At least one of my cameras has a stuck pixel, I don't remember which one. Although it is annoying, it's one of those things that happens over time, and as long as it's just one or two, I simply don't have time to be worked up about it. Sure it'd be nice to be perfect (my newest camera has no stuck pixels, at least I think that's true), but frankly dust gets on the sensor no matter what we do, so I end up having to bust out the spot healing brush on most images anyway. What's two more clicks?
> IS THIS WITHIN THEIR QUALITY TOLORANCE?
Probably it's close. Remember that these things pop up after manufacture, too. Even if you've got a clear sensor at the moment, you will probably have another stuck pixel in a year or two. It just happens.
> I'm ALMOST very happy with the color(and saturation level as I now have it set).Almost too strong of color...just slightly more than I like best.
Digital SLRs - certainly Nikons - are designed to yield extremely neutral colors, at least by default. This is mostly because the designers don't know what your subjects will be. Back in film days they didn't have to worry about it, because one chose films according to subjects and taste. Nobody shot weddings on Fuji Velvia, and similarly there were probably few landscape photographers who shot on Kodak Portra - the landscape folks tend to go for the saturated colors that Velvia delivers, but Velvia's skin tones leave a lot to be desired, shall we say. Now you can't change sensors, so the default treatment of the colors is neutral. This is especially true if you shoot in JPEG, since the color, sharpness etc is baked in and can't really be changed easily later.
I shoot a lot of different types of subjects, some of which I like to have "ultra-color" and some don't. So I capture generally neutral and then, since I'm a holdover from the Film Age, I use software to apply a suitable film look. I'd have probably filtered #3 and #4 with Provia, #6 (the red flowers) with Velvia (a lot of saturation), left #1, #2 and #5 neutral. The last one I might have used Plus-X (B&W). The bird would probably look a bit odd with extreme saturation.
Same thing for sharpness. If you turn up the sharpness too far, some subjects will look pretty bad - you'll have lots of sharpening halos. On the other hand, if you don't turn it up far enough, as you've seen, you get a soft kind of image. Unfortunately the state of the art is such that blanket settings don't seem to work so well if you're shooting a wide range of subjects.
That last picture is a pretty haunting one, by the way.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!