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protfilm1t.jpg (12448 byte)
click to enlarge

At first sight, it can look a bit ugly. That odd mix of straight and curved lines, and especially that slanted top, quite hiding the pentaprism, give it a vague recall of Leica R-8, which is widely recognized as the ugliest SLR on the market today.
After a while, when you realize how compact and streamlined it is, and also how logical a top plate slanted towards the user can be, you'll start appreciating it a lot.
Last Sep. 19th, I arrived early at the Pentax booth, so that I had the opportunity to put my hands on the camera for a few seconds, just before it was put into its display case.
Only the black finished version was on display at the Photokina. Its magnesium alloy housings feature a black crinkle finish, like latest Nikon and Sigma pro equipment. It looked quite a working camera (the LCD panel switches on, the AF focuses, and so on), so I believe we'll see it on sale next Spring (not for next Xmas like previously estimated).

One last word: at Photokina time its commercial designation was still to be decided (even though I know that its project designation is KB266), while now I can tell you that the camera will be called the MZ-S.

The official specifications are:

MZ-S 35mm AF SLR camera
Type: 35mm autofocus SLR camera
Lens mount: Pentax KAF2 mount
Usable lenses: Pentax K-, KA-, KAF-mount interchangeable lenses
AF system: TTL phase-matching system with six-point autofocus sensor
Shutter: 1/6000 sec. max
Flash synch speed: 1/180sec.
Metering system: TTL open-aperture 6-segment metering system with auto exposure control
Viewfinder: Fixed pentaprism with diopter adjustment mechanism
Built-in flash: Retractable TTL auto flash
Others: Photographic data imprinting function, Finder diopter adjustment,
Magnesium-alloy cover
Dimensions: 136.5x95x64mm
Availability: around Spring 2001

This said, I'll add my own observed details and comments, that are good news indeed. The camera features interchangeable screens (same release mechanism as in the MX, LX, etc.).

protfilm2.jpg (23962 byte) The dial on the left has the "usual" ISO setting and compensation functions, plus it can set bracketing.  The inner part of the dial can also rotate, thus probably having something to do with some bracketing shift.  A "PF" red symbol means Pentax Functions, that are customizations. A "D" white symbol should have some relationship with data imprinting on film.
protfilm3.jpg (38169 byte) The dial on the right sets the exposure modes, displayed on the LCD panel inside it. I had no time enough to read and understand all of the indications that showed up for a moment when switching on the camera. On the right of the dial there is a 4-position selector: self-timer, single-frame shooting, multi-frame shooting, multiple exposure. Another 3-position switch is for exposure meter. You can choose between spot, multi-segment or center-weighted metering. A "hold" slider is probably for locking the shutter release for time exposure, an AE-L button locks the exposure reading, while a "light" button is likely for lighting on the LCD panel.
protfilm4.jpg (42761 byte) An Infra-red receiver allows wireless operation. A new round-type connector for new generation cable release accepts such accessories. A flash symbol identifies a button for setting/unsetting auto flash operation.
There are three switchable focusing options: Manual Focusing, AF-C (Continuous), AF-S (Single). This manual selection of AF modes is welcome!
The main switch has three positions: OFF, ON, Depth-Of-Field preview.
There is also a standard PC socket for non-dedicated flash units.
protfilm5.jpg (15476 byte)
protfilm6.jpg (12825 byte)
protfilm7.jpg (33569 byte) I've been told that you can also select among the six segments of the AF system, but nobody seems to know how the segments are arranged. On the left side of the lens throat (when looking at the camera front), where the MZ-5n/MZ-3 have the AF selector, the new camera has more options than simply "wide" and "spot". Listed going down from top, the symbols read: SEL, ^, L, A and something looking like a segment bar. There should be some relation with AF selection. Maybe SEL means selection, A means auto, no idea about the arrowhead and the L (lock?), while could the 5-segment single-row bar with another segment above mean that AF sensors are set that way? Yes, see how the AF segments are arranged! There are also more buttons here and there: one marked AF is on the back and could have some relation with the above mentioned selector on the front.

mzsviewt.jpg (9008 byte)

Updating (Nov.20th, 2000):

Here is the viewfinder layout.
(click image on left to enlarge)


That was clearly a mock-up. Yes, the viewfinder was there, but most controls didn't work. Also, the 2" LCD panel on the back looks fake. The "no name" digital SLR (project designation MR-52) is as similar to the film camera as possible. The bottom is at least one inch taller, but all controls are in the same position and should work the same way. Both the 6 Megapixel CCD and the DSP (Digital Signal Processor) are supplied by Philips as a kit, while the software should be completely by Pentax. No HP technology here!

click to enlarge protdig1at.jpg (15329 byte)   protdig1bt.jpg (16374 byte) click to enlarge

The official specifications say:

MR-52 Digital SLR camera
Type: digital autofocus SLR camera with interchangeable lenses
Lens mount: Pentax KAF2 mount
Usable lenses: Pentax K-, KA-, KAF-mount interchangeable lenses, 645- and 67-system lenses usable with an adapter
Image sensor: 35mm-film-sized CCD with six megapixels
Data storage device: Double-slot which can simultaneously accept a PC Card Type II (PCMCIA II) and a CF Card Type II (CompactFlash II)
Data recording mode: TIFF, JPEG, RAW
Display unit: 2-inch color LCD monitor
Interface: IEEE1394 (FireWire)
Others: New digital camera chip unit housing a package of a six-megapixels CCD image sensor and a DSP, which was jointly developed with Philips.
Other photographic specifications and controls: like the 35mm AF camera

protdig3.jpg (40583 byte) As you can see, the dial on the left is very similar to that of the film camera (shown above). The ISO position is missing and the white square symbol is replaced by a sinusoid.

Perhaps it operates some data transmission (sending pictures to the PC?).

The red symbol is intended for setting customizations (Pentax Functions).

protdig4.jpg (13069 byte) On the lower part of the front there is the window for white balance reading, while its control is on the back, close to another LCD operation panel. protdig5.jpg (37219 byte)
protdig6.jpg (103974 byte) Most controls for digital imaging are on both sides of the 2" LCD color monitor on back.


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Page updated 20th Nov. 2000