frustrating to be forced to use the LENR. That’s probably why my shooting hiatus is extending out longer than usual, even know I’ve got a new camera and lenses! You’d think I’d be excited to get out and shoot shoot shoot.

      Mr. Nikon! PLEASE fix this issue!!

  26. I just cancelled my D800 order because of this issue.
    Using LTNR is not an option because you will miss important opportunities for shots when the light changes fast in the morning/evening.
    I will now wait for the D600 or until Nikon fixes this problem in the D800 firmware.
    It is certain that it can be fixed with in the firmware since Raw Therapee offers an option to remove the dots with no problem.

  27. Thanks for the tip on closing the viewfinder door when doing long exposures. I didn’t need to use this with my D700 and I was really frustrated with the magenta cast I was getting with my D800E. About the NR requirement, it’s indeed a very annoying issue, especially for very long exposures.

    • You’re telling me! I haven’t worked enough with it yet in the field (partly due to my lack-of-excitement over this issue) to see how much this will change what I do, but I suspect it will really SLOW things down and force me to miss opportunities.

      Mr. Nikon…if you’re listening…please fix this white spot issue…for the love of all that’s holy!

  28. Hi,

    I’m having the exact same issues on my D800E and turning on the in camera noise reduction is the only proper fix I have found. I have not been able to find software that sorts the issue without some degradation to the image, but I’ll look again at Raw Therapee.

    I never used LENR on my D700, but it’s a must with the D800. The files are crisp and clean, but you do have to wait double the time.

    Cheers,

    Gavin

    • Thanks Gavin. That’s very unfortunate! I just don’t see that method working for me, so I’m going to have to try the Raw Therapee and see how that added step works.

      • Same issue. NR only solution and that’s a bunch of shit for exposures that are only 3min or less. :/ Hopefully something comes around from it. Gotta make a lot of noise on the net…and to Nikon

    • Hi John. Yes, the first day I had the camera, I shot handheld for my nephews graduation. BIG beautiful files! Getting proper focus is a challenge as every tiny misstep shows dramatically with this camera. So I don’t think it’s a lemon.

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