Tips Howto Avoid & Fix Common Ricoh GR, GR II & GR III Problems. Closed Shutter after Power On, Stuck Out & Locked Lens, Sensor Dust, Rubber Grip Peel Off
Ricoh GR Problems
Disassembled Ricoh GR II Parts. Photo by Michael Kowalczyk

In this post we describe and give instructions Howto Avoid & Fix Common Ricoh GR Problems. All Problems and Tips apply to both Ricoh GR & GR II Camera models.

Post Update September 2021
adding Ricoh GR disassembly Video and discussing “Shutter Flex Cable” as possible cause of Closed Shutter after Power On Problem

Dust on Sensor

Dust particles enter the camera, deposit along the image path and become visible as black points / smudges on the photograph. With higher f-stops they stand out more clearly.

Ricoh GR II Sensor Dust
Ricoh GR II Sensor Dust

Who is reporting this problem?

The search for “Dust” on DPreview.com Ricoh Talk Forum brings up 102 threads.

And yes, the GR III is affected too.

Howto check for dust spots

To see the dust spots clearly we need to make a photograph of an evenly lit, uniform surface.

  • Auto focus on a white surface or manual at the blue sky @infinity.
  • Set the camera to Av-mode and increase the f-stop to f/11 or f/16. The higher the f-stop number the better dust particles become visible on the photo.
  • To minimize high image noise interferance try shooting with low ISO 100-400. Less is better.
  • If shooting handheld try to capture a sharp shot with a shutter time of at least 1/125th or faster. Use a tripod or put the camera on a flat surface.
  • Make the photo, review the image on a bigger screen and note the location(s), lenght(s) and definitions of the dust spot(s).

Why does it happen?

There are two possible ways for dust to enter and deposit along the image path.

1 – Trough gaps in between the lens housing

The retractable GR & GR II Lens Unit consists of the housing barrels and the lens module. The unit is screwed onto a rectangle plastic plate with a blue glass in the middle, called “Hot Mirror“. It reflects the infrared light and also acts as physical barrier against particles depositing on the sensor behind it. With the lens breathing air while extracting and retracting, dust particles can enter the housing trough the front and side gaps in between the rotating barrels. Ricoh engineers tried to seal both pathways using a stripes of thin foam like material. The material thicknes and sealing quality degrades with usage. It is suspectible to tear apart and flake into smaller pieces which can enter the lens too. Particles traveling trough the lens will most likely deposit on the Hot Mirror and not on the sensor.

Dissassembled Ricoh GR & GR II Lens Unit, Foam Seals and Hot Mirror

2 – Trough gaps in between the camera controlls and inside the body

The magnesium and plastic parts of the GR camera body include three openings for particels to enter the body. The first around the ADJ. Lever/Button. The second around the Front Wheel. The third inside the Battery Compartment. Dust and particulary the photographers own dead finger skin can enter on each side of the controls. When inserting the battery dust particles can be pushed trough the cutout holes in the battery compartement into the body.

To protect the Ricoh GR and GR II sensor the engineers decided to place a rectangular shaped Rubber Seal on top of the sensor plate. Once the sensor module is screwed together with the beforementioned lens module, the rubber seal squeezes together, ideally forming a protective dust barrier. However the rubber does not necessarily compress in a uniform way (lower left photo below). This is potentially the achilles heel for particles to slip under.

Dissassembled Ricoh GR & GR II Body and possible Particles/Dust Pathways

The GR III lens module is different

The description about rubber seal does not apply to the GR III model in the same way. As showed in the the YT-video Meeting Ricoh Imaging Japan! (GRIII & Showroom) @15:15min. the hot mirror seems to be screwed directly on top of the sensor, making a possible seal more tight or even unnecessary. However the question remains if there is a physical barrierer in between the hot mirror and the lens module?

Ricoh GR III Sensor Module & Hot Mirror – Screenshot used with persmission from YT Video by Samuel Streetlife
Ricoh GR III Lens mounted on top of Sensor Module – Screenshot used with persmission from YT Video by Samuel Streetlife

Howto prevent dust from entering

  • Seal the lens against particles that might enter the body trough the gap in between the moving lens barrel.
  • Turn the camera off in between shots (startup, lens extrusion time is only 0,8-0,6 seconds)
  • Store the camera in a lint free (neopren) camera bag. Not your jeans pocket!
Ricoh GR II with unmounted and mounted GH-3 Lens Adapter, Photo by Michael Kowalczyk
Ricoh GR II with unmounted and mounted GH-3 Lens Adapter, Photo by Michael Kowalczyk

Howto remove dust spots

  • Software removal
    • Eliminate visible particles on the image by using the clone tool in Photoshop or Lightroom
  • Shaking the Sensor/Camera:
    • Activate the built in shake / dust removal feature (GR III only)
    • Use an ultrasonic toothbrush to vibrate the body and the particles off the sensor (see video below)
Howto move Ricoh GR Dust Particles using a Electric Toothbrush

Closed Shutter after Power On

The Ricoh GR & GR II shutter remains closed after Power On and the display remains black.

Ricoh GR II Closed Shutter Problem
Ricoh GR II Closed Shutter after Power On

Who is reporting this problem?

Why does it happen?

Possible reasons

  • The “Shutter Flex Cable” connecting the camera controlls and the lens module starts to break.
    • Our investigation of independent user reports suggest that the problem starts to appear between 11.000 and 45.000 shutter releases.
  • Moisture got inside and caused the delicate Leaf Shutter Blades to become sticky.

In the Ricoh GR (II) disassembly video below I discuss the possible “Shutter Flex Cable” issue.

Howto avoid it

  • <irony> shoot less </irony>
  • Do not expose the camera, especially the lens barrel to wet conditions.

Howto fix it

Temporarily

The closed shutter will open after making one “dark frame” exposure.

  • Shoot in TAv or manual mode using a fast shutter speed and open aperture. (In any other shooting mode the camera will need longer time to open because it will expose for the black shutter.)
Ricoh GR Closed Shutter after Power On
Ricoh GR Closed Shutter after Power On

Long term

Stuck Out & Locked Lens

After power off the lens will not retract into the body and remains in the the extended power on position. Pushing and forcing the lens back inside the body is not possible.

Ricoh GR II Stuck Out Locked Lens
Ricoh GR II Stuck Out Locked Lens

Who is reporting this problem?

Why does it happen?

Possible reasons

  • The camera was dropped and the lens barrels are missaligned.
  • The camera encountered and internal error. It is programmed to extended the lens to a fail safe point.

Howto avoid it

  • Do not drop your GR on the ground ^_^

Howto fix it

Temporarily

Long term

Contact and send the camera to an authorized Ricoh camera repair service in your region.

Skipping ISO Values when turning Circle Dial (GR III)

Ricoh GR III users report that turning the rear circle dial (adjusting ISO) leads to unexpected outcomes. ISO values randomly jump up or down. For example, instead of going down from ISO 800 to 400 the ISO changes to 1000.

Who is reporting this problem?

“ISO dial on my GRiii is on the fritz!”

Why does it happen?

Most likely grease, dead skin or other small particles have accumulated under the round function dial. The continouus electronic contact is disturbed, leading to nonlinear value changes.

Howto avoid it

Wash your hand and clean wipe the camera back once in a while (:

How to fix it

  • Some people report that quickly spinning the circle dial resolves the problem temporarily.
  • A longer lasting solution would be to remove any accumulated particles underneath the circle dial by using compressed air (rocket blower)
  • DYI disassembly and replacement of the dial https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4600195

Sticky Shutter Button

One side of the rectangular shutter button gets stuck in the button corner.

Ricoh GR – Shutter Button sticks in the right corner

Who is reporting this problem?

A discussion about this topic is available on the dpreview.com forum

Why does it happen?

Fingertip grease and dust tend to accumulate under the button, making it less responsive. The shape invites a rocker-like motion and allows possible stickiness.

Howto avoid it

Use gloves 🙂

How to fix it

Pressing the button in its center helps to release it from the blocked position. A possible cleaning method would be to use a syringe and inject small amounts of electrical contact cleaner under the button, while the camera is upside down.

Grip Rubber Stretching

Ricoh GR II Rubber Grip Peeling Off
Ricoh GR II Rubber Grip Peeling Off

The Problem

The front and back rubber grip starts to stretch, moves and finally peel off.

Why does it happen?

Touching and pressing against the rubber heats up the glue below. Over time the glue becomes less sticky and allows the rubber to stretch outside the rims.

How does it affect the photographic process?

Touching the grip does not feel stiff and secure anymore.

Howto avoid it

I think the problem can only be avoided by not holding and using the camera for extended periods of time, especially in a warm and humid environment.

Howto fix it

  • Cut away the overstretched and excessive rubber parts.
  • The remaining rubber should fit nicely inside the body rim again.
  • Remove the old, yellow looking glue.
  • Use superglue to attach to remaining rubber the body.
  • Be very careful not to spill the glue over the body or controls. It is very reactive and fast drying!

Where is more information about the issue?

End of Ricoh GR Problems (so far)