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The Sony Alpha 1 features a newly developed stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor, built with integral memory and paired with an upgraded BIONZ XR imaging processing engine, making it capable of shooting 50.1-megapixel images continuously at an astounding 30fps with up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second. The Alpha 1 shooting capabilities are further enhanced by a 9.4 million dot OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder, with a refresh rate of up to 240 fps, ensuring no black out. Additionally, for the first time in an Alpha series camera, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video is available, along with 4K 120p 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and S-Cinetone color. The Alpha 1 is also packed with features that support field professionals with faster workflow, including 3.5x faster wireless FTP transfer speed and more.
50.1MP full-frame stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor w/ integral memory
The innovative full-frame Exmor RS™ image sensor delivers an overwhelming combination of resolution and speed with 50.1 effective megapixels in a stacked CMOS architecture with integral memory. The sensor’s stacked structure and advanced A/D (analogue to digital) conversion provides significant improvements over the α9 II, allowing a huge amount of data to be read from the pixel area at high speed, then temporarily store it in the chip’s integrated memory so that high-speed processing can proceed without delays. Despite the large volume of data produced by the sensor’s 50.1 million pixels (approx. twice the pixel count of the α9 II), the Alpha 1 can shoot continuous bursts at up to 30 frames per second (1.5x the speed of the α9 II) while offering fast, precise phase-detection AF.
Continuous Shooting up to 30fps with 120 AF/AE calculations per sec.
The Alpha 1 captures moments that would otherwise be lost thanks to its high-speed readout from the 50.1-megapixel image sensor, making it possible to shoot up to 30 full-frame images per second, using the electronic shutter, with full AF (autofocus) and AE (auto exposure) tracking up to an astonishing 120 calculations per second, with AE response latency as low as 0.033 second, even with sudden changes in brightness. A large buffer memory and increased overall system speed allow up to approximately 165 JPEG images or 155 compressed RAW images to be captured in one continuous 30 fps burst and at 20 frames per second, users can shoot up to 238 full-frame compressed RAW images or 400 full-frame JPEG images. This can be a huge confidence-booster when timing is critical for sports, wildlife, and other moving subjects.
8x more powerful, next generation BIONZ XR image processing engine
The Alpha 1 incorporates the next generation BIONZ XR image processing engine which performs 8x faster processing compared to the BIONZ X processing engine found on previous models. The BIONZ XR handles all of the AF, image recognition, image quality adjustments, development, and more in real time, minimizing processing latency while markedly boosting still image and movie processing power. Furthermore, user interface, network, and file management processing are distributed so fast, that stress-free control response is maintained regardless of real-time processing load.
Selectable continuous shooting speeds with electronic shutter
The Alpha 1 offers a range of selectable continuous shooting speeds: 20, 15, 10, or 5 fps assignable to the Hi, Mid, and Lo drive modes. Continuous shooting is fixed at 30 fps in the Hi+ mode. This makes it easier to set a continuous shooting speed that best suits the subject and shooting environment, while an expanded range of speed and compression combinations offers new flexibility. A continuous shooting speed of 15 fps coupled with the “M: 21M JPEG + Compressed RAW” recording mode, for example, will allow more than 1000 still images to be shot in one burst in APS-C mode.
Complimenting the camera’s ability to capture images at an unprecedented speed, the Alpha 1 viewfinder features the world’s first 240 fps refresh rate, for a super-smooth display. The viewfinder does not black out when an exposure is made to offer an uninterrupted view and allow for seamless framing and tracking, even during continuous shooting. The 9.44 million-dot (approx.), 0.64 type Quad-XGA high-definition OLED display and refined optics deliver the highest resolution in its class. It also offers 0.90x viewfinder magnification, a 41° diagonal FOV, and a 25mm-high eyepoint for clear, low distortion viewing from corner to corner.
Blackout-free shooting up to 30fps from fast sensor readout speed
Viewfinder blackout occurs in conventional DSLRs when the mirror flips up to expose an image. Since the Alpha 1 viewfinder does not black out when an exposure is made, the user has an uninterrupted view of the subject and scene that allows smooth, seamless framing and tracking even during high-speed continuous shooting, ensuring that fleeting moments can be captured with confidence. Blackout-free shooting is a game-changer for shooting sports where rapid and erratically moving subjects must be captured, and even for portraits where fleeting expressions can make a huge difference. The Alpha 1 offers a viewing experience that is close to viewing with the naked eye.
World’s first anti-flicker mechanical and electronic shutter
In addition to anti-flicker shooting with mechanical shutter, the Alpha 1 is the World’s first camera to boast ant-flicker with electronic shutter thanks to the high-speed readout from the stacked Exmor RS image sensor. This makes blackout-free shooting, up to 120 AF/AE tracking calculations per second, up to 30 fps continuous shooting, silent shooting, and other advantages of the electronic shutter available without flicker issues when shooting under fluorescent or other flicker-prone types of artificial light. Anti-flicker shooting is also available with the mechanical shutter at up to 10 fps (“Hi+” setting) with full AF/AE tracking.
High-frequency flicker-free shooting
In situations where it is necessary to shoot silently using the electronic shutter at stage performances under LED lighting, or for high-speed continuous shooting which requires electronic shutter at sports venues that use LED lighting and signage, the Alpha 1 Hi Frequency Flicker function [Variable Shutter] can significantly reduce problems caused by high-frequency flicker from those light sources by precisely matching the shutter speed to the flicker frequency. While normal shutter speed increments (1/3 or 1/2 step) make it difficult to match the flicker frequency, the Hi Frequency Flicker function finely adjusts shutter speed to match the flicker frequency and thereby minimize related problems.
Even with its high-resolution 50.1 effective megapixel image sensor, the Alpha 1 reduces rolling shutter by approximately 1.5x compared to the α9 II when shooting stills using electronic shutter. Fast sensor readout and the powerful BIONZ XR processing engine all work together to achieve extremely high processing speeds. Additionally, the Alpha 1 also pushes beyond mechanical device limitations with a maximum shutter speed of 1/32000 sec. This extended shutter speed range provides new exposure flexibility and makes ND filters unnecessary in a wider range of lighting and shooting environments.
Dual drive mechanical shutter for up to 1/400 sec. flash sync
With significant advances in mechanical as well as electronic shutter performance, the Alpha 1 boasts the world’s fastest flash sync speed of 1/400 sec. in Full-frame and 1/500 sec. in APS-C mode with mechanical shutter. It incorporates a carbon fiber shutter curtain that is both durable and lightweight along with a newly developed dual-driven shutter system utilizing spring and electromagnetic drive actuator for faster shutter response. Flash can be added to bring out extra dimensionality in the subject. A faster flash sync. speed takes advantage of the higher flash output vs. using HSS ( using high-speed sync.) for images with wide open aperture in bright situations can also be used to match exposure to a bright background while flash is used to illuminate a moving subject.
Electronic shutter w/ flash sync up to 1/200 sec.
Thanks to high readout speed from the stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor, flash sync with electronic shutter is possible for the first time in an Alpha camera. Flash sync. Speed when using electronic shutter is 1/200sec. in Full-frame and 1/250sec. in APS-C mode. The ability to use a flash with silent shooting or at high frame rates opens a new world of expression for many photographers.
The electronic shutter in the Alpha 1 has several advantages, including the ability to shoot completely silently and without any vibration that can occur with a mechanical shutter. Silent shutter is ideal when shooting sports or events in a quiet environment, while being vibration-free minimizes the likelihood of vibration-induced blur, further contributing to superior resolution and image quality. Since the electronic shutter has no moving components, it is much more durable than any mechanical counterpart. A convenient All-in-one Silent Mode setting in the menu makes it possible to set all parameters related to silent operation in one quick step, allowing faster setup when shooting concerts, theater, or in other situations where absolute silence is required.
Incredible autofocus w/ 759 phase detection AF points, 92% coverage
The Alpha 1 incorporates Sony’s highly acclaimed Fast Hybrid AF in all modes for both still and movie shooting. The Exmor RS sensor and powerful BIONZ XR processing engine make it possible to provide a high-density array of 759 selectable phase-detection AF points for high-speed autofocus tracking capability with the precision of 425-point contrast-detection AF to quickly lock onto subjects that move erratically or change speed suddenly and track them with tenacious reliability across 92% (approx.) of the imaging area.
Real-time AF tracking, Real-time Eye-AF (humans, animals, birds)
Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous system, thanks to the powerful BIONZ XR image processing engine. It ensures accurate, reliable detection, even when the subject’s face looks away. In addition to improved Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals, the Alpha 1 employs high-level subject recognition technology to provide Real-time Eye AF for birds, a first in Alpha series cameras. Optimized algorithms ensure that tracking is maintained even if a sitting bird suddenly takes flight, or the framing suddenly changes.
AI-based Real-time AF Tracking
AI-based Real-time Tracking with a 30% improvement in subject detection performance thanks to the new BIONZ XR processing engine and a new subject recognition algorithm uses color, pattern (brightness), distance (depth), face and eye information to process spatial information in real time at high speed. The focus area will seamlessly change between face and eye to object tracking according to the condition of the subject. Tracking [On] and Tracking [Off] can be assigned to custom buttons which are useful to activate AF tracking when needed or temporarily= turn tracking off in situations where tracking is difficult or when the tracking frame might switch to the wrong subject.
Low noise images w/ ISO up to 102,400 and 15+stop dynamic range
The Alpha 1 delivers exceptional image quality and 15-stop dynamic range from the new high-resolution 50.1 megapixel stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor and next generation BIONZ XR processing engine. Highly efficient noise reduction technology results in low noise throughout the standard ISO 100~32,000 and expanded ISO 50~102,400 sensitivity ranges. The high-speed BIONZ XR processing engine also deliver constantly acute color reproduction. Deep reds and fresh greens are reproduced in all their natural beauty, while skin textures and tones are smooth, realistic, and healthy looking. A new “Visible Light and IR Sensor” on the front of the body helps to achieve more precise white balance under artificial lighting, including fluorescent and LED lights that sometimes confuse conventional AWB systems.
199MP Pixel Shift Multi shooting w/ flash sync. up to 1/200 sec.
Additionally, the new camera features an evolved Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode that composites up to 16 full-resolution images. In this mode, the camera precisely shifts the sensor in one pixel or half-pixel increments to capture 16 separate pixel-shifted images containing a total of 796.2 million pixels of data, which are then composited into a 199 million pixel (17,280 x 11,520 pixels) image using Sony’s Imaging Edge desktop application. With a flash sync of up to 1/200 sec. in this mode, it is ideal for photographing architecture, art or any other still life subject with a level of detail and color accuracy that is simply stunning.
High transfer speed USB Type-C® (USB 3.2) connector
A USB Type-C® connector that supports fast USB Type C (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps (USB 3.2)) data transfer is provided. This makes high-speed PC Remote (tethered) data transfer available for smooth handling of large image files. It also provides USB to high-speed wired LAN connectivity to 1000BASE-T Ethernet networks (via an optional USB-Ether wired LAN adapter) for fast wired FTP data transfers in Ethernet based environments. Movie file transfer is supported.
Industry's fastest built-in WiFi supporting 2x2 MIMO
Photojournalists and sports shooters need to be able to deliver stills or movies as quickly as possible. The Alpha 1 has been configured with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 5GHz/2.4GHz with multi-threading 2x2 MIMO (multiple input multiple output), achieving 3.5x faster wireless LAN data transfer . Remote shooting and FTP data transfer for both still and video files are also implemented. 2x2 MIMO utilizes dual antennas to establish two data streams, dividing the load while utilizing the same band.
Image Sensor Type
Exmor RS CMOS sensor
Image Sensor Size
35.9 x 24.0mm
100 to 32000
Extended ISO Sensitivity
50 to 102400
In-Body Image Stabilization
Yes, up to 5.5 Stops
RAW, JPEG, HEIF
Multi slots: SD (UHS-I/II) / CFexpress Type A
Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF / contrast-detection AF)
I’m sure you know the specs and features and of course this is just one person’s opinion.
I’ll highlight standouts for me:
- Silent shutter without penalty is amazing, even for everyday use.
- New menus and responsiveness of camera answered niggles I always had with prior cameras in the A7 lineup. Switching on the camera and bringing to my eye, I’m no longer waiting.
- Once you switch off anti-flicker, the viewfinder is incredible both for its refresh or its resolution depending on which you prioritize.
- The extra mode dial is great. Between the manual controls, Fn button and custom settings, you can pretty much avoid the menus entirely once set up.
- Image quality is great in my opinion. High iso noise is slightly greater than, say, the A7rIII in my opinion, but not as distracting as high iso noise in A7rIV. When downsampled to match the smaller resolution the difference effectively vanishes. I don’t mind it at all and the higher resolution when paired to sharp lenses means a bit more flexibility in using noise reduction. Further, this sensor has very pleasing colors which isn’t something I normally attribute to Sony bodies.
- General ergonomics feel great - buttons, dials, etc. are solid and pleasing. Very much appreciate this overall trend in the Sony bodies.
A few neutrals:
- The screen is fine (and for photos I prefer tilt to fully articulating) - some people have slammed it for the older, lower resolution screen but I’ve been fine with it though menus are a bit small.
- I don’t mind the different toggle mechanisms but agree standardizing them makes more sense.
A few negatives:
- Battery drain seems higher than other bodies. This is purely anecdotal and may be down to the experimentation phase of early ownership but it’s something I’m monitoring.
- The effect of anti-flicker on the viewfinder (decreased resolution while focusing) is, in my opinion, a significant mistake on a camera of this cost and with its presumed intended purposes. My understanding is this has been an issue for Sony bodies for a long time.
- When in silent shutter, a flashing grey box tells you when the shot’s been fired. On some backgrounds this gets lost, particularly when it is a small box (as opposed to the larger frame in some modes). I wish there was a setting to alter this color as you can with the focus square.
So far it’s an incredible high-resolution, high-performance camera that is exciting to use and has more versatility than anything I’ve touched to date. I’ve not even started to explore the video features in earnest yet.