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Pentax may have skipped this week's Focus On Imaging show in Birmingham, but it's not to be outdone on camera news: it's unveiled the 645D, a pro dSLR that shoots no less than 40 megapixels.

The 645D is the first digital snapper in Pentax's medium-format 645 system. Medium format refers to cameras that produce images larger than the 35mm of traditional film photography. It's an expensive option and is often used in advertising and other professional photography to produce billboard-sized images.

The 40-megapixel Kodak CCD sensor measures a giant 44x33mm. While the average compact camera has a sensor the size of a well-chewed fingernail, this is the same size as a CompactFlash memory card -- about half the size of a debit card.

The PRIME II -- that's Pentax Real IMage Engine, acronym fans -- processor offers 14-bit analogue to digital conversion. There are 11 focus points and 77-segment metering, with features including automatic dynamic range bracketing.

This is all sealed in a magnesium-steel-alloy frame with a diecast aluminium chassis. The 645D isn't confined to the studio: it's dust- and weather-proof thanks to 70 seals, and Pentax reckons it can withstand temperatures of as low as -10C.

There are two SD and SDHC card slots, which can be set to capture the same thing for backup or one to save raw files and the other to record JPEGs.

If 40-megapixels just ain't enough gun, you could always invest in the Hasselblad H3DII-50. Or click through our gallery for more official shots of the 645D.

Update: It's been confirmed at Photokina 2010 that the 645D will be on sale in the UK in December 2010. It's the perfect Christmas present -- if you have a spare grand. The body will cost £9,000, and the 55mm SDM 645 lens kit will set you back £1,000.

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The viewfinder offers 98 per cent field of view, with the 76mm (3-inch) screen offering live view.

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The 645D is compatible with existing 645-series lenses.

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The Pentax 645D will be available in Japan for around ¥850,000. That's £6,230. Zoiks.

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