Today is a big day in the photography world because Sony announced its flagship mirrorless camera, the Sony Alpha 1. The “one to rule them all”, the Alpha 1 is an absolute monster of a camera that is designed to compete with the likes of the Nikon D6 and Canon 1D X Mark III. Sporting a 50.1 MP full-frame Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor, dual BIONZ XR processors that are capable of handling 8K videos, 30 FPS blackout-free continuous shooting speed with full-time autofocus, a 759-point hybrid autofocus system, and advanced subject tracking capabilities (including bird autofocus), the Sony A1 is the new generation of mirrorless cameras that pushes the entire industry forward.
The Sony A1 is a clear example of what we can anticipate from mirrorless technology in the future. In so many ways, it is a giant leap forward that pushes the boundaries of technology. Being able to shoot 30 frames per second continuously in full 50 MP resolution is something we have never experienced before – in some ways, this is a game-changer for certain types of photography.
While Sony can’t claim the crown of being the first 8K video camera (the Canon EOS R5 took that one last year), it still has very impressive video specs. In addition to 8K 30p shooting, the camera can manage 4K 120p 10-bit video recording internally, as well as 16-bit RAW output via HDMI, which puts it in line with some of the best video cameras on the market.
What’s incredible, is that Sony was able to squeeze all this tech into such a small camera body. The A1 is similar in its size to the Sony A9 II, which makes it significantly smaller and lighter than the Nikon and Canon flagships.
Another exciting feature we’ve never seen before is the new 9.44 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) with a 240 FPS refresh rate, which offers the best viewfinder experience among all mirrorless cameras. And with the dual processors, the Sony A1 should be able to handle anything you throw at it without blackouts or delays.
Photographers who heavily use flash will be surprised to find out that the Sony A1 offers flash sync speeds up to 1/400th of a second using the mechanical shutter and up to 1/200th of a second using an electronic shutter. This is all possible thanks to the new shutter design of the A1.
Similar to its predecessors, the A1 sports a 3.0″ tilting LCD screen, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity (2×2 MIMO support), wireless remote control, and file transfer capabilities. Storage-wise, the A1 has dual memory card slots, both of which support high-speed CFexpress Type A or SD UHS-II memory cards.
Lastly, the new A1 also shows us the new ergonomic design of the future alpha-series cameras. The top of the camera has been redesigned with a brand new dial that allows to quickly toggle between different shooting and autofocus modes – a much-needed feature for an action camera.
If you are wondering about the cost of the A1, being a flagship camera with so many groundbreaking features, it is priced accordingly. The Sony A1 will retail for $6500 when it is released in March 2021.
Obviously, there is a lot to like about this camera, and this is perhaps one of the most exciting camera releases of this decade – it is a clear demonstration of the possibilities of the mirrorless system. What’s most exciting for me personally, is that this move will push all other camera companies to innovate. Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Fujifilm, and others will be pressured to up their game with their upcoming camera releases…
The Sony A1 is more of an evolution than an innovation. A lot of the Sony A1 performance evolution can be attributed to the fact that it employs two processors. As far as I know, the Olympus M1X was the first camera to employ two processors to provide fast autofocus that supports high frame rates (30fps with continuous AF, 60fps with fixed AF) and AI subject detection (planes, autos, motorcycles, eyes). Of course the M1X is an older 20Mp sensor micro-4/3 camera. Olympus cameras also offer several capabilities (such as ProCapture) that have yet to be offered by Canon, Nikon, or Sony. Expect multiple processors in future top end Nikon and Canon cameras.
Whether the price of the A1 is too high is a matter of opinion. In matters of opinion there can be no dispute.
Canon 5d mk 3 had dual processors. I’m sure others had before that too. Two processors isn’t necessarily better than one.
I have the A9, onetime flagship. Like the A7R III & IV it doesn’t reliably AF on a small perched bird in the midground. Many other users have found the same weakness. I hope but doubt that Sony has fixed this in today’s flagship. It seems this kind of disinterest in the user experience isn’t just a Sony thing.
Perches are also not a bird thing, they live mostly in nests… Ziggy, a perch is a problem not only for SONY. I tried birds in a Voliére with a net around with Nikon Z 7 and 1 V2 and LUMIX S5 and S1R. All of them struggled at times. But manual override is a nice thing to have. And use.
I also use a D500. Small perched birds aren’t a problem for it.
I’ve watched 7 vids now of Bird Eye AF on the A1. It actually appears to do better in this case than the others I mentioned. It also does well with over-the-shoulder static shots.
Re BIF, there are 3 examples given and it failed in 2.
Historically, cameras made tradeoffs between MegaPixels, Dynamic Range and Low Light, Frames-per-sec.
This camera seems to have conquered this.It gives us all. At least on the spec page.
However, I am waiting for Mansurov to actually test the camera. I am waiting for:
A: How good is then DR vis-a-vis D850? Even visual opinions will do?
B: How good is its capability in low light & high ISO? What is the maximum usable ISO?
C: Is there any distortion (or rather level of distortion) with fast moving objects taken by the electronic shutter at 1/32000
Two of the most important capabilities of the A1 were not mentioned.
The A1 updates AF 120 times per second. That is a major source of the advantage the camera has in AF performance. So far as I know, no other camera comes close, except for the Sony A9/A9II at 60 AF updates per second.
The second is the speed of the A1 electronic shutter. The electronic shutter sweeps the sensor faster than 1/200 sec. Again far faster than any FF camera except the A9/A9II which is about 1/145 sec. That increase in speed was achieved even though the sensor moved from 24MP to 50MP. At that speed, image distortion due to time aliasing is negligible. There is very little reason to use the mechanical shutter, even though it too has been speeded up to allow flash sync at 1/400 sec.
Wow, what a great day. To your point Nasim, everyone must up their game if they choose to remain competitive. I, too, was a Nikon shooter for 30 years. I can say I’ve had some nice, memorable moments created by my Nikon equipment. I made the switch from a D5/D850 a few years ago when the Z7 arrived on scene. At first, I wish I had not sold my Nikon DSLR’s and lenses, but I was never a fan of adapters. I didn’t realize how frustrated I would ultimately get with Nikons painfully S-L-O-W introduction of Z glass. Then, they introduce things like the 58mm f0.95 before the 70-200 f2.8 for $8K. I made the transition to Sony resulting from my frustration. Currently, I own the A7R4 & A9II. What drew me to Sony was the vast amount of lenses, both native and third party. Sony produces remarkable glass, and we get treated to superb lenses like Voigtlander FE APO-LANTHAR 50mm f/2 Aspherical Lens. As good or better than any Leica glass I’ve owned for ¼ or more the price. A remarkable lens that I own. Sony is in control, in my opinion, forcing the rest of the market to react after they act. They have assumed the role of lead dog. I’m looking forward reading reviews of the new A1. Even with that said, I’m so happy with the 2 Sony camera bodies I own (along with 9 lenses), that it will be difficult to purchase the A1. It’s a great time being a photographer!
If you look at the lenses of the Z series, then the Nikon Z 7 II is much more attractive than the Sony Alpha 1. I have (among other lenses) the Nikon Z 70-200 mm 2.8 S and the Nikon Z 85 mm 1.8 S. In particular, the 2.8 zoom is significantly sharper in the lower focal length range than the Sony counterpart. The ultra-modern, outstanding technology of the Sony Alpha 1 could not be converted into such high-resolution images with my favorite lenses as with the Nikon 7 Z II.
Double the price for the Sony Alpha 1, but almost no better resolution than the Nikon 7 II and possibly the same image quality? Well, I’ll stick with Nikon with all reason.
Outstanding, this kind of reality distortion. Where is a Nikon 100-400, 200-600, 600? The sheer amount of different lenses on the Sony side, where Nikon simply only has something on an often changing “roadmap” and nothing to buy. Try to rephrase “If I look at the lenses Nikon has to offer, I’m very happy with the two and do not believe SONY has the same”.
I case you haven’t realized, SONY is releasing more interesting glass than Nikon can afford to catch up with. Stick with Nikon if you like to, but better remain silent about a system you simply don’t know by own experience.
Seldom does someone write on photo pages what they are photographing. Technology freaks in particular prefer to put other people down. I photograph landscapes, events, ships, animals and a lot more. For this I recently started using the Nikon Z 7 II (previously the Z 7, D850, D750, D600). I currently have the Z 14-30 mm, the Z 50 mm 1.8, the Z 85 mm, the Z 70-200 mm and the S 200-500 mm lenses. The good old S 200-500 mm has z. B. between 300 and 400 mm a good bokeh compared to other superzooms. – Lovers of my photos have bought high quality prints up to 180 cm from me. I’m a Nikon fan because old Nikon lenses work well with my cameras. I like the cameras menu, it’s intuitive to use. I appreciate the detailed, high, color-accurate resolution of the Z 7 II. There is really nothing that needs to be improved on this camera – except for an even finer resolution of the viewfinder. At best, sports photographers could possibly use an even faster camera. Yes, the Sony Alpha 1 is completely overpriced when you consider price and benefit. After all, it doesn’t take any better photos than my Nikon. And it’s the pictures that count, not the many gimmicks used once or twice a year. For technology freaks, the Sony Alpha 1 has a lot to offer – for photographers who love good photos above all, it is not worth the money.
Rainer, I also have a Z 7 (and 6, too). If the camera does everything you need – I really don’t want to talk you out of it or destroy your fun or diminish your professional success with my comment. It’s just not always true that people don’t write what they photograph, they do, but they don’t do it with each post ;) In the Nikon rumors forum i.e., the signature very often contains tons of gear, but rarely the main subjects of interest.
I just like to suggest to talk about YOUR view – and not as if you are the one capable to judge a camera you never used (as it is on sale not before March 2021) just by the specs. And btw. when do you think Nikon comes up with a professional grade mirrorless body for sports shooters?
I highly agree on your view of Nikon’s camera menu – but I also know other menus, like LUMIX, Sigma, Pentax, Canon and even a glimpse of the old SONY menu. But the α1 got the new SONY menu. So maybe it’s good to leave the old judgements and prejudices aside for just a moment.
An example: Nikon offers U1…U3 settings. I’m using banks on my D850 regularly because I trust them. The U settings however have a bad mixture of settings to be excluded of the saved parameters. It’s a different concept and although I used it on the old D7000, it is unnecessarily complex. Worst of all: You could not give the settings meaningful names like Macro, Sports, Ballroom or whatever. Nikon software engineers still behave as if their world is the only that exists.
Another example: focus stacking is useful for macro shots. And macro shots and mirrorless systems just belong together, right? Just… there is still no macro lens available for Z-mount, more than two years after the sales started. And even if it would be available: Nikon’s implementation of focus stacking just sucks!
And if you say “There is really nothing that needs to be improved on this camera – except…” you are simply not telling the truth, because you state what needs to be improved in your exception. For you. And you pretend this is the truth for everybody. It’s not, people do have different needs – if you never use focus stacking, you will never bother about it.
You don’t have to drive a Porsche to know that such a car is not for environmentally conscious people. You don’t have to use a Sony Alpha 1 to know that this camera is overpriced for most photographers in terms of price and performance. You don’t have to have a doctorate to know that my comment is not absolute here. There are different opinions for everything – and decent people should tolerate them.
If you really have a knowledge of photography – and not so much of technology, then you know that the Nikon Z 50 mm 1.8 S can be easily attached to intermediate rings for macro photography. This is how I do it sometimes when shooting flowers. In addition, Nikon’s S-series macro lenses can be used quite well on the Z cameras, with the great FTZ adapter.
Those who only find technology good when it contains the latest, most modern, most extensive package need not worry as much about the sincerity of other people as you do. You have your opinion about technology and that’s perfectly fine. My main concern is photography – the Sony Alpha 1 doesn’t take any better photos than the Nikon Z 7II or the Canon R5 (according to a test by dpreview.com, the Canon R5 has a poorer RAW image quality than the Nikon Z 7). There is no need to doubt that, as the Sony Alpha 7R IV teaches. The sensor technology of the Sony Alpha 7R IV is already overstrained. At 400 ISO, their photos are too noisy for me, the resolution of the corners of the image is too much reduced in relation to the center of the image. And that the Sony Alpha 1 should be able to do more with advances in sensor technology within a few months is very much doubtful. So at best it has the same image quality as the half as expensive Nikon and Canon cameras. – Comments like mine serve to convey to other people that a little modesty when purchasing photo technology saves money and still great photos are possible. It is also a contribution to environmental protection if you do not keep buying new photo technology, but concentrate on the essentials. For example, I would like to have another 24-70 mm, but don’t buy it because I don’t use it enough. It certainly looks very different with other photographers. But an overpriced Sony Alpha 1 is certainly only a niche product in terms of usability.
The personal settings on the Nikon D850 and the Z cameras (U1, U2; U3) are different. That was one of several reasons for me to switch to the Z camera (I also don’t like mirror flipping, and the Z camera always shows the live image with the same brightness, even when using the dimming button, etc.).
When the D6 was introduced, it’s price was CHF 7200.- and dropped quickly to (still steep) CHF 6600.-. The α1 is currently 7800.- and will also drop.
Now, would you say the D6 is NOT a niche product? And what about that “usability” thing? Man, I saw a SONY AF point glued to an object, no matter what, while shooting at high speed. Try this with your Z 7 or Z 7 II and you will see how far away Nikon’s AF is from usability! When they introduced Z 7, AF-tracking was completely useless, cumbersome to use and simply not accurate enough for fast lenses. But okay enough for f/1.8 glass. Nikon still has a looooong way to go to come close what a SONY owner can get today.
Canon had more interesting lenses when introducing their mirrorless bodies than Nikon had and that has not changed. If you consider the α1 as “overpriced” then simply don’t buy it. Other people will embrace it’s potential which you simply don’t see.
And don’t overestimate your comment as “convey other people…” sorry, Nikon users are no reference for people interested in SONY gear and especially not the target group for the α1. Customers willing to drop nearly 8k for a camera know what they get or don’t need to keep an eye on their budget.
Your comment leaves little doubt that you are writing in Sony’s interest. Do you get paid for it? In any case, photography is not what drives you. You don’t write anything about it in your numerous comments here. You are driven by the exuberant know-it-all, otherwise you wouldn’t call the Nikon Z 7’s autofocus useless. That’s an outright lie, unless you’re a populist like Trump. In your opinion, all users would have to focus the Nikon Z 7 manually. Your pay must be bad, your comment has too many willful false statements about the Nikon brand. Do you think Canon has good lenses for the R series? Only with reservation. In the beginning, they brought out very expensive lenses that unfortunately make you too noticed at events. For example the very heavy 28-70 f2.0 or the 85 f1.2, whose bokeh I do not appreciate with very restless lights in the background. Okay, this is a Google translation from German – I hope it will be useful. Your views on photography are unimportant for lovers of high quality photography, Joachim. So I will forego any answer that you still give.
You too looks like writing in some brand’s interest, but you seem like not looking into reality but dreaming a bit on brand affection…
So the Sony Alpha 1 has some really outstanding features if you go by the specs alone. But Good Lord couldn’t they have produced a better built camera body. Sony seems to regurgitate the same boring frame again and again. While I can understand that with most of their mirrorless models, for the top of the line professional body you would expect they would make the body more robust. Some of you may disagree with me, which is fine, but this feature alone does not make me want to run out and get one especially at the price point they’re asking for.
I can remember when Sony introduced their first FF mirrorless cameras and all the ridicule they received. Yet, today, I don’t think any of the other major camera makers are snickering anymore. Their start was full of mistakes but over the years, they have managed to solve virtually all the initial problems and advanced the technology way beyond anything NiCa can produce. Truly visionary! Going forward, it is going to be a hard pull for Canon and Nikon to compete unless they get their game together. Sony practically owns the sensor business and with their other electronic divisions innovating as well, they really are the total package. Digital cameras are little computers at their core and I think major improvements in cameras over the next decade is going to be achieved in much better processors and sensors. BSI, dedicated processor chips, stacked sensors, IBIS, real time high resolution EVF, integration of wireless transfer of images to other storage media, AI integrated into AF & AE. I remember a Canon camera that watched what your eye was looking at in the view finder and then focusing on that. I expect Sony to perfect that idea. Sony is not going to slow down until they are #1 in the pro camera business.
All the tech geeks are wetting their pants. My question is, do these people do any photography, I see them everywhere nowadays.
I nearly like it.