ILFORD Sportsman Instant

The Sportsman C is the simplest of the three Ilford cameras in the 'Instant' range. The models 'E' and 'R' are shown below. The 'Instant' cameras used the 126 drop-in Instamatic film cartridge, introduced by Kodak in June 1963. Having initally tried, with Agfa, to compete with the Kodak Instamatic cartridge and cameras by introducing cameras using the Agfa Rapid film cassette system, Ilford finally accepted the inevitable and produced their own 126 cartridge cameras and films in late 1966 or January 1967. The Sportsman Instant range was made, as were all the other Sportsman cameras, by Dacora in West Germany. The Sportsman C shown here was sent to me by Micha Hamel, in The Netherlands. This source raises the possibility that the Sportsman Instant camera range was only marketed in mainland Europe and not the UK? In the latter case, it is possible that the Ilfomatic range of 126 cartridge cameras were the lower cost UK equivalent.

The Sportsman C Instant has a bright-line viewfinder and the simple Color-Subitar lens is labelled Ciba-Ilford, presumably in recognition that, in 1966, Ciba and ICI acquired all the outstanding shares of Ilford. This was a prelude to Ciba in 1969 acquiring all ICI's shares in Ilford and becoming sole owner. It has two shutter speeds, 1/90thsec and 1/30th sec, corresponding to 'Sun' and 'Cloud'.

The Sportsman Instant is clearly an adaptation of the earlier Sportina Rapid film range.

Complimenting the Sportsman Instant and the Ilfomatic camera ranges, Ilford introduced three 126 cartridge films in late 1966, a 'Black & White', 12 exp. for 4/4d (22p; processing extra), an Ilford Super Colorslide, 12 exp for 12/6d (63p) including slides returned in plastic mounts and within a transparent viewer 'wallet', and an Ilford Super Colorprint, 12 exp for 7s/6d (38p) plus 18/- (90p) developing & printing, a total of 25/6d (£1.28p), with prints returned in an 'attractive pocket album'.


The Sportsman Instant cameras have a socket on the top plate to take flashcubes. Flashcubes have four integral flash bulbs and the cube rotated to present a new bulb when the film was wound on.

The Sportsman Instant C has a fixed aperture & fixed focus lens and two shutter speeds, a faster speed for bright conditions and a slower speed for cloudy days and for flash. A similar system was used by Kodak on their simpler Instamatic cameras.


The flashcube system worked from a 15v B154 battery (now designated A220) contained within an opening accessible via the base of the camera and a sliding cover. A capacitor, to give more reliable flash firing, is situated under the top cap, alongside the viewfinder.

The back opens by sliding up the grey square to the right hand end of the fixed part of the camera's back and hinging open the remainder. The wind-on lever advanced the film through the camera until the projection to the top right of the camera's picture aperture engaged a sprocket hole in the film edge. When that happened, the wind-on locked and the shutter was able to fire. The number of exposures was known by observing numbers printed on the film backing paper, visible through the clear rectangular plastic cover in the camera's back.

This Ilford Sportsman E Instant is clearly the 'upmarket' version of the Sportsman Instant range, having a Color-dignar anastigmat lens and a built-in selenium exposure meter.

In all other respects it follows the layout of the Sportsman C Instant.

The Sportsman R 'Instant' had four exposure settings, marked with the symbols 'Sun', 'Sun with Cloud', 'Cloudy' and 'Flash'.

This page last updated: 1st August 2007