ILFORD Sportsman F
(alias Dacora dignette F)

The camera alongside was advertised on e-bay as an Ilford camera, but lacked its name badge. Because it looked like a 'cross' between a Prontor 125 and a Sportsman 300, I bid on it out of curiosity. I won (no other bidders !) and was surprised to find that, despite not being mentioned by the seller, the top bulge was a fold-away miniature bulb flash gun, with a built-in capacitor firing circuit.

Space for the flash gun and battery have been made by moving the viewfinder to the extreme right hand end of the top cap. A rewind knob is used rather than a crank, presumably to avoid the crank handle otherwise fouling the flash gun.

The battery, connecting to a capacitor rated at 15v, fits under the grey plastic lift-up cover to the left hand end of the top cap. The 15v Ever Ready battery number B154, 35mm long and 14mm square with rounded edges, appears likely to be the original intended type. This battery is still available as an alkaline cell equivalent, type A220 manufactured by Rayovac, GP and others.

The flash gun takes the miniature size AG1 capless bulbs, introduced in 1959, 32mm long by 10mm diameter. The shutter is a standard Prontor 125, but the conventional front face coaxial flash socket is blanked off, limiting use of the camera to the built-in flashgun. The lens is an f2.8 Color Isconar from the ISCO Optische Werke, Göttingen.

The rear of the flash gun has a neat Guide Number vs Film Speed (ASA & DIN) vs Distance (m & ft) vs f Stop calculator. The GN is about 75 (in feet), 23 (in metres) with 100ASA film.

Perhaps the give-away that this camera was never intended for the UK market is that the film type reminder dial is in German, with Color, Negativ & Positiv.

The black plastic sliding button in the rear centre of the top cap is to eject the flash bulb after use. By sliding the button upwards a plastic bar rises beneath the bulb and pushes it out of its spring metal electrical contacts.

McKeowns identified this camera as a Dacora 'dignette F', from around 1966 (my thanks to David Gardner). There was also a dignette IF, which was essentially the same but the shutter release was as the Sportsman Prontor 125 i.e. a metal push button rather than the black plastic slider of the 'F'. I have 'mocked up' the name plate in this picture to show what the camera might have looked like originally.

BUT, more recently, Andy Holliman has found an Ilford version of this camera, see bottom of page.


This version of the Dacora dignette F was seen on the internet and has its name embossed into the top-cap, like a Style 2 Sportsman and a Style 3 Sportsman. If this was the only form of dignette F, then the above 'unknown' version is more likely an Ilford Sportsman F, as below. But I believe the name-plate mock-up (above) was based upon a version seen on the internet. It is quite possible that Dacora changed the naming arrangement such that the same top-cap design could be labelled either Dacora or Ilford.

This dignette F has the same lens as the 'unknown' i.e. f2.8 Color Isconar from the ISCO Optische Werke, Göttingen.

Andy Holliman's Ilford Sportsman F came in a consignment of Ilford cameras from a collector in Holland. Just one of many Ilford cameras that were sold in Europe, certainly Holland, but not in the UK. Probably by Ilford France. The only difference between this one and the 'unknown' version above is that the Sportsman F has a Steinheil Cassar f2.8 45mm lens.

SO, did my unbadged camera start life as a dignette F or a Sportsman F? I shall probably never know.

This page last modified: 8th November 2008