Ilford Sportsman Review : Poundland Challenge Camera No 5

This ended up being my first truly vintage pound or less camera. This scale focus number was launched in 1959 as an  update to the Mark I launched a couple of years earlier (the mark III was in by the end of 1959 !!). But how does Ilford’s challenger to Kodak’s retina/retinette measure up ?

Ilford Sportsman Mark II
Ilford Sportsman Mark II. 35mm 1950’s camera that I got for 99p

Ilford is rare British entry into the world of photography and still a name in use, mainly via their B&W film and papers. They still are involved in camera production predominantly via their funky XP2 and HP5+ single use cameras but also in partnership with Walker Cameras to produce the large format Titan pinhole camera.  In 1957 they decided to take on Kodak and called in the help of West Germany’s  Dacora Kamerawerks. The Sportsman series was born and essentially were rebadged versions of the Dacora Dignette series.

Which Way
Lochmaben 2015. Ilford Sportsman with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Ilford Sportsman Mk II  Specs

  • Lens:  45mm 1:3.8
  • Focus : Scale
  • Focus : 3ft to ∞
  • Aperture:  f/3.5-16
  • Shutter: 1/25, 1/50 & 1/200sec + B
  • EV 100 :  9-16
  • Exposure: Manual
  • Filter : ? 43mm push on

Nicely made basic camera. This one benefits from a self cocking vario shutter  but has a weird set of shutter speeds (where is the 1/100 ?). It has a brightline viewfinder (absent in the Mark I) with Parallax markings. PC sync for flash and a tripod socket (the case screw mirrors this so you can leave in the case). Focus is scale focus and shutter and aperture adjusted by dials around the lens. I’ve seen a push on Ilford sportsman lens hood 43mm but can’t guarantee it would fit this model which has a 3 element anastigmat lens.

Who Ewe Lookin' at ? I
Lockerbie 2015. Ilford Sportsman with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Loading is pretty normal except you must manually set the shot counter (this counts down rather than up). On the rewind knob there is a film reminder (with lots of Ilford products – cunning silent marketing). That rewind knob is a bit of pain and quite stiff in use and makes you understand why we get those fold out levers on more modern cameras. The cable threaded shutter button is mounted on the front with you depressing it backwards.

Who Ewe Lookin' at ? II
Lockerbie 2015. Ilford Sportsman with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Shotwise it is okay. Like most Anastigmats It probably is a bit soft on the long shots and the lens isn’t that contrasty but it does fine.  It doesn’t suffer as other anastigmat  cameras like the Halina 3000 from poor focus across the plane. Vignetting is slightly evident at f/16 and the lens is prone to flare. You do miss a speed between 1/200 and 1/50 but you learn to live with it. It certainly looks the part and at 99p an absolute bargain. Worth noting there are differences between the different models bearing the name in terms of lens and shutter construction

Why Buy

  • Retro styling
  • It’s British (er.. um… actually it’s German)
  • Easy enough to use

Why not

  • Rewinding a chore
  • Not EV 17
  • Odd shutter speed set

What I paid, got & sold for

  • 99p plus £4.30 postage
  • Came with Original case
  • It’s a keeper

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