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Vintage camera brand Zenit is back with this rangefinder, now shipping in U.S.


Vintage camera buffs will recognize the name stamped on the front of the newest camera designed in collaboration with Leica. The Zenit-M, a full-frame mirrorless camera made from a collaboration between Leica and the Russian holding company for Zenit, is now shipping in the U.S. as a limited edition after beginning to ship in Russia earlier this year and in Europe at the end of 2018.

Based on the Leica M Type 240, the Zenit-M uses a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor inside the digital rangefinder. The Zenit-branded camera has a handful of tweaks from Leica, including adjustments to software as well as some tweaks to the physical hardware, the company says.

The camera body, while deferring little to the Leica M, was inspired in part by old Zenit cameras, the company said previously. That’s because early Zenit SLRs were also inspired by the Germany luxury camera brand. Zenit was an early producer of film SLR cameras, including rangefinders. The same parent company, Krasnogorsk Mechanical Factory, also created the Zorki camera line.

A new Zenit camera hasn’t been designed in more than a decade, but company Krasnogorsky Zavod has been teasing the Zenit-M since 2016, finally launching the camera during Photokina 2018. According to the product page, the Zenit-M was designed in Russia and was assembled in Germany.

The rangefinder camera will be paired with a 35mm f/1.0 Zenitar lens. Unlike the camera body, the lens is both designed and assembled in Russia. The lens has an f/1.0 aperture rivaling optics like the Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct, and a maximum aperture of f/16. The lens is manual focus, designed to work with the rangefinder body, with a minimum focus distance of about 2.62 feet. The lens also has a clickless aperture adjustment.

While the camera brings the company back from a long hiatus, the company will only sell 500 kits worldwide. A year after opening up sales in Europe and 11 months after opening up sales in Russia, expanding the sale of those 500 cameras to the U.S. doesn’t suggest a huge demand for the camera. But, considering the $7,895 list price — currently discounted to $6,995 — that’s not surprising.

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