Phase One now has a 100-megapixel drone monitoring the friendly skies

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Phase One Industrial
Hasselblad’s 100-megapixel drone was almost expected after rumors that DJI invested in the medium format company but now, that’s not the only high-resolution sky beast around. On Monday, Phase One announced that the 100-megapixel Ixu and Ixu-RS cameras are now directly compatible with DJI’s M600 and M600 Pro drones.

Unlike Hasselblad’s drone package, Phase One’s new compatibility is not created through a partnership with DJI, but with DJI’s software development kit that allows third-party companies to integrate their products with DJI software. That means the camera and drone are still sold separately, not as a package deal.

Pushing the resolution of an aerial camera up to 100 megapixels allows drones to see details smaller cameras can’t. “Using the Phase One Industrial IXU camera with the new Integration package for our DJI M600 drone, the results were extraordinary,” UAV Flight Systems Manager Tobias Wentzler, of Lufthansa Aerial Services, said in a press release. “We achieved millimeter per pixel accuracy, allowing us to inspect the required objects in exquisite detail and lift our mission results and accuracy to a new, high-end level, identifying the subtlest cracks or imperfections that were not visible to conventional inspection methods.”

While both the Ixu and Ixu-RS were previously available, the new compatibility allows the camera to be used with support for DJI Ground station Pro for planning aerial shoots, including triggering the camera at pre-set waypoints as well as shooting at a fixed distance or fixed time. The camera is controlled with a separate controller, splitting the controls between a pilot and a photographer. The new Ix Capture Mobile from Phase One also integrates several DJI features into an app, including controlling the camera using the drone company’s Lightbridge 2 dials. The position of the camera, including both the gimbal’s position and GPS data, can also now be embedded into the image’s exif data.

Phase One says its cameras are known for their lighter profiles — with an 80mm lens, the Ixu weighs a touch more than three pounds while Hassleblad’s H6D-50c weighs more than 4.5 pounds with a lens. Mounted on a drone, lighter payloads tend to increase the flight time on a single charge.

The DJI integration is being added to Phase One’s list of other industrial grade drone compatibility, including Coptersystems, AerialTronics, Pulse Areo, UMS Skeldar as well as Pix4D, Agrisoft and SimActive software. The camera, not including the cost of the $5,000-plus drone, starts at $29,000.

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