Sony a1 Overview
A flagship in the truest sense, the Sony Alpha 1 is the one camera designed to do it all. Built without compromise, this full-frame mirrorless offers high-resolution for stills shooting, impressive 8K video recording, speed and sensitivity, and connectivity for the most demanding professional workflows.
At its core, the Alpha 1, or a1, is distinguished by a newly designed 50.1MP full-frame Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and the BIONZ XR processing engine. Pairing the efficient stacked sensor design with optimized processing means the a1 is capable of 30 fps continuous shooting at full-resolution, 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording, and still offers versatile sensitivity up to ISO 102400 for low-light shooting. The sensor's design also includes a 759-point Fast Hybrid AF system, which offers advanced subject tracking and Real-time Eye AF on humans and animals, even including a dedicated Bird Mode.
Despite the connotations of a high-resolution sensor, the a1 is a strong contender in the video arena, offering 8K and 4K recording resolutions along with full pixel readout, internal 4:2:2 10-bit sampling, and 16-bit raw output via the full-size HDMI. No recording limit allows for extended takes and, matching with professional cine cameras, the a1 includes S-Cinetone support for smooth skin-tone rendering along with well-controlled highlights and soft colors.
Physically, the a1 has a familiar shape, but internally it reaps the best tech of the Alpha series with some notable upgrades, including a 9.44m-dot OLED EVF that touts a 240 fps refresh rate for fluid motion rendering and greatly reduced blackout when shooting continuously. The camera's shutter design has also been revised and now offers full-frame flash sync speeds up to 1/400 sec, and flash sync up to 1/200 sec is even supported when working with the silent electronic shutter. At the rear of the camera is a 3.0" tilting touchscreen LCD and both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, with 2x2 MIMO support, offer wireless remote control and file transferring capabilities. Additionally, the a1 includes dual memory card slots, both of which support working with CFexpress Type A or SD UHS-II memory cards for flexible and high-speed file storage.
50.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS Stacked Sensor
Newly developed 50.1MP Exmor RS full-frame sensor features a stacked back-illuminated design with integrated memory that maintains high image clarity, expandable sensitivity up to ISO 102400, and a 15-stop dynamic range while also enabling fast 30 fps shooting and and phase-detection AF. The sensor also enables recording lossless compressed raw files for flexible editing during post-production while maintaining a relatively lightweight file size. Additionally, the 50.1MP resolution not only benefits stills shooters as it also offers full-frame 8.6K oversampling for 8K video recording.
BIONZ XR Processor
A revised BIONZ XR engine greatly benefits image processing capabilities throughout the camera system, including up to 8x faster processing, greatly reduced rolling shutter, and more fluent interface and file management handling speeds.
Up to 30 fps Shooting and Updated Shutter
- Efficient sensor design and processing enables high-speed shooting up to 30 fps at full 50.1MP resolution, with full AF and AE capabilities, when working with an electronic shutter. When working with the mechanical shutter, speeds are still kept high at 10 fps. Also, a large buffer memory permits recording up to 155 compressed raw frames, or 165 JPEGs, in one single burst at 30 fps.
- Suiting fast-paced continuous shooting is a blackout-free viewfinder experience, which makes use of a 240 fps refresh rate for fluent eye-level viewing.
- Updated electronic shutter offers silent, vibration-free performance and also supports anti-flicker shooting for working under fluorescent, LED, or other flicker-prone types of artificial light, even while shooting at 30 fps with 120 fps AF speeds.
- Due to quickened readout speeds, electronic shutter flash sync is possible up to 1/200 sec. Even faster flash sync speeds are available when using the updated mechanical shutter, too, which can sync at 1/400 sec in full-frame or 1/500 secwith an APS-C crop.
8K 30p and 4K 120p Video Recording in 10-Bit
- Making use of the high-resolution sensor and fast processing capabilities, UHD 8K 30p XAVC HS 10-bit 4:2:0 video recording is possible using the full width of the sensor, offering 8.6K oversampling for impressive sharpness and realism. For easy handling of this high-res recording mode, low bit-rate proxy files with HD resolution can be simultaneously recorded faster for playback. Also, 8K video at 400 Mb/s can be written to a V90-rated UHS-II SD card, or 200 Mb/s to a V60 card, and 8K can be output over HDMI in 8-bit 4:2:0 format.
- Recording up to UHD 4K is possible with frame rates up to 120p; when recording up to 60p the a1 offers full pixel readout and at 120p it uses a 10% crop. Oversampled 4K recording is also possible, via a 5.8K capture area, with a Super 35 crop. Internal 10-bit 4:2:2 sampling is also possible in all recording modes and, if recording externally via the full-size HDMI A port, 16-bit raw output is also possible from a 4.3K capture for even greater tonal reproduction and post-production flexibility.
- The a1 employs a pair of codecs to suit different workflows: XAVC HS, which uses HEVC/H.265 encoding to retain more detail at smaller bitrates and XAVC S-I, which is an intraframe codec for consistent performance and quality at bitrates up to 600 Mb/s.
- High-speed, 120 fps recording also enables 4x and 5x slow-motion movie recording with the frame rate playback set to either 30p or 24p or, if moving down to Full HD resolution, an effective 240p frame rate is also available for even greater motion control.
- No recording time limit allows for unlimited clip lengths and the camera's physical design features an improved heat-dissipating structure to promote longer possible recording times; longer than 30 minutes for 8K 30p or 4K 60p videos, or recordings done at 10-bit 4:2:0.
- S-Cinetone can be used to deliver distinct colors and healthy-looking skin tone rendering that matches the FX9 and FX6 cameras and is based on technology from the professional Cinema Line cameras, such as the VENICE. This color profile offers natural mid-tones, soft colors, and especially well-controlled highlights.
- Affording extensive customizable color and gamma controls, the you can adjust the gamma, black level, knee, color level, and more. Also, users can use the same S-Log2 Gamma Curve that is found on high end Sony Cinema cameras that squeezes up to 1300% more dynamic range into the video signal then traditional REC709, for increased post-production flexibility.
- HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) support is also available, along with the BT.2020 color space, for recording within a wide color gamut and, in addition to S-Log2, S-Log3 is also available for producing a 15+-stop dynamic range with increased grading control in the shadow to mid-tone regions of the image.
Fast Hybrid AF System
- Covering 92% of the image area, a Fast Hybrid AF system incorporates 759 phase-detection points along with 425 contrast-detection areas for quick and precise focusing in a variety of lighting conditions with sensitivity down to -6 EV. This focusing system is available for use in all recording modes, to benefit both video and stills applications.
- Fast sensor readout and improved processing also enables up to 120 AF and AE calculations to be performed per second for faster, more responsive tracking and accurate results.
- Lock onto subjects quickly using Real-time Tracking for AI-based tracking on moving subjects or touch tracking for manual selection of the subject.
- Real-time Eye AF, suitable for both humans and animals, also ensures critical sharpness when shooting portraits.
- Dedicated Real-time Eye AF Bird Mode lets you select the bird to be tracked and the camera will automatically detect the bird's eye and track it, regardless if the bird is in flight or still. This mode even works once a sitting bird takes flight.
- Helping to fine-tune how the focusing system performs, seven-step AF transition speed and five-step AF subject shift sensitivity controls let you refine how quickly focus shifts from point to point and how smoothly focusing shifts occur.
5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Image Stabilization
- Enhanced 5.5-stop effective 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization system compensates for five different types of camera shake encountered during handheld shooting of stills and video and allows users to confidently use any lens, even adapted lenses, for critical shooting without encountering blur from camera shake.
- For long focal lengths, the system will correct for pitch and yaw adjustments. Macro and high-magnification imagery, on the other hand, will benefit from the inclusion of horizontal and vertical shift compensation. All shooting styles will get usage out of the roll compensation. All 5 axes of stabilization will function at all times, even when used with third-party lenses and adapters or lenses with built-in optical stabilization.
- Additionally, specifically for video, there is also an Active IS mode that adds even more precise stabilization methods for even smoother footage straight out of camera.
Pixel Shift Multi Shooting
This unique compositing mode allows you to achieve even greater resolution than the 50.1MP sensor affords. Working in conjunction with the sensor-shift image stabilization, this mode shifts the sensor while making 16 consecutive exposures in order to acquire approximately 199MP of information for greater color accuracy and detail than possible with a single exposure. These files can then be merged together during post-production by using the Sony Imaging software suite.
- An impressive QXGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF features a high 9.44m-dot resolution and 0.9x magnification for exceptionally bright, clear, and detailed eye-level viewing. This viewfinder has a dedicated 240 fps High Quality+ setting for smooth motion rendering and the finder's physical design has a long 25mm eye point, 41° field of view, and features a fluorine coating on the outermost viewfinder element to benefit cleaning.
- A 3.0" 1.44m-dot tilting screen benefits working from high and low angles. This LCD is a touchscreen, too, for intuitive shooting control and menu navigation.
- Dual memory card slots both accept either CFexpress Type A or SD-type memory cards. The dual slot design allows for flexible file saving and handling and can be configured to partition file types or can be used for overflow recording. Additionally, both of the card slots are rated to support UHS-II memory cards for faster transfer speeds.
- Updated menu structure is more intuitive and complements having different workflows and settings selections for movie recording and stills shooting. The menu system also works in conjunction with the touchscreen design of the rear LCD.
- Magnesium alloy chassis assures rigidity, durability, and stability while remaining lightweight. The lens mount has also been improved to better support heavy lenses, and the grip rigidity has been improved for more comfortable hand-holding.
- Extensive weather-sealing, including enhanced sealing around the battery cover, terminal cover, and chassis joints, has been employed to resist dust and moisture for reliable operation in harsh weather conditions.
- Accepts the high-capacity NP-FZ100 rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which provides approximately 430 shots/90 minutes of recording per charge when using the viewfinder or 530 shots/95 minutes of recording per charge when using the rear LCD.
- Full-size HDMI A port offers a more reliable connection when working with external recorders.
- A USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port has been added, in addition to a micro-USB port, for faster, more reliable tethering support. The USB Type-C connection allows the camera to be charged or powered from the host power source while connected.
- PC sync terminal for wired flash sync with strobe packs or wireless radio remotes.
- Both 3.5mm headphone and external microphone ports facilitate greater control over audio recording.
- Multi Interface Shoe supports working with the optional ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adapter Kit, which provide improved, clear audio recording sound by sending a digital audio signal to the camera, opposed to an analog signal.
- Built-in Wi-Fi enables the remote camera control and instant sharing of imagery to mobile devices for direct sharing online, and support for both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands also enables wireless tethered shooting support. This connectivity also provides remote camera control
- USB Type-C port can be paired with an optional Ethernet wired LAN adapter to provide 1000BASE-T connectivity, wired remote shooting, or FTP transferring.
- Built-in Wi-Fi enables the a1 to instantly share imagery to mobile devices for direct sharing online, and support for both 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands also enables wireless tethered shooting support. Also, the 5.0 GHz band supports 2x2 MIMO for fast communication speeds and dual antennas ensure a reliable connection.
- NFC (Near Field Communication) allows for one-touch connection between the camera and compatible mobile devices; no complex set-up is required. Once connected, the linked mobile device can also display a live view image on its screen and remotely control the camera's shutter.
- Bluetooth connectivity allows for location data acquisition.
- Ethernet port offers up to 1000BASE-T speeds for quick wired LAN sharing and remote operation.
- When working over a wired LAN, the Remote Camera Tool 2.1 app now has been enhanced for a reduced release time lag and live view delays as well as support for remote SD card formatting, FTP server switching, and changes to the still image storage destination. Wired or wireless LAN transfers can also occur in the background, while continuing to shoot.
- Imaging Edge Remote for desktop supports PC Remote shooting via the Wi-Fi connection or tethered by the wired USB Type-C port. An updated data transfer control also makes it possible to transfer files from an SD card over Wi-Fi using the Imaging Edge Mobile app even when the camera is powered off.
- Transfer & Tagging add-on app can send FTP setting parameters from your mobile device to the camera, offers automatic data upload to an FTP server with attached metadata, and can perform automatic voice-to-text conversion.