ILFORD Sportsmaster Manumatic; 1962

The Ilford Sportsmaster Manumatic offers shutter priority automatic operation or full manual control, the latter aided by readings from the built-in selenium cell exposure meter, with readings visible in the top of the viewfinder. The ProntorMatic shutter offers speeds of 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1250, 1/500 & B. It is X flash synchronised. There is no delayed action. The lens is a 4-element Ysarex, f2.8, 45mm, with stops to f22. Focussing is from 3feet to infinity. There are also three click-stop zone focussing positions for close-up, middle distance and distant shots.

Once the camera has been loaded with film, the film speed is set using the control ring around the lens mount (see pictures below) and a suitable shutter speed (to suit the type of subject or the available light) is selected. Then, on looking through the viewfinder, you can see the field-of-view covered by the lens and, when the shutter release is depressed, the built-in photo-electric cell light meter automatically sets the lens aperture according to the user's pre-chosen shutter speed and the prevailing light conditions.

For manual operation, the rear lens control ring is rotated to the manual position and then both lens aperture and shutter speed can be selected. In this mode of operation, a small button on the back of the camera can be depressed and, on looking through the viewfinder, the lens aperture is shown that would have been selected by the camera if it was in automatic.

The manual setting is also used for flash photography. A flash gun is connected to the standard 3mm co-axial (PC) outlet and the lens aperture is calculated based upon the flash guide number (divide the flash to subject distance into the guide number to determine the lens aperture). Since the shutter has only X synchronisation, the shutter needs to be set to 1/30th second when using flash bulbs, but can be used at any speed with an electronic flash.

The left hand badge reads "ILFORD MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY" while the right hand badge reads "SM", which presumably stands for Sportsmaster Manumatic.

The picture above is the Sportsmaster Manumatic as it appeared when first launched. Note the extended rewind crank, as appeared on other models only later in their development.

An Ilford advertisement at the time extolled its virtues:
"This beautiful camera takes the guesswork out of photography! It really does the thinking for you, and you can switch to manual control for special shots whenever you like. Undoubtedly the Manumatic represents the very peak of precision-built camera making. Coated four element f/2.8 Rodenstock Ysarex lens, Prontormatic shutter speeded from 1/30 sec. to 1/500 sec plus 'B'. Bright-line viewfinder. Rewind crank. Synchronised for electronic flash and flashbulbs. £44 7s. 1d. = £44.35. Case an extra £3 8s. 7d.= £3.43."

Amateur Photographer (AP) dated 30th May 1962 described the new Manumatic:
"This model can be used as a fully automatic or manual camera. Integral meter will select correct shutter speed and aperture for perfect exposures every time. Automatic mechanism can be uncoupled and the camera used as a conventional 5-speed model."

The Focal Guide describes the automatic system thus:

"When the camera is set to 'Auto', the meter mechanism sets the correct aperture automatically according to the pre-selected shutter speed. The action of the meter is controlled by the film speed setting. This model also permits manual over-ride e.g. individual setting of aperture and shutter speed. This does not, however, prevent the meter from being used."

 Aperture ring set to 'Auto'

Aperture ring set to enable Manual selection,
f2.8 to f22

Notice that the focusing scale, marked both in feet and metres (3feet to inf.) has three 'click stop' preset focusing positions for distant views, groups and individuals. There is no built-in rangefinder.

The red scale visible in the pictures (above) on the shutter speed ring is for film speed setting, 10 to 800ASA on one side and 11 to 30DIN on the other. Depressing the serrated lever to the right of the 1/500th sec shutter speed, allows the film speed to be set.

The small black button to the LHS of the rear of the top cap controls the exposure meter reading when the Manumatic is set to operate manually. Depressing this button, while looking through the viewfinder, shows the aperture the camera would have selected if it had been in 'Auto'. The photographer is then free to use that same aperture or rely upon his own judgement.

The exposure counter is on the top of the camera, at the RHS as viewed looking down from above and with the lens facing forward. It is manually preset to the number of exposures on the film by moving 'to and fro' the adjacent button on the side of the top cap. Thereafter, exposures are counted down automatically as the lever wind is used.

The exposure counter is integrated with a manually set film speed & type reminder, for b&w, colour negative or colour reversal. Film speeds are shown in red for ASA and black for DIN.

The red numbers are shortened for convenience of fitting them into the available space, hence instead of 100, 200, 400 & 800ASA, the scale shows 1.., 2.., 4.. & 8.. ASA.

This page last updated: 16th July 2014