Uncertainty surrounding the planned launch of Pentaxu2019s medium format digital SLR has surfaced following claims made in several Japanese newspapers.

Uncertainty surrounding the planned launch of Pentax?s medium format digital SLR has surfaced following claims made in several Japanese newspapers.

Pentax has failed to comment on press reports which seem to suggest that the firm has decided not to continue production of ?professional?-level digital SLRs.

Speculation over Pentax?s camera policy has been rife after Tokyo-based newspaper Nikkei reported yesterday that Pentax plans to ?abandon the development of medium format single-lens reflex cameras designed for professional photographers and specialise in digital SLR offerings for new and intermediate users.?

It is not clear whether this implies the cancellation of the 645 Digital, a camera whose launch was first mooted more than two years ago.

Pentax’s UK office refused to comment when approached by Amateur Photographer magazine this morning (Friday 11 May).

Earlier this year Pentax confirmed that the camera will carry an 18.6-million-pixel Kodak-made imaging sensor and be compatible with existing Pentax SMC 645 lenses.

So far, only a mocked-up version of the 645 Digital has been shown to journalists.

The confusion has been compounded this morning after a report by Kyodo News quoted an unnamed Pentax official as stating that Pentax is ?also considering ending the development of digital SLR cameras, designed for professional photographers. It will instead focus on developing new digital cameras for general consumers?.

The articles suggest that Pentax may sell its head office building in Tokyo and close certain parts of the company in a move designed to consolidate operations and nearly double its group operating profit to around 10 billion yen by 2009.

Pentax?s planned merger with Hoya still hangs in the balance following last month?s news that the move was rejected by Pentax shareholders.