The Smallest 35mm Film Camera Ever Made

Comparing Minox 35, Olympus XA, Rollei 35, Minolta TC-1, and Revue 35

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Three of the smallest, lightest full-frame 35mm film cameras ever made: Revue 35 XE, Minox 35 GT, and Minolta TC-1.

A truly pocketable 35mm film camera is a perfect photographer’s companion.

Digital cameras are still inferior to film in this category. For one, they aren’t small — that’s if you want to take advantage of a full-frame sensor. Whereas mobile devices use plastic lenses, a lot of image processing, and their results lack details when examined up-close — no matter how many megapixels they boast.

There are plenty of choices for pocketable/miniature film cameras out there, many of which I’ve had the privilege to test and review on this website. Today, I’m putting a few of them to the test to see which one deserves the title of “the smallest.”

I weighed and measured 5 film cameras, often named “the smallest” online and in print. And while they’re all small and brilliant in various ways, there can only be one winner.

Results.

🥇 Minolta TC-1 is the smallest full-frame 35mm film camera ever made. It measures 99mm × 61mm and weighs 224g (less than 8oz). See my review of this incredibly-compact premium point-and-shoot with perhaps the best 28mm lens ever made here.

🥈​ Revue 35 XE (a.k.a Voigtländer Vito C and Blada CA35) is the lightest 35mm film camera I’ve tried. It measures 103mm × 64mm and weighs 175g (just over 6oz) with film and battery! Though it loses some points to TC-1 for size — and features — it may feel the best in your pocket. The review for this underdog of a camera can be found here.

🥉​ Minox 35, which is often touted as the smallest 35mm film camera, is neither the smallest nor the lightest. It measures 101mm × 62mm and weighs 222g (less than 8oz). Still, it’s off only by a few millimetres compared to TC-1 and lighter by about 2g. So it makes the list but not at the top as I think many would’ve expected. Check out my review of this popular camera here.

Counter-clockwise: Minolta TC-1, Revue 35 XE, and Chinon Bellami.

Honourable mentions.

Rollei 35 is still the smallest mechanical film camera. This is your best bet for total control over your exposure in such a compact package. There were lots of models in the series; I’ve recently reviewed Rollei 35 S — a premium package with 𝒇2.8 Sonnar lens — and Rollei 35B — a budget-friendly Rollei.

Olympus XA is the smallest rangefinder film camera. Though not perfect, this aperture-priority shooter with a crisp 𝒇2.8 lens is very pocketable. This was one of the first cameras I reviewed on this website.

Method.

The smallest can mean many things. I use a combination of weight and front plate area.

The weight is measured with a matching battery and a roll of 36exp. film. I used a digital scale that’s precise to 1 gram. Note that film canisters may vary in their weight slightly.

Weighing Minox 35 GT film camera.

I measured the cameras’ height and width with a digital calliper. The widest and tallest areas were used for the measurements. I decided to ignore the depth as it was roughly the same for all the smallest cameras (and is unlikely to get smaller due to having to fit a film canister).

All the cameras selected for measurements shoot unmodified 35mm film canisters. Thus Tessina, a tiny wonder that can oddly fit on a wrist, did not qualify (as it requires you to re-spooling your film).

All the cameras make 24mm × 36mm exposures — that is, no half-frames and no squares.

Finally, my selection was limited to quality-built, well-known cameras.

However, if you have a camera that’s lighter and smaller than Minolta TC-1, please let me know! Even if it’s an unknown brand or something homemade. I love these things.

By the way: Please consider making your Minolta TC-1, Minox 35, or Rollei 35 purchases using the links above  so that Analog.Cafe may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!