With the introduction of the Iloca Rapid around 1955 Wilhelm Witt introduced a series of cameras that in a short time added many new features, culminating eventually in the Iloca Electric, the first electric motor wind camera. Iloca stopped using their own branded lenses for the Rapid series, switching to Steinheil Cassars instead. The main improvement compared to earlier Ilocas was the wind lever, called the rapid winder. It was initially located on the left and the release button on the right, Iloca claimed in advertisements that this configuration would allow one to shoot ten photos in ten seconds! Later an improved version of the rapid winder was located at the right. Other improvements where the use of helical focussing and the addition of a light meter.
The Iloca Rapid shared the new styling of the top housing and front trim also seen on the Quick-B. It still featured the same small viewfinder window also found on the Iloca Quick, as well as front-cell focussing. Like the Quick-B, there were versions with grooved and plain front trim. According brochures it was available with Cassar or Ilitar lens, but I've never seen an example of the latter.
An Iloca Rapid with grooved trim.
Because the Iloca Rapid had a rapid winder on the left, but the wind spool was still on the right, a set of long levers was needed to transmit the movement. The movement would also cock the shutter. Compare this to the innards of the Quick-B, which were a lot simpler.
The Iloca Rapid-B was the rangefinder version of the Iloca Rapid and, in many respects, similar to the Quick-B apart from the rapid winder and smaller rewind knob. It featured helical focussing with a coupled rangefinder.
An Iloca Rapid-B. This one has grooved trim, I am not aware of any with plain trim ever been made.
The Iloca Rapid-B2 is a rather rare specimen, perhaps more common as the rebranded Photrix version. Serial numbers suggest it was introduced late 1955 or early 1956, not long after its predecessor the Rapid-B. The main difference was a new, more modern looking front plate, which was also found on subsequent Rapid models, and a rather curious looking depth of focus scale, which was never seen again on later models.
An Iloca Rapid-B2, a hybrid between Rapid-B and Rapid II.
Iloca Rapid I
The Iloca Rapid I is a rather rare model, initially I was not even sure it really existed other than in brochures (see under Iloca Rapid A1 below). It was the first of the second generation Iloca Rapids and featured an improved rapid winder, located on the right side of the camera, and it had a larger viewfinder. The rewind knob was moved to the left side of the camera, as on most other cameras from that era, but it was rather small and awkward to use. Even though the camera had no rangefinder, it still featured a helical focussing system and sported a Compur-Rapid shutter, which marked a break from the use of mostly Prontor shutters on earlier Iloca models.
An Iloca Rapid I with Steinheil Cassarit 50/2.8 lens in Compur-Rapid shutter. I believe the Cassarit was a triplet lens and I am not sure if it was different from the Cassar lens used on most other Ilocas.
Iloca Rapid IL (MPP Iloca)
The Iloca Rapid IL is another rare model. It was very similar to the Rapid I, but had an uncoupled light meter and therefore the viewfinder was moved a little off centre to the right.
This model was also sold in the UK as MPP Iloca. Other than the engravings they were identical. The MPP Iloca were in fact made in Germany, but sold under the MPP (Micro Precision Products Ltd, London) brand in the UK to avoid high import duties. Both Iloca IL and MPP Iloca appear to have been available with Compur-Rapid shutter and Steinheil Cassarit lenses only.
An Iloca Rapid IL. The light meters on Ilocas were produced by Metrawatt, as can be seen from the logo on the light meter flap. Most other cameras from that era had Gossen light meters (e.g., the Arettes, Retinas and Regulas). In my experience, like this one, most of the Metrawatt are now dead, whereas many Gossens are still working. But they were never expected to last over 50 years of course!
An Iloca Rapid IL by MPP produced in April 1957.
Iloca Rapid A1
The Rapid A1 is also a rather uncommon model. This was an entry-price model, featuring front-cell focussing and a Vero shutter with a limited range of shutter speeds and without self-timer.
The A1 was introduced in 1957 or 1958, being produced at the same time as the Rapid I and II series. The model number A1 was rather unusual for Iloca, one would expect this model to be called the Rapid I. Indeed, a Rapid I was found on some brochures from that era but it looked identical to the Rapid A1. So perhaps this was actually the Rapid I? Perhaps not. On careful inspection, the A1 had different, fine-grained leatherette covering than the Rapid-IL and a different shutter assembly, in fact similar to the Rapid II with Vero shutter. The Rapid I in brochures features same covering and shutter as the IL. So perhaps the Rapid A1 is a renewed version of the Rapid I, like the Rapid B2 was of the Rapid B. Perhaps one day a real Rapid I will show up. UPDATE: Indeed it has. See Rapid I now featuring above.
An Iloca Rapid A1 built in April 1958.
Iloca Rapid II
The Iloca Rapid II was a modernised version of the Rapid-B. It featured the new front trim around the lens base already seen on the Rapid-B2, as well as the new rapid winder on the right-hand side like the Rapid IL. It came with Vero or Compur-Rapid shutters, which had different ways of selecting shutter speeds and aperture, and had different flash sync sockets. The Rapid II could be found with two different coverings, either course-grained leather like the Rapid-B, or the fine-grained plastic of Rapid A1 and Rapid IIL.
An Iloca Rapid II from January 1959.
Iloca Rapid IIL
The Iloca Rapid IIL was nearly identical to the Rapid II but included a light meter by Metrawatt. It generally came with Cassar or Cassarit lenses in Compur-Rapid shutters, while a model sold by Hans Porst, a large German camera retailer, came with a rebranded Haponar lens. The top model, however, had a Rodenstock Heligon f/2 in Synchro-Compur shutter. A rare version with Prontor-SVS shutter could also be found.
An Iloca Rapid IIL with Steinheil Cassar 50mm f/2.8 lens. This one is from February 1959.
An Iloca Rapid IIL with Rodenstock Heligon 50mm f/2 lens. In terms of specifications on par with an Agfa Super Silette with Solagon lens or a King Regula RM with Ennalyt and probably equally rare, but lucky for me without the price mark-up.
Iloca Rapid IIR
This rather rare model was essentially a restyled Rapid II, with shutter release on the front, a higher flat top housing with pop-out rewind button and heavy black plastic frame around the view and rangefinder windows. The same design was used for the Iloca Rapid III and later Iloca Aut-o-matic. The flat top housing and front shutter release were first found on the Argus V100, built by Iloca for Argus (see below). The remote shutter release was still located on the top of the camera.
An Iloca Rapid IIR from January 1959, so surprisingly it predates some of my Rapid II and IIL, which indicates all these models were build alongside each other.
Iloca Rapid III
The Iloca Rapid III was basically an Iloca Rapid IIR with uncoupled lightmeter. The naming of the Iloca Rapid IIR and Rapid III was a little confusing, it would have made more sense if Iloca would have called these the Rapid III and the Rapid IIIL instead, respectively.
The Rapid IIR and Rapid III were probably produced in rather small numbers, as not many can be found these days and precious little info is available about them. Together with the Aut-o-matic, which was essentially a Rapid III but with coupled lightmeter, they represented the last range of Iloca cameras in production when the company went bust due to the problems surrounding the Iloca Electric (see story under that camera). This probably explains their rarity.
An Iloca Rapid III with Steinheil Culminar in Synchro-Compur shutter. It was essentially a restyled Iloca Rapid IIL but had an improved brightline viewfinder.
The same Iloca Rapid III seen from behind. Pushing the little tab with the arrow would pop up the rewind knob, pushing it again would pop it up further and then turning it would open the back of the camera. Makes sense, doesn't it!?
Iloca Rapid IIL, Iloca Rapid III and Iloca Electric (the Graphic version, see Iloca Electric page) side by side for comparison.
Although in name not an Iloca Rapid, the V-100 was built for Argus by Iloca and is worth mentioning here, as it is an interesting transition model between Iloca Rapid IIL and Rapid III. It differs from the Rapid IIL in having a flat top housing and pop-out rewind button, both features we see later on the Rapid IIR, III and Aut-o-matic. It also has a front shutter release, but a push-down version rather than the push-in version of Rapid IIR, III and Aut-o-matic. It features a hot shoe, no other Iloca-branded camera ever did! It was introduced in 1958. It came with a choice of two lenses, a fast 48mm f/2 Cintagon II or standard 52mm f/2.8 Cintar II.
An Argus V-100 with f/2.8 Cintar lens in Synchro-Compur shutter.