Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Zenit announces rangefinder digital with M-Mount and f/1.0 lens

Zenit announces rangefinder digital with M-Mount and f/1.0 lens

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A Russian-made rangefinder digital using the M-mount seemed to be one of the oddest rumours of the past year. But it is now fact, as were the L-Mount Alliance and Panasonic’s full-frame cameras, other of which were largely discounted before yesterday. 

Zenit has announced a new rangefinder digital based on the M240 and produced with the full cooperation of Leica Camera AG. It will be marketed together with an f/1 lens, no less. 

Initially it seemed that both camera and lens were being manufactured in Russia. But it appears that only the lens is wholly Russian. The camera, apparently, is being assembled in Germany. According to sources, the Zenit M will be available early in 2019 at a cost of between 4,000 and 5,000 Euros and that includes the f/1.0 Noctikoff. Whatever next. Oh, and it will come in black and silver, just like Leicas.

Here is the full press release:

Zenit and Leica Present Joint Production Camera

Krasnogorsky Zavod, manufacturer of the Russian brand Zenit, in cooperation with Leica Camera AG, German manufacturer of premium cameras and optics, designed a new digital rangefinder camera Zenit M. The Shvabe Holding, part of Rostec, has presented this product at Photokina 2018, the largest international trade fair for the photographic and imaging industries held in Cologne.

One of the participants of the project is Krasnogorsky Zavod (KMZ Zenit), a leading designer of photographic equipment in Russia, is now part of Shvabe. The Zenit M is technically based on the Leica M Type 240 platform, but was modified both in terms of hardware and software.

The camera is equipped with Zenitar 35 mm f/1.0 lens, completely designed and manufactured in Russia, 100% of its components and materials are Russian-made. The lens creates an image that doesn’t require processing, has unique bokeh and soft focus effect.

The design of Zenit M copies designs of the legendary Zenit and Zorky cameras, it’s a full-frame rangefinder camera made for shooting under various conditions.

The official presentation took place with participation of Andreas Kaufmann, major shareholder and chairman of Leica Camera AG supervisory board, Alexey Patrikeyev, CEO of Shvabe, Ivan Ozhgikhin, Deputy CEO of Shvabe, and Vadim Kaliugin, CEO of KMZ Zenit.

“Zenit and Leica cooperation forms a unique alliance between long-term experience in optics manufacturing and modern technologies of Russia and Germany. With this project we for the first time declare launch of world famous Russian brand Zenit into the new segment of photography equipment market,” said Alexey Patrikeyev, CEO of Shvabe.

Zenit M will be available from December 2018 in Europe and from January 2019 in Russia at both Zenit’s online store and selected photo shops.

“On purchasing the camera and the lens the users will get not only a high-quality device with elaborate ergonomic design and high optical characteristics, but a really smart camera which will provide high image quality,” reported Vadim Kaliugin, CEO of KMZ Zenit.

At Photokina 2018 Shvabe also presents the whole line of Zenitar and Helios lenses manufactured by KMZ Zenit as well as historic models of SLR and rangefinder cameras. This exposition is also completed with products of another Shvabe enterprise, LZOS. Along with other showpieces the leading manufacturer of space and astronomy optics demonstrates mirror-meniscous telescopic photo lens MC Rubinar-10/1000 with high light transmission and image contrast.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Krasnogorsk arises again. I bought a vintage Jupiter 3 lens, made in Krasnogorsk, in St Petersburg last April. The results from the lens featured on this site. When I bought the lens, the young fellow in the shop told me that Russian people could not afford Leicas when he saw me testing samples of the lens on my M10. If this Zenit M camera is to sell well in Russia, where incomes are considerably lower than in Europe, the prices would need to match that. The interesting factor will again be the lenses. A 35mm f1 lens might be very attractive to Leica users outside of Russia, particularly if there is no equivalent model in the Leica range. Interesting times, indeed.

    William

  2. I hope that the ‘object, object’ below entitles me to a free Zenit M. If readers look for my two articles about Russia and the Jupiter lens on Macfilos, they will find some interesting background about FSU cameras and lenses.

    William

  3. I had a chance to play with one at Photokina today. It looks just like an M240 that has had some cosmetic changes. Even the buttons and power switch are identical. If so, this is a much cheaper way to get a digital M than via Leica – and with a fascinating lens.

    Leica seems to be recognising that to grow it needs to expand its ecosystem. The L-mount announcement with Panasonic & Sigma being the other key example (although there seems to be nothing tangible yet beyond press announcements and a much-up of the Panasonic body carefully sealed in a glass cabinet).

    — Mark

    • Thanks for this, Mark. Very interesting. I decided not to go to Cologne this year and I’m now wishing I’d made the effort. The main reason is that I am in Germany next week for the LHSA meeting at Wetzlar and that would have meant kicking my heels for several days if I’d tried to combine both.

      On the subject of the Zenit, now I find it is made in Wetzlar (although the lens is Russian), the quoted 4,000-5,000 euros including that lens sounds attractive. I must check to see whether UK Leica dealers such as Red Dot will be stocking it. If the lens is good, it’s a cheapo Noctilux, or Noctikoff.

  4. Very interesting indeed! I look forward to seeing this in the flesh myself. Right now I am preparing for my Medirreranean cruise next week and have a 50/1.2 CV Nokton I will be evaluating for Viewfinder. Wish I could join you in Werzlar next week!

    • I hope you have a good cruise and I’ll be sorry not to meet you at Wetzlar. But enjoy the Greek islands. The weather should still be hot and very pleasant. Let me know how you get on with that Nokton; I have been very impressed with Voigtländer’s latest VM stock.

      Mike

    • Enjoy the cruise, Bill. We will miss you in Wetzlar. The high point for me will be the Leica Archives and meeting fellow collectors and gurus like Lager and Lars.

      Given the extent to which Leicas and Leica mounts were copied in the FSU days, there is a certain delicious irony in ‘Leica copies’ being produced in Russia again. The suggested price still seems a bit high for the Russian market. I saw a report earlier based on a press release which had been translated from Russian that only 500 copies will be sold in Russia. I have not been able to verify this yet. This could mean that wealthy Russians might buy the limited stock and then sell them on to customers in the West. The 35mm f1 lens could become quite a collectors’ item in due course.

      William

  5. I find this announcement particularly exciting, and hope it proves successful. More rangefinder camera options, and more importantly, another lens maker can only be a good thing.

  6. Fascinating but also confusing. Still made in Wetzlar is good on one level, but is 5000 euro’s cheap enough for a previous generation M240 against the superior M10?

    And the lens? Is it going to be like the Zeiss Sonnar, multi-personality, glowing and soft with circular bokeh wide open but sharp and useful stopped down. Or just a soft lens?

  7. Hmmm interesting move by Leica to do this one, and I will watch on with interest.

    Naturally I might get a sniff of interest if in a few years they release a Zenit M2 which would be based on the M10 – cheaper M10 now that would sell by the bucket load.

    Until then I will go back to take images and being out and about with my current cameras

    So many announcements to consider elsewhere too.

    Dave S

      • Ha Ha I suppose I could, but just put that idea off when I got the Df… I will come back around and probably go down this route in a few years time. After all I cannot hide my love of the M10, I’m just worried about walking round with such an expensive bit of kit, more so with some of the places I take my camera’s… It may be that I eventually buy a P version that doesnt have the badge on, so less visible to the wider world.

        Dave S.

  8. The lens clearly states ‘Made in Russia’. So there could be a problem selling into the UK and elsewhere in the world where trade sanctions currently apply.

    • Yes David that is a valid point. And why would anyone seriously want to buy such a weird device made in a rogue state anyway?
      If the pricing being discussed is correct a good used Leica digital M would be a much more rational purchase.
      Personally I would not go near it-and who knows what’s inside that silica gel sachet. I cannot see any camera shops in Salisbury UK rushing to stock it.

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