The MZ-D was to use the same 6 megapixel (3072×2048) full 135 film frame sized (24×36 mm) CCD (model FTF3020-C) from Philips that was used by the Contax N Digital. The lack of success of that camera and the image quality problems it displayed suggest to some that Pentax may have had other reasons than cost to cancel the MZ-D project. Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape stated, "For whatever their reasons Pentax decided that they couldn't build a camera with this chip, while Contax decided to forge ahead. To save face? Possibly. We'll likely never know for sure."
The MZ-D was derived from the top-of-the-line Pentax film camera of the time, the MZ-S. To give space for the extra circuitry and battery power required for a digital camera, the MZ-D shape incorporated the size and shape of the MZ-S' optional battery booster and vertical grip. It also shared the Pentax KAF2 lens mount.