SONY contunies on its merry way to what must surely be eventual dominance of the interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market. As if the A7R IV, A9II and A7S III didn’t already hit all the right spots, here’s the Alpha 1 which, as you can probably tell from the emphatic model designation, is the alpha male in Sony’s full frame mirrorless line-up (now numbering nine).
Flagship with superb resolution and speed
You pretty much get the best of all three of the aforementioned cameras wrapped up in the Alpha 1, which has a 50.1 MP sensor, but can also shoot at 30fps and, like the A7S III, delivers 4K UHD video at 120fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 colour. Unlike the A7S III though, it can also shoot 8K video internally at 30fps with 10-bit 4:2:0 colour sampling.
Take that, Canon! The Alpha 1 also has the fabulous 1.6 cm and 9.44-million dot OLED electronic viewfinder from the A7S III, but souped up further with a refresh rate of 240fps – a world first. And even at 30fps you still get full AF/AE adjustment (carried out at 120 calculations per second), with a no-blackout viewfinder too. Is there any key spec anywhere that Sony hasn’t trumped with the Alpha 1?
The sensor is a brand new Exmor RS CMOS, which means it combines both backsideilluminated and stacked design elements to optimise sensitivity and speed. The native sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 100 to 32,000 with extensions to ISO 50 and 102,400. Sony is claiming a dynamic range of 15 stops for both stills and video. All the number crunching is done by Sony’s latest generation Bionz XR chip that enables the 30fps stills shooting and video at 8K/30p or 4K/120p.
A large buffer memory enables a burst length of up to 165 best-quality JPEGs or 155 compressed RAW files. Like the A7S Ill, the Alpha 1 has dual ‘multi slot’ memory card compartments that support CFexpress Type A and UHS-II speed SDHC/XC. For the first time on a Sony A-series camera there’s the option of a lossless compressed RAW capture mode, joining the lossy compressed and uncompressed modes.
In addition to JPEGs, the Alpha 1 can also record 10- bit HEIF images with higher definition and a wide colour gamut. There’s a new ‘Light’ compression setting for both JPEGs and HEIFs for a smaller file size to allow for faster delivery of sports and news pics.
The Alpha 1 has in-body image stabilisation of up to 5.5 stops of correction for camera shake and five-axis movement when combined with optically stabilised lenses. An „Active Mode“ adds electronic stabilisation to enable smoother handheld video shooting. Sensor shifting is also used to deliver ‘Pixel Shift Multi Shooting’, which generates 16 images that merge into one with a resolution of 199 megapixels.
There’s a new mechanical shutter with carbonfibre blades and a dual drive system employing both a spring and electromagnetic actuator for both lightness and durability. Flash sync is possible up to 1/400 second. Furthermore, with the electronic shutter (specifically the ‘electronic first curtain shutter’) flash sync is now at up to 1/200 second. The mechanical shutter automatically closes when the camera is switched off, so the sensor is protected when the lens is removed.
Autofocusing is the same updated hybrid system as was introduced with the A7S III, using 759 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection to give 92% frame coverage and EV -6.0 low-light sensitivity. The artificial intelligence based object-recognition tracking now has a new mode for birds, in addition to the existing ones for humans and animals.
Needless to note, the Alpha 1 has a fully weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, but it also employs the same passive heat sink arrangement as the A7S III to enable video recording at high bit rates for durations of up to an hour. It also has this camera’s 16-bit RAW video output (at 4K/60p) over HDMI, which is again a full-size Type A connector.
Wi-Fi connectivity supports both the 2.4 and 5.0 Ghz bands (the latter with 2×2 MIMO support), and there’s also a built-in 1000BASE-T LAN connector. The camera’s USB Type C connector allows tethered shooting and in-camera battery recharging . The Alpha 1 again uses the highercapacity NP-FZ100 lithium-ion pack and can be fitted with the optional VG-C4EM battery grip.
Availability and price
Not surprisingly, all this comes at a price and Sony Alpha 1 body will set you back 7.300 € / $ 8.400. It’s available worldwide now.
For more information visit www.sony.com.