Cleaning your Ricoh Auto 66 viewing window

Every so often you’ll find a camera thats too pretty and too cheap to leave in the shop.

I found one of these cameras.

Ricoh Auto 66 - front with hood up

It was a Ricoh Auto 66 TLR and as it was a TLR I fancied doing a bit of ‘through the viewfinder’ (TtV) photography. As you can see from the photo below it was pretty mucky, probably never having been cleaned since it left the factory in the early 1960’s. A little googling tells me not much about cleaning it so I thought I’d write a little how-to guide myself! All the photos from this post and a few others detailing job can be found in a dedicated set on my Flickr account here. A full set of 360degree photos of the camera can be found on my Flickr here.

Dirty Viewing Window

Ricoh Auto 66 - dirty viewing window


1. Find the 4 tiny screws that sit on the ledge at the sides of the viewing window assembly. Take a 1mm screwdriver and very carefully unscrew them, remember to put them somewhere safe! Be aware that the folding hood makes the front two really tricky as you can’t hold your screwdriver straight.

Location of viewing window screws 2

2. When the screws are out you’ll be able to lift off the whole viewing window assembly.

Viewing window assembly - back

The inside of the camera will have a 45 degree mirror which will probably be pretty misty and covered in dust, just like mine!

A dirty, unhappy mirror 2

3. Inside the viewing window assembly you’ll find two springs hold the glass and fresnel plastic in place. Use your screwdriver to push them out of their holding clip. Put them in the same safe place as the 4 screws from earlier.

Lower glass securing spring

4. Now you’ll be able to take out the plastic fresnel screen and the frosted glass. Take note which way around they came out so you can put them in the same way later. Grab a lens cloth and gently clean decades of muck off them.

Viewing window components

5. Put the frosted glass and plastic fresnel screen back in (the right way round!) and carefully push the springs back into their clips. I found they went in pretty easily if I held them down with a finger and pushed them with a 3mm screwdriver.

6. Time to clean the mirror. Again, grab your lens cloth and slowly get 30 years of gunk off. You could unscrew the two holding screws and take the whole mirror out to make cleaning the chamber easier but mine wouldn’t budge so I just went with the mirror, its only a viewing window after all.


A clean and happy mirror 3


A clean and happy reflection!

7. Make sure all the screws inside the viewing chamber are tight and slowly put the viewing window assembly back into place. Screw in the the four tiny screws and you’re all finished!

TtV after cleaning

TtV after cleaning 1

TtV after cleaning 2

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