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Sony’s new interchangeable lens camera has a lot of claims and expectations to live up to. Sony bills it as the camera that does anything you need it to do.
Read on for our full review and whether the Sony A1 camera does, in fact, live up to its hype.
Sony Alpha A1 key specs
Here are some of the notable specs for the new Sony A1:
- Weight: 737g.
- 50MP full-frame CMOS Sensor.
- 30fps burst shooting and an electronic shutter.
- 8K/30p video recording with Log and 4K Raw video.
- 9.44M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.9x magnification.
- 3.0” tilting touchscreen.
- Has a full-size HDMI port and headphone and mic ports, a USB-C port, and an ethernet port.
- Card slots: Dual UHS-II / CFexpress Type-A.
- CIPA rated to 530 shots with the rear LCD.
Small body design and more controls
As with many Sony cameras, the body and handling are familiar each time. However, with this camera, Sony is really reaching for those high-end users, and its build and handling show this.
Given its capabilities and specifications, the body on this camera is impressively small. It has ergonomic grips and improved weather-sealing, especially for using primes or shorter zooms.
The A1 is also one of the most responsive cameras out there- there’s no lag, and you can roll the dials faster than sonic, and it’ll keep up with you.
Want to check out more Sony cameras? Head over to our page and find your favoritie Sony camera.
Intuitive design and easy-to-use controls
The controls are well placed and easy to feel, although the drive mode, autofocus mode, and shooting mode dials all have non-toggle locks you have to move to operate them.
The A1 is also customizable- the only ones you can’t customize are the menu, playback, and fn buttons.
Manoeuvre AF with lag-free touchscreen
The touchscreen allows you to tap-and-track, automatically transitioning to face-and-eye tracking or an AF area around the frame. You can't pre-position an AF point for the camera to track.
The touchscreen is smooth and lag-free for the most part- you might notice it a bit in playback mode.
The menus are laid out horizontally with color coding and ‘tool tips’ attached to each option. Sony continues to use Auto ISO settings- you can set a minimum shutter speed and upper and lower bounds for your ISO.
In terms of storage, you get dual card slots- both compatible with UHS-II SD cards or CFexpress Type A cards. Its battery allows for approximately CIPA-rated 530 shots per charge using the LCD panel.
Full frame image 50MP
The A1 turns impressive results with RAW images. Its increased pixel count means that the A1 falls slightly behind its competitors. It can be prone to false-color artifacts, so take this into account when editing.
In terms of JPEG images, the A1 processes fine details beautifully. The color turnout is pleasing, and yellows especially are rich and accurate. The only color which has taken a hit is red- its saturation could be improved a notch.
If you're shooting at higher ISO levels, you may experience some color bleeding, increased luminance noise, and some color blotches. You might have to be careful in certain situations in terms of ISO invariances.
When shooting in dim conditions, you can use the shutter speed and aperture settings of a high ISO exposure, but keep the camera set to ISO 500.
When using the electronic shutter mode, you may experience some noise in the deepest shadows, but overall the performance is rather pleasing.
8K 30fps and 4K 120 fps video capabilities
The A1 is one of the few cameras out there able to shoot 8K video as a stills/video hybrid camera.
It shares most of its video capabilities with the a7S III. Its higher resolution sensor means it can shoot full-frame 8K video at up to 30p, as 10-bit 4:2:0 H.265 footage at either 200 or 400mbps.
You may not get sharp details when downsampling as a regular 4k camera- but the noise performance will be around about the same.
'Active Steadyshot' stabilization for enhanced video quality
The video quality is generally impressive and compares to some of the best models. The A1 also offers 'Active Steadyshot' stabilization- which uses digital stabilization and in-lens stabilization to smooth out your shots. This comes with a slight 1.1z crop, but this is just a small price.
If you intend to shoot a lot in 8k/24p, do beware that overheating may occur. Just leave the camera to rest for a bit, and it'll be ready to go again!
Viewfinder and LCD
The viewfinder on the A1 is really something to write home about. It has 9.44 million dots of resolution and 0.9x magnification, making it one of the best viewfinders currently on the market.
Depending on what you’re shooting, you’ll have to choose between resolution and speed- both can't work at optimum levels together!
The rear LCD is a tad outdated, but it gets the job done. It has a 3" touch panel that offers 1.44 million dot resolution, which feels out of place on this new model.
This can prove an issue for image review and manual focus- since a sharper screen is better. The screen can prove dim in sunny weather, but 'Sunny Weather' mode helps combat this.
Sony A1 Review: pros and cons
- The image quality is beautiful, has a high resolution, and has a long dynamic range.
- The range of 8k to 4k video modes.
- Its electronic shutter provides silent shooting.
- The electronic viewfinder is high-res and large.
- AF is capable and reliable.
- Compact size and solid ergonomics.
- Responsive and lag-free interface.
- Highly customizable settings.
- Different connectivity options for wired and wireless.
- The rear screen is on the small side and lower res compared to competitors.
- Battery life isn’t great.
- AF isn’t totally automatic.
- High-res shot modes do require desktop software to combine images.
- 30fps are lens-dependent.
Final verdict: Should you get the Sony A1?
The Sony A1 really is a do-it-all camera. Whether you want to capture high-speed sports shots or beautiful landscape videos, this camera can do it for you.
If you're willing to pay the price, it's certainly worth it. However, its price alone really targets professionals and high-end users.
Rent or subscribe to a Sony A1
Have we sold you on the Sony Alpha A1? Check out our website to rent or subscribe to this camera.
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About the instructors
How much does the Sony Alpha A1 cost?
You can get your hands on the Sony Alpha A1 for $8800 from the Sony website.
What are the key specs of the Sony Alpha A1?
The key specs of the Sony Alpha A1 are:
50MP full-frame CMOS Sensor.
30fps burst shooting and an electronic shutter.
8K/30p video recording with Log and 4K Raw video.
9.44M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.9x magnification.
3.0” tilting touchscreen.
Has a full-size HDMI port and headphone and mic ports, a USB-C port, and an ethernet port.
Card slots: Dual UHS-II / CFexpress Type-A.
CIPA rated to 530 shots with the rear LCD.