4th Style; ILFORD Sportsman Rangefinder; Spring 1960

The above 'Style 4' Sportsman appears in an advertisement in Modern Camera Magazine for February 1960, announcing the 'New' Ilford Sportsman Rangefinder Camera. "Bringing you better photography at the price you care to pay....Ilford announce a fourth fine Sportsman camera. A rangefinder model of unrivalled value."

It has a Gauthier Pronto shutter speeded 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, B and X flash synchronised. It also has a delayed action release (the small lever at 5o'clock relative to the front of the lens). It is fitted with a f2.8 45mm Dacora dignar lens. Price is £19.19s.11d = near £20.0p.

Click on the booklet icon to see instructions for the Style 4 Sportsman

It is important to realise that the Style 4 top cap did not get applied to all the Sportsman models in 1960. When 'Colour Photography' magazine reviewed the Sportsman range at the end of 1960 they still illustrated the 'base' Vario Sportsman model as being of Style 3, showing only the Rangefinder model (above) as being the new Style 4 design. The AP camera supplement for June 1960 does likewise, showing the Sportsman 3-speed 'Vario', 4-speed 'Pronto' and 9-speed 'Prontor SVS' models as still being of Style 3 appearance. As is discussed on my web page dealing with Style 3, the Styles 3 & 4 seemingly overlapped for at least 2 years. Thus, it could be argued Style 3 and Style 4 are really one and the same, with the different top cap design being initially only to enable the inclusion of a Rangefinder window.

In Spring 1962, when the Sportsman Auto and Auto rangefinder models appeared, the Style 4 top cap modification was then also required to incorporate a selenium exposure meter cell. The Style 4 top cap was easily able to include such an addition and it is probable that, when Dacora introduced these new models, they decided it was time to restyle all the models to Style 4, including those which didn't require either a rangefinder window or meter cell. It is likely that the Style 4 top cap was thought more stylish and would give the 'base' models a 'face lift'; it might also have been a cost economy to make all the range of similar construction.

The exposure counter is manually zeroed using a knurled ring on the RHS of the top cap (viewed from the rear - see left). The LHS rewind is still a knurled knob with a film type reminder inset, now labelled for the Ilford B&W film range Pan F, FP3, HP3 & HPS, plus Colour of types balanced for 'D'aylight or clear 'F'lash bulbs.

To distinguish the cameras without a rangefinder, a diamond cut-out was substituted for the square rangefinder window, as in the following pictures. It seems that a diamond cut out was only ever cosmetic; a black square indicates a rangefinder model. If my theory of how the 'base' Style 3 models evolved into Style 4 designs is correct, then the following pictures must be of Sportsman cameras post-Spring 1962.

The Rangefinder version remained in production exactly as the top photograph until at least 1962. I have two of these where, underneath the film reminder dial, there are dates scratched, one says 6/3/61 and the other 6/12/61.

Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine dated 30th May 1962 shows on page 12, in a Dixons advert, the same Sportsman range. The price for the "Famous Ilford Sportsman" with Vario shutter is still £11.19s.6d, as in 1960. The case cost an extra £2.3s.7d. On page 25, in a Bennetts advert, there is listed the Sportsman Pronto version, priced at £14.3s.7d = £14.18p, with case an extra £2.3s.7d = £2.18p. With a coupled rangefinder it cost £18 exactly, with case a further £3.1s.0d = £3.05p. So these version seem to have dropped in price by 10%.

The same 1962 AP magazine, on page 9, in a Westminster Photographic advert, describes the "New Range of Ilford 35mm Cameras", which is again the same body style as shown here.

Alongside is the Spring 1962 Style 4 'base' model, using a flash synchronised Vario shutter (3-speeds to 1/200 plus B) and a Dacora f2.8 45mm lens. It was priced at £11.19s.6d = £11.98p.

 
This Style 4 Vario model, seen in a US ebay auction, has the updated top cap style that uses an extended rewind crank and flush top cap exposure counter and film type reminder. Presumably this version came shortly before the introduction of the Prontor 125, which replaced the Style 4 Vario in December 1963.

The Sportsman Pronto (left), having the same specification as the Rangefinder model (picture at top of page), but without the rangefinder, cost £15.15s = £15.75p. 'Colour Photography' found it curious that that the rangefinder model only cost a further £1.12p over this 9-speed model (though the rangefinder had only a 4 speed Pronto shutter) and recommended buying the rangefinder version, saying "it appears to us that for very little extra money you are getting a far better instrument".

 
There was also a Sportsman Prontor SVS, flash syncronised 'X' & 'M' with speeds 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/300 & B, plus a delayed action release (the 'V' setting next to the 'X' & 'M' flash synchronisation), priced at £18.17s.6d (£18.88p). The top speed of this model subsequently changed to 1/500th sec, possibly fairly soon after its introduction.

A Style 4 Sportsman Vario with f2.8 Dignar lens, but with a grey leatherette finish, as only marketed in Europe. Ilford considered the grey finish not suited to the conservative UK 'taste'.

 


This AMC M135 is unmistakeably a Dacora, similar to the Style 4 Sportsman Vario. According to Dave Durnford in New Zealand (ex-Leigh in Lancashire 30 years ago when aged 27), AMC stands for American Merchandising Corporation. Dave says "they were a buying office for several US department stores - though obviously long since kaput as the only people using the name these days are in Delhi, India".

Dave also told me about the Hanimex Electra II, another version of the Ilford Sportsmaster and that Ferrania (italy) and Certex (Spain) had Dacora / Sportsman equivalents. See the Ferrania Lince on the Style 3 Sportsman page.


The film reminder dial of the AMC M135 is of continental design (as illustrated on the page describing the first 1957 Sportsman.)

The exposure counter of the AMC M135 is not as any UK Sportsman design.It is most like the 1957 design but with the wind-on lever below the top-cap, as with the Styles 3 & 4.

This page last modified: 1st August 2007