Photography News 99 - Web

Sony A1

Big test

PRICE: £6500 


With superfast shooting, 50 megapixels, amazing AF, 8K video and much more, Sony’s pro flagship is something very special – and for £6500 body only, so it should be

SPECS ›  Price £6500 body only

›  In the box Body, NP-FZ100 Z battery, BC-QZ1 charger, strap, USB-C to USB-A cable, body cap, cable protector, eyecup ›  Sensor Exmor RS CMOS, 50.1 megapixels ›  Sensor format 35.9x24mm, 8640x5760 pixels ›  File formats Raw: 14-bit compressed/lossless, compressed/uncompressed; JPEG: extra fine, fine, standard, light; HEIF: extra fine, fine, standard, light ›  Image sizes 3:2 ratio 8640x5760 pixels ›  Lens mount Sony E-mount ›  ISO range ISO 100 to 32,000, expandable to ISO 50 and 102,400; movies: ISO 100-32,000 ›  Shutter range Mechanical shutter: 30secs to 1/8000sec, B, flash sync 1/400sec in 35mm, 1/500sec in APS-C. Electronic shutter: 30secs to 1/32,000sec, flash sync 1/200sec in 35mm, 1/250sec APS-C ›  Drive modes Mechanical shutter: continuous hi+ 10fps, hi 8fps, mid 6fps, lo 3fps. Electronic shutter: continuous hi+ 30fps, hi 20fps, mid 15fps, lo 5fps ›  Exposure system PASM, 1200-zone evaluative metering ›  Exposure compensation +/-5EV in 0.3, 0.5 steps, AEB +/-3EV in 0.3, 0.5 steps ›  Monitor 7.5cm touchscreen, approximately 1.44m dots ›  Viewfinder 9.44m dot 1.6cm OLED ›  Focusing system Fast hybrid AF with -4 to +20EV working range ›  Focus points 759 points (phase detection AF) with wide, zone, centre fix, flexible spot, expanded flexible spot, tracking ›  Eye AF Human, animal, bird ›  Image stabiliser Five-axis image sensor-shift ›  Video (XAVC HS 8K) 7680x4320: 30p, 25p, 24p ›  Video (XAVC HS 4K) 3840x2160: (4:2:0, 10-bit, NTSC) 120p, 60p, 24p. 3840x2160: (4:2:0, 10-bit, PAL) 100p, 50p ›  Connectivity USB Type C 3.2, 3.5mm mic, 3.5mm headphone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth ›  Storage media Dual SD/ CFexpress A card slots ›  Dimensions (wxhxl) 128.9x96.9x80.8mm ›  Weight 737g with memory card and battery ›  Contact


SONY MIGHT NOT have the camera heritage of Canon and Nikon, but it saw a mirrorless future early on and stole a march on them. The Canon and Nikon management teams must be kicking themselves for resting on their DSLR laurels for so long, while Sony and others forged ahead. It is what it is, and Sony has an impressive line-up of APS-C and full- frame formats, featuring models that emphasise either stills or video, ISO performance or resolution. Sitting on top of the pile, the A1 offers ample resolution. With 50.1 megapixels, it delivers blackout-free, high-speed shooting at 30fps. The electronic shutter gives flash sync up to 1/200sec in 35mm, with autofocus skills are second to none. All of this comes in a compact form factor. In the last two issues of PN , I’ve tested the Canon EOS R3 and Nikon Z 9, both ‘pro’, deep-bodied cameras enabling bigger batteries and a body design that suits intuitive switching from upright to horizontal shooting.

on/off switch on a collar around the shutter button, a lockable exposure

Both are awesomely capable beasts, but are also big and heavy. The A1 isn’t, and if you want a deeper body for better handling and more shooting capacity, add the VG-C4EM grip for £400. The only Sony I’ve used with any degree of regularity recently has been the A7R IV, and some external commonality exists between the two models – particularly the rear panel and right-side top-plate. Having the

compensation dial, and front and back input dials make for good handling. A dimpled focus lever, decent-sized AF-ON button and another input dial on the rear are among the handling highlights of the camera’s back. Of course, there are physical differences between the two models. On the A1’s left top-plate are two important controls, but none on the A7R IV. On the collar are five AF options, while the lockable dial has drive settings, and here you’ll find the

self-timer and exposure bracketing. For bracketing, the actual parameters are set in the menu, and this works really well once set up. You can shoot an exposure bracket in a single burst, without having to independently choose continuous shooting. The A1’s menu has a new structure compared to existing Sony models. Along with the extensive feature set, it’s a deep menu, too. Push the button and you’ll see seven colour- coded tabs down the left side, giving 51 options in total. Under the red camera tab, 11 are available, with seven in magenta. Scrolling through each item, further set-up options appear on the right. Changing the menu layout is a serious task, and Sony has done a decent job. I spent quite a while familiarising myself and getting used to Sony nomenclature. But I would hesitate to call it a cinch, because there are so many options. On the whole, though, the A1’s menu is more friendly than previous models.

ACCESSIBLE The A1’s layout is very user-friendly. Taking the right top-plate as an example, front and rear input wheels, lockable compensation and exposure mode dials, custom buttons and the on/off switch are all present

BIRD’S EYE With subject and eye detection active, once the A1 finds its target it can be quite tenacious. This was shot at the 600mm end of the 200-600mm zoom, with an exposure of 1/500sec at f/6.3 and ISO 1600

32 Photography News | Issue 99

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