Which is the smallest full-frame 35mm camera ever produced? While many of the compact 35mm (like the Ricoh 500G and the Olympus Trip 35 in the previous posts) made during the 1960’s and 1970’s are quite small, they are still larger than the following three candidates: The Rollei 35, the Minox 35 and the Olympus XA. So who is the winner? Well, it is actually not as easy as just simply comparing specifications.
Well, the photo above shows that the Rollei 35 and the Olympus XA is almost the same (or at least very very close) in width and height. In fact, the Rollei 35 is 97x60x32mm in width, height and depth respectively while the Olympus XA is 102×64.5x40mm. I have never actually measured them but I did try to fit my XA into the case of my Rollei 35 and although it fits, it fits much tighter than the Rollei 35 which somehow support the figures above. Of course, the dimensions of the Rollei 35 were measured while the lens is retracted to the body! Thus, when both cameras are at “ready to shoot” mode, the XA is the smaller one.
How about the Minox 35 which certain Internet sources say it is the smallest one among the three? Let’s take a look at the photo below:
The Minox 35 series was introduced in 1974. Inspired by the Rollei 35 released earlier in 1965, the Minox 35 also has a retractable lens design which resembles more like a folding camera. The 35mm f2.8 Minotar lens is also well known for its high optical quality just like the 40mm f3.5 Tessar and the 40mm f2.8 Sonnar of the Rollei 35’s. Instead of being a fully mechanical camera like the Rollei 35’s, all Minox 35’s feature either aperture priority or programmed automatic exposure. Well, back to the photo above, it shows that the Minox 35 is smaller than the Rollei 35 when you ignore the lens cover of the Minox that extends longer outward than the lens barrel of the Rollei. If the lenses of both cameras are retracted, the Minox should be the smaller among the two. However, the Minox 35 measures 101x62x35mm (WxHXD) on paper which makes it larger than the Rollei 35 (97x60x32mm)!
Confused, yes, it sure is! According to what I have seen with my eyes and information digged out from the Internet, I would say the Minox 35 is the smallest 35mm full-frame camera with its lens retracted. On the other side, the Olympus XA would be the smallest among all others when you compare each candidate at its “ready to shoot” position. Of course, I believe the XA is also the smallest 35mm full-frame rangefinder camera too (the Rollei 35 and Minox 35 are viewfinders only)!
Well, how about a tie and let’s give each of them a Gold Medal :-)