As evidenced by SkyPixel's best of 2017, drones have opened up a whole new means of expression for creative photographers. Denmark's Phase One isn't pitching its latest drone camera at enthusiasts though, the iXM 100MP metric camera has been designed for mapping, surveying and inspection applications – and is said to use the first backlit medium format image sensor.

As its name might suggest, the iXM 100MP camera is built around a 100 megapixel (11,664 x 8,750), 33 x 44 mm sensor which employs backside illumination to give light sensitivity a bit of a boost (supported ISO pans out at between 50 and 6,400) and extended dynamic range.

the camera is IP53 waterproof and reported compatible with a "wide range of UAV platforms, including Phase One's DJI Matrice 600 Pro solution." The drone camera is robust too, designed for use in temperatures ranging from -10° C to 40° C (14° F to 104° F), up to 80 percent humidity and can operate in a wide range of flight altitudes.

The device features XQD media storage capable of handling the sensor's high frame rate, HDMI output, and USB-C and 10G Ethernet for connection to large UAVs and aircraft.

Four new lenses can be used with the iXM system, all incorporating leaf shutter technology catering for a 3 frames per second capture rate. Two are fixed-focus lenses best suited to surveying, while the others have motorized-focus that can be preset as part of the flight plan or remotely controlled in the air, and are designed for use in inspection applications.

The iXM 100MP is due to ship in June for US$40,000, which will put the camera way beyond the reach of most drone photography hobbyists. But then it is being pushed out for industrial, not enthusiast, use.

A cheaper (but still pricey) 50 megapixel variant will also be available for $21,000. Meanwhile, the lenses carry a $10,000 price tag. You can see the drone-mounted camera in action in the video below.

View gallery - 5 images