The exclamations marks are justified, since recently the only announcements at Pentax have been discontinued (LX) or downgraded (Z-20 -> Z-70) models.
The new Pentax is called the MZ-5 (remember the M-series ?).
(except in the USA where it will be called ZX-5).
It seems to be a reply to the Minolta 600si Classic (controls)
and to the Canon 50 (metal-looking top).
And also a preemptive strike against the APS gang, proving that it is not necessary to reduce the size of the negative to make small cameras.
A review by Laurens de Jong and another by Paul Frankenstein.
At the launch of this camera a 28-70 mm f/4 (constant) AL (Aspheric)
lens will also be presented. This lens will be a FA, but it has not a
Anyway the MZ-5 don't seem to be able to control power-zooms. By this I mean that the camera probably doesn't have the modes present in the Z-20 and Z-50p (constant subject size, zoom effects, and focal length memory).
But it has the power contacts necessary to use power-zoom lenses. Pentax keeps strong in the backwards-compatibility. Other lenses that will be launched at the same time are:
The magazine suggests that this is only the first camera on a new line, so others MZ-? should appear later. I wonder what this means for the Z-line (I would like to still see a medium-level camera, that is, an upgraded Z-20).
Very short articles on this camera have appeared in:
Pros Cons Matrix metering No exposure lock *4 Autofocus Spot No depth of-field preview *4 with blocking *1 Bad viewfinder *2 Manual Mode Diopter correction on the viewfinder Simple handling Compact Very readable viewfinder *3 KAF-2 mount (compatibilities)
Pros Cons Compactness No exposure lock Simplicity single sensor for TTL flash Very good built-in flash No continuous AF *5 wide AF sensor No depth of field preview good exposure system
Pentax lost a lot of impact for not having the camera ready for testing in time for the previous issue. The cover of the magazine was filled with APS.
They were not impressed with the camera. They didn't find it much better than a Z-70 (I disagree. Wide AF sensor, spot metering, manual ISO override and a metal lens mount are important features.)
On the other hand it can not replace a Z-1p, both in features and in ergonomics. They stretched that a Z-1p user will not be happy to give up hypermanual and hyperprogram. I hope Pentax is listening to this and doesn't discontinue the Z-1p when a MZ-1 is launched (the Z-1p is now in promotion in France which is suspicious). A Z-1p with the updated AF system would be great.
*1 The biggest technological improvement of this camera is the wide sensor, and they are happy because it is possible to get back to the narrow sensor ? I am surprised (unless this is because with the wide sensor it gets confused too many times ?)
*2 Pentax replaced the prism by mirrors to save weight, like other brands do in the low-end.
*3 This seems to be in contradiction with *2, but maybe they are talking here about a very complete viewfinder with shutter speed, f/stop and exposure correction all shown on it.
*4 It is interesting to notice that the 2 big problems with the MZ-5 were already the big shortcomings in the Z-20. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose".
*5 the 2 cameras that compete with the MZ-5 (Minolta 600 si and EOS 50) both have it. Only Pentax thinks that continuous AF is only for the top model. And all that for saving the cost of a 3-position switch. The camera has software for AF anticipation which is probably more complex than continuous focusing.
Acknowledgments: The info above was mostly taken from the magazines mentioned. Maekawa Noriyuki sent the info related to Japan. Laurens de Jong, apart from writing his review also answered some questions. David Poon (Pentax marketing) gave the info about the flash adapter.
Some reactions on the mailing list: ********************************************************************** > The new Pentax is called the MZ-5 (remember the M-series ?). > It seems to be a reply to the Minolta 600si Classic (controls) > and to the Canon 50 (metal top). From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul Frankenstein) > Cool. Rather, Cool! From: email@example.com (Derby Chang) > Cool. Any idea on: So I think we all agree that this new camera is cool :) > Sounds like hyper-program and hyper-manual are gone, right? So it seems on this camera. The idea seems to be to have classical controls (shutter speed on the left dial and aperture on the lens). Another thing that we lose is the possibility of selecting a fixed aperture with a variable aperture zoom. That is, in a Z-series camera with a 28-80/3.5-4.7 you could put the camera in aperture priority, select, for instance, f/5.6 using the wheel in the body and have this selected in all focal lenghts. This is no longer possible, which probably explains why the last Pentax zoom is a 28-70/4 (constant) and not a 28-70/2.8-4 like one Sigma lens. From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul Frankenstein) > But overall, the whole idea of a back-to-basics AF SLR sounds like very > good news, particularly since they improved the AF (but can it focus on > horizontal lines?). Yes ! * Now, where do you tink I got this info ? A message in Pentax-announce ? * The Pentax Web site ? * No, from a French magazine (Reponses Photo #45, December 1995 (sic))! > Well, they probably have a mole inside Pentax... or Pentax Europe has an > over-enthusiastic PR guy... one of the two... But you are right to say that More probably they (Pentax manufacturing) missed the deadline for Chri$tma$, and the announcement is to try to make some people delay their buying decisions until this camera is avaliable. This is a standard tactic in marketing. Another possible reason for the silence on-line is that the homepage and the mailling lists are based in America and the new products are usually available first in Europe (looking at the prices in both continents, you may guess why). * They suggest that this is only the first camera on a new line, * so others MZ-? should appear later. I wonder what this means for * the Z-line (I would like to still see a medium-level camera, that is, * an upgraded Z-20). > I suspect that the MZ-5 will be the "mid-range" camera, and it will serve > as something of a test-bed for the high-end stuff. In any event, it does > fill a hole in the Pentax line-up. I think the people's tastes are different enough that it would make sense to have 2 medium-level cameras. One with classical controls (MZ-5) and another with the shiftable programs and hyper-manual, like the Z-20 had.