Disassembling the Ricoh GR for sensor cleaning

One of the great things about Flickr is that there are groups of people with similar interests who not only post images, but also have discussions about issues with cameras and other aspects of photography. I’ve been a member of lots of groups on Flickr since joining in 2004 and currently I’m a member of a few Ricoh GR groups. One of them has an ongoing discussion of the Ricoh GR’s problems with dust and I’ve been tracking it: how do/did handle the dust issue?. The other day one of its members, Jamie Collinson, posted a link to a post he’s written on disassembling a GR and if you’re a GR user (or even if you’re not) it’s worth taking a look at and bookmarking for possible future use:

A guide to disassembling the Ricoh GR for sensor cleaning

Many people have had dust issues with the Ricoh GR. It’s both a cult favorite camera and a rather fragile beast. A theory is that it’s retractible lens (the lens telescopes out of the camera when its turned on, then retracts into the body when it’s turned off) is acting like a bellows and pulling dust in when it moves. Another is that the seals on the camera aren’t doing their thing.

If you have a GR and you’re not sure if you’ve got dust on your sensor, the standard test is to stop down (close the aperture) to f/16 and focus on and shoot a clean white wall or a clean sheet of white paper. You’ll see the dust spots (as hopefully differentiated from dirt on the wall or paper). Or, you may have seen spots in clear skies that are shot at small apertures.

I don’t think its worth doing this surgery for a single dust spot when you can easily clean it up with an image editor like Lightroom but people who get dust in their cameras generally have a number of spots and that can be a tedious clean up process (in software).

If you generally shoot with an open (wide) aperture you’re less likely to see the dust, unless you’re really loaded with it, it generally only shows up at smaller apertures.

It’s worth it to have a look at Jamie’s post just to see what the inside of the Ricoh GR looks like, he’s got great pictures.

The only thing I’d add to his otherwise excellent post is a technique I learned doing surgery on early Macintosh computers (mostly powerbooks and early MacBook Pros) with small sets of different sized screws that might get mixed up. List the steps of the disassembly on a piece of paper and pile the screws next to their corresponding steps. For example, in his post with 7 steps, one might divided a piece of paper into 8 boxes, put a number in each box and put the corresponding screws in a box. Just make sure to not move the paper.


  1. Hi Richard
    I have been following you for years and am a GR user. Thanks for this link. I’ve also grown fond of the Olympus m43 system and have spent the last two years documenting the Birmingham Bridge renovation in Pittsburgh (mostly with m43 but also the GR). My latest and probably final flickr set on the bridge is at https://www.flickr.com/photos/125614976@N08/sets/72157672110784762
    If you have a moment I’d like to get your impressions. There are 5 or 6 other albums of bridge photos at my site.
    Keep up the good work – you have a great curatorial eye.
    John Barnard

    1. Thanks John, I’ll check out your flickr work now.

      Great work, the Christo images are terrific and I love the dude on the platform with the butt hanging out of his mouth. Great stuff.

  2. I really do not recommend doing this. I cleaned my original GR last year, but it is very difficult to maintain the sealing around the sensor when you reassemble (basically a very crude rubbery grommet – which in my case was not fitted correctly at the factory). You also have to be very careful not to damage anything in the process…

    Unlike the original GR, my GR II seems to be completely clear of dust, despite using the same case and usage conditions. I think that if you have a dust problem it is better to complain to Ricoh if you can.

    1. I agree Mark. In my case, however, I had another problem, used Ricoh’s US warranty place (Precision Camera here in Connecticut) and they introduced dust into my camera when they opened it to fix something else. It took four returns to get it all cleaned out.

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