See every pore

Blimey. There was a time, a few years ago, when it seemed the upward spiral of resolution on digital cameras would never stop: from 1 megapixel to 2, then 4, 6, 8... every time we bought a camera we found ourselves jealous of newer models with better sensors within weeks. And all the time, as resolution increased, other features like zoom and colour quality barely improved.

Then about three years ago, the megapixel race screeched to a halt. Even low-budget digital SLRs now offer around 20 megapixels, around the same as old 35mm film. Even point-and-shoots usually offer about 12MP, more than enough for most people. Shucks, even phones have 8MP cameras these days. So for the most part, manufacturers have tried to win consumers over by improving everything else: better colour, bigger zooms, video. See, for example, the superzoom point-and-shoots launched yesterday by Panasonic.

But specialist photographers, such as those who take pictures for posters, need more resolution. That's where 'medium format' SLR's come in. Compatible with regular SLR lenses but with a bigger sensor, they can offer resolution of 40MP or more. And now, we have the biggest yet. Mdeium-format specialist Phase One is producing a camera with a frankly bonkers 80-megapixel sensor.

We reckon such power won't come cheap, though. The 80MP sensor is a 'back' which attaches to a S45DF 'body.' The body alone costs over £2000, and we reckon the monster back will come in at around the £6000 mark.

Still, for those who absolutely have to inspect every sweaty pore on their friend's faces in those drunken party photos...

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