Zenit SL: A Russian version of the Leica full-frame digital?
Film camera buffs have fond memories of the Russian Zenit brand. Along with the East German Praktika, these cameras offered a cheap and quite cheerful starter opportunity for budding teenage snappers. Built to last, these photographic versions of the Russian T-34 tank enjoyed success in the West largely because of the price tag. Zenit, in particular, is also well known for its Leica knock-offs but that was a very long time ago. What is clear, is that Zenit has a fractured history with Leica and the Leica Thread Mount.
A link between Zenit and Leica in the 21st Century does indeed seem unlikely. Yet rumours are buzzing and appear to be getting stronger. According to Leica Rumors, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann of Leica has invested in Zenit and this is certainly a good indicator of something in the pipeline. Now PetaPixel has reported that there is going to be a full-frame mirrorless camera from Zenit and that it will be based on the Leica SL.
I’m not sure what to make of this. Presumably, if Zenit is true to form, this camera will come at a very hefty discount to the SL. If it shares the TL/SL mount, as seems logical, it will offer a rather fascinating alternative. Perhaps more interesting is the possibility of new SL-mount lenses made by KMZ in Russia.
We do indeed live in interesting times…..
Postscript: This may all just be a rumour that got out of hand. Read this update on Leica Rumors. But whatever the truth of the matter, it's a fun story.