The GR 1 lens unit laid bare

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
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The GR 1 lens unit laid bare

The lens on my four year old GR got stuck last September. This after also accumulating spots on the sensor, and having a few other minor issues. Having nowhere to send it off for a reliable fix and clean, and after unsuccessfully trying a trick that someone suggested, I decided to wait and see what would develop with the new GR 3 that was being talked about (then), and afterwards decide what to do - send in for a costly repair, get the new GR 3, or buy something else.

Well, the GR 3 came out with no improvement with regards dust sealing, and the price was too high for my needs. So - I decided to disassemble the GR, see what I could learn, and consider how to continue.

I have zero knowledge in electronics, and am not an avid DIYer - my scale of things is at the most taking apart farming implements or the the kitchen sink - but the dust issue with the Ricoh made me curious. I decided to take the camera apart knowing that I probably won't be able, or want, to put it together again.

After taking it apart, I ordered a new GR 2, which is on its way.

Here are pics and my personal observations of what I saw - sorry I don't have the professional nomenclature for the parts, and that the pics are not that sharp. Also, my interpretation of things is certainly not that of a professional, and I'd appreciate it if someone with more experience at taking apart cameras would chip in.

A bit additional background : I bought this camera after using the Ricoh PX "rugged" small-sensor compact for 4 years. It being supposedly "rugged", I kept it in my pocket at all times without pampering it much. It also conked out after 4 years. So when I got the GR, I always kept it in a nylon sealed bag in my pocket, and it was exposed only while taking shots. Even at home I kept it covered, and of course cleaned it and took decent care of it.

So here goes :

First pic is the lens unit -

lens unit , pic 1

Second pic shows the outer ring/cover removed (attached by 4 screws). I've called this ring "A" for reference.

outer ring/cover, pic 2

* First observation : after removing this ring, I was able to retract the lens, which had been stuck in extended position (manually, by turning the grooved round cover, pics following). It didn't go in very easily, but at least it retreated back to closed position.

The following two pics now show the lens in retracted and extended positions -

lens retracted, pic 3

lens extended, pic 4

* Second observation - the amount of dust/grains is huge, and it is everywhere in the lens unit.

* Third observation - there is what appears to be a seal of some sort on the grooved ring, that is dry and flaking, see following pics :

flaking seal, pic 5

dry and flaking seal, pic 6

dry and flaking seal, pic 7

* Fourth observation - if/when flakes like these get sucked back, they are probably going to cause resistance to the in/out movement of the lens. A loose piece like this might explain why after I removed part "A", I succeeded in pushing the lens back in.

The following pic shows something that I am not sure about, so just guessing : it seems that the grooved ring has two points on it, at the top and bottom of the ring, that are not completely round/smooth. You can see the line on the surface of the plastic. When I run my finger over it, I can feel the difference in the plane. I am guessing that this might be a sign that this ring is manufactured from two parts (I have no knowledge in CNC cutting, etc.), and this also might be a weak point in the design :

pic 8

* Fifth observation - when I removed the small white cogwheel (seen well in pic 7) that is the last one in the gear that moves the grooved cover, I could check the smoothness of the retraction and extension mechanism, minus the influence of the gear. It was very smooth, no problem.

This led me to check what the rest of the gear looks like, so I opened this too :

gear, pic 9

Sixth observation - the gear was very clean, and there was no problem rotating the mechanism.

That's about it for the lens unit.

Another two things I might add :

* The fact that the outer lens cover (the one with the two "wings/flaps" that automatically open and close when the lens extends and retracts) is part of this whole mechanism, might also add a bit of resistance to the whole mechanism. Not a problem when everything is clean, but might be when things get dirty.

* There was a lot of dust at the entrance to the speaker. I don't know if this opening also serves as a vent for heat release, but IAC I think that it would be worth taping this off for anyone who doesn't really need the video.

The disassembly also took me through the sensor of course, and I can only repeat what others have seen : the gasket around the sensor was deformed (although when I removed it and squished it a bit, it returned to its original shape). Really, why not use something of a higher grade? OTOH, while there was a lot of dust around the gasket, the surface of the sensor was quite clean with regards particles.

My summary for the lens unit :

Ricoh could do a lot better.

Anyone who is thinking of using the GR in dusty conditions should think twice, or at least get the adapter and a lens cover/filter. That's what I'll be doing, and it's my last purchase of this line if this doesn't help with the issue.

As I said before, anyone with additional insights - welcome!

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