Want to shoot razor thin DOF? The Zenit M and 35mm F/1.0 might be just for you

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Zenit is probably not a name that most people are familiar with. Zenit is a Russian (and formerly Soviet) camera brand whose trademark was 35 mm SLR cameras. Zenit hasn’t made a camera for more than 30 years, but now Leica has decided to revive the Soviet icon. This is slightly ironic as the new Zenit M is inspired by the old Russian Zenit and Zorki cameras, which originally got their inspiration from Leica cameras. I guess what comes around, goes around.


The camera comes with the very fast Zenitar 35mm f1.0 lens. The lens has an aperture range of f/1.0 to f/16 and its optical design consists of 9 elements in 8 groups. It’s Bayonet M-mount and weighs in at 740g. This lens should be capable of producing some very nice bokeh and very dreamy out of focus highlight areas. It is kind of crazy to think of a 35mm f/1.0 lens coming as a kit lens.  The lens has a very large focus throw for a stills lens, but this is actually a good thing because if you want to shoot at f/1.0 you need all the help you can get. If you want to get some sort of indication of what it might look like, below you can see a video )although not a very good one) showcasing the abilities of the Zenitar 50mm F1.2 APS-C lens.


The Zenit M utilizes a full-frame 24MP CMOS sensor and has an old school rangefinder design. It looks to be a nice mesh of old and new and it features a very basic control layout and clearly labeled direct access buttons on the back of the camera next to the LCD screen.


Video features

Yes, the Zenit M can shoot video, but only Full HD (1920×1080) in Motion JPG / Quicktime. It is apparently capable of audio capture, but there are no specifications listed for whether that is done through an external microphone or an inbuilt microphone. We also currently have no idea whether there is an HDMI output, but I would think it is highly unlikely.

Price and availability?

The new camera will be available in Europe in December and from January 2019 in Russia. The Zenit M is being designed in Russia but built in Germany by Leica. The camera is strictly being targeted at the high-end consumer who wants something that is very unique. It is expected to sell for between €5,000 to €6,000 ($5,825 USD – $6,988 USD). If that wasn’t the bad news, the camera is probably only going to be made in very limited numbers.

Zenit M Specifications

Image sensor
Resolution 24MP
Sensor type CMOS
Sensitivity range ISO 200 to ISO 6400, adjustable in 1/3 ISO increments, automatic control or manual setting
Basic settings
White balance Automatic, manual, 7 presets
Picture series Approx. 3 pictures/s, ≤ 12 pictures in series
Self-timer 2s or 12s
Lens mount Zenitar M-mount
Lens in a set ZENITAR 35 mm f/1.0
Shutter speed 60-1/4000s
Manual setting of exposure and aperture Available
Flash exposure compensation ±3 1/3 EV adjustable in EV 1/3
Metering principle/method Spot, center-weighted, multi-field metering
Memory and interface
Memory card types SD, SDHC, SDXC
Data formats DNG™ (raw data), JPEG
Power supply
Battery capacity 1800 mAh
Video and sound recording
Video/sound recording Available
Video recording formats Motion JPG / Quicktime
Maximum resolution for video 1920 x 1080
Size and weight
Size (Width x Depth x Height) Approx. 138.6 x 42 x 80 mm without lens
Weight Approx. 680 gr with battery, without lens

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