PhaseOne's 100MP iXM is the ultimate eye in the sky for aerial photography

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PhaseOne has announced what it's calling a "breakthrough" 100MP medium-format drone camera, the iXM 100MP. It's the first camera to feature Sony's new 100MP back-illuminated (BSI) sensor, with physical dimensions of 44 x 33mm.

The iXM will have an ISO range of 50-6400, a dynamic range of 83dB, and is capable of recording 14-bit raw images. Weighing in at 630g, it's weatherproof (IP53-compliant) and can operate in temperatures down to -10°C.

The iXM uses PhaseOne's RSM lens mount, with the company announcing four new lenses to coincide with the launch of the camera. These are the 35mm and 80mm fixed-focus lenses and 80mm and 150mm motorized focus lenses, with all lenses featuring no external moving parts. This means focusing distance can be predefined based on flight planning or using a wireless remote control.

Inspection and mapping

The iXM's main market will be commercial and industrial users. It's designed to be used for the close-up inspection of power lines, wind turbines, roads, bridges, and pipelines, reducing risk for those working in hazardous environments, while it promises to also increase the speed and precision of data collection.

With such a high-resolution sensor, the iXM also has its uses when it comes to mapping, helping users create highly-detailed 2D and 3D maps. 

Not surprisingly the PhaseOne iXM comes with a hefty price tag of $40,000, which is almost £30,000 or more than AU$50,000, while each lens will cost $10,000 (about £7,000 / AU$13,000).