Monday, May 26, 2008

Ricoh Lenses On Pentax Cameras -- The Ricoh Pin Fix

photographyOut on the interweb thingie there are horror stories of people who got an old manual focus lens stuck on their Pentax cameras. Actually, there are not too many stories, but it only takes one or two for the fear to set in. Pentax are known for having the most compatible lens mount in SLR history. So the thought of a lens that not only doesn't fit but in fact might damage your camera is scary. Here I'll show you how to recognise such lenses and actually fix them. Banish your fears and read on!

A Kalimar 28mm lens... for Pentax?

First of all, why would we want to put old lenses on our cameras? Well, for a start, they can be cheap. Here's a Kalimar 28mm lens I picked up on a certain global auction site for a few bucks. It is made of metal, not plastic, has a nice action and decent enough optics. Elsewhere in the land of manual focus lenses you will find glass that equals and even out-performs today's auto-focus models. So long as you are careful to avoid buying fungus-infested or scratched glass, you might be in for a nice picture-taking surprise.

This Kalimar looks like it has the same K-mount as Pentax and compatible lenses. In fact that is how it was advertised, and you can't really blame the seller. But there is a difference that might cause the lens to get locked to your camera body, though you have to know where to look to find it.

KR tells us it’s a Ricoh mount

The first clue is on the aperture ring, where we observe the lettering "KR". This tells us this is a Ricoh lens made to be compatible with the Pentax K-mount. And indeed it was... until the age of automatic focus created an unfortunate coincidence. (You might also find other distinctive lettering. A list of offenders is at the bottom of this article.)

Turn the lens over to examine the culprit.

Note the pin at the bottom left

Note the pin at the bottom left of the mount. It's further around the circumference from several electrical contacts. This pin was designed to communicate aperture information to Ricoh bodies. It has no such function on a Pentax body.

Here's the coincidence: this pin sits exactly where there is a depression on Pentax bodies, including all digital Pentax SLRs, for an auto-focus contact. If you mount this lens on such a body the pin will go into the auto-focus slot where it does not belong. And it might never come out, resulting in a lens permanently attached to your body. I doubt we want that. Unless it's a very, very good lens. Which it isn't.

So how big is the risk? Actually, not that great. This lens went on and off the camera several times until I read of the problem. A second KR lens, a Sears 135mm, also worked on the camera perfectly... and came off perfectly as well.

Even if you do get one stuck, don't reach immediately for the hacksaw. Put the body in AF mode to help pop out the pin. Then use a small metal shim (or a feeler gauge, or even a metal tape measure) and slip this between the body and lens near the pin. With some patience you should be able to pop up the pin. Cutting your lens to pieces is dramatic but not really necessary.

Still, there is a way to remove all Ricoh risk... simply get rid of the offending pin. Some have suggested taping or gluing it down, but the idea of stray bonding agents around the auto-focus insert is not a reassuring one. Others have apparently sanded or ground down the pin enough to remove the risk, but as it is sprung inside its hole that is rather difficult to do.

Let's just get rid of the thing entirely. All you need is a Phillips #0 screwdriver.

Not This Screwdriver

But not this screwdriver. This is a typical "jeweler's screwdriver" that might come in an inexpensive electronics kit, or is sold to adjust your eyeglasses. These are cheap and often badly made. In any case they offer almost no grip. Avoid.

Instead This Screwdriver

Instead purchase a screwdriver like this one. It has a much larger grip so you can apply far more torque without ripping all the flesh off your hand. It has a better head that won't get frayed or bent. And it's only about 5 euros for something you can use time and time again. Like, say, to fix your eyeglasses. To avoid damaging the screw get the correct size: a Phillips size 0 (that's zero).

Some Cleaning Tools

Some cleaning tools might help in case you get dust onto your lens. Of course you should never touch any glass, or you will need a liquid cleaning solution to remove grease. For lighter work a blower is best. You might want to use a lens cleaning cloth to dislodge slightly more persistent particles. But start with a clean environment free of wind or heating system air circulation and you'll be fine.

You may also want a vice to hold the lens but I did not bother.

With your tools at the ready it's time to begin. There are four easy steps.

Step 1: unscrew lens mount

Step 1: Four screws hold the lens mount onto the lens proper. These can be removed with a good amount of force, but be careful not to strip the heads. Having the correct screwdriver is 90% of the battle. Let me tell you how difficult it was before I discovered this! Before fully removing the screws note how the mount fits the lens so you can put things back together. Store the screws safely; you don't want to lose them.

Step 2: remove and invert mount

Step 2: After the screws are out the lens mount pops off. Turn it upside down and have a look at where the pin is held in place.

Step 3: loosen retaining metal (2 screws) and remove pin

Step 3: A small metal flap is held by two screws. This flap then holds the pin in place, acting as a spring. These screws need to be removed so the pin can fall out. In this case there was so much goopy plastic glue that I found it impossible to remove one of the screws. Nonetheless it was easy to pry up the metal flap while turning the mount upside down. The pin simply fell out. Gravity -- it's a useful tool.

Step 4: reassemble without pin

Step 4: Re-attach the metal flap using the two little screws, invert the lens mount, and attach it to the lens with the four longer screws. The result is pictured here. The lens is exactly as it was before, but with a hole where the pin used to sit.

Job done. Have a beer. Then shoot some photos.

Similar instructions are available from SelrahCharleS. After my own documented adventures I thought it might be handy to have complementary info here.

Here are the lens markings to look for:
* "KR"
* "P/K-A R-P/K"

Here are known problem lenses:
* Tokina 80-200
* various Kalimar lenses like the 28mm above
* Sigma zoom-beta II 60-200mm multicoated and Sigma zoom-master 35-70mm multicoated
* Sears 135mm f/2.8 Macro, Sears 60-300mm, Sears 70-210mm
* Adaptall mounts marked "K/R"
* and possibly Chinon, Albinar, Soligor and Kiron lenses made for Ricoh

In addition there are other old manual lenses incompatible for a different reason. They have an large black flange that prevents mounting on today's K-mount cameras (though older bodies worked fine). The solution here is similar: take out three screws so the flange can be removed and discarded. Like in this example.

Of course not being able to mount a lens is a lot less annoying than not being able to dismount it. Nonetheless here are some troublesome Vivitars:
* Vivitar 70-210mm Macro Zoom
* Vivitar Series 1 90-180mm
* Vivitar 28mm f/3.5

Please don't let this scare you off trying older lenses with your Pentax. The Vivitar Series 1 105mm macro f/2.5 is possibly the best macro lens ever made. Its price has shot up on the used market with the increased popularity of Pentax DSLRs, now topping $400. The Cosina 100mm f/3.5 macro (branded as Vivitar and others) is a wonderful low-cost low-weight plastic alternative. I have taken hundreds of great shots with this lens, that cost me about a hundred bucks for a mint copy.

For more information and a discussion of the k-mount see the Mark Roberts site.



Susan said...

This site helped me identify a CPC Auto Zoom 28-85mm lens that has the dreaded pin. I am so glad you have these great pictures to identify this problem. Thank you so much for taking the time to help us!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the suggestion to use a metal tape measure to remove a stuck lens! I was getting so frustrated trying to get the stupid, cheap lens off. And using a razor blade wasn't such a great idea. Anyway....a minute after getting out the tape measure, it popped off. I'm glad I found this site before I did something (more) stupid!

arvindh said...

Thank you!!! thank you!!! thank you!!! You saved the day for me. The KR lens got stuck in my brand new K20D and I panicked. The metal tape worked beautifully.
BTW, do you know if the camera mount gets a bit damaged in this process of trying to extricate the lens? I dont know if it is my imagination but my mounting a pentax lens onto the camera did not seem to be smooth after this operation.
Thank you so much once again!

robin said...

It shouldn't damage the mount, but then again I have never had to perform the emergency procedure. It might be scratched a little from the metal abrasion. Some lenses simply mount smoother than others, so this might be all you are experiencing.

Unknown said...

Excellent help this. I nearly didn't buy the K200D when I thought I couldn't use my Rikenon 60-300 with it because of the 'pin-monster'! So now I will be getting my little scredrivers out. Thanks - great help. Anthony.

SMG said...

Thankyou so much! I was gonna sell my Sigma zoom lense on ebay I have a sigma 100-300mm zoom lense it has a pin also! the screws are stuck in it my dad got out the metal plyers out and got rid of the pin it works amazing on my sigma sd14. loveeee it. thanks. so anyone with a sigma zoom 100-300 can do this also perfectly.

fwcetus said...

1. A very good page on handling the dreaded Ricoh pin problem. Good job.

2. The VS1 105/2.5 is indeed a very good macro lens. However, ~I~ would say it is "merely" one of several very good macro lenses, and not the "best macro lens ever made".

3. The Pentax FA 100/3.5 Macro may be actually made by Cosina, and may be nearly identical to the Cosina you mentioned (except that it is supposed to be SMC-treated).

4. Simply removing and discarding the flange from some older lenses (especially many 1970's Vivitars) have is not always the best way to handle the excessive flange problem - it depends on the lens. Sometimes it is better to grind off or cut off the excessive flange material, leaving the rest of the "trimmed" flange in place (resembling the flange on Pentax K-mount lenses).

5. Thanks again for a well-done Ricoh pin page.

robin said...

Hi fwcetus: You caught me in a bit of hyperbole! Though there are perhaps lenses as good as the Vivi Series 1, I would say I have not seen any photos from a noticeably better macro lens.

fwcetus said...

[Robin said] "Though there are perhaps lenses as good as the Vivi Series 1, I would say I have not seen any photos from a noticeably better macro lens."

I would agree with that (referring to the VS1 105/2.5, which I used to have, by the way).

In the "100-ish" range, I prefer the Vivitar Series 1 90/2.5 Macro (with 1:1 "Macro Adapter"), the optically identical Tokina AT-X 90/2.5 (with 1:1 "Macro Extender"), the Pentax A 100/2.8 Macro, and the Vivitar Series 1 90-180/4.5 Flat Field Zoom.

The two 90/2.5's are lovely lenses (but they do have the "annoyance" of having to use the 1:1 adapter/extender to get all the way to 1:1).

The 90-180/4.5 FF Zoom is, of course, not as fast as the primes, but it is very flexible to use.

The sweet Pentax A 100/2.8 is probably the closest to your VS1 105/2.5 in actual use.

Of course, all of the Vivitars do focus the "wrong way' (i.e., opposite to Pentax lenses). However, the Tokina (along with, of course, the Pentax A 100/2.8 - {g}) will focus the "right way".

Despite all of the above, though, I do have to say that I myself have never used any 100-ish macro lens that was not at least a very strong performer, and there are some people that rave (rightly so) about some excellent Tamrons, for example. And, although I have not used all the AF Pentax 100 macros, they are ~all~ excellent, from what I have heard.

And, there are also longer and shorter macro lenses, too. However, this was not supposed to be a macro lens thread - it was supposed to be about the dreaded Ricoh pin, so I digress... ;-)

More to the point (and this is why you mentioned the VS1 105/2.5 Macro), there are indeed many EXCELLENT 3rd-party lenses out there, some of which need either a pin removed or a flange trimmed or removed to make them eminently useful on moder Pentax DSLR's. (I am a huge fan of many older Vivitar Series 1, Tokina AT-X, and Tamron SP lenses, for example.)

Jim and Judy Buzard said...

After giving the whole thing some thought I decided to investigate. I have used my "KR" Sears 35-135 lense for some time, yes it has the dreaded pin, BUT there is no depresion in my K10D body mount flange for the pin to go into. The only place for it to hang up on is the auto focus drive lug and if the camera is in Manual focus the lug is retracted, so for now I will leave the dreaded pin in place.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot. I got a Vivitar 70 - 210 mm lens stuck on my Pentax K20D, 30 mins. after I bought it. It took me 2 days searching the internet before I stumbled on this site. I tried the suggestion using the metal measuring tape. I cut off a 7" piece of the tape, so I could get good leverage. After struggling for 15 mins., I got it just right and the lens just popped off. No damage to the camera or lens. Thanks again.

James said...

I want to comment on jjbuzard's comment on using a Ricoh pin lens on the Pentax K10D or Samsung GX10, which I use. As he/she correctly notes, the only place the Ricoh pin could hook up on is the auto focus drive lug. The Pin would have to stick out quite far to get stuck into the drive lug hole (it has to push the autofocus drive lug back as the lug is spring loaded). Switching the camera into manual focus mode though retracts the lug, as jjbuzard mentions, but then the pin would go deeper into the lug hole so I don't see that this would be a solution.

The fit of my Tamron lens to body is so tight that I'm amazed that one can slide a piece of thin steel between the lens mount and the body of the camera. Perhaps some lenses fit more loosely than others.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Thankyou.

After getting a Sirius 28mm lense stuck on my K-x I'm pleased there is an answer.
For mine the gap was too small to get even a feeler gauge in. I eventually got the lense off with lots of fiddling with Auto focus switch and angling the lense as I turn it.

macwylie said...

Kudos, great descriptions and photos helped me remove my ricoh mount lens's pin. I wonder if unknowingly mounting a ricoh mount lens and getting it stuck should be acknowledged as a sort of rite of passage for Pentax DSLR users!

Since I'm nearsighted, and over 40, I took my glasses off to be able to see the tiny screws. Without realizing it I picked up my camera with a genuine pentax lens mounted to test and make sure the ricoh mount lens removal hadn't damaged my auto-focus screw. Of course I looked through the viewfinder, and it wouldn't focus! It was a few panicked moments before I realized that the reason my camera didn't seem to be focusing was because I'd forgotten to put my glasses back on! Ho-ho.

Thanks again!

robin said...

I have done something similar Scot. I have also moved the diopter adjustment by mistake, and thought I had gone seriously blind overnight. :-)

Anonymous said...

Stephen said.....

I have a Tokina AT-X 28-85mm Macro. On the back of the lens it does say P/K. I have looked at the pics on line and it seems to me that it does have the dreaded pin. I have used is mant times on my K2000 with no issues. Do you think I should still do surgery and remove it or is the P/K ok? Stephen

robin said...

Stephen: Some lenses are fine on some cameras. It's impossible to judge absolutely about any given combination. To be safe one can remove the pin, since it's not so difficult.

photogerald said...

It seems some lenses with the Ricoh pin are not likely to get "stuck". See:

It would be interesting to see how the pin differs on the Albinar macro lens in the post you referenced, and determine why some lenses get stuck more easily than others.

George said...

I had this problem with a Craig Optics 28-70 zoom lens on my first digital (*istD). The lens had the collar that needed to be modified in order to fit (easily removed and altered by dremel). The Ricoh contact pin would prevent the lens from turning when the aperture was set to "A". It must have made just the wrong signal contact, since the camera would allow the shutter to trip until I pulled the pin today.

Emily said...

I found a suggestion that a piece of 35mm film is thin enough and sturdy enough to do the job. All true! Thank goodness! I will be sleeping better tonight and removing pins tomorrow.

HSP said...

Hi, I put my experience, based on this post, many thanks!

Anonymous said...

I made the near-fatal mistake of putting an old manual focus Sears 28mm 2.8 lens on my Pentax K20D. It got stuck and I had the same scary experience many others have reported--the Ricoh pin issue. The repair shop tried but couldn't get the lens off, so after reading around on the Net and being encouraged by this blog, I enlisted a friend to help. We put the camera on its back on a folded towel on the counter. I held down the lens release button on the camera with one hand and toggled between AF/MF with the other. He used a .0025 feeler gauge, inserted at about 4:00 when viewing the mounted lens. He slid the gauge back and forth and in less than one minute the lens was off. It worked! I hope this might give others, who may be hesitant, the courage to go for it. I've learned my lesson. No more Ricoh pin lenses for me! Thanks for posting this article, Robin.

robin said...

Thanks for that specific information, which just might help another poor soul!

Anonymous said...

The German scrwdriver may be the equivalent of a JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) screwdriver which, unlike an American Phillips screwdriver, has vertical pressure faces and does not "cam out" at high torque. The "cam out" of a Phillips is achieved by a slope of the contact surface and Phillips screws are made to match. This is great for automatic assembly machines. However, this slope puts all the pressure on the top edge of a JIS screw, overstresses the metal edge and soon destroys the screw head if the screw is very tight at all.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice on the pin removal. One thing to watch for on some Sigma 24mm (and other) lenses is that when you remove the lens mount it can release the aperture ring (directly below) and the small ball bearing that sits below it (to create the aperture stop positions as you turn the aperture ring). This ball bearing sits on a small spring and needs to be kept there when you reassemble the lens. If you're lucky there will be a bit of grease to hold it in place. If you're unlucky it will fall out and dissapear cos it's so small. You can replace it with another of course.

robin said...

You are so right! I should have mentioned in my article that it's best to do all these operations on a large black cloth or other surface. One simple method is to put a black sheet on a bed, so that a depression forms in the middle where the weight of your gear is. This can catch any small parts that pop off.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! Just bought a Viv 28-200mm f3.5 for a song and read about having to cut the flange and remove the screw.The screw was already cut and I took the 3 screws off and removed the flange.Easy peasy!Thanks again!

robin said...

Thanks Lisa for writing! It's good to know this article continues to be useful five years on...

Anonymous said...

I run the " film camera web site. When I'm not scanning, buying and posting manuals, I shoot. I do use digital and a few of my film lenses were KR... stuck them on the digitals and they would get stuck... your solution was very easy.. A decent small screwdriver and my older KR now work perfect on my digital and Pentax AF cameras. Plus these KR lenses are cheap ! ! Just tried it on two lenses and I get a perfect exposure.

Anonymous said...

I bought the #0 Phillips like you said but it does not fit the screws of the lens I had. Then I found this warning about Japanese made lenses and how the Phillips #0 DOES NOT fit the screws ... a JIS type srewdriver is required. Read more here:

robin said...

Interesting... I have never had that problem. Still using this same screwdriver six years later! But thanks for the tip.

Unknown said...

I recently purchased a K50 with the anticipation of using older K mount lenses that I inherited. My problem was not being able to mount the two KR Sears prime lens. It would start to engage but quickly met resistance, which I was afraid to force past. After reading this work around I looked for the dreaded pin an saw it.. After removal they both mounted without issue. Thanks for the tip and note that these pins may prevent older lens from mounting smoothly!!

Anonymous said...

What's a good Pentax that I can use old 35mm sear ks lens with k mount I'm new to Dslr wanted a good used camera to buy so I can use the lens on. Can you recommend one? I will want one that's good for baby pictures and outside ones thanks

robin said...

Check out Pentax Forums online for current information on Pentax models and their features.

Ricoh lens said...

Great writing it is such a good and nice idea thanks for sharing your article .I like your post.

Gary Nielson said...

I have two Rikenon P lenses that I would like to use now on my Sony NEX digital camera. I have bought two K-mount to E-mount adapters and plan to put them on both the lenses and just leave them on. Do I need to worry about the pin issue then? Aside from not being able to remove the lens later, are there any other issues or damage I can do to the lens that I need to be concerned with such that I should still have the pin taken out or am I good to go?

robin said...

Though I have no experience with this, I BELIEVE that you should have no problem. As you say, you might find it difficult to ever take the adapter off, but that should be your only worry. However, always when fitting strange lenses to cameras I check for any protruding parts or over-large flanges.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for very clear documentation of the pin fix! Please add the Albinar (Sears) 28mm f2.8 in KR mount to your list of known problem lenses. I jammed one of these on my nearly-new K-30 body. To remove it, first I set autofocus to "off" so as to retract the screw drive into the camera body. Then, by aligning the lens with the known location of the pin and pressing it firmly against the bottom of the front edge of my workbench, I was able to open up a tiny gap between the back of the lens and the camera body mount. I inserted a jeweler's saw with a size 8/0 blade and, with about 5 strokes, cut cleanly thru the pin. After removing the lens, the next step was to lock the K-30's mirror up and vacuum out the lens cavity and the sensor. Net result: a tiny scuffmark on the K-30 mount, but zero damage. I then used your procedure to give this lens a vasectomy so that the problem will not repeat!

robin said...

I am glad that an eight-year-old post is still helpful!

Aesculus glabra said...

Thank you, thank you and thank you, saved me some real frustration and "what the hell happened?" in my life with these directions

Docrwm said...

Still helping Pentaxians deal with the dreaded Ricoh pin after a decade! Thanks!

Brandygonz4@gmail said...

Omg! Thank you so much for this. What is it, 12 years later...? I just got a (new to me) pentax ks2. I ordered 2 vintage lenses. The first one is a perfect portrait 135mm prime; the 2nd....well, its the godforsaken sears 60-300mm. I have literally had this camera for 3 days! I have been FREAKING OUT! That is until I read this. I can not tell you the relief I have knowing I can actually get this lens off tomorrow AND fix it so I can keep it.
Phew! Now I can get to sleep.

Brandygonz4@gmail said...

You are a GODSEND! 13 years later. Thank you so much,

robin said...

Some problems never die... glad to be of help!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article! I felt some resistance when attaching an manual focus Tokina on my K-70. Rather then forcing it I found your article and removed the pin. Another lens for the collection!

Ammo Alamo said...

Vivitar 90-180 f4.5 Flat Field Zoom is a fine lens with a tripod foot, goes to 1/2 lifesize. But it has the black flange extraneous to proper fit on Pentax K mount. I taped off the glass and carefully filed the black flange down to match up with Pentax. It works fine now. But I did not know any other solution, so I went with the file, which lets tiny metal bits go everywhere - thus taping off the glass. YMMV, and be very careful if this is the only way to get yours to work.

Anonymous said...

A full 16 years after you put this up, and people like me still find it to be very useful information. Thank you!

robin said...

Thank-you. That is so gratifying to read!

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