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Leica revives legendary Soviet photo brand Zenit

Zenit Photosniper FS-12 SLR camera (Source: eBay)
Zenit Photosniper FS-12 camera (Source: eBay)
Leica has just decided to bring back from the dead an iconic brand of the Soviet era, namely Zenit. The upcoming Zenit M camera is based on the Leica M Type 240 platform and comes with Russian-made Zenitar 35 mm f/1.0 lens, so it can easily provide bokeh and soft-focus effects without any processing. Sadly, it is not expected to come cheap.

The Photosniper FS-12 camera kit in the image above does not have much in common with the recently unveiled Zenit M digital rangefinder, but if you happen to love retro cameras, you definitely need to add one of these Soviet-era "guns" to your collection. After all, there are plenty available on eBay for as little as US$200, but the new Zenit M is expected to hit the market in December starting around US$6,000.

Russian brand Zenit has been brought back to life thanks to the Zenit M digital rangefinder camera, which is based on the Leica M (Type 240) platform. Obviously, the Zenit-branded camera comes with some software and hardware tweaks, but the most obvious change is the use of a Russian-made Zenitar 35 mm f/1.0 lens that provides bokeh and soft-focus effects without the need for digital processing. 

However, the Leica M platform comes with a 24 MP full-frame CMOS sensor, a 3-inch LCD screen, full HD video recording, a 0.68x viewfinder, support for up to ISO 6400, as well as 3 fps continuous shooting. Since Zenit has stopped making film cameras over a decade ago, this is definitely a brand revival worthy of attention.

The new Zenit M is expected to become available in Europe and the US at the end of 2019, while Russia should get it in early 2019. Sadly, there is no accurate official pricing to talk about yet, but — based on the price of the Leica M — those interested should put aside at least US$5,500.

Do you have any Zenit-related memories, maybe even some involving the use of a Photosniper in the military? Let us know in the comments.


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Codrut Nistor, 2018-09-27 (Update: 2018-09-27)