A while back we posted about some reports that the reborn Russian brand Zenit was planning to launch their own full frame mirrorless system as part of their plans to get back into the industry to challenge Leica in the luxury camera space. We are following new reports now that this supposed Leica challenger may not be the rival we were all promised after all.According to reports out of Russia, it appears that the upcoming Zenit full frame mirrorless camera may not be anything new at all, but a rebranded and possibly retooled [amazon_textlink asin=’B018I65JYE’ text=’Leica SL’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bc3f812d-9ca3-11e7-b931-1d71d44411dd’]. This news is, how to put it, incredibly disappointing if it is the case after all. Maybe the one benefit here is that, unlike Hasselblad rebranding Sony’s, the reports are saying that this Zenit ‘SL’ rebrand may end up with more features and a lower price tag than the Leica version. Which if true, would give people who may have been interested in the SL a cheaper alternative for the exact same hardware (and potentially, performance).
But let’s not mince words here. How ironic is it that a company that has said they want to challenge Leica on the luxury market will reportedly turn around and rebrand and sell Leica cameras for cheaper than Leica. How is that even economically feasible? Let alone the shady nature. We also can’t ignore the spectacularly awful failures of other camera rebranding attempts in the past – it just doesn’t work out well in most cases. So maybe it’s not the case. Maybe, instead, Zenit could be getting their sensors from the same place Leica does now.
That said, as noted above, in most other cases that we can think of right now, it was a consumer camera being rebranded and turned into a luxury one. This, it seems, would be the opposite, with a luxury camera being turned into a consumer one. This would seem, if the pricing difference was significant enough, to be a benefit to the Zenit in that consumers would feel like they are getting a luxury camera for cheap.
It will be interesting to see how this all pans out. It will be hard for Zenit to really be taken seriously as a brand, let alone a Leica challenger, if all they are doing is rebranding Leica tech and selling it cheaper. Keep an eye on Mirrorless Rumors for updates on this into the future.