Ilford Sportsman: Who Says Film is Inconvenient?!


Ilford is known for its fantastic black and white films and photo papers, but not cameras—except maybe the Ilford Advocate. However, this camera is certainly no advocate. its a fully mechanical camera with bog standard features.

The Ilford Sportsman was an impulse buy really. It was back when I first got into film photography and was shooting colour film and didn’t really care about exposure or composition or lighting or anything really, I picked it up simply because it was cheap and looked interesting.

Any way I got it with a small lens hood and a haze filter, the hood is actually very useful as the lens does flare a lot.

My model is the model 2 which was introduced in spring of 1959, so the Sportsman is a old camera and has an old design, as is the lens. The camera feels very robust and steady in the hand. Unlike more modern compacts, it is completely mechanical.

Here are the specs of the Ilford Sportsman:

  • 45mm f./3.5 dignar lens
  • Vario shutter.
  • The Ilford advertisement claimed "Large eye-level viewfinder with luminous guide lines,
    interlocking film-wind and shutter setting to prevent double exposure
  • A cold shoe
  • Frame counter

As you can see, it has the bare minimum features a camera needs as this was a budget camera all those years ago. The vario shutter has 3 speeds 25, 50, 100 and the Bulb mode.

The camera was made in West Germany and has that is brandished on its body. You can really tell it’s made there. As I said before it is very, very solid, although the thing that gives you guide lines in the viewfinder has fallen on mine, which rattles around, and the metal on the frame advance has changed color.

Anyway onto the title, “Who says film can’t be practical?” I say this because I used this camera for my A level geography course work. I was doing a study into housing and the local economy in my area so was looking at many things, and I actually used the images from this camera for my project whilst my “more convinient” DSLR sat at home.

Here are some of the images:

As you can see, the images are well okay; they are relatively sharp and the lens produces quite nice colours. The best is the one of the post box, though none of the other images look like that, which suggests inconsistency from the lens.

Overall the camera is okay, but nothing special. The very few shutter speeds available is annoying but the build quality is a huge plus. If you see one cheap, pick one up. Though it was a camera which proved film is certainly not dead and that digital isn’t more convenient.

Thanks for reading, keep shooting!

written by brandkow93 on 2012-07-12 #gear #ilford #review #colour #ilford-sportsman #boots-colour-film #sharp


  1. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    I do not know a lot about German cameras, but it looks a lot like my Agfa Silette. I am curious now if that body style was common or if they share common history.

  2. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    @neaderthalis that is highly possible, over the years many cameras have been rebranded and sold by the different companies.


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