Iloca Rapid

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Iloca Rapid / Iloca Quick

Iloca was a short-lived camera maker, lasting for about a decade in the 1950s. It was established in Hamburg, a city known for its heavy industry and peppered with several very early camera makers. The company was founded as a machine shop by Walter Illing, who lent it his name styled as Ilca, short for Iling Camera. Just as was the case with Edina, which sounded too close to Retina and was renamed Edixa, Ilca closely resembled Ica, a brand amalgamated into Zeiss. I guess Zeiss flexed a muscle, so the name was promptly changed to Iloca. Shortly after the company entered the camera universe, Wilhelm Witt took it over, and the company was known as Witt Iloca.

A common misconception is that the name also appears as Jloca. It is not a capital ‘J’ but a stylized cursive capital ‘I’. Similar mispronunciations also appear with Isolar and Isolette, often wrongly written as Jsolar and Jsolette, which are unpronounceable.

Iloca had offered a down-to-earth line of cameras, which were also rebranded for US and European distributors, see below. A Photrix model is mentioned as a Ward brand, but I saw no reference to it on Ward’s pages. It seems that the Photrix moniker was freely used in-house and for several smaller distributors.

At this stage, I go into tedious research in print and online. Here, the Gods smiled and pointed me to an Iloca Camera site from down under, where the editor had done the heavy lifting and offered comprehensive and well-presented information in great detail. Please visit it for more.

The Iloca cameras can be sorted into three groups.

  • The early models, under Iloca, Iloca Rapid and Iloca Quick. A mix of rangefinders and viewfinders. The Quick had a large, easy-to-grip knob winder that also cocked the shutter, an uncommon feature at the time, and the Rapid added a lever winder. The models marked ‘L’ also featured meters. The very early were viewfinders with the viewer set in a hump, either centered or offset, a typical style of the early German viewfinders. Later models had a flatter top with a slight bulge to house the viewer. The naming convention is confusing, with the Iloca and Photrix names attire almost identical cameras.
  • The stereo cameras that gave the company the tailwind and are still the collector’s sought-after models.
  • The over-the-top electric models, the Iloca Electric, Iloca Aut-o-matic and the Iloca Auto- Electric. The company punched above its weight, introducing a line of motor winder cameras with embedded light meters.

The last group caused the early demise of the company. It brings to mind another mouse that roared, the Finetta 99, which offered a line of interchangeable lenses for a third-rate brand; it was doomed to fail and indeed failed the company. The ten years old Iloca did not have the legacy and the market share to justify a trail-blazing camera. As such, the company was taken over by AGFA, which used the technology with the Selecta M, which did not make a splash either.

As with all post-war German camera makers, there was a long list of lenses and shutter combinations due to inconsistent supply chain constraints.

Cameras of all three groups were sold via other channels under different names, such as:

  • Iloca Rapid B as Sears Tower 51
  • Iloca Rapid IIL Tower 52 & 53
  • Iloca Stereo IIa as Sars Tower Stereo
  • Iloca Electric as Graflex Graphic 35 Electric
  • Iloca Rapid as David White Realist
  • Iloca IIL as Argus V-100
  • Iloca rapid IL as MPP Iloca
  • Iloca Quick as Kaufhof Reporter
  • A mix of models branded for Richard in Switzerland and Atlantic in Sweden.

I have three Iloca cameras on my bench, which are almost the same: Photrix Quick B, Photrix, and Iloca Rapid B. The latter two are precisely the same, save for the model name. The Quick B slightly differs, having a knob winder, whereas the others have a lever; a different shutter, a different lens and the self-timer trigger is located by the synch selector lever. Other than that, they are triplets separated at birth.

Iloca Quick-B / Photrix

The cameras are well-built, solid, and nicely finished. They were perfectly preserved by the original owners and function as they should. I found them in thrift stores, so assume that the owners did not hold them in high regard.

Using the camera is straightforward. All settings are where you expect them to be, with no quirks or mystery controls, other than removing the back.

The knob winder is large and is proud of the camera body, so it lends itself to easy winding. The Rapid name stands for the winder that also cocks the shutter, and stops till a trigger is released. Please do not assume it uses a Rapid film format, it takes a standard 35mm cartridge. A rewind knob carries a film-type memo dial. The viewer is tiny, and the distance patch is almost as large as the viewer. The focusing ring has two finger tabs, which I guess it takes getting used to, but it is smooth and has a long travel, making it easy to focus. The aperture ring is marked with a minuscule red dot and is moved via another tab at the bottom. A self-time lever at the bottom of the lens barrel marked M with a yellow dot on the barrel and a red dot on the lever. The same colour code is on the synch lever. If you are missing the green, don’t despair; it is available on the rapid B.

All that is good until you try to open the back. If everything fails, read the manual. I didn’t have a manual, so I found a hint on Graeme’s site. I would have never opened it without instructions, and I have seen several cameras before.

So, to open the back, pull up the winder knob, and when fully extended, about 10mm / 3/8”, turn it anti-clockwise. The side flap will open, and the back pops out, pushed by a spring-loaded pin in the camera body. To remount the back, align the red dot on the cover with the same on the body and click it in.

Iloca rapid D

This model came with two name tags: Iloca Rapid-D and Photrix. Three visible differences between it and the Quick are a lever winder positioned at the left, a different shutter and lens, and the synch/timer lever location.

The main difference is invisible under the hood. While the winder is on the left, the take-off spool is on the right. The spool movement is connected via a link concealed in the body. Further, to remove the back, it takes pulling up the dial within the lever ring and turning it clockwise, opposite to the Quick described above.

A left thumb winder seems odd, but after looking at the shelves, I realized there are several other similar models. The Exakta Varex VX, The Vitessa, and the Rollei 35 are all lefties.

For the collector, they are nice to have, a typical example of the post-war German cameras. They are freely available at modest price.


Camdex list number 10748 10761
Brand Iloca Iloca
Model Iloca Rapid B Iloca Quick B
Value at at
Format 35mm
Introduced 1953 1954
AKA Photric Rapid B Iloca Quick B
Country Germany
Qty made
Initial price 168 198
Currency DM DM
Type Rangefinder
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 600 gr,  Body with lens 575 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight 640 gr,  Body with lens 640 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range Memo only
Kit lens 2.8/50
Lens make Cassar Westnar
Filter size 30mm
Lens mount Fixed lens
Mount size N/A
Shutter Leaf
Shutter make Prontor SVS Prontor SV
Light meter None
Winder Lever Knob
Lock No
Speeds B, 1-300
Mirror N/A
Viewer Rangefinder
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync X/M
Sync speed
Timer Yes, mechanical
Battery, original N/A
Battery, replacement N/A
Battery voltage N/A
Integral flash None
Service / repair links See

The Iloca Company
Foto Museum
UK Cameras
Old Camera Blog
Photo Ethnography
CJ’s Classic cameras

Iloca Rapid B / Photrix Rapid B images


Iloca Quick B / Photrix Quick B images


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