Removing dust from Ricoh GR II sensor and filter

My Ricoh GR II got dust on the sensor and for this reason I have been using it less and less. I guess this is quite a common event in the life of a Ricoh GR lover. If we shoot it a lot, sooner or later dust will come.

This made me sort of sad, because I love to bring the GR around with me and use it for my personal photography and sometimes also for job. You never know when you’ll meet these colors that would look just fine with the Positive Film!

Ricoh GR II, Positive Film jpg.

I have always been very careful with it and I guess that’s why I got no dust for years. I have been using the adapter for holding a UV filter in front of the lens, sacrificing the pocketability of the camera, and so on.

Ricoh GR II, Positive Film jpg.

But then one dreadful day I went to shoot some models and I was constantly putting and removing the 21mm adapter, with strong wind throwing dust at me, on the beach. No matter how I was trying to be careful, something found its way inside the camera, and I things went downhill from there.

Ricoh GR II, Positive Film jpg.

After months of procrastinating I finally decided to open the Ricoh GR and clean it from the dust, following the excellent guide by Jamie Collinson, that you can find here.

Ricoh GR II, Positive Film jpg.

At some point it became clear that most of the dust and dirt particles were not on the sensor but on the blue-green filter that sits in front of it. For this reason I had to integrate the guide with info I found on this forum post here.

Ricoh GR II, edited dng

The operation is not impossible and it can be done with some patience and good tools for disassembling and cleaning. These tools aren’t costing much and will make it all much easier.

If dust is a problem and it’s making your shooting experience unpleasant, please consider reading these guides and following them. Knowing you can open and clean the camera on your own is lifting a weight from your chest and making it easier and funnier to enjoy shooting with the camera.

Ricoh GR II, Positive Film jpg.
Ricoh GR II, Positive Film jpg.

If you are nervous and feeling lost while doing it, just cover everything, leave it alone for one hour or so, do something else, read the guides again and get back to it. It took me two attempts before I could clean it, I am not very good at these things.

Ricoh GR II, Positive Film jpg.

If you find the guide by Jamie please let him know, he created a very valuable resource for all of us Ricoh GR lovers.

Have a great time with photography!

21 comments

  1. I take photos in dng format and Affinity Photo automatically removes any dust spots when the file is converted to jpg.

    1. Hi Henrik, I also use Affinity Photo sometimes, but I can’t find the option you mention. I am only aware of the Dust & Scratches filter but I don’t like it, I find it much faster & precise to use the spot removal tool by hand. Sadly, the amount and size of dirt on my sensor and filter made it too time consuming to remove ity in post production, especially in photos of people. Thanks for your comment!

        1. Hello Henrik! When I open the DNG with the dust in the Develop module and then click Develop I see no change. All the big round dust signs stay where they are. Maybe the feature you are describing is working against very small particles, not on big ones? Anyway I am glad I can now open and clean the GR, so the dust issue is manageable. Greetings!

    1. I am sorry for this. There are some YouTube videos showing different techniques for removing jammed screws, if you want to give it a try. I wish you best luck with it!

    2. I had the same problem with screw 3, I didn’t take the whole lense and sensor module out cos I didn’t want to have to unplug and plug those pcb cables. Maybe there is something underneath so you can get the 3rd screw out ?

  2. I did something similar, but simpler, to fix the LCD which had cracked (far too easily). The hardest part was pressing it all back together. I love my GR II, it truly has something special, but I wish it was more robust.

    1. Hi Martin! I also wish the GR had better quality control and it was more robust, yes. And maybe some degree of weather sealing. I think such areas are worth investing, but Ricoh probably thinks otherwise, looking at what they did with the GR III.

  3. I sent my GR2 to dust removal from a local camera store. They said they would clean the dust for 139 euros. 139 !! I understand, that you have to pay for labor and so on, but it feels a bit pricey to pay 1/4 of the camera’s price for dust removing. Granted, I kept it mostly in my jacket pocket because it is a pocket camera and that’s why it is full of dust… Guess I’ll have to do the cleaning myself. I usually end up breaking things tho 🙂

    ps. hope you are doing well and the family you are hosting are well too.

    1. Hello Elias! I think 139 euros seems definitely too much, considering it is 30 minutes of work. I suggest you give it a try and clean it on your own. Just take your time, follow the guides, it is not that complicate. Good luck with it!

      Thank you so much for your wishes, I am doing what I can for them. I hope their country can be at peace soon and they can go back to some sort of normality. We live in crazy, crazy times.

  4. I constantly attach the 21mm add-on adapter and fix a Uv filter like you. I went to Nepal before Covid and put some gaffer all around the adapter and on the microphone holes. Despite the maasive amount of dust everywhere I had no problem at all. The gaffer can get sticky and unpleasant in hot climate but it does the job.

    1. Hello Jean! Using the UV filter or the 21mm adapter is a great protection, probably the best strategy against dust. I got dust particles inside the GR the moment I became less careful with these two, using the camera in some dusty environement without them!

  5. My GR II have had some dust on wherever the camera since the beginning which probably ended up there before I got it (bought it used). I’ve never really paid much attention to it since there’s only a bit of it (sometimes it shows up little more or little less, sometimes not at all) but I’m still feeling kind of stressed about when it will reach the level when I would have to try to do something about it… I would probably consider paying for a professional to clean it up if it wouldn’t be too costly since I don’t trust the camera would function after me handling it lol. Especially after I actually found a blog post from a guy who’s GR II stopped working after he had assembled the camera again!

    1. Hello Markus! I was also very nervous and postponed opening the GR for many months. Believe me I am not a fan of messing around with small screws and cables 🙂 But in the end it all worked out fine. Even better, the camera stopped having a random false contact in the exposure rocker area. So I actually fixed that too — somehow! I would have probably preferred paying a professional for doing it, but here in Italy there are no professionals offering this service, if the camera was bought outside official italian warranty –– and mine was indeed without that warranty. Best luck with your GR!

  6. I finally have dust in my Gr2. I’ll give it a go.
    The Gr2 is just magic in a box.
    I’m really interested in your upcoming post about the iPhone. I’ve just ordered secondhand iPhone 13 to compliment my gr2. In the summer my Gr2 goes everywhere but i the darker months it’s just not good enough indoors for capturing family shots. So I’ve not taken pictures.
    I love shooting the gr2 jpegs and I’d be interested in how close you could get the iPhone pictures to look/feel like a gr2 with a simple workflow such as iPhone jpeg + VSCO. It’s never going to be really close but…. 🙂 I have faith in you! Fancy a challenge?

    1. Hello Ian! I am sorry for the dust, but I assure you that following that guide is not as hard as it sounds. It just needs some patience. Good luck with it!

      The post comparing Ricoh GR II and iPhone is done, I am just needing some more photos. I evolved it into a more general “smartphones vs compact cameras” direction, I hope you will find it interesting.

      I never managed simulating the GR Positive Film in a consistent way. I know there are some presets out there that promise that, but I didn’t try them.

      It is very possible to use something like RNI filters (in their app or in LR mobile) for simulating a decent slide look with the iPhone, I do it from time to time. I will try to also write about this in the post!

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and good luck again with the GR cleaning!

  7. I love my GR, but it finally succumbed to dust. I unfortunately ended up scratching my IR-cut filter so I’m trying to source a new one. I’m devastated. I’m surprised that it’s so easy to open up. Maybe after I refurbish my GR, I will only use it with the lens hood adaptor and filter.

    1. I am sorry for this, Brian!

      It seems my GR II is also starting to abandon me, the shutter mechanism is presenting a known issue, where it stays closed when you turn on the camera, and it only gets back to normal after taking a first all black photo. I did read this means the shutter is damaged or too old etc. Right now I have no time to consider replacing it, so I am using my GR much less and it makes me quite sad too.

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