[Click to enlarge image]
[Click to enlarge image]

Hoya Corp exhibited its first medium format digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, "Pentax 645D," at the Camera & Photo Imaging Show (CP+), which took place from March 11 to 14, in Yokohama City, Japan.

The image sensor of the camera is Eastman Kodak Co's CCD, whose imaging area is as large as 44 x 33mm and pixel count is 40 million. Its user interface, including button operation, is the same as that of the K-7, an SLR camera equipped with an APS-C-size image sensor.

The Pentax 645D will be released in May 2010 in Japan at an expected street price of more than ¥800,000 (approx US$8,876) and with a production volume of 500 units per month.

We interviewed Taku Kawauchi, a planning group manager, Pentax imaging system company, Hoya, about the reason why the company developed this camera.

Q: How will the Pentax 645D offer user experience different from that of existing SLR cameras?

Kawauchi: The camera makes it easier to take pictures of extremely beautiful scenery than ever before. In the first place, the advantage of medium format has not been lost. Even now, pictures taken by medium format cameras win most of the prizes at landscape picture contests.

Many of our users said that they once started to use SLR cameras equipped with image sensors of 35mm-film size but returned to medium format cameras.

However, there has so far been no digital medium format camera that is designed for amateur photographers and has a reasonable price. Leica Camera AG's "S2" is a portable medium format digital camera like the Pentax 645D. But it is four times as expensive as the Pentax 645D.

Users who are familiar with medium format silver salt cameras might like the Pentax 645D's higher ISO sensitivity realized by digitization. With a film, the ISO sensitivity is 400 at the highest. But the Pentax 645D realized an ISO sensitivity of 1,000, making it possible to take pictures of darker objects.

Q: The Pentax 645D does not have a lowpass filter, which is equipped in most cameras. Doesn't it cause moire even though it lowers costs?

Kawauchi: Though lowpass filters prevent moire, they lower resolution. And we see it as a problem. In addition, moire rarely occurs as long as the camera is used to take pictures of scenery, which is the main target of the camera.

When pictures of artificial objects are taken, moire might occur. But, then, it can be removed by retouching software.