This Rapid-B was a development of the earlier Rapid models, retaining the characteristic left hand operated 'rapid' film advance lever, while introducing some useful new features over the previous model.
In particular, the Rapid-B sported a built-in Rangefinder for improved focussing. It also had an upgraded lens, a Steinheil Cassar S F2.8 50mm in place of the previous model's Cassar 45mm lens. The Rapid-B also incorporated a new focussing mechanism, achieved by moving the entire front lens assembly back and forward in relation to the film plane via a helical focussing mount (rather than the previous model's threaded rotating front element).
This model still utilises the distinctive and unusual design of having the film beneath the film advance lever, with the take-up spool on the other side. As a result, the lever appears to push the film away from the film chamber to the take-up spool on the other side of the camera. In fact, the 'rapid' lever is connected to the take-up spool by means of linkages under the top plate. Iloca reverted to a more conventional right-hand lever position on later Rapid models.
In other respects this camera is fairly orthodox with Prontor (1 to 1/300 sec plus B) shutter and 50mm Cassar S F2.8 lens, offering the choice of 'M' and 'X' flash settings plus the 'V' delayed action (self timer) setting. The left-handed film advance is surprisingly comfortable to use and easily enables the photographer to take (dare I say it) a rapid sequence of shots. The camera has quite a nice feel to it, which I am sure would have appealed to plenty of buyers in its day.
This model has no metering - but the newly introduced rangefinder is a handy feature. The viewfinder image is somewhat larger than the previous model, but without dedicated framing lines. Despite the reduced image size when compared with real life, you can still achieve reasonably accurate framing and composition, with improved focussing accuracy thanks to the built-in rangefinder. The upgraded lens should give good results for a camera of this type, with its slightly longer 50mm focal length which was a popular 'standard' for cameras of the era.
All in all, this model is a well-built camera that is pleasant to use like its Rapid predecessor. And the upgraded specification offers several improvements over the earlier model.
One tip for opening the back on these cameras - pull the rewind knob upwards to its full extension. Then twist slowly clockwise and the springloaded mechanism should release the back. The camera back is not symmetrical and only fits one way.
A relatively compact 35mm camera, with a nice feel. Robust and well-built, the model offered a good specification at a reasonable cost. The Rapid-B was a popular camera in its day, and it is capable of producing good results. And that unique left handed 'rapid' film advance lever is surprisingly comfortable and practical to use.
Specifications: Iloca Rapid-B Camera
Camera Type: 35 mm Compact Camera
Format: 35mm film format producing image sizes 24mm x 36mm
Shutter: Prontor–SVS with speeds 'B', 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/300 sec, with V delayed action setting and M, X Flash synch settings
Lens: Steinheil München Cassar S 1:2.8 / 50 mm, focus range 3 feet (0.9 metre) to ∞
Aperture: F2.8 to F22
Delayed Action: Approx 10 seconds
Flash Capability: Flash Contact Socket
Frame Counter: 0 to 36
Other Features: Accessory Shoe, Tripod Mount, Leather Camera Case, Instruction Manual, Box