Follow these steps to eliminate hot pixels from the sensor of your Nikon DSLR camera’s sensor. Total repair time is about a minute. Then scroll down a bit and realize you can relax about this sort of thing in general.
It is VERY likely your digital camera has hot pixels. If you want to see it for yourself, there is a very quick acid test: Set the camera for manual control. Put on your lens cap and crank up the ISO setting, then take a long exposure. Go for 10 seconds at ISO 3200. Slap the card in your computer’s memory reader, open the file, and zoom in to 100%. Prepare to be shocked at what you see. To fix this:
- Set the camera on a high ISO setting. I used 1600.
- In the menus, navigate to the Clean Now sensor cleaning command so it can happen quickly after the exposure (get the menu ready but don’t clean the sensor yet)
- Set the camera to manual exposure
- Install a lens cap
- Fire a 30-second exposure*
- Immediately after the camera has processed the image (after the card access light goes out), go into the menu and perform a sensor cleaning.
- Turn the exposure time down, and turn the ISO down, to a setting you might reasonably use that would usually give hot pixels before. Make it ISO 800 and 1/50 second, for example.
- Shoot another exposure, still looking at the inside of the lens cap. Compared to the last exposure on your memory card, the hot spots should be visibly GONE.
*(it doesn’t seem to matter how long. Some people report 2x 20 seconds, some report holding a BULB exposure for 20 seconds. I went with two 30 second exposures and it worked for me)
I got this from here where a fellow had good results with method on his D300. It worked for my D7k and reportedly is a ‘feature’ of Canon cameras as well. Try it and let me know if it works for you!
Or not. You really probably don’t have to worry about this.
My bran-spankin new D7000 had a few* hot pixels, which doesn’t usually bother me. Hot pixels will come and go on every digital camera sensor, and if yours doesn’t have them just wait. My camera at work sometimes gets a few big blue hot pixels and I just dab them out in Photoshop. The problem is I had a very hot pixel on my camera that was visible right in the center of the frame, at shooting conditions that I actually use. Worse, I shoot mostly jpeg and the pixel is RED and Bayer interpolation means that it covers eight or nine adjacent pixels with RED, so it pops if you go looking for it. For me, this was a problem.
Here are some dark-warehouse-walking-around pictures I took, just some random stuff. See if you can find the hot pixel I am talking about. These are reduced-size but show the full frame.
The last of these was ISO 1600 for 1/125 second. It is approaching as bad a scenario as you might ask for while hand-holding a camera taking walking-around pictures. Yes, it got worse with higher ISO and longer exposures. What, you don’t see it? Well, let’s crop and zoom in a bit, and then you’ll notice it, possibly for the first time.
Unless you crop heavily or are doing lots of pixel-peeping, you will never notice this:
Hint: look just above halfway down, on the right side near the edge between the dark and lighter areas
And, lest you tell me I am imagining this ‘fix’ worked, I got lucky, the sensor thermal characteristics changed with the long exposure and the pixels will come back, etc. etc. . . .
I started with this, before (30 seconds ISO 1600). Notice that you don’t see very many of the dots to which the fingers are pointing at this zoom level.
(click here to see the full 3MB file without the pointer hands)
(click here to see the full 2MB file)
My little pointer-hand was copied 200 times* to point out the worst of the hot pixels in the “before”. That’s just the ones I felt like pointing out – some were visible but not really objectionable when pixel-peeping at 100%. Now the images are visibly clean, and they have stayed that way for hundreds of photos so far. My very strong suspicion is that Nikon does exactly this when you send your camera in to have its sensor remapped, that remapping hot pixels is done just this way and they don’t want to tell you for whatever reason.
*For some people this is a crazy-high number. Consider, though, that you are looking at over 16,000,000 pixels. That is approximately 0%. Well okay, 0.001%. And like I said, this is the acid test. This is a worst-case scenario for still images made with this camera. You pretty much never take high-ISO long exposure photos of the inside of your lens cap, do you? I wouldn’t want to shoot a starry night sky with this camera in the “before” state, for purposes of counting stars . . . but for most photographic purposes this is JUST FINE and your eyes will never see these dots. I was happy with this performance, except for the two central red pixels and most of the time just the one hot pixel was my personal crazy-maker.
So. I did this and it got rid of my hot pixel(s). Try it for yourself.
Now, by my count, there are a grand total of ZERO hot pixels. Have I lost data? Yes. 0.001% or so of my pictures going forward comprises an averaged value from the pixels next-door being smeared to cover those which were mapped out. Just sharpening a picture in Photoshop changes more than this number, and so what?. I am now a happy camper.
Did you really read down this far? If so, you are a camera geek or just bored, or maybe you are pulling your hair out over hot pixels. Leave a comment and tell the world how it worked for you.