The Industrial arm of Danish camera manufacturer Phase One has launched an aerial camera that uses the world’s first backlit medium format sensor. It's called the iXM 100MP, and it's almost certainly the first camera to use this sensor from Sony that we told you about back in November.

The iXM 100MP is part of a new iXM system of cameras and lenses designed to be used attached to drones or manned aircraft. A 50-megapixel version, the iXM 50MP, has also been launched, but the iXM 100MP uses backside illumination to boost the light sensitivity of the sensor and to improve its dynamic range.

The two cameras use 4:3 ratio sensors measuring 33x44mm, and both offer XQD storage as well as HDMI-out to allow realtime preview. USB-C and 10G Ethernet ports provide the means to connect directly to on-board storage and control in larger craft, to synchronize an array of cameras for 3D capture, and to speed up mapping work.

The system incorporates four new lenses designed specifically to work with these sensors. The RSM range use leaf-shutters with a shortest opening of 1/2500sec, and which can work at a rate of three frames per second. The shutters are guaranteed for 500,000 actuations, and the lenses have been designed to operate at a wide range of temperatures and altitudes without loss of quality.

Two of the news lenses—a 35mm and an 80mm—have fixed focus, while a further 80mm and a 150mm use motorized focus with focusing determined either before the flight or in the air using a remote control. The focusing versions are aimed at those carrying out structural inspections at different distances rather than those mapping from a constant height.

Here's a quick first look at the iXM Camera Series:

The iXM cameras and their RSM lenses are expected to ship in June 2018, with lenses costing $10,000/€8000 and the cameras priced at $40,000/€32,000 (iXM 100MP) and $21,000/€17,000 (iXM 50MP). While the price of these models might put them beyond the range of most photographers, it is worth getting excited about the prospect of a 100MP BSI sensor entering the regular still photography market sometime soon. Fingers crossed.

For more information on the iXM range see the Phase One Industrial website.

Press release

Phase One Industrial Innovates UAV-based Aerial Imagery - Launches iXM Metric Cameras and Motorized Lenses

Phase One Industrial today launched the iXM series: a breakthrough aerial camera platform driven by the world’s fastest medium-format imaging sensor. Engineered for UAV-imaging missions, the iXM 100MP is a high-productivity metric camera with a range of high-resolution lenses. The iXM is ready for integration with a wide
range of UAV platforms, including Phase One’s DJI Matrice 600 Pro solution.

The iXM 100MP metric camera incorporates the first medium-format sensor with backside-illumination technology, enabling high light sensitivity and extended dynamic range. Fast, highly responsive, robust, and weatherproof (IP53 compliant), the iXM 100MP delivers superior quality aerial imaging and flexible operation to satisfy diverse mapping, surveying, and inspection applications.

Also today, Phase One announced four new specially developed RSM lenses – with focal lengths ranging from 35mm to 150mm – to seamlessly fit the new sensor’s 3.76?m pixel size and 33x44 mm frame size, ensuring image sharpness across the entire FOV. The lenses are available with either fixed-focus or motorized-focus functionality.

The fixed-focus 35mm and 80mm lenses provide superior image radiometric quality, high ground resolution, and large coverage – perfect for surveying applications.

The motorized-focus 80mm and 150mm lenses are ideal for a wide range of inspection applications, including electricity poles, wind turbines, bridges, and other private-sector or government structures.

Motorized-focused lenses, having no external moving parts, enable a number of new uses for inspection applications where the focusing distance can be predefined based on flight planning, or by the operator, using a wireless remote control. With the motorized lens, the camera captures sharp and highly detailed images of multi-distance or 3D objects.

The cameras’ RSM lenses incorporate a new leaf-shutter technology, which supports 3 fps capture – with a speed of 1/2500 sec – while guaranteeing 500,000 actuations. The lenses are thermally stable to ensure consistent focus over a wide range of temperatures and flight altitudes. With optics designed to exploit the full benefits of the new sensor technology, the lenses provide with greater productivity, flexibility, and reliability, offering superb image quality.

The new iXM platform adds XQD high-speed storage technology to handle the sensor’s extremely fast frame rate. Also on all cameras, HDMI output from actual exposure provides UAV operators simple and outage-free feedback of actual view, exposures, and camera status in overlays. In addition, the new platform includes USB-C and 10G Ethernet for versatility of connectivity to large UAVs and aircraft.

For complete technical specifications, please see http://industrial.phaseone.com/landing/The_New_iXM_Series.aspx

“Working with our UAV partners, we see a fast-growing market driven by great potential for time and cost savings over traditional inspection and surveying methods,” said Dov Kalinski, General Manager of Phase One Industrial. “With its new technology, design, and capabilities, the iXM 100MP promises to help start a new era in inspection missions with UAVs. Phase One Industrial continues to push technical boundaries to equip drones and larger UAVs with superior imaging technology – engineering advanced systems, cameras, and software – to help achieve that potential.”

Availability and Pricing

The iXM 100MP and iXM 50MP metric cameras are available today for advance order – from Phase One Industrial partners worldwide – with delivery in June 2018.

Pricing for the:

  • iXM 100 MP camera: 32,000 Euro/40,000 USD
  • iXM 50 MP camera: 17,000 Euro/21,000 USD
  • Lenses: 8,000 Euro/10,000 USD

For more information regarding purchase options and partner locations, please contact us at: https://industrial.phaseone.com/Contact.aspx

About Phase One Industrial

Phase One Industrial is a division of Phase One A/S that researches, develops, and manufactures specialized industrial camera systems and imaging software solutions. The company focuses on specific applications such as aerial mapping and surveying, ground and aerial inspection, agriculture, machine vision and homeland security.