Until now, Sony has taken a sort of dispersed approach to its flagship consumer mirrorless cameras. The α7R IV was the unparalleled choice for high-resolution still photography. The α7S III offered mind-boggling video features. The α7 III offered a sort of non-specialized option at the same level of quality. The α9 II was the de facto flagship, but in practical use is tailored toward professional high-speed usage (sports, journalism, etc.).
The Alpha 1 seems to have been borne as an answer to one ambitious question: what if there could be one camera that excelled at everything?
At its core, the Alpha 1 is driven by a 50.1 MP back-side-illuminated CMOS sensor and the new, blazingly-fast BIONZ XR processing system. First introduced with the α7S III, Sony’s most powerful processor yet enables a wide array of features, from the camera’s ability to process 120 AF/AE calculations per second (twice what the α9 II can do) to the Slow & Quick video recording mode, which allows FHD footage to be recorded at a variety of speeds between 1 fps and 240 fps.
The One for stills
Shooting big? 50.1 MP ain’t bad, but Pixel Shift Multi Shooting Mode combines 16 images (796.2 MP of data) into a 199 MP image. For archival photography, architecture, landscapes, and more, this is a game-changing feature.
Shooting fast? We know that an effective burst mode can be mission-critical for pros. The α1 is not only capable of 30 fps burst shooting (with a 155 RAW/165 JPG buffer), but can continue to focus the whole time—that BIONZ XR processing system can run 120 AE/AF calculations per second, twice the capability of the α9 II. Don’t worry about losing your visual—that’s with no blackout in the 240 Hz electronic viewfinder.
Yes, calculate AF it will! For the last couple years, each new camera body has offered significant improvements to the AF system, and this one is no exception. Most dramatically, the acclaimed Eye AF feature has been improved and expanded to track birds’ eyes in addition to human and “pet” (dogs, cats, etc.) eyes. 759 phase-detection points cover 92% of the imaging area, so you’ll be hard pressed to miss a shot.
The α1 is also the first in the Alpha series to offer a 1/200 second flash sync speed using the electronic shutter, as well as the world’s best 1/400 second flash sync speed using dual-drive shutter.
5-axis in-body image stabilization promising a 5.5-step shutter speed boost and 15+ stops of dynamic range round out the highlight features of this incredibly capable camera.
The One for video
Video on the α1 benefits from all of the focusing and dynamic range features noted above, but that barely scratches the surface of its motion-capture capabilities.
Despite maintaining a similar form factor to the rest of the Sony Alpha line, cleverly-engineered heat dissipation allows the α1 to shoot 400 Mbps video at a next-gen 8k 30p 10 bit 4:2:0 for up to 30 minutes. The α1 oversamples from an 8.6K area to create the most rich, detailed video possible. Click here to watch a gorgeous sample video, and if you have an 8K monitor let me know so I can watch it with you!
4K video benefits from the processor boost as well, allowing up to 200 Mbps capture at 120 fps; if you need even faster framerates the aforementioned Slow & Quick mode will let you push 1080p to 240 fps, fast enough for all but the most specialized slow motion needs.
Those familiar with Sony’s cinema line will be excited to hear about the inclusion of the S-Cinetone color matrix. Those not familiar can take a gander at this sample video to get an idea of what a lovely look you can achieve in-camera! You can even skip the tripod sometimes: the Active Mode optical image stabilization system promises impressively steady footage without all that extra gear for quick and agile shooting. Click here to see that in action.
The One for pro connectivity
The α9 made quite a splash when it was first released, as it brought professional-level communication features—integral to the workflows of journalists, sports photographers, and others—to the already much loved Alpha line. The α1 does not slack in this regard, offering the most robust I/O of an Alpha series camera yet.
- Blazing Wi-Fi
- SuperSpeed USB-C 10Gbps (also power capable for mobile charging)
- 1000BASE-T Ethernet
- 2x UHS-II/CFexpress combo slots
- Full size HDMI
Plus mic/headphone jacks, sync port, micro-USB, and more—expandable via the Multi interface hot shoe to allow things like XLR input!
The One for… you?
Official press release
• New 50.1-megapixel (approx., effective) full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ CMOS image sensor in combination with an upgraded BIONZ XR™ imaging processing engine with eight times more processing poweri
• Blackout- free continuous shooting at up to 30 frames per secondii
• Fast sensor readout enables up to 120 AF/AE calculations per secondiii, double the speed of the Alpha 9 II, even during 30fps continuous shooting
• Bright and large 0.64-type 9.44 million-dot (approx.) OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder with the world’s firstiv refresh rate of 240 fps
• Silent, vibration-free electronic shutter
• World’s firstv anti-flicker shooting with both mechanical and electronic shutter
• Electronic shutter flash syncvi up to 1/200 sec. for the first time in the Alpha™ series
• World’s fastestv mechanical shutter flash sync up to 1/400 sec.
• 8K 30pvii 10-bit 4:2:0 XAVC HS video recording with 8.6K oversampling for extraordinary detail and resolution, in addition to 4K 120pviii 10-bit 4:2:2 movie shooting capabilities
• Wide dynamic range of 15 stops for stillsix and 15+ stops for videox
• Improved Real-time Eye AF (autofocus) for humans and animals, and new Real-time Eye AF for birdsxi, as well as Real-time Tracking that automatically maintains accurate focus
• 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization for a 5.5-stepxii shutter speed advantage
• S-Cinetone color matrix as seen in FX9 and FX6 to deliver expressive cinematic look
• Professional workflow support with the industry’s fastestxiii built-in Wi-Fi, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, 1000BASE-T Ethernet and more
Sony Electronics, a global leader in imaging sensor technology and digital imaging, has announced the arrival of the groundbreaking new full-frame mirrorless Alpha 1 camera – asserting their commitment to leading the industry with a stunning combination of innovative new features.
The most technologically advanced, innovative camera that Sony has ever released, the Alpha 1 combines high-resolution and high-speed performance at a level that has never been accomplished in the world of digital cameras. With a brand new 50.1-megapixel full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ image sensor, up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video and much more, the Alpha 1 will allow creators to capture what they’ve never been able to before.
“We are always listening to our customers, challenging the industry to bring new innovation to the market that goes far beyond their expectations,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “Alpha 1 breaks through all existing boundaries, setting a new bar for what creators can accomplish with a single camera. What excites us the most – more than the extensive product feature – is Alpha 1’s ability to capture that which has never been captured before. This camera unlocks a new world of creative possibilities, making the previously impossible now possible.”
The newly developed image sensor is 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’s shooting capabilities are further enhanced by a 9.44 million dot OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder, with a refresh rate of up to 240 fpsxiv, ensuring no black out. Additionally, for the first time in an Alpha series camera, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video is available. The Alpha 1 is also capable of 4K 120p / 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and includes S-Cinetone color. The Alpha 1 is also packed with features that support field professionals with faster workflow, including 3.5 times faster wireless FTP transfer speedxv and more.
Unprecedented Resolution and Speed
Continuous Shooting at Up to 30 Frames Per Second
The Alpha 1 captures moments that would otherwise be lost thanks to its high-speed performance, providing any photographer the speed they require to capture fast-moving objects. High speed readout from the 50.1-megapixel image sensor and a large buffer memory make it possible to shoot up to 155 full-frame compressed RAW images[xvi] or 165 full-frame JPEG imagesxvii at up to 30 frames per second with the electronic shutter while maintaining full AF and AE tracking performancexviii.
At an astonishing calculation speed of up to 120 AF/AE per second, the Alpha 1 can maintain focus with high accuracy even for fast moving subjects. It can automatically adjust exposure, even with sudden changes in brightness, with an AE response latency as low as 0.033 secondsii.
Advanced Electronic Viewfinder with the World’s Firstiv Refresh Rate of 240 fps
Complimenting the camera’s ability to capture images at an unprecedented speed, the Alpha 1 viewfinder features the world’s firstiv 240 fps refresh ratexiv, 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 classiv. It also offers 0.90xxix viewfinder magnification, a 41° diagonal FOV, and a 25mm-high eyepoint for clear, low distortion viewing from corner to corner.
Sony continues to push the boundaries of autofocus technology with the introduction of the Alpha 1, which can easily track complex, fast-moving subjects with high precision. The camera features 759 phase detection points in a high-density focal plane phase-detection AF system cover approximately 92% of the image area – ensuring accuracy and unfailing focus in environments where focusing might otherwise be difficult.
Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous systemi, thanks to the powerful image processing engine, BIONZ XR. 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 birdsxi, a first in an Alpha series camera. Optimized algorithms ensure that tracking is maintained even if a sitting bird suddenly takes flight, or the framing suddenly changesxx.
The Alpha 1 also features AI-based Real-time Tracking that automatically maintains accurate focus. A subject recognition algorithm uses color, pattern (brightness), and subject distance (depth) data to process spatial information in real time at high speed.
Silent, Vibration-free Electronic Shutter
High-speed readout from the new image sensor has made it possible to reduce rolling shutter by up to 1.5 times when shooting stills, compared to the Alpha 9 II. It also offers silent anti-flicker continuous shooting with an electronic shutter for the first timev in the world. The electronic shutterxxi operates silently, without mechanical noise, and is vibration-free. Stress-free continuous shooting is now possible even when shooting in challenging lighting situations with florescent or other flicker-prone types of artificial lighting. And for the first time in an Alpha camera, electronic shutter flash sync up to 1/200 secxxii is possible. The advantages of the electronic shutter advantages can now come to life even when using flash for broadly expanded shooting versatility.
Dual Driven Shutter System for 1/400 Flash Sync
The Alpha 1 boasts the world’s fastest flash sync speedv of 1/400 sec. with mechanical shutter, making it even easier to capture dynamic action. In addition to a carbon fiber shutter curtain, the Alpha 1 features the newly developed dual driven shutter system utilizing spring and electromagnetic drive actuator, offering high durability and lightness at the same time.
High Resolution Shooting Enhancements
Even with this sensor’s high pixel count, the Alpha 1 offers high sensitivity with low noise, plus 15+ stops of dynamic range for video and 15 stops for stills, for smooth, natural gradations from shadows to highlights thanks to its cutting-edge processing system, throughout a wide ISO sensitivity range of 100-32,000 (expandable to 50-102,400, when shooting stills).
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.
Professional Video Quality
8K High-resolution Movie Shooting
For the first time in an Alpha camera, the Alpha 1 offers 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 XAVC HS recording with 8.6K oversampling for extraordinary resolution. Combined with Sony’s acclaimed autofocus technology, gradation and color reproduction performance, the Alpha 1 will help the user realize their creative vision with the finest detail. It’s 8K footage can also be used for flexible 4K editing during post-production.
Supporting Various Video Formats for Professionals
The Alpha 1 offers in-camera 4K recording at up to 120 frames per secondviii which allows the user to shoot up to 5X slow-motion videoxxiii. In addition to supporting 10-bit 4:2:2 recording, this feature can be used with efficient Long GOP inter-frame compression or high-quality Intra (All-I) intra-frame compression.
The Alpha 1 features S-Cinetone, the same color matrix that produces the highly regarded FX9 and FX6 color and skin tones. It delivers natural mid-tones, plus soft colors and gorgeous highlights to meet a growing need for more expressive depth. The S-Log3 gamma curve makes it possible to achieve 15+ stops of dynamic range, while the S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.Cine color gamut settings make it easy to match Alpha 1 footage with video shot on VENICE cinema camera, FX9 and other professional cinema cameras.
A unique heat dissipating structure keeps image sensor and image processing engine temperatures within their normal operating range, preventing overheating while maintaining compact body dimensions. This makes it possible to record 8K/30p video continuously for approximately 30 minutesxxiv.
Supporting Hand-held Shooting
A high-precision stabilization unit and gyro sensors, plus optimized image stabilization algorithms, achieve up to a 5.5-step shutter speed advantage, maximizing the quality of the high-resolution images derived from the camera’s 50.1-megapixel sensor. The Alpha 1 also features an Active Modxxv that offers outstanding stabilization for handheld movie shooting. When using Sony’s desktop applications Catalyst Browse or Catalyst Prepare[xxvi] for post-production, an accurate image stabilization function is available which utilizes metadata generated by camera’s built-in gyro.
Other features that the Alpha 1 offers include; 16-bit RAW outputxxvii to an external recorderxxviii via HDMI for maximum post-production flexibility, a digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe for clearer audio recordings from a compatible Sony external microphone, 5.8K oversampled full pixel readout without pixel binning for high-resolution 4K movies in Super 35mm mode and more.
Enhanced Workflow with Network Technologies including Connectivity to 5G Compatible Devices
The Alpha 1 has been designed and configured to support photo and video journalists and sports shooters who need to deliver stills or movies as quickly as possible with advanced connectivity options. It offers several features for fast, reliable file transfers. Industry’s fastestxiii built-in wireless LAN allows communication on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHzxxix bands with dual antennas to ensure reliable communications. 5 GHz includes 2×2 MIMO support (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) offering 3.5 times faster wireless FTP transfer speed than the Alpha 9 II – a notable advantage for news and sports shooters who need to deliver with reliable speed. There is also a provided USB Type-C® connector to support fast data transfer when connected to a 5G mmWave compatible device such as Sony’s Xperia PRO and makes high-speed PC Remote (tethered) data transfer available for smooth handling of large image files. The Alpha 1 also has a built-in 1000BASE-T LAN connector for high-speed, stable data transfers, including remote shooting. FTPS (File Transfer over SSL/TLS) is supported, allowing SSL or TLS encryption for increased data security.
In addition to compressed and uncompressed RAW, the Alpha 1 includes efficient lossless compression with no quality degradation, Lossless Compressed RAW. There is also a new “Light” JPEG/HEIF image quality setting that results in smaller files than the “Standard” setting, allowing faster deliver for news and sports photographers who depend on speed. Along with a versatile range of RAW and JPEG formats, the Alpha 1 includes the HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) format for smooth 10-bit gradations that provide more realistic reproduction of skies and portrait subjects where subtle, natural gradation is essential. Images shot on the Alpha 1 can be trimmed in-camera to a desired aspect ratio, size, or position for versatile usage.
The Alpha 1 is also compatible with a variety of apps, add-ons and tools. With Imaging Edge Mobile and Imaging Edge Desktopxxx, professionals can easily transfer RAW files and files that use lossless compression and remotely control Touch Tracking and Touch Focus for convenient AF operation. The Transfer & Tagging add-on (Ver. 1.3 or later) can automatically covert voice memos attached to image files to text captions or transfer the files to an FTP server from a mobile device. Desktop applications Catalyst Browse/Catalyst Preparexxvi allow professionals to browse and manage video clips shot by Sony’s camera. In addition, the Remote Camera Tool[xxxi] can remotely change camera settings and shoot from a computer connected via LAN cable and feature a number of refinements for the Alpha 1: faster transfer, touch response, dual slot and HEIF support, and more.
Reliable and Easy Operability
Professional users need more than just refined features and performance. They also need the reliability and durability demanded of any professional tool. The Alpha 1 has two media slots that both support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards, as well as new CFexpress Type A cards for higher overall capacity and faster read/write speeds. It also features a durable magnesium alloy chassis, long battery life with the Z-battery which can be extended using the optional VG-C4EM Vertical Grip (sold separately), an improved dust removal feature, shutter close function on power-off to protect image sensor, plus dust and moisture resistance[xxxii] that maximizes reliability in challenging environments. It includes a durable, reliable HDMI Type-A connector, and USB PD (Power Delivery) support, allowing higher power to be supplied from an external source so that users can record for extended periods with minimal internal battery usage.
A revised menu structure provides easier navigation, and touch-responsive menu operation offers fast, more intuitive control with Touch Focus and Touch Tracking on its 3.0 type 1.44 million-dot (approx.) LCD monitor. For easy customization, a subset of the camera’s shooting settings now changes according to the selected shooting mode, making it easier than ever to use different aperture, shutter speed and other settings for shooting stills and movies.
Pricing and Availability
The Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable-Lens Camera will be available in March 2021 for approximately $6,500 USD and $8,500 CAD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.
Exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new camera and Sony’s other imaging products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony α – Alpha brand cameras.
For detailed coverage on the new product on Alpha Universe, please visit this LINK.
The new content will also be posted directly at the Sony Photo Gallery.
Additionally, a product launch video focused on the Alpha 1 can be found at this LINK.
About Sony Electronics Inc.
Sony Electronics is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America and an affiliate of Sony Corporation (Japan), one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world, with a portfolio that encompasses electronics, music, motion pictures, mobile, gaming, robotics and financial services. Headquartered in San Diego, California, Sony Electronics is a leader in electronics for the consumer and professional markets. Operations include research and development, engineering, sales, marketing, distribution and customer service. Sony Electronics creates products that innovate and inspire generations, such as the award-winning Alpha Interchangeable Lens Cameras and revolutionary high-resolution audio products. Sony is also a leading manufacturer of end-to-end solutions from 4K professional broadcast and A/V equipment to industry leading 4K and 8K Ultra HD TVs. Visit http://www.sony.com/news for more information.
i Compared to the BIONZ X imaging processing engine.
ii “Hi+” continuous shooting mode. In focus modes other than AF-C, effective at 1/125 sec. or higher shutter speed. In AF-C mode, effective at 1/250 sec. or higher shutter speed, and the maximum continuous frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. 20 fps max. when shooting Uncompressed or Lossless compressed RAW.
iii At shutter speeds of 1/125 sec. or higher. The number of AF calculations will depend on the lens used.
iv As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among full-frame mirrorless cameras.
v As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among full-frame interchangeable-lens digital still cameras.
vi Up to 1/200 sec. Synchronization via the sync terminal is not available for electronic shutter.
vii [APS-C S35 Shooting] is fixed [Off] when shooting 4K 120p and 8K movies.
viii 10% image crop.
ix Sony internal tests.
x When recording with S-Log3. Sony internal tests.
xi Still images only.
xii CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off.
xiii As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among interchangeable-lens digital still cameras.
xiv Field of view is fixed at 33° and resolution is UXGA when selecting frame rate at 240 fps.
xv 3.5 times faster when compared against the Alpha 9 II.
xvi “Hi+” continuous shooting mode, compressed RAW, CFexpress Type A memory card. Sony tests.
xvii “Hi+” continuous shooting mode, CFexpress Type A memory card. Sony tests.
xviii At 20 frames per second, users can shoot up to 238 full-frame compressed RAW images or 400 full-frame JPEG images.
xix 50mm lens, infinity, -1m-1 diopter.
xx Accurate focus may not be achieved with certain subjects in certain situations.
xxi Shutter speed slower than 0.5 sec. cannot be set while continuous shooting. Tracking performance and max. aperture differs by settings and lenses.
xxii Up to 1/200 sec. Synchronization via the sync terminal is not available for electronic shutter.
xxiii Post-production editing and S&Q mode recording required. Data must be recorded to a CFexpress Type A memory card when the frame rate is 120 (100) fps or higher.
xxiv Sony internal tests with [Auto Power OFF Temp.] set to [High].
xxv Active Mode is not available for 8K recording.
xxvi Catalyst Browse™ version 2020.1 or later, Catalyst Prepare version 2020.1 or later are required.
xxvii 8K is not applicable.
xxviii Compatible recorders to be announced.
xxix 5 GHz communication may be restricted in some countries and regions.
xxx The Imaging Edge (Remote/Viewer/Edit) desktop application Ver. 3.1 or later is required for compositing.
xxxi Remote Camera Tool version 2.3 or later is required.
xxxii Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and water resistant.