Pentax has put plans to launch its long-awaited medium format digital SLR on the back burner, raising fresh doubts over whether it will ever see the light of day.

Hiroshi Onoda, European general manager for Imaging Systems, told AP?s technical editor Angela Nicholson: ?The medium format digital SLR is no longer a priority for Pentax.?

Speculation over the 645 Digital – dubbed the ?645D? ? has been rife for months.

Only a dummy version of the camera has been shown to journalists – showcased at numerous trade shows since it was first mooted at the Photo Imaging Expo show in Tokyo in 2005.

However, earlier this year Pentax appeared committed to the launch, telling journalists the camera was likely to include a 31.6MP sensor made by Kodak.

Later reports sparked confusion over Pentax’s policy.

It was originally expected to feature an 18.6MP imaging sensor.

The camera was expected to be compatible with existing Pentax 645 SMC lenses and released alongside a 55mm Pentax-D FA 645 f/2.8 lens ? an optic due to be compatible with existing Pentax 645-series medium format film-based SLRs.

Pentax showcased the prototype at the PMA trade show in the United States in 2006 and 2007.

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Speculation rife

Dummy version

Confusion reigns

Prototypes at PMA