Zenit’s Full Frame Mirrorless Camera to Be a Rebranded Leica SL, Rumor Says

The iconic Russian camera brand Zenit caused a flurry of excitement back in February 2016 after it announced that it’s relaunching in 2018 with a full frame mirrorless camera that rivals Leica in luxury. But the camera may do more than rival Leica… It may actually be a Leica at its core — a rebranded Leica SL.

USSRPhoto is hearing from a Zenit source working inside the company’s KMZ factory that the innards of the upcoming Zenit camera is presumably the German-made Leica SL, which is a medium format mirrorless camera.

There may be outward modifications to the camera’s style by Zenit, and special lenses for the new camera will be made by KMZ in Russia.

“KMZ is a mechanical and optical factory, so they don’t do electronics at all,” USSRPhoto tells PetaPixel. “Anything [digital/electronic] that is done is outsourced to Italian firms.

“What is a fact is that KMZ is organizing an optical shop within the Zenit factory to start production of lenses for this model.”

The existing Leica SL, announced in late 2015.

Rebranding existing cameras isn’t anything new in the camera industry. Hasselblad spent years rebranding Sony cameras as luxury cameras with exotic materials, starting with the Lunar in 2012 and ending with the Lusso in 2015. Leica itself also has a tradition of rebranding Panasonic cameras as its own high-end point-and-shoots.

If this Zenit/Leica rumor proves to be true, we’re guessing the Zenit camera won’t cost less than the $5,995 price tag on the Leica SL.

Update: The source says that the camera will likely be based on the Leica SL but with its own design made specifically for Zenit — so more than a simple rebranding — and therefore it’s possible the price of the camera will actually be significantly lower than the Leica SL.

Update: The original version of this article stated that Zenit outsourced electronics to French and German. We’ve since heard that the outsourcing is done to Italy, and the text has been edited.