Ilford Sportsman 300 Review from My 30 Weeks, 30 Cams Project


This is the review of the camera I used in the first week of my “30 Weeks, 30 Cams Project”: the Ilford Sportsman 300. I found this camera on eBay for € 2.49. I didn’t know anything about it but thought the name is somehow funny and it would be a nice camera to start the project with. So here is my review about the handling of the camera.

For those who got here and don’t know what it’s all about, I have a project called “30 weeks, 30 cams” where I try to shoot a roll of film with a new or different camera each week. I upload it here and let people know what I think of the camera. Read about Week 1 in my Lomography blog, and check out the album from Week 1.

When I first held it in my hand I thought, “Woooo, it is pretty heavy!” Well, it has a metal body and is old so this is not very astonishing.

My second thought was that the design is really vintage, or better, old-fashioned. I could smell that there’s more than 40 years of the camera. But it looked nice.

The camera actually seems to be an Ilford Sportsman 300S — you can say that because of the hotshoe being alongside the rewind knob but the “S” on the camera is missing. The Sportsman was produced by Dacora and its equivalent from the Dacora brand is the Dignette 300.

The lens is named a Color Isconar f2.8/45mm. The Prontor shutter has 4 speeds from 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 to 1/300 and for longexposures you can use the “B”-mode.

Credits: bloomchen

The camera is very easy to handle. It came with a parcel service in the evening hours just the moment I left so there was no time to have a closer look. The next morning I had to leave early and I just grabbed it and on my way, I stopped to load it. That was quickly done and I took the first pictures.

Credits: bloomchen

In the afternoon, I went out for a walk with my son and then I had the opportunity to get to know the camera a bit better. It was a sunny day and that helped with the exposure time. But apparently, some shots were overexposed even though I thought shooting the 400 ISO Kodak at 1/60 and 1/125 is a good choice.

Credits: bloomchen

On other shots, it worked out and that is the only thing I really wonder about with this camera. But you have to keep in mind that this is obviously a test roll, so I am satisfied with the results.

Credits: bloomchen

Conclusion: I got a lot of bang for the buck. I’ll definitely shoot more rolls with this camera. The heavyweight champion feels good and the mechanical sounds of the Ilford Sportsman 300 gave me a good feeling. Each time I felt like everything is working fine. That is an important point I think when buying a vintage camera: if it doesn’t work, € 2.49 would have been too much.

Now, stay tuned for the next posts!

Thanks for reading!

Credits: bloomchen

written by bloomchen on 2012-03-30 #gear #test #review #project #camera #blog #berlin #series #60s #pictures #album #kreuzberg #different #neukolln #user-review #ilford-sportsman-review #kodak-b-w-35 #heavyweight


  1. jeffr
    jeffr ·

    great shots! and great article series idea!

  2. berndtotto
    berndtotto ·

    Interesting project !!! Just ... the pictures do look quite horrible ;-)) Can't imagine, that this is an issue of the camera though. Those vintage cameras are usually capable of taking pretty good ... or at least better pictures than those here ;-))

  3. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    @berndtotto: well yes: it´s a testroll and i´m new in using such cameras. so it seems my personal lightmeter isn´t perfect. anyway it works quite well using my seagull. and: the pictures are in the album in the order they were taken and at least in two cases the light conditions were even worse on one pic taken with the same settings but they are overexposed.

  4. berndtotto
    berndtotto ·

    It looks a little bit more like the film is pretty messed up. What kind of film did you use ? Did you develope it by yourself ? For a testroll, I would at least try to take a few shots, using a lightmeter ( if you don't have one, an iPhone or any digital camera is fine ), just to judge, if the camera is okay or not.

    Also, after buying an old camera ( especially one for 2,49 Euro ), a quick lens check might be a good idea. You can do that easily if the camera has a B-setting. Open the camera back and hold the camera against some bright light and look through the lens. If it's dirty, it can be a 5 minutes job to clean it ( from both sides ) with a little bit alcohol and a Q-tip ( cotton swap ). Scratches are not so much of a problem, but a dirty lens can cause some nasty fog on your pictures.

    I don't own a Sportsman 300, but from the age and type of camera, it should have a leaf shutter.
    Leaf shutters are actually great, you should just check, if yours is closing properly. They often do at fast shutter speeds, but sometimes, they don't at slow shutter speeds ( stucking, because they can become oily over the years ). It doesn't need to be the case, but it could be one reason, why your pictures are looking like they look.

    If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me. I collected a lot of old cameras and it's fun, using those "ancient babies". However, the fun is bigger, if the pictures do look nice in the end ;-)) But if you really want to use one camera a week, you might not have the time, checking or repairing them carefully. However, it is sometimes just a matter of a few minutes and worth before wasting the first testroll.

  5. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    @berndtotto: first: thanks for your input! i´ll probably come back to you asking. now to the camera-testing: my excuse is that i actually used such a camera for the first time ever. i checked the camera and the speeds seem to work properly. the lens is clean. i used a kodak 400 b/w and that might have been the problem. it was the first very sunny day here and until now - i mean since i started using a camera without lightmeter - i was fine with a 400 ISO film and what i thought the exposing time should be. as said in the article: some shots look like they should do - i admit not that many - and in two cases i´m really surprised about the way they look. but i´ll give the camera a new try for sure and maybe i get better in using the camera. i have a camera with a lightmeter and i used it to check light conditions when using other cameras without but that day i didn´t have it with me.

  6. berndtotto
    berndtotto ·

    Looking forward to your experiments then. There are many great vintage cameras out there and it is fun, giving them a try.

    Cheers from Tokyo,


  7. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    @berndtotto: actually week 2 is published, too - minox 35 EL. i wrote a review on it too but this is not published yet. i explain why they are overexposed. it´s the battery. i was warned by the guy from my lab but he thought it´s OK for b/w. on monday week 3 will be published.

  8. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    I really like the look of the camera itself.

  9. berndtotto
    berndtotto ·

    @bloomchen: I'll check it out, when it will be published. The Minox EL should use a battery type, which is still available, but cameras with too much electronic can be tricky ( and mostly impossible to repair ). I usually go for older ones, still using selenium meters ( no battery needed ) or even older ones without light meter. Especially, you need to take care, if cameras are using mercury batteries. Those are basically just junk, because this battery type is not available anymore.

  10. berndtotto
    berndtotto ·

    BTW, I just checked the Minox pictures and others from your albums. Mmmmh ... I am not sure, but it can also be an issue of processing and/or scanning. Most pictures are lacking contrast, many are bleached out, even not overexposed. Would need to check the negatives though. Basically pictures on film should look much better ... even on the the cheapest film and camera. There must be something wrong in your workflow, but I am nor sure what :-((

  11. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    @berndtotto: thanks again for your input!!! it is why i checked again the negatives. the guy made an index of this roll and i saw there already that the vespa-pic, the bar and the car don´t look overexposed. so i checked the negatives and the way they are cut. the streetlight lamp is on top and the software has a button for optimizing the light on the scan and i guess i pushed it to lighten it. and then i must have forgotten to erase this function on the frame. i then saw that all those pictures being very overexposed are on top or on the end of the cut negatives. so i scanned it again and it does look different. i mixed to show you:

    btw: the battery isn´t available anymore i was told by my lab.

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