We have previously reported on Russian camera maker Zenit and their return to the market, as well as their rumored mirrorless camera projects. The company made waves when it was revealed that they were working on a full frame mirrorless system, raising eyebrows because to this point Sony remains the only player in that game besides Leica. Well, now we are getting new reports that this upcoming Zenit D1 mirrorless camera could be nothing more than the repackaged and repurposed guts of a Leica M9. A move that would be very interesting considering the history of other attempted rebrands.
Apparently, the camera isn’t all that is coming either, according to the Leica Rumors report, as the D1 will be announced along with ‘several’ Zenitar lenses for the Leica M Mount – which would make sense, if the guts of the camera are in fact those of an M9. Plus, Zenit has a long history of ripping off Leica cameras, so it would almost be fitting for them to continue that into their next chapter.
Does any of this sound familiar? Well, Panasonic often has its cameras rebranded by Leica for example, and Hasselblad tried to rebrand Sony’s cameras with little success. But the Leica M9? It could sound crazy to photographers who have probably stepped into the game within the past five years. But if you’ve been around longer, then you’ll know that the Leica M9 had some very special characteristics to it. The Leica M9 had a CCD sensor made by Kodak. It wasn’t so great above ISO 800 but had RAW files that converted well to black and white. The CCD sensor look is also different than what modern CMOS sensors deliver. If this report is indeed true, it’s going to be interesting to see how it affects the second hand market.
The one benefit to all of this? According to the report these new Zenit camera will be at least 30% cheaper than their Leica counterparts. This is a pretty hefty discount, and no doubt there would be many customers lining up for 30% off an M9. The question is; will the build quality hold up and will the image quality hold up. If these two elements are equal to, or at least close to that of their Leica counterparts, this could be very interesting.
We still don’t have any word on an official announcement, but should one be made you can be sure we will cover it!