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.

Last Update April 2021 (adding dissasembled body and lens unit photos to discuss possible dust entry points)

Dust on Sensor

Ricoh GR II Sensor Dust
Ricoh GR II Sensor Dust

The Problem

Dust particles become visible as black points and smudges on the photograph. The higher the used Aperture f-stop number the better and more dust particles become visible.

Why does it happen?

Particles enter trough gaps in between the lens unit and accumulate on the Hot Mirror,

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

Particles enter trough gaps around the Controls and the Battery Compartement, skip the Rubber Seal and accumulate on the Sensor (GR & GRII) / the Hot Mirror (GR III)

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
GR III Difference

The description about Rubber Seal does not apply to the GR III model in the same way. As showed in the the Youtube 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.

How does sensor dust affect the photographic process?

Dark spots overlay the photograph.

Howto check for dust spots

For best dust spots visibility and in order to maximize the contrast we need to make a photograph of an evenly lit, uniform surface. This could be the blue sky on a sunny day or a plain white wall.

  • Focus on the surface or infinity (use manual focus) when photographing the blue sky.
  • Set the camera to Av-mode and increase the f-stop number to f/11 or f/16. The higher the chosen f-stop number the better definied smallest dust particles will become visible on the photograph.
  • To minimize high image noise interferance try shooting with ISO 100-800. 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 lay the camera on a stable surfce when longer times are needed for correct exposure.

Make the photo, review the image on a bigger screen and note the location(s), lenght(s) and definitions of the dust spot(s).

Howto get rid of dust spots

  • Eliminate visible particles on the image by using the Clone Tool in Photoshop or Lightroom
  • 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
Howto move Ricoh GR Dust Particles using a Electric Toothbrush
  • Unscrew the body and clean the Camera Sensor by following the instructions:

Howto avoid dust entering the body

  • Seal the lens module against particles that might enter the body trough the gap in between the moving lens barrel.
  • Use the camera with clean hands, insert clean batteries slowly
  • 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

Who is reporting this problem?

The searchresults for “GR Dust” on DPreview.com Ricoh Forums brings up 39 individual threads. And yes, the GR III is also affected by the dust issue:

Closed Shutter after Power On

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

The Problem

After Power On the Ricoh GR & GR II Shutter remains closed and the display is black.

Why does it happen?

Possible reasons

  • Moisture got inside and caused the delicate Leaf Shutter Blades to become sticky
  • The Lens Module is reaching the end of its mechanical life time.
    • An investigation of independent user reports suggest that the problem starts to appear between 11.000 and 45.000 shutter releases.

How does it affect the photographic process?

The start up / ready to shoot time is increased from 0,8 to 4 seconds. The ability to make captures spontaneously is significantly decreased.

Howto avoid it

  • <irony> shoot less </irony>
  • Do NOT expose the camera, especially the lens barrel to wet conditions!
  • Seal the lens module against particles that might enter the body trough the gap in between the moving lens barrel.
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 fix it

Temporarily

The Shutter will open and unlock after making one “Dark Frame” exposure.

  • While Power On press and hold the Shutter Button
  • Shoot the Dark Frame in TAv or Manual mode with a fast Shutter Speed and open Aperture. In other shooting modes the camera will expose a long time for the closed black shutter.
Ricoh GR Closed Shutter after Power On
Ricoh GR Closed Shutter after Power On

Long term

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

Who is reporting this problem?

Stuck Out & Locked Lens

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

The Problem

This Problem develops most often as follow up to the above mentioned Closed Shutter Problem.

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.

Why does it happen?

Possible reasons

  • Something small got inside and is blocking the rotating lens barrel from turning the front lens back down. (The camera is programmed to extended to the lens to this fail safe point)
  • The Lens Module reached the end of its mechanical life time

How does it affect the photographic process?

  • The camera is unusable at this point.
  • After Power On the camera checks the lens unit and turns itself off again.

Howto avoid it

Not sure, this behavior seems to be programmed by the manufacturer

Howto fix it

Temporarily

Long term

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

Who is reporting this problem?

Skipping ISO Values when turning Circle Dial (GR III)

The Problem

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.

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).

Who is reporting this problem?

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

Sticky Shutter Button

Ricoh GR Shutter Button stuck in the lower right corner

Ricoh GR – Shutter Button sticks in the right corner

The Problem

After pressing the shutter button it gets stuck in the left or right corner. Pressing the button in its center helps to release it from the blocked position

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 🙂 just kidding, I am not sure if this can be avoided at all.

How to fix it

Undocumented but 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.

Anyone else reporting this problem?

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

Hand 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)