Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Oil-Spatter on the Sensor Problems ... Own a 1DX II? I Need Your Help

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200-pct-crop-upper-right-1DX-II

A 200% crop of upper left corner of 1D X Mark II f/22 sensor test image/January 23, 2017

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Oil-Spatter on the Sensor Problems …

Almost from the start, I noticed some really nasty sensor problems with my then brand-new EOS 1D X Mark II. I thought that it was sensor dust. The problems were so bad, that I tried cleaning the sensor as I have been doing successfully for more than a decade with the Lens Pen. That only made things worse.

1200-pct-oil-spots

A 1200% crop of upper left corner of 1D X Mark II f/22 sensor test image/January 23, 2017

The Oil Spatter Spots

I believe without a doubt that the spots you see above are caused by oil spatter from the shutter mechanism when it fires. Viewed at lower magnification, they are all consistently round. But it is the sheen around each spot seen in the enlarged iamges that indicate oil or some sort of lubricant to me. I have never seen anything like them before or since on anything but a 1D X II body. And I have been doing digital photography since 2001.

As noted elsewhere here, one of the participants on the Japan IPT had a 1D X II that exhibited the exact same problem, similar to but worse than mine when I first noticed the problem. Unfortunately, she sent her camera to Canon Canada to be cleaned without first making an f/22 dust spot test image …

Creating an f/22 Dust Spot Test Image

Grab any telephoto lens. Make sure that the drop-in filter is perfectly clean. A small bottle of LensClens and an old tee shirt will do the job perfectly. Now mount the camera. Always be sure to turn the camera body off before removing the front cap or when changing lenses. To reduce sensor dust ๐Ÿ™‚

Set the body to Av mode and set the aperture to f/22. Move the AF switch to M (manual focus) and defocus to close focus. An underexposed image here is fine so add only one stop of light on a cloudy day or shoot the meter on a blue sky day. Point the lens at the sky and make an image. Save the test image and view it at first at 100%. Do understand that at f/22 you will be seeing every microscopic dust spot. Most but not all of those can be cleaned with a good Rocket blowing followed by the a LensPen cleaning if needed for stubborn spots. (Note: we send complete sensor cleaning instructions with each LensPen purchase. Once cleaned well, no dust spots should be visible from wide open to stopped down a stop or two.

200-pct-1DX-II-after-cleaning_A0I9849-ILE,-FL

200% crop of upper 1D X Mark II f/22 sensor test image/February 6, 2017
Immediately after the sensor was cleaned by Canon

I went to using my two 5D Mark IV bodies almost exclusively, at least for a while. But tempted by that blazing frame rate, I used my 1D X II a bit in January. Fairly soon I noticed more sensor dust than expected and worse yet, some additional oil spatter. So I sent the camera back to Canon for another cleaning–not sure if that was cleaning #2 or #3 but I think that it was #3. When I got the camera back I clicked off a few frames and then did an f/22 sensor dust test and saved the results (seen above at 200%). “A,” circled above in red, is good old fashioned sensor dust, albeit a good-sized chunk. One might think that a sensor should be perfect after a cleaning but small chunks of whatever are often dislodged when the shutter fires. What really worries me is the stuff circled in blue. They are to my mind surely oil spatter.

MAR-6-dust-_A0I0281-Gatorland,-Kissimmee,-FL,--

200% crop of upper left corner of 1D X Mark II f/22 sensor test image/March 6, 2017

The Latest …

After using my 1D X II a good bit in Japan and sparingly at Gatorland I created yet another f/22 sensor test image on the morning of 6 MAR. To me, they prove conclusively that my 1D X II has serious oil spatter on the sensor problems. My plan is to try to get Canon to replace my body with a brand new 1D X Mark II body. In the meantime, I could use your help. If not, I will try to do the same with the seller, B&H.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Help Needed

If you own a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II body, please leave a comment and let me know whether you have had sensor dust and/or sensor oil spatter problems with your copy. I am hoping that the problems I have experienced are not universal. I have been corresponding with at least one other 1D X II user who has had oil spatter problems, plus the one on the Japan IPT. Her 1D X II showed more than 20 large oil spots at f/5.6.

I am hoping that only a very few others at most have had problems.

What To Do?

Before you run off to purchase your very own 1DX Mark II, consider that while the frame rate is great for pure flight and action situations, you can purchase two 5D Mark IV bodies for the price of a single 1DX II. More importantly, consider the fact that the 1DX II is the worst Canon camera in several generations of camera bodies as far as sensor dust is concerned. And, potentially even worse, at least a few individual EOS-1D X Mark II bodies (including mine) spray tiny oil drops on the sensor.

Interested folks should stay tuned. As I have had so many camera body questions, I will be doing a 4-camera comparison blog post within the next two weeks: 1D X Mark II, 5D IV, 5DS R, and 7D Mark II. Folks who are in a hurry are urged to do a search for each camera body using the little white search box on the upper right corner of each blog post page.

If You Have an Oil Spatter Problem

After two cleanings the oil spotting seemed to have diminished somewhat but my latest test image shows clearly that it is still a serious problem. This is a totally unacceptable situation and folks need to be really good consumers to get any satisfaction: make images of the sky at f/22 as above, send the image with your camera body when you send it in to have the sensor cleaned, complain firmly, keep a record of each cleaning, and finally, go up the food chain at Canon until you get some satisfaction. To date, Canon has not — as far as I know –acknowledged in any way that there is an oil spatter problem with the 1D X II.

If you have an oil spatter problem with your 1D X Mark II be a good consumer. Create f/22 dust spotting test images before and after you send your camera body to Canon to be cleaned. Keep copies of all of your letters and notes and do the same for Canon’s responses. Then work your way up the food chain at Canon. If that fails, try letting the seller know about your problems.

200-pct-crop-5D-IV-sensor-upper-right

200% crop of upper left corner of 5D Mark IV f/22 sensor test image/January 23, 2017

Despite much heavier usage, my two 5D Mark IV bodies have had close to zero sensor dust. In the test image above, there is only one visible dust spot, that in the lower left corner. Such a faint spot would not show at large apertures.

To sum up, the 5D Mark IV โ€” where sensor dust is only very rarely present โ€” is still my favorite bird photography camera body but I must acknowledge that the 1DX II is pretty darned good for flight and action despite the smaller file size. That is why I am hoping to get my oil spatter problems rectified.



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54 comments to Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Oil-Spatter on the Sensor Problems … Own a 1DX II? I Need Your Help

  • avatar Doug

    I have a new 1DX2 which has taken less than 600 images. I checked the sensor today and sadly, it has many spots. Artie my sensor images at 200% look like yours.

    A conversation with Canon is planned for tomorrow. I am considering a return of the camera to the dealer for a refund.

    Would it void the warranty if I attempt to clean the sensor myself?

  • avatar Mike

    Arthur,

    I am so glad I found this article. I have a 1DX Mark II and thought I was going crazy when I found all of these spots on my sensor. I tried using the camera’s sensor cleaner and a rocket blower which didn’t help at all. My son has a 5d Mark III and for years he has had no problems with dust on his sensor. He couldn’t understand why I had so many spots(which we thought was dust) on my images. He thought it must have been something I was doing while trying to clean the sensor.

    I shoot a lot of landscape, so I am at F22, shooting into the blue sky quit often. I started noticing my images to have these spots during editing and was fixing them in Lightroom. I thought maybe it was dried up condensation on the sensor from shooting in the cold or something. I finally took it to Canon and they did a sensor cleaning for me. It took away all the spots, but they said I have a couple scratches on the lowpass. Repair cost is $2000 for new sensor assembly.

    I’m not sure what they did, but a few days later, I now have a cracked sensor from top to bottom. Based on the luck I had with customer service regarding the lowpass scratch, I am dreading bringing it back in for this new issue. My thoughts are they had to press pretty hard to clean the oil off the sensor for it to crack.

  • avatar Del Bianco Gianni

    Hi, i am a amateur photographer form Luxembourg, and i have the same problem on my 3 EOS 1DX MK II Bodys ! Canon have made a exchange of one of the bodys, but the new body shows the same issue…its not not acceptable for a 6000 Euro Camera !!!

    Best regards,

    Del Bianco Gianni

  • Hi Arthur,

    I used my 1dxii for the past year almost exclusively and don’t have concerns about oil splatter so far. My sensor only gets cleaned with an air blower for large dust particles prior to going on a shoot and used wide open this problem is negligible and not much of an issue. In any pursuit there will be things that can distract us to the point of becomming obsessive, I suspect this is one of them! I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.

    Cheers

    Gerhard

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Gerhard. I do not sweat any of the stuff and if you have a body with bad oil splatter it is a concern that I plan to deal with. Thanks for letting us know that there are a few bodies out there without the problem. a

  • avatar Brad

    I just happened to come by this post today, so I tried a test shot with my 1DXii, purchased from B&H in May 2016. I hadn’t noticed this before, as most of my ~3.5k shots are at f8 or more open. At f22, I see lots of spots.

    It looks like a lot of folks are tackling the cleaning themselves, which I’ve done before, but is a bit of a pain and always makes me a little nervous. I might prefer to send it to Canon in NJ to help make them aware of (and perhaps eventually acknowledge) the issue.

  • avatar Graham hedrick

    I think you would want to talk to Drew MacCalum. He is a big Whig at canon.
    He is the exec incharge of new product development. I have known him for many
    Years. I hope this helps

  • avatar Graham hedrick

    Well, with no flappy mirror, this problem is not an
    Issues with mirrorless cameras

  • avatar Will Poindexter

    Got my 1Dx Mark II mid July 2016. Noticed spots on the sensor from day one. Long story short, sent camera back to CPS a total of FOUR times with images of the spots included. On the fourth return they replaced the sensor assembly. I’ve had it back for about 3 weeks but I’ve been shooting my 85mm f/1.2L II and 50mm f/1.2L mostly wide open. I’m giving it a month before I do another f/22 test to check for spots. I too firmly believe that these spots are oil spots and NOT dust. Even though each repair report from CPS says “dusty sensor”. I literally lived in a darkroom in college and I know what dust looks like. I also have a 5D Mark III that I’ve had since roughly a month after the release date and I’ve had the sensor cleaned maybe 7 times. NOT because it needed it but just a matter of routine.

  • avatar Doug

    Hi Art,

    How can normal wet cleaning ruin the sensor? Doesn’t it clean the low pass filter that covers the sensor?

    I will test my 1DX2 today.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  • Artie,

    Just got my 1DX2 in mid-Jan in time for a Feb trip. I noticed ‘dust spots’ on some of the initial images at the start of the trip but did not think it was too bad. However, the more I shot during the trip, the worse it got. After reading your blog post tonight, I checked some of my images that included blue sky–the number of spots is incredible–20 to 30 on some of them. What a mess! Hope this is not another 1DMark III. Thanks for bringing this up. Plan to send my body to Canon ASAP.

  • avatar Geoff

    If you want to read some more opinions, someone started a thread based off your blog post on FM forums and a number have chimed in so far…some with issue, some without, a lot with original 1DX issues (as I had) more than Mk2 issues.
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1479273

    • avatar Geoff

      As far as dust goes, I do get a lot in both 1DX and 1DX2 and I attribute that to a mirror going at 12-14FPS moving air around all the time…also I do lots of sloppy in the field TC changes without much care so I accept dust as a normal thing even if the 1DXs are worse than the 5-7FPS 5D3/4/SR.

      I have no problems doing a wet clean when I need to and can easily get it clean. I use a 20x operating microscope to check things in addition to the f/22 shot test. I use the 3 different solutions from Visible Dust and their Sensor swabs. I had to do a lot of these cleans on my oil and dust ridden 1DX. Thankfully the 1DX2 is better for me.

      I’m sure there are lots of oil splattered bodies out there from both 1DX generations and lot of non-oil splattered ones. A bit of a luck of the draw situation….

      I wouldn’t let this issue stop me from buying one. Buy one, shoot it like crazy at 14FPS and check how it is…if it is a mess exchange it while in the time window. The camera is too good to pass up for risk of a bit of oil

      My 1DX settled down after 1 year and now is perfectly fine so it does get better.

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    Having just checked a few recent photos that could reasonably show dust/oil, there is a little that barely shows but only if I really look. I’m wondering if “ignorance is bliss” is one way of dealing with the problem, not what I’d prefer being a fussy sort, but …..

    Jack

  • Ditto with mine, after just a few thousand clicks – a total mess visible already at f6.3. Never seen anything like it, and I’ve owned a bunch of DLSRs, even a couple of Sony alfas (A7R and A7R2).

  • avatar Bob W

    Artie –
    Thanks for your participation in this near-chronic matter. I shoot with a 1DXII and absolutely love the body; but it has required cleaning quite often and sometimes comes back with smears – once meant another trip to the cleaners without any intervening use. The sad result is I don’t use the body unless absolutely necessary. Perhaps your gravitas will get the Canon attention their reputation requires. It is not just the IDX II sensor that is getting smeared.

  • I pre-ordered the 1D X II from B&H and got it on 3 May 2016, so it’s probably an early one. Just checked the sensors on both my 1D X and 1D X II and found nothing on the 1DX and four very small spots on the 1D X II. I’m not sure if they’re dust or oil — they may be oil but are too tiny to clearly see a fringe. I haven’t tried cleaning the sensor yet. I’ve used both cameras a lot, but not often in burst mode.

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    I have about 2500 clicks (winter, pretty clean environment) on my 1DX2 (October purchase, early version) and this is the first time I bothered to check this out. Have not done any cleaning on the camera and my new 400 DO II to this point and I’m not too keen on proceeding with a sensor cleaning. I did clean oil off a 1D4 after many repeats and it was very challenging using the fluid supplied for oil.

    I just did the sky photo and the top left corner is a mess with black dots that are clearly visible without enlargement. If possible I’d like to have you check this photo which is a crop of the top-left 1/4 of the frame. I may need to rule out lens dust but I don’t think it would show in this way.

    Jack

  • avatar Mike Ross

    Hi Artie, I have had my 1DX II for a month ~ 3,000 shutter count. I did the sensor test and had several dust spots. I did an electronic cleaning and an air clean and most are gone. Let me know if you would like me to email the before and after images.

    Mike

  • I have 80k actuations on my 1DXII and have had only one cleaning for dust. I shoot a lot of birds in flight and offroad racing in the dust and have not had any oil spatter issues. Camera was purchased June 30th 2016.

  • avatar sasan

    Unfortunately, it is true, after this article ,some of my friends try it and they had this problem too ,That’s a SHAME FOR CANON

  • avatar Victoria Sokolowski

    I have already sent my 1DX Mark II in twice to have sensor cleaned (I got it last April) and now I have new spots and I just got it back about one month ago. I am super careful about turning camera off for lens changes. I will follow your directions to determine how many spots I currently have, but I know I have one for sure that I keep having to remove at processing. I have no problems with my 7D Mark 11, which has never been in for a sensor cleaning. The first time I sent it in I had spots everywhere – like a splatter pattern. So I think you are right -there is definitely a problem.

  • Hi Artie, I do not believe I had oil splatter on my 1D X Mk-I. I have had it on my Mk-II bad enough to require removal in post. Cleared it up using Dust Aid Platinum remover and V Swabs with Smear Away liquid. Many thousands of frames later, it has not re-appeared. Using your f/22 test at 100% I do not see an absolutely perfectly clear frame but there is nothing of practical concern. I am sure with Photoshop/NIK enhancement I could make it look a lot worse, and although it is annoying to have such an expensive camera not working ‘perfectly’, my images come out fine. Release cycles show as less than 10,000 but it must be close to that.

  • avatar Steve Dickson

    Hi Artie,
    It seems to me that with you being such a Canon ambassador and a member of the Explorers of Light that Canon would want to address your issues.

    I see in these comments one person has already put their order on hold pending Canon’s solution(s) to this problem.

    I surely hope they address this issue. It would be the right thing to do and I don’t think they’d want the adverse publicity.

    Steve

  • Hi Art,

    I have had this issue with both the 1DX and now the 1DX Mark II. I’m not sure if it is necessarily oil as I do clean my own sensors and it never smears nor streaks like an oily substance. Whatever it is, it cannot be removed without doing a wet cleaning.

    Besides using the 1DX Mark II for images, I quite often use it for 4k video. This is especially annoying in video mode because quite often I am shooting at higher apertures which shows the dust more readily.

    I kid you not, I can clean the sensor and get it spotless, take a few shots and spots redevelop within seconds of cleaning it. (And this is without removing the lens from the body.) I have never sent it in to Canon because I do not want to be without my camera and would rather not chance having it go through the service process and end up with other problems. Maybe if I did and others did as well, Canon would realize this is a bigger problem than they think.

    If I can do anything to help, please let me know. I am more than willing to talk to Canon about this problem. It is real and it is happening probably on most of the cameras, but unless you shoot at higher apertures or with the sky as background, most are not aware of the problem.

    Finally, a friend of mine has the same issue with his 1DX Mark II and his problem is much worse than mine. He sent me a sample image and the sensor was riddled with spots. I would guess the total number of spots were close to 70 to 100. I have never seen a sensor with that many spots.

    Alan Stankevitz, http://www.iwishicouldfly.com

  • avatar Steve Dickson

    Hi Artie,
    I recall that you have spoken to Rudy Winston at Canon about specs and other Canon issues. I was wondering if you had contacted him about this issue and if so, what he had to say?

    Steve

  • avatar Dana

    Artie, Just an update on my pending order of the 1D X IIโ€ฆI called B & H and told them that I have decided to refuse the order due to the problems you are having with the oil splatter on the sensor. I will wait to see how Canon resolves this issue. Thank you again for letting us know about this problem.

  • avatar Dana

    So sorry to hear about this problem Artie! Especially since I just ordered mine yesterday after 8 months of saving and contemplation and anticipation. Been using the 1DX for years with no issues. The 1DX II due to be delivered as I type thisโ€ฆ Yikes, I’m not sure what to do nowโ€ฆThank you Artie for bringing this problem to our attention. I hope you have good luck with Canon or B&H getting you a replacement. Thank you for keeping us posted.

  • This has made up my mind , I have been saving and even thinking of getting a loan to get my new 1DX Mkii ,, BUT ,now I am putting this on hold , Sad .

  • avatar James Saxon

    Nikon had this problem, oil splatter, on the D600 camera bodies and had to do a recall. Not sure but think there was a problem with the lubricant.

  • avatar Beve

    I have about 3200 clicks on my 1DXII. At f/11 you can see the oil splatter! Haven’t been able to deal with canon service over this yet due to family issues. Hopefully to do so soon. I realize that all bodies will produce oil splatter to some degree. Fast shutter only adds to this. But this is really bad!
    Thanks for your post!

  • avatar Jim Brown

    I have it on my 5D IV. Had no idea what it was until this blog.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Wow, that is a new one on me. My two 5D IVs rarely have a speck of dust.

      If there is anyone else out there with oil spatter problems please chime in.

      a

  • avatar Geoff

    Hi Artie,

    I had these exact issues but only with my original 1DX. With my 1DX2 all has been well. My 1DX eventually settled down and now it doesn’t exhibit the oil splatter it once did (I use it as my main backup to 1DX2 on trips). My 1DX2 has been very good, I’ve cleaned the sensor a couple times for the stray dust/fibre and once with a wet clean as I saw some fluid smear on the sensor under 12x magnification I have at work.

    Back when I was having these issues with the 1DX, I started a forum topic survey on Fred Miranda and it was probably 2/3rds no issue and 1/3rd had issue. I’ve read about these issues on the 1DX2 on various forums but not to the same degree that the 1DX had.

    I think you would have a good chance getting a non-oil splattering one if you got a new one. My guess is some are over lubricated at the factory. For the 1DX there were those early issues and recall that required more lubricant on recall so that may have increased the 1DX issues.

  • Where are you sending your camera for “cleaning/maintenance”? The VA Factory Service one can be suspect at best as I’ve had numerous issues with them doing their job properly. Contact the VA supervisor (Liz) and make it known that you are having issues. My fellow press shooters also have had problems there and now send their equipment to the NJ Factory Service. I’ve actually had bodies “cleaned/maintenance” by the VA only to have to have it done again (within the week) by them after throwing a fit and putting images on a card top to show the poor quality of service provided.

    The oil splatter was a problem on the 1DX I and Canon had a “recall” on those, mine had the issue but after sending it in, was 95% remedied.

  • avatar Tony

    Artie, my 1DxII has the same problem. To the point now where I have the chore of trying to remove the more visible spots in post…a real pain and time consumer.

    And as Jon said, there are many posts on forums documenting the original 1Dx’s oil splatter problem also. I marked it up to internet lore and went full steam ahead and bought the 1DxII when it first came out back in June.

    Like you I have been using my 5DIV almost exclusively since November (because I really love that camera!) and as such I have a low shutter count on the 1DxII. Which really bugs me because I have a lot of oil splatter with only about 25k clicks.

  • avatar Jon

    Hi Artie, I dont think the problem is unique to MkII
    I had similar problems with the MkI. The problem initiates when using the fast frame rate from onset which of course most people would do. I sent my camera to an authorised Canon repair agent and they cleaned the sensor. Since then I have cleaned my sensor using wet cleaning method a couple of times. Once the camera has been “used” the lubricant does not continue to splatter. Over the last 18 months or so the only problem I have had is the dust as opposed to oil. Strangely enough I seem to think (subjectively speaking) that the 1DX gathers more dust on the sensor than previous cameras I have owned.
    The advice I initially got relating to the problem was not to use the high frame rate option until the camera had some initial use. It was a bit like closing the gate once the horse had bolted.
    I have now resigned myself to the idea that I just have to maintain this sensor more so than with previous ones.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Jon and thanks. All good except for the fact that my 1D X II has continued to spray oil on the sensor for many months. Admittedly, the spots are not as big as they were at the start … And yes, I agree as I stated above, regular sensor dust with the 1D X II is the worst in many generations of Canon camera bodies.

      Lastly, wet cleaning is a huge pain and you take real risk in damaging the sensor. I ruined one in my career ($700+ if I remember correctly) so I simply do not do that anymore. Before I realized that the problem was oil spatter I tried a wet cleaning and made a total mess of the sensor …

      a

      ps: What I am trying to find out if the problem exists with all 1D X Mark II bodies or with some …

      • Curious about ruining a sensor while “wet cleaning”. Can you elaborate? What wet-cleaning system/products & technique were used?

        I’ve used Eclipse optic cleaning fluid with Pec Pads and special applicator on both Canon and Fuji sensors with no problems to date.

        Hopefully we can learn from your experience.

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