Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Hal f Frame

A wee half to go – The Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half-Frame disposable

In 2023, lo-fi analogue cameras were pretty much everywhere offering a disposable like experience but in a reusable more ECO package. But Ilford Imaging launched 2 disposables in the last 2 years. And the latest one of those was a half frame. Welcome to the Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame.

The Frothy Biker Diptych. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. 2023
Diptych image taken in December 2023. Click on image for full size

So is this from folks who make Ilford film then ?

You’d think so but No.

This is sold by a Swiss company called Ilford Imaging not the makers of the film products who are called Harman Technology. The two companies arose separately from the original Ilford company that went into receivership in 2006.

So lets go back in time

Ilford Photo through the years

Ilford Photo can trace it’s beginning back to 1879. Founded in then small town of Ilford (now part of London) by one Alfred H. Harman, whom started making photographic plates in his basement. Ilford would go on to be legendary to photogs around the world for it’s B&W films and papers.

But when King film fell with the digital onslaught so did Ilford. It was placed into receivership in 2004

But that would not be an end.

You probably know that Harman Technology bought out the UK film production site. This was a a former led by 6 former Ilford managers. That company has gone from strength to strength. And has provided a counter-weight to Kodak Dominance in the film market in at least the B&W sector as it did in the days of King Film

But the company doesn’t actually own the Ilford name. They just licence it for for much of their film photography products from Ilford Imaging. It’s telling they haven’t been able to launch new film cameras under the Ilford name. Even their well regarded Disposables once labelled Ilford now have the Harman name predominate.

And that’s likely to do with Swiss ambitions.

The bridge Diptych I. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame disposable. 2023
Another Diptych taken on the Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. Dumfries Dec 2023. Click on image for full size

So who are Ilford Imaging ?

Back in 2004, while Harman bought the film manufacturing, the Oji Paper company of Japan bough something else. That something was Ilford’s Swiss arm based at Marly. This has continued to produce inkjet papers and other similar digital photo products. It’s completely separate to Harman although it does grant licence to them to use the Ilford name on some products.

Ilford Galerie box promotional image
A more typical Ilford Imaging product. High end inkjet photo paper. Promotional image

But it’s telling Harman have released more recent products under their own name like Harman Phoenix 200. That’s because Ilford imaging is starting to move into the analogue market. With not just this camera but a full frame disposable and the Ilford Sprite-35 II a Dubblefilm show clone.

But they also launched their own colour film purportedly found in this and the Ilfocolor full frame disposable. That the film is Ilford Ilfocolor 400.

promotional image for Ilfocolor 400
promotional image for Ilfocolor 400

So do they make the film ?

That’s not clear but the current best guess is it’s made by the ORWO group of companies. It is likely a rebrand or variant of of Wolfen NC500. Dimitri at does an interesting review of this versus the Harman Phoenix 200 (tellingly that’s not branded Ilford).

Ilfocolor 400 cartridge 2 views
The film in the camera

The film strip on processing has no identifiable marks but has a tendency to curl. I had it processed alongside Kodak Ultramax and Harman phoenix rolls by the same lab which don’t have that issue. The film edges just have a frame number and a set of digital edge markings

But it’ll be a new disposable then

Again no. The camera would seem to a common disposable chassis (here only mildly tweaked for half frame). I shot the same core camera in full frame form under Agfaphoto LeBox branding with APX film.

Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame and Agafphoto Le Box Black & White disposables.
Agfaphoto’s Le Box branded disposables are the same camera and come in full frame in colour and & B&W. The Le Box here is missing the film compartment door.

Gearing is tweaked as is the film counter and a there is a half frame mask in the film frame. The film plane is curved in both this and the full frame siblings to improve focus. This is pretty common with disposables.

Inside the Ilford Ilfocolor rapid Half Frame and its full frame sibling the  Agafaphoto Le Box Black and White Disposable.
The obvious difference in frame size can be seen between the Ilford half frame (top) and a full frame Agfaphoto Le Box sibling with the differences in the 2 step frame mask. note the curved film plane on both.

But oddly the viewfinder is unaltered with the camera having the typical full frame landscape view. Not the portrait you’d expect on a half frame. That finder is off centre. It has little impact on distant objects but closer as you cans see in many a shot, things are off centre.

Coffee and Lunch. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. 2023
The finder can really be off centre as this shot shows. Dumfries Dec 2023. Processed and scanned by Analogue Wonderland. Click on image for original on Flickr

The spec is otherwise the same – a fixed focus 31mm f/11 single element lens. This claimed to deliver crisp images from 1m to infinity. Shutter speed is also fixed at 1/125 sec. A AA battery powers the flash which has a purported recharge time of 15 sec and a recommend range of 1-3m.

The camera is loaded with a standard cartridge of 27 Exp Ilford Ilfocolor 400 – so 54 half frame shots. It’s in a standard plastic cartridge

Use & Testing

Quite cleverly the camera doubles as it’s own manual. Note the lug point for a strap (not provided)

So this is a run the mill disposable. Wind on until you can’t, frame shot, shoot & repeat. Engage flash if needed by sliding switch on front and wait until flash read light comes on.

There’s a single Red LED to tell you that. But craftily it’s inside the case with 2 holes so you can see from top and rear of the camera.

Ilford Ilfocolor Raid Half Frame top plate
A single LED for flash ready can cleverly be seen both on top and back of the camera.

Now you can just hand over the camera to your lab but many charge a premium. The three labs I commonly use don’t but others do.

Personally I’d recommend springing the cartridge out. It’s not as easy as some kodak single uses but not hard. There are 2 clips on the base. One on the rear you need to lift a flange over. The other has a push in clip to slide out.

I shot the film over winter day in December 2023. Processing was by Analogue Wonderland.

Poetic Stance. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. 2013
Dumfries, December 2013

Reloading (just don’t)

I do not advocate reloading single use cameras so what follows is at your own risk. You can give yourself a nasty shock due to the flash circuit. And if you have some medical conditions this can be even worse. That circuit can store charge in a capacitors even if the camera hasn’t charged it’s flash cycle in days.

Admittedly this is one of the safer bodies to work with. As the electrics are housed behind the front part of the case which you don’t need to access to reload. But screwdrivers can slip etc….

For those daft enough there are some comments at the bottom of the page.

Greta is watching –
Can you justify shooting disposables in 2024 ?

Greta Thunberg , Stockholm 2018. Image by Anders Hellberg,
Greta Thunberg , Stockholm 2018. Image by Anders Hellberg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Single use cameras are a potential ecological nightmare. Plastic, batteries and circuits. And lets be honest despite claims of recyclability very few get that done properly. Most just get tossed by labs into the general waste bin and off to landfill.

Now granted some labs like Brighton Film Lab do ensure they put these in the recycling chain. And there are those of you nursing tazered fingers whom will self re-use ’em. But these are few and far between

Agfaphoto Half Frame
Agfaphoto Half Frame is based on Agfaphoto’s clone of the Dubblefilm Show chassis and sell for around £20-30. It’s the same camera as the Escura

And in 2024 you don’t really need to. You can pick up a plastic fantastic new from about £20 which is easily reloaded. A bit more and you can pick my favourite plastic fantastic of the last 10 years. That is one of my dead hand cameras and of course is the Reto made Kodak Ektar H35N. This is also half frame but has such a good lens.

Promotional image for Kodak Ektar H35N
Promotional image for Kodak Ektar H35N.
Possibly the best plastic fantastic of the the last 10 years and half frame to boot

Granted you’ll need film on top of that. But a couple of rolls in and you’re already saving money v single use. And you could just by a vintage. I’ve made a bit of a fashion for 1 quid cameras all of which with you’re avoiding landfill with.

£1.49 camera
As I typed this I bough this for £1.49 before postage. It’ll likely be rubbish but…

So unless you need a camera that you either wanna take somewhere with a serious risk of camera harm. It’s hard to justify.


When I got this I had to import for Europe. Which thanks to miracle that was Brexit promised by Bodger Boris and Mr Farage, wasn’t cheap. But you’ll now find on the likes of eBay for 20 quid inc postage


The Imperial. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. 2023
Dumfries, December 2023. Click on image for full size

For this review we’ll try to separate film and camera. Granted you can’t separate them completely. Of course in an ideal world I’d have shot the film separately on a SLR. And reloaded the camera with a standard stock like Ultramax.

But (a) I’ve only got one and (b) that’s missing the point of these.

-Ilfocolor 400

I think Analog Cafe is on the money calling this Wolfsen NC500. A rare but good head to head of Wolfsen NC500 v NC400 can be found at This matches my experience and Analog Cafe’s.

The bridge Diptych II. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame disposable. 2013
There a red brown bias as the image suggest but this does give a vintage feel. Dumfries 2023. Click on image for full size

In good light it’s quite warm biased especially for reds and browns. The greens and blues are little less intense and there is reasonable but not excessive amount of grain in good light. It’s not quite as lipstick red as you get with some of the older kodak emulsions though.

Sails Diptych. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. 2023
Grain becomes an issue the more you move off good exposure, Dumfries, Dec 2023. Click on image for full size

It’s decent enough though. It doesn’t have quite the dynamic range tolerance of more established colour films like Ultramax when light drops. It also gets really grainy when you start to under expose. But I’d happily use it again.

– The Camera – image quality

I wasn’t expecting much as the APX400 Agafphoto Le Box had not exactly wowed me. But I think that’s down to film (and maybe lab)

Now can’t hold a candle to the Kodak Ektar H35N. But it can certainly bring the fight to other plastic fantastic half frames. I compared its images to the Escura Snaps 35 Half or Agfaphoto Half Frame (both Dubblefilm Show/ Kodak M35 clone). And it is a close fight. For very long shots I think the Escura was just that bit better (neither is that sharp). But the close you get the balance shifts 5-20m down to taste. But come in close and the Ilford may have a slight edge,

Near and Far test image Diptych. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid half Frame. 2023
It is sharper close up centrally but seven then at distance not that bad for what it is. Diptych shot Dumfries Dec 2023. Processed and scanned by Analogue Wonderland. Click on image for original on Flickr

Granted the Escura is reloadable and has a lens stop drop hack available

It has the typical central sharp weaker to the edges. Just as you’d assume from a simple 1 plastic element lensed camera. And yup fringing can be evident. There’s some pincushion distortion as well but not awful

Poetic & Sauages Diptych. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. 2023
Diptych, Dumfries, Dec, 2023. Click on image for full size

I got 28 diptych frame images back. That gave me 55 usable half frame images. The 56th was light leaked and would likely have happened during loading

The half frame images were acceptable quality. And whilst couldn’t capture quite as much detail as the full frame Kodak Fun saver single use. It can manage despite the frame size to produce image that are comparable to other full frame single use cameras. And even plastic fantastic like the Dubblefilm show.

And what’s telling is this camera produces fixed focus images that are sharper than the Lomography Lomomatic 110 with it’s zone focus glass lens.

Sunset Diptych. Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame. 2023
Granted it’s a bit grainy but the Ilfocolour is alright with some low light. Not quite in more established films like Ultramax’s league but not awful. Dumfries, December 2023. click on image for full size.

Final thoughts on the Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame

Look on eco grounds it’s hard to justify any disposable unless you have a lab who properly recycles. But that said if you’re going to use one this should be on your list. You get a camera that takes half frame shot which are as good as many a full frame single use and many a cheap modern reloadable full frame.

And you get twice the shots, a quirky but good film. Granted it can’t quite match the 2 element ledge that is the Kodak Funsaver, but it’s not far behind.

Lomography Simple Use
Lomography Simple Use – available with a range of film types

The trouble is you can get a reloadable disposable like the Lomography Simple use for similar money. And even better a plastic fantastic half frames which shoot as good for about 20 quid and can be easily reloaded. Granted optically there may not be much in it. But double your money up and you’re in the realms of half frame budget class with glass in the form of H35N. and that’s before you get to old skool film cameras

But if you reaaaaalllly need a disposable this should be on your shopping list.

Just don’t tell Greta.

For those of you who want to reload, we electrocute you

To be clear you do this at your own risk

If you’re foolhardy to do this I’d start by taking out the film cartridge as detailed above. Then remove the battery from the base (it’s under a cover beneath the sticker covering). Note it’s orientation

Battery compartment opened on the Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half Frame
Make sure you note the orientation of the battery but the +ve goes to where you remove the finished film canister

The sticker that covers the camera goes over 7 clips at which the backplate is secured. There are 2 on the base, one central on top and 2 on the each end. Peel back the sticker on these areas and pop these clips open with a small flat head screwdriver. With the cover off you can access the film spool.

If you are happy loading the film without resetting the film counter you can now proceed to the next step. But If you want to change the film counter bear in mind it only goes to 54. And if you are resetting after the original roll it will be there or there abouts. If you wanna change this you have 2 choices

Firstly you’ll need to prise off the front panel at that end (watch your fingers). The shutter button assembly lifts off and you can lift up and move the counter dial. You can do that in light before reloading,

Alternatively the on the shutter button assembly there is a slot. In that you’ll see a small hole or 2 you can slide this moving the film counter. You’ll need to repeat thios a few times to get the setting you want.

Irrespective of what you do with the counter take the film spool out of the camera. Note its orientation. There is a narrow nub at the top and wider with space for screwdriver at the bottom. Lift out and thread in your 35mm film leader and start wind round. Make sure you do this in the right direction. It will likely slip and unfurl – that’s life. Just start again

Reloading film spool of an Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half frame.
Make sure you orient the film spool correctly with the screw driver slotted lug pointing downward and wind the film round in the direct above. You can start this step in lo-light but you’ll need to move to complete darkness

-Method 1 (confirmed)

You can start this in low light. But once you get the process going you must transfer the camera to a completely dark environment. And I mean completely. Make sure you have the battery (if wanted) and all the covers as well as some completely opaque (ideally black electrician) tape and some scissors in there too.

Some folks at this point will slot the spool back into the camera others will do still separate whatever works for you. You now want continue winding film onto the spool avoiding touching the film. Insert film spool back into the camera on the left side and the film canister on the side of the winder you may need to tense up or give out some slack to fit both in. The film canister needs to engage properly with some take up pins on the winder side. Tense up your film and ensure your sprockets have lined up with the sprocket above the film gate). You probably want to make sure everything is held in position by winding on.

Now replace backplate, add back in battery ensuring correctly orientated, the battery cover and put back on the film cartridge compartment cover. Make sure you have all joints back in place and snug and then whilst still in the dark get your tape and cover over the seams

-Method 2 – a theory

There may be an easier way of loading this. Remember that slotted bottom end of the film spool ? Well there is a slide out panel on the case allowing you access.

slide out panel on the le Box's base
This the Agfaphoto Le Box but the Ilford has an identical panel that you can slide out accessing the film spool for loading

I assume there is a way to start the spool, seal up the camera and use this to load the film so you don’t need a light proof environment. But I can’t work out how to disengage the spool over the film gate .

This won’t go backwards. I assume there must be a way but I’ve tried fiddling. There are 4 covered holes above shutter button film count area. 2 can be used to adjust the counter but I suspect the other 2 are used the release that sprocket by inserting probes. And if you can do that you should be able to load the film on with camera all close up. I just can’t do that.

One thought on “A wee half to go – The Ilford Ilfocolor Rapid Half-Frame disposable”

  1. I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get a H35N.

    I’ve only once tried to reload a disposable. I got a hell of a jolt and have never tried again. Listen to Mr Alan kids!

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