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Sony A1 Review

Introduction

Released in the spring of 2021, Sony’s Alpha 1 or a1 is their current flagship. And, on paper, it’s a flagship indeed in the truest sense. The Alpha 1 is a full-frame, high-resolution 50MP camera that aims to impress photographers and videographers. And it comes to market as the second mirrorless camera boasting 8K video recording. Yet, it simultaneously obtains many of the tireless improvements and niche features from the A7R, a9, A7S, and FX series cameras. As such, its camera Sony aims as a one-stop solution for everyone. And one that’s built without compromises.

In many respects, the Alpha1 is the culmination of their entire ecosystem into a single body. And it’s a camera that questions the title of “the greatest camera ever.” Bold claim. But with a starting price of a Leica, it indeed would seem that way. It’s a camera Sony positions to compete with Canon’s EOS R5 and the Leica SL2. But, it simultaneously challenges the Canon 1DX Mark III and Nikon D6, each the DSLR kings. Today, we assess its strengths, weaknesses and answer that question ourselves. Is this truly the most incredible camera ever? Let’s find out.

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“The greatest camera, ever?”

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Sony A1? 

Pros:

Image Quality

At its core, the Alpha 1 houses a newly developed 50.1MP full-frame Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and the BIONZ XR processing engine. Like the a9 II, this sensor uses a stacked back-illuminated design with integrated memory, letting the camera produce 15+ stops of dynamic range for stills. But, the new XR processor achieves better color accuracy than previous models, mixing the accuracy of the A7S Mark III with the pleasing rendering of the FX6.

Overall, the image quality is excellent and currently the best Sony offers of any Alpha series camera. Its 14-bit RAW (ARW) files offer more dynamic range than their entire lineup. And it does so with high resolution, great detail, and outstanding color rendering. Right now, only the A7R Mark IV provides the advantage of a higher resolution sensor. But otherwise, this camera outperforms it in every regard. And this is the best it gets.

sony-alpha-1-camera-specs

 

It debuts with a newly designed dual-driven shutter, which improves its flash sync speeds. Now the camera can sync with compatible flashes at 1/400 sec with a mechanical shutter (or 1/500 with the APS-C crop) and 1/200 sec with the electronic shutter. This is the result of faster sensor readout speeds from the stacked design and 8x better processing. And it’s the first Alpha series camera to obtain these capabilities. Thus, photographers have more latitude for overpowering ambient light and can now shoot silently.

Note: these features only work with a hot-shoe-mounted transmitter that offers TTL compatibility.

The redesigned shutter also provides better dampening, less shock and vibration. And the camera is noticeably better in this regard. The shutter is well dampened, secure, and provides a satisfying but quiet click to boast. Sony’s also improved the electronic shutter. Now, it doesn’t reduce the camera’s dynamic range, image quality, cause banding or artifacts, or increase noise. So considering it’s the way to unlock 30 FPS shooting, photographers can rejoice knowing there’s no unnecessary loss in image quality. As such, it’s a good option while shooting if you want to be discreet or you want to reduce shutter wear. Additionally, the rolling shutter performance has improved 1.5x over the a9 II. And it’s now almost absent on this camera.

It obtains the new HEIF image format, which strikes a balance between the higher color accuracy of RAW, but the file sizes of JPEG. These files have better color accuracy, given they have 10-bit 4:2:2 color. And this lets them produce better dynamic range, smoother gradations, and better latitude than JPEG alone.

Note: this HEIF format is still in its infancy, so compatibility on desktop software is somewhat limited.

It has in-camera HDR. But this mode only works with HEIF files.

It obtains the new Light JPEG size, which creates smaller files than the Standard setting for faster delivery for photojournalists who want utmost speed.

With this release, Sony finally added the lossless compressed RAW format. We’re glad to see this feature finally here, as it’s been requested for years now. Lossless compression offers similar detail as an uncompressed RAW file. They find creative ways to reduce the file size, cutting them roughly in half from 104 Mb to 57 Mb. And it’s a change that will significantly reduce the processing demand and storage requirements without any quality loss.

Sony’s added the Anti-Dust Function, which sets whether or not to close the shutter when you turn off the camera. Turning it on prevents any unwanted dust from entering. And it’s a highly requested feature that first debuted on Canon’s EOS R, then eventually their a9 II.

The continuous shooting speed has vastly improved on this camera, thanks to the BIONX XR engine’s optimized processing. Now the camera can shoot at 30 FPS at full resolution with AF and AE capabilities, using the electronic shutter. Or you can shoot at 10 FPS using the mechanical shutter. And the buffer depth and clearing speeds have also improved. Now the camera can record 155 compressed raw frames, or 182 JPEGs, in one single burst at 30 fps.

Note: this camera cannot shoot at 30 FPS using lossless compression. To get this frame rate, you have to drop down to lossy compression, which causes a slight loss in image quality.
Note: Shooting at 30 FPS will require CFexpress cards, as they offer substantially faster-clearing speed. Even if you use a fast v90 SD card, you’ll have to wait minutes for the buffer to clear, as they’re about 5x slower in this regard. Thankfully you’re not locked out of settings during this process, but the difference between these two formats is quite noticeable.
Note: not all lenses in Sony’s current ecosystem support 30 FPS shooting. As of writing, only 18 lenses are supported, mostly encapsulating their newer releases. So if you don’t own a lens released within the last two years, it’s likely too slow to maintain this speed. Instead, expect 15-20 FPS to be the maximum.

Video Quality

It obtains largely similar capabilities as the A7S Mark III and FX6. Thus, it’s a strong contender as a video camera, despite its high-resolution sensor. But, unlike these cameras, it now brings 8K 30p video, along with grabbing their 4K 120p and 1080p FHD 240p modes. And it shoots all formats in 10-bit color with 4:2:2 subsampling.

We’ll cover the camera’s codec and recording formats first. It obtains all the codecs as the A7S Mark III to match various workflows. In this case, it records one of three codecs from XAVC S to XAVC S-I and XAVC HS. XAVC S is the standard 8-bit 4:2:0 Long-GOP codec used on most of Sony’s range, with maximum data rates of 200 Mb/s for 4K and 100 Mb/s for 1080p. But, the camera can also record this codec in 10-bit 4:2:2, upping the data rate to 280 Mb/s for 4K. The XAVC-SI codec, on the other hand, is the All-I format. All-I records complex motion more accurately than Long-GOP by recording each frame individually. And recording in this codec bumps the data rates to 600 Mb/s for 4K and 222 Mb/s for 1080p using 10-bit 4:2:2. Both of these codecs also use H.264 compression. However, the camera also obtains the XAVC HS codec from the A7S Mark III, which records using H.265 (HEVC) compression. Here, the camera records 10-bit 4:2:0 8K video at 400 Mb/s or 4K 4:2:2 at 280 Mb/s. This HEVC codec is the new high-efficient standard that balances image quality and file size (bitrate). And it produces largely similar image quality as H.264, with nearly half the file size.

Now, let’s discuss the resolution. The camera shoots 8K 30p video at full sensor width by oversampling from an 8.6K readout. Doing so produces outstanding sharpness and life-like realism. And it also lets you crop 200% into the frame without losing any detail. For 4K, it uses a form of pixel binning to downscale its resolution for UHD recording. However, using the 4K Super35 Mode does oversample from a 5.8K readout. Even so, the camera offers unlimited recording time, and the heat-dissipating design lets you record upwards of 3 hours.

Overall though, the image quality and recording capabilities of the camera are excellent. And they’re now class-leading. 8K is entirely usable on this camera and a powerful tool indeed. The camera can record indefinitely at this resolution, given the ambient temperature remains steady, and you use a dummy battery. But even still, you can capture 30-90 if the ambient temperature exceeds 78ºF by swapping the battery and SD card. And the detail and realism of 8K surpass the A7S Mark III in 4K. And even recording 4K Super35 outperforms the A7S Mark III. As such, it becomes a mini FX6 cinema camera of sorts, with an 8K option. And it’s likely to be quite a hit for filmmakers.

Note: All 4K resolution crop compared to 8K, which uses the entire sensor width. But 4K 120p experiences an added crop of 10%.
Note: While recording 8K video doesn’t require much in terms of storage demand. And you can even record it uses a V60 UHS-II card. Using the HEVC codec does require a lot of processing power, and it’s very tough on most computer’s CPUs. As such, if you don’t have a newer editing rig, you’ll likely experience slowdowns and stutters in playback.
Note: CFExpress cards are required to record 4K 120p, and the XAVC-I format.
Note: the rolling shutter is minimal during recording. And the amount experienced in 8K is unlikely to be problematic for most users. In this regard, the camera is excellent and arguably class-leading.

The camera obtains Sony’s full suite of Picture Profiles and Gamma’s, including Cine 1-4, S-Gamut, S-Gamut3, S-Gamut3.Cine, Rec.709, HLG, and S-Log2-3. But, it also receives the S-Cinetone profile debuted on the VENICE cinema camera. This provides a distinct color rendering with natural mid-tones, pleasing colors, and a soft highlight roll-off. And with this selection, it’ll be easy to match the colors here to their professional cinema lineup. S-Log3 also produces 15+ of dynamic range. And the Hybrid Log Gamma profile now supports the wide-gamut BT.2020 color space for HDR recording.

It obtains the Slow And Quick (S&Q) recording mode from the A7S Mark III. This mode lets the camera capture slow and quick motion effects at 1-120p in 4K UHD and 1-240p in full HD. And it maintains autofocus in all recording modes.

It features Gamma Display Assist to help monitor log footage by reproducing a contrast equivalent to the standard Rec.709 gamma.

It has zebras for exposure warning indication.

It features Proxy Recording, letting you record a lower resolution proxy video at 720p or 1080p alongside the higher-end recording. And these videos are great for sharing online immediately.

The camera outputs a clean 16-bit 4.3K 60p signal via HDMI for use with external recorders. And you can output RAW while recording 4K internally.

Low Light Performance

Low light performance is excellent despite the sensor’s high pixel count and resolution. And the backside-illuminated structure helps greatly. Plus, the camera debuts with a dual gain output, maximizing the dynamic range at its low setting and low light high ISO performance at the high setting. But, it features a native ISO range from ISO 100-32,000, further expandable to a low setting of 50 and a high of 102,400. The dual gain ranges vary based on the picture profile used. But even so, users can expect usable results up to ISO 12,800 or 25,600 with minor processing across all settings.

Focusing Performance

The sensor’s design and updated BIONZ XR engine also boast a redesigned autofocusing system that outshines even the flagship a9 II. In this case, the camera has a 759-point Fast Hybrid AF system covering 92% of the imaging area. This system incorporates 759 phase-detect points and 425 contrast for quick and precise focusing. And this system offers AF support at light levels of -4 EV. With this new iteration, Sony’s taken the opportunity to update the Real-Time Eye AF functionality too. And they’ve refined this advanced AI-based system for humans and animals, including a dedicated Bird Mode. So now the camera lets you select a bird to track, and it can automatically detect its eye and follow it across the frame. It’s not 100% perfect, as this is a first generation implementation. But, it works quite well, whether they’re moving on the ground or in flight. And it’s an innovation function that helps remove some of the challenges of bird photography. Sony’s also updated the tracking for animals, now supporting tracking if their face is upside-down. And animal tracking works for most animals, not just dogs and cats.

Outside of this, the autofocusing performance remains excellent and is now arguably class-leading. It obtains the 120 AF/AE tracking calculations per second capability from the a9 series. And this, simply put, lets the processor perform more recalculations in-between frames to double-check critical focus and pinpoint the tracking. As such, you can expect a high level of precision when tracking moving subjects, even at 30 FPS. Additionally, the Eye AF, in general, is modestly improved and even more reliable at finding moving subjects. Sony claims it’s improved 30% in precision over the a9 II. And while this is hard to quantify precisely, the camera does track and focus noticeably more consistently, especially across a broader range of head angles. Otherwise, real-time AF is available in all recording modes, including 8K and 4K 120p. As such, you can rely on autofocus to be the go-to and default configuration across all mediums.

It obtains the AF customization options from the A7S Mark III and FX6. In this case, AF Tracking Sensitivity, Transition Speed, and Subject Shift Sensitivity. These settings let you adjust the tracking speed and stickiness for the best results or isolate subjects in busy scenes. And it’s an excellent option to fine-tune the autofocusing for smooth rack focusing.

The camera also offers focus magnification and peaking, if you prefer manually focusing.

Battery Performance

It uses the NP-Z100 battery. And battery life is excellent for a high-resolution mirrorless camera. Expect 430 shots per charge and 90 minutes of video recording when using the viewfinder, or 530 when using the LCD.

Display & Viewfinder

It obtains the same 3.0-inch wide-type TFT tilting touchscreen LCD from the A7S Mark III. And it too offers a resolution of 1.44M dots and tilts down 107º and upwards 41º. It also provides the Sunny Weather Mode, which is available for all shooting and recording modes. Overall, while unchanged, the LCD remains versatile for high or low-angle shooting. And since it’s a touchscreen, it offers intuitive setting control, swiping, pinch to zoom, touch tracking, and full menu navigation.

It also obtains the QXGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF from the A7S Mark III, and it marks the second camera with this exclusive configuration. Like the Mark III, it boasts a resolution of 9.44M dots and a large 0.9x magnification that rivals the human eye. Unlike the A7S, this iteration has an added refresh rate of 240 Hz, doubling the 120 Hz industry standard. As such, this viewfinder is that much better at smoothing movement, which is particularly helpful when tracking a subject at 30 FPS. And it’s unbelievably responsive now. The updated processor also has substantially reduced any blackout when shooting at higher frame rates. So, now there’s essentially no blackout or latency while shooting. It also offers the widest field of view, which is now the world’s first at 41º. Taken together, the viewing experience here is excellent and now class-leading. And the display is incredibly sharp, bright, large, and offers life-like realism.

Note: you can change the viewfinder refresh rate from standard (60 Hz), or HI (120 Hz), or HI+ (240 Hz) in-camera.

User Interface

It features the radically redesigned user interface and menu from the A7S Mark III. And it no longer uses the two-tiered approach used on other Alpha series cameras. Instead, the menus have a split-screen vertical interface, which is fully touch-enabled. And all of the options are grouped into each menu tab, letting you see three levels simultaneously. As such, it saves time digging through sub-menus. Everything’s also color-coded and optimized well for touch input. And this touch input also expands over to the customizable function (FN) menu. Overall, they’re intuitive and easy to operate. The camera does have many settings, so it will take some time to familiarize yourself. But, the settings are separated for stills and movies, making it easier to find relevant settings. So, newcomers shouldn’t find them particularly overwhelming and complex.

It obtains the Memory Recall Function on the Mode Dial, with three total recall states. This gives you quick access to recall full shooting setups, saving time having to recreate them.

It obtains the customizable FN (Function) Menu, with access to the 12 programmable settings it offers. And you can register functions for still and movie shooting modes separately.

It obtains the customizable My Menu, letting you create a custom menu of your most frequently used menu settings.

It obtains the My Dial Settings, letting you assign certain functions to the front and rear control dials. And you can register three combinations of settings.

In total, 164 functions are assignable to 17 custom keys on the body, providing outstanding customization, including its four custom buttons C1-C4.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

Physically, this camera uses a familiar shape, design, and build as the A7S Mark III, A9 II, and A7R Mark IV. So if you’re an existing owner of these cameras, you’ll find this camera immediately familiar. But, that said, it offers excellent ergonomics, balance, and handling. And at 737g with battery and SD card, it’s not overly heavy or bulky in hand. But it’s quite robust. And it uses a similar rigid magnesium alloy construction with extensive sealing around all body seams as the a9 II. But they’ve enhanced the weather sealing around the terminal cover, chassis joints, and battery cover. And the lens also has a lock button to create an even tighter seal there too. Plus, they’ve added more lens mount attachment screws to improve the mount’s strength and rigidity when using larger lenses. Additionally, it offers a new heat-dissipation structure to prevent overheating when recording 8K resolution without increasing its size. So overall, the design here is excellent, well-refined, and the best of the Alpha line to date.

It has an AF joystick for quick AF point selection or to navigate the menus.

It has an AF-On button for back-button focusing.

It obtains the a9 II top dial for drive selection on the left shoulder. This gives you quick access to the camera’s sequential shooting and autofocusing modes.

It has dual adjustment dials to control shutter speed and aperture.

It has a large dedicated video record button.

The Mode Dial has a lock to prevent accidental changes.

It has the dedicated Exposure Compensation dial with a lock to prevent accidental changes.

Niche Features/Extras

It obtains the 5-axis in-body image stabilization system from the A7S Mark III rated for 5.5 EV stops. And it also receives the Active SteadyShot mode for video, which adds digital stabilization to create even smoother footage. Though, it will do this at the expense of a minor 12% crop. Plus, it obtains the gyroscopic transfer functionality from the FX6. This lets the camera output and embed the gyro data into the recorded footage. Then in post, you can apply stabilization using Sony’s Catalyst Browse, which works better than Warp stabilization in Final Cut or Premiere. Overall though, the stabilization system here is the best implementation Sony’s made to date. And it works great at stabilizing handheld recordings.

It features built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity, now with 2×2 MIMO support. MIMO is a new communication standard that provides faster speeds by using dual antennas for more reliable connections. And it lets the camera provide both wireless remote control and file transfer abilities. Plus, it also obtains both the standard 2.4 and newer 5 GHz bands for wireless tethering. And Sony now claims that it’s the industry’s fastest Wi-Fi configuration.

It obtains the Pixel Shift Multi Shooting Mode from the A7R Mark IV. And like the A7R, it uses the camera’s stabilization system to shift the sensor 1 pixel between 16 exposures, producing a 199MP image. Doing so also improves the color accuracy and detail past what’s possible with a single exposure. Granted, you’ll have to merge these images in Sony’s Image Edge software manually. And it’s also best reserved for a tripod to avoid ghosting.

It has several bracketing options, including White Balance, exposure bracketing, and Dynamic Range Bracketing.

Like the A7S Mark III, it offers dual card slots that support both UHS-II and CFexpress Type A cards. And it marks the second Alpha series camera with this configuration.

It obtains Sony’s Clear Image Zoom, letting you zoom 2x for stills and 1.5x for 4K videos. And it gives your lens added reach without reducing the image quality.

It obtains the ultrasonic filter installed on the sensor from the A7S Mark III. The filter vibrates, removing dust and debris from the sensor.

It also obtains the front-facing IR sensor from A7S Mark III, improving the camera’s white balance.

It has a microphone input.

It has a headphone output.

It has a full-sized HDMI Type-A port.

It obtains the Interval Shot Function to create time-lapses. But, it only records the images, and it doesn’t generate the lapse in-camera.

It has a fully silent electronic shutter.

It obtains Sony’s Multi-Interface Shoe, letting you interface with their proprietary accessories cable-free.

It has a USB-C port (USB 3.2 Gen1) for faster tethering and file transfer speeds. And it also supports both charging and continuous power via a PD-rated source while running. And it also maintains a micro-USB port for backward compatibility.

It has an Ethernet port for wired LAN connections, remote shooting, and FTP background transferring. And it also supports up to 1000BASE-T speeds for quicker sharing at gigabit speeds. Plus, it supports FTPS, letting you encrypt files with SSL or TLS encryption for added security.

It has Anti-flicker shooting to reduce the flickering of fluorescent lighting. And this mode works for both electronic and mechanical shutters, even at 30 FPS bursts.

It has a dedicated PC sync terminal for direct connections to compatible flash units.

It has an in-camera rating.

It has several in-camera Lens Compensation options, including Shading, Chromatic Aberration, and Distortion Compensation.

It obtains the movable white balance point from the A7R Mark IV, letting you position the white balance marker anywhere to initiate a custom white balance. It’s a subtle addition that greatly simplifies capturing custom white balances.

Cons:

Image Performance

With 50MP images comes enormous file sizes and quite a demand on your storage setup. We made this particular note with the A7R Mark IV review. But, it’s important to stress here too that each uncompressed RAW image is almost 110 MBs. And if you take, say, 400 shots on a casual outing, you’re looking at nearly filling a 64 GB card here. So plan accordingly. You’ll want to invest in several 128 GB cards and a large SSD drive for this camera.

But more frustratingly, there are still now smaller RAW sizes (RAW-M or RAW-S). We’re pleased to see lossless compressed come to the Alpha line finally. But, not every photography will want 50MP RAW images at all times. The only way to get smaller files is by shooting compressed RAW, losing quality, or opting with HEIF or JPEG. Otherwise, you’re forced to shoot solely in the APS-C Crop mode to reduce file size. Not ideal.

Like the A7R Mark IV, the Pixel Shift Multi-Shot Mode is mostly a gimmick. The difference between this mode and the standard 50MP images is mostly minimal. And it only makes a subtle difference in a small selection of conditions, mostly involving highly static landscape scenes. And it’s not a feature to rely on, as the camera lacks any in-camera previews to check the results in-field. Instead, if you wish to see the final result, you have to do so by stitching them in post-processing. In this case, you’ll be using Sony’s Image Edge software. But even so, it’s challenging to capture usable images in this mode, which isn’t the case with rivals who employ this feature. The camera’s stabilization overcompensates for moves between each of the frames. And doing so causes out-of-focus frames, destroying the entire sequences. Sadly, the camera doesn’t indicate when there’s too much movement to cause this issue. And there’s no way of knowing beforehand. So you’ll have to painstakingly take hundreds of images to get even one usable file. You can do it if you’d like. But we’d argue it’s simply not worth the effort here. Olympus and Panasonic do a far better job in this particular regard.

A small note, the dust cover that wraps the sensor only covers the sensor when the mechanical shutter is enabled. It doesn’t work when using the electronic shutter, which is a strange and minor overlook. Most users will end up using the full-time electronic shutter, so it’d be good to see this fixed via firmware.

Lastly, Sony is currently the only manufacturer in the industry making CFexpress Type A cards. And sadly, they only come in a single 160 GB variant. This means you’ll have to purchase quite a cache of these cards if you’re a photojournalist or wedding since they can only store roughly 1,500 images before filling. But, they’re expensive, so this will also be a price consideration long-term.

Video Capabilities

The camera appears to use pixel binning when recording 4K, rather than oversampling for 8K or 4K S35. As such, the image quality takes a slight hit in detail and resolution. It’s not an earth-shattering difference, though, so this is more of a note. But if you want the utmost image quality, recording in 8K and downsampling is best. Otherwise, consider recording in the Super35 mode, as the camera oversamples there.

It lacks 4K 120p in the XAVC-I (All-I) mode. To get this particular compression format, you’ll have to use the S&Q Mode, which removes audio from the recording.

It lacks advanced video-centric features, such as waveforms, RGB parades, and scopes.

It lacks tally lights.

Autofocus Performance

While the autofocus on animals is vastly improved and currently the best Sony offers, it still tends to go back and forth between subject tracking and eye detection. So while shooting, you’ll want to ensure the focus is on the eye before pressing the shutter. Otherwise, expect slightly out-of-focus images. So in this regard, it’s not the most reliable wildlife system yet. But with practice, it does an excellent job.

Display

It’s quite strange to see Sony continue to keep the same rear LCD configuration on this flagship model. This 1.44M dot 2.95-inch TFT screen is a standard amongst quite a few cameras. It’s not new by any means. It would be great to see them innovate here as there’s quite a stark contrast between this display and the EVF. But, something more important, the rear screen still suffers from glare and washes out in bright sunlight. Also, considering they’re orienting this camera primarily towards the photographer, future models need better articulation. We would appreciate the tri-axis design of, say, the Fujifilm X-T cameras, as it’s difficult to frame low-angle portrait shots.

Changing the refresh rate on the electronic viewfinder does slightly reduce the resolution. And using the 240 Hz option also crops slightly into the frame. As such, it’s a better option for shooting fast pace sports and wildlife, rather than something to use at all times. Instead, use the 120 Hz option to provide a good balance between image quality and refresh rate.

Ergonomics

This is an ergonomic gripe. But the mode dial locks with a push and hold. But, the accompanying exposure compensation uses a toggle design, which either permanently locks or unlocks. It’s a small difference here, but having unified locking designs would be more intuitive for most users.

The focus mode selector switch is in a tricky spot that will likely cause fiddling if you have large thumbs to unlock.

Lacking Features

It lacks a built-in flash.

It lacks built-in GPS.

Is this a good beginner camera?

A beginner’s camera, no.

This camera is intended for professional photographers or videographers wanting class-leading capabilities. For a beginner, it’s simply too expensive, impractical, and far too niche. You can get a solid option for 1/10th of this camera’s price. Consider Sony’s A6100 APS-C camera or the A7C instead.

Is this a good camera for you?

Yes.

Outside of the a9 II, this is Sony’s best full-frame camera ever released. And with the powerful 30 FPS burst, animal AF, and refined electronic shutter, it’s now a powerful alternative for sports, wildlife, and journalists. If you want the higher resolution sensor, there’s no compromise here in speed to do so.

Current A7R owners should consider upgrading if they want the better EVF, AF, advanced sensor, and 30 FPS burst capabilities. As a package, it delivers an enormous upgrade while maintaining a similar high-resolution you’re used to.

For hybrid shooters or videographers, this is currently Sony’s best hybrid camera ever released. And one that delivers not only class-leading speed and imaging but also usable 8K video to boast. In core functionality, it rivals the FX6 cinema camera but offers far better still functionality. As such, if you prefer a compact mirrorless form factor, this is undoubtedly the camera to get.

In the end, Sony’s A1 not only becomes their ultimate camera, but it’s arguably the best camera ever released. It’s mind-blowing to see them continue to innovate, model after model. And this release shows they’re truly the ones to beat now. For years, they’ve been the underdogs, pushed in the corner by the likes of Canon and Nikon DSLRs. But, finally, nearly a decade later, the tides have turned. And boy, the comeback was legendary. Earlier this year, we would have argued the EOS R5 was the best mirrorless camera ever. But, somehow, Sony’s been able to top that camera in virtually every regard. And the A1 now stands as the ultimate camera for photojournalists, sport, weddings, fashion, product, and commercial photographers. And one that brilliantly blends their acclaimed A7R Mark IV, a9 II, and A7S III, all of which are leaders in their respective classes. Even so, it’s also a doubly powerful video camera that rivals their new FX6 cinema camera in many aspects. And it bests even the A7S Mark III in several unique ways too. As it stands, this is the new benchmark in excellence. And a benchmark that outdoes the Canon 1DX III and Nikon D6 flagships. Sure, it’s a camera most creators will only dream of owning. And one that many will bat an eyebrow at when looking at its price. But, if any camera, besides a Leica, is to deserve such a price, the A1 is it. And if you want the best, this is it.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
4.8

Summary

After nearly a decade of tireless innovation, Sony becomes the top player in the entire industry. And the A1 sets a new record benchmark, currently untouchable by any flagship model to date. If any camera deserves the title of “best camera ever released,” this is undoubtedly one of the contenders.