Zenit M with 35mm F/1.0 Lens – Russian Legendary Brand Enters Digital Age – Interview and Footage

The Zenit M is the first digital camera the brand has produced – a collaboration with Leica has created a unique and limited edition full frame camera, that shoots HD video too.

Zenit is a Russian camera and lens manufacturer, not well known in the digital camera age, but well known for their analogue cameras of the Soviet era. A collaboration with Leica has brought the brand to life, with the limited edition Zenit M,  which has the insides of a Leica but the distinctive look of the old style Zenit cameras. Oh, and it’s also paired with a Zenitar 35mm F/1.0 lens.

Still from video shot with the Zenit M camera with f/1 35mm lens

It’s not all about resolution

The Zenit M has a full frame 24MP CMOS sensor, and is capable of capturing video in 1080p HD, in 24 or 25 fps, recorded in Motion JPEG format. Despite the HD resolution, the resulting images we shot are very unique, especially when shot wide open at F/1.0. The bokeh is wonderfully pleasing to the eye, while retaining a sharp image at the centre.

Still from video shot with the Zenit M camera with f/1 35mm lens

There is some corner vignetting when shooting wide open, but this look is more aesthetic, more of a nod to the old style, rather than having very clean images. A microphone is built into the camera too, but no sign of a headphone or microphone port.

Leica at its heart

The internals of the Zenit M are based upon the Leica M (type 240), with a design similar to that of Leica bodies. A traditional rangefinder and 0.68x viewfinder are built in, as well as a 3 inch rear display. The camera is completely manufactured in Russia.

Here are the tech specs of the Zenit M camera:

  • 24MP full frame sensor
  • ISO range from 200 – 6400
  • Zenitar M lens mount
  • RAW images recorded in DNG
  • Video files recorded in Motion JPEG .mov
  • Maximum resolution of 1080p HD, in 24/25fps
  • Internal microphone
  • Recording onto SD cards

There are only 500 Zenit M camera and Zenitar 35mm F/1 lens combinations available, and with a price tag of €5,500, it’s not going to be the camera everyone is running out to purchase, but considering it is limited edition and bundled with the lens, some could argue otherwise. The collaboration between Zenit and Leica has brought a brand back to life, and there are plans on developing more digital cameras in the future. Hopefully we’ll see a model that is more affordable with a few more desired video features included in the next model!

Do you own an old analogue Zenit camera? Do want to see more footage from this new reincarnation into digital with the Zenit M camera? Let us know in the comments.

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Vasily Schpraga
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That lens is yummy

Bruce Corby
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Finally James Meurer I think this is the camera you was waiting for.

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