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I started with no folding 35mm cameras
When I started up collecting again in 2002, I didn't own any folding 35mm cameras - at least not the bellows style (there are others you will see below). At a Camera Club meeting, I was showing some of my old cameras, and a member asked me to bring my folding cameras. I realized it was one category I had overlooked. When I started looking, I discovered it wasn't that big a category either.

One of the most popular folding 35mm camera lines
A Retina II was almost my first 35mm camera. My parents mistook my feeling I couldn't afford a camera their friend owned for meaning I didn't want it. From that time the Retina became one of my favorites. Wanting a shooter, My usual favorite is the Retina IIa since it has a rangefinder. This 1a is a little more of a pocket camera than the IIa. I like the "a" cameras because of the conventional top rapid wind. I have tried the newer "C" cameras, but the bottom wind has never been comfortable to me. The Xenar on the 1a and the Xenon lens on the IIa are both very fine lenses.

Is this a Folding Camera?
When I was considering what to show the camera club, the question came up, what is a folding 35mm. I suppose I could easily evade the question and just make the category bellows 35mm cameras. There is a separate category of "folding" cameras where they tried to make the cameras collapse for easy carrying like the bellows cameras, but they are the metal tube folding cameras. These can be as fancy as a Leica M camera with a collapsible 50mm Summicron or even the big 90mm collapsible, or as basic as the Argus A models that had collapsible lenses. One of my own favorites is the Konica I, shown on the right. The one I own has an outstanding lens, good rangefinder and good feel. Back in the 70's, I often carried a Leica with a collapsible Elmar as a pocket camera. It looked much like the Zorki 1 shown here. Above is lenses pulled out, below is collapsed.

Four Styles of Folding 35mm Cameras with Bellows
Below are representatives of the 4 most common folding styles. The most common of the 4 is the side opening door, represented here by the Welti and at the top of the page by the Retina. Second is the drop door, represented here by the Super Dollina II. Other common models are the Zeiss Contessa and Agfa Solinette. The pop forward design of the Karat and Karomat camera is not seen in other 35mm cameras that I know of, but appears in many larger cameras like the the Jiffy Kodak and Makina. Last is the barn door style of the Vitessa. As far as I know it's design is unique.

Side door style folding bellows 35mm
By far the most popular. I don't know if that is due to it being the preferred style, or if the influence of Kodak and their Retina cameras made others copy the most popular camera.

Pop-forward style folding bellows 35mm camera
This is not a common design - in this style the only other compact cameras I can think of are a few Kodak Bantam (828 film)cameras. The Karat/Karomat camera is an excellent camera. It came with a variety of shutters and lenses, nearly all of which are excellent performers. I used one for some college newspaper pictures in the early 60's and have a print on display in my office from one I owned in the early 70's. I would say the biggest weakness of this design is that the lens is unprotected, and the little folding 35mm's were often used as pocket cameras. Otherwise, as a shooter they were great.

Drop bed folding bellows 35mm camera
Probably the second most popular 35mm design, if you count all the cameras made with this concept it is by far the winner. Most roll film cameras are this style, press cameras are this style and some of the modern ultra-compact non-bellows folding cameras like the Minox EL are this style. Like the side door camera, the folding cover protects the lens making it a good choice for a pocket camera. Probably my favorite of this style is the Contessa, a very nice handing little 35mm with a fine Zeiss Tessar lens. The Super Dollina II shown also has a Zeiss Tessar, but it is Jena - an excellent optic as well.

The Unusual Vitessa folding 35mm
Vitessa represents a rare style, in fact the only one I can think of using this style. I generally hear it referred to as the barn door style. I think this is a very attractive camera, unusual design as only Voigtlander would come up with. It is also one of the heavier folding 35mm's. I hear the plunger described as a very rapid wind, and maybe with modern plastics the film can take it. In 1960 when I used one as High School Yearbook Photographer, I occassionally tore out sprockets pushing the plunger down too fast. It is fast, but be cautious about getting carried away. No matter which lens you get on it, they are all very fine optics to my knowledge.