Sony A1 evaluate: One digital camera to rule all of them

(Pocket-lint) – When Sony introduced the A1 in 2020, it was hailed as “the every thing digital camera”. It is the highest canine, the crème de la crème, the bee’s knees. You get the purpose. That is the machine that is capable of do all of it, after which some. 

So what is the catch? The place’s its Achilles’ heel? The one apparent place to look is the asking worth. Earlier Sony A-series cameras have by no means been low cost, so it is no shock that this one instructions an eye-watering quantity. Get it with a few worthy lenses – just like the G Grasp 135mm f/1.8 and the 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom – and also you’re quickly dropping five-figures on a setup.

The stunning factor is that, for the proper individual, that is completely value it. Learn on to search out out why the Sony Alpha A1 is the one digital camera to rule all of them.

Design

  • Dimensions (physique): 128.9 x 96.9 x 80.8 mm / Weight: 737g
  • 0.64-inch digital viewfinder (EVF), 9.4m-dot decision
  • 3-inch tilt-angle touchscreen LCD, 1.4m-dot decision
  • Twin SD card slots – appropriate with CFexpress Kind A
  • Sony E Mount lenses

The Sony A-series of full-frame cameras has gained quite a lot of followers over the previous few years, and it is led the best way on the subject of delivering critical energy in a compact, mirrorless physique. The A1 retains that ethos. In actual fact, decide the physique up by itself with no lens connected and it is surprisingly compact and light-weight.

Stick one of many aforementioned G Grasp lenses on it, nevertheless, and it quickly turns into heavy and just a little unbalanced. You will want a shoulder strap or bag to hold it in, that is for positive. Likelihood is should you’re this digital camera critically, you already knew that. 

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Regardless of the digital camera’s compact physique, it contains a plethora of ports and buttons. To at least one aspect, there is a dual-stacked dial: the highest dial means that you can swap between single, burst and timer modes; whereas the main focus choice dial sits beneath that. 

The capturing mode dial sits on the opposite aspect, together with the customisable dial – which we set to regulate the aperture in Handbook mode, however you may set as you please – and the publicity compensation (EV) dial to the proper of that.

There’s one other dial on the entrance of the digital camera grip which we had set to regulate the shutter pace.

On the again, there is a rotating management that you’re going to use most for navigating the menu system, however may also be used to regulate the ISO sensitivity when capturing. 

There are different buttons, naturally. Sony insists on holding the Menu button awkwardly on the left aspect of the digital viewfinder (EVF), which is likely to be helpful when peaking via the EVF, however does make utilizing the digital camera one-handed a little bit of a problem, when all the opposite controls are on the opposite aspect of the digital camera’s rear. 

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There’s additionally pretty, grippy joystick which is beneficiant in dimension, permitting for extra exact focus; a AF button that allows you to rapidly autofocus; plus 4 customisable perform (Fn) buttons and a film button (once more, awkwardly positioned proper subsequent to the EVF, however on the proper aspect). 

For probably the most half, it is a well-spaced and sensible set of buttons. As soon as setup in the best way you want, it does not take lengthy earlier than utilizing it seems like second nature. Simply be ready to do quite a lot of tweaking if you first energy it up. We discovered ourselves wanting to alter the dial features instantly, however this might be all the way down to earlier expertise and choice.

In addition to the repositioning of the menu and film buttons, there are a few different issues we might like to alter. As an illustration, the capturing mode dials on the proper and left are continuously locked, so you may’t change your choice with out urgent the highest button to unlock it. We would quite there was a solution to click-to-lock then click-to-unlock, much like the button added to the EV dial. We are able to perceive that is sensible in some conditions the place you do not need to by accident change the capturing mode or focus kind. But it surely made altering these settings fairly fiddly after we did need to.

Then there’s the touchscreen. It is a pretty, sharp monitor that gives an amazing canvas to have the ability to see what you are capturing. Sadly, nevertheless, it does not have the vary of movement provided by a few of Sony’s latest cameras. It tilts up and down, however cannot be flipped out to the aspect, and has barely greater than 100-degrees rotation on its hinge. Therefore, it is not probably the most versatile mechanism on the planet.  

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As for ports, there is not any scarcity of these both. In actual fact, the A1 has virtually every thing, all underneath sturdy, well-constructed flaps on one aspect of the digital camera. 

You will discover 3.5mm ports for each headphone out and microphone enter. Beneath which can be the full-sized HDMI port and USB-C port (which you’ll be able to conveniently use for charging). There is a energy port for straight powering the digital camera from a socket, a multi-purpose Micro-USB port, and even an Ethernet port. 

There is not any XLR, however with a digital multi-interface snapped onto the multi-purpose hotshoe on the highest, you may rapidly add XLR inputs if you wish to, and Sony will fortunately promote you its personal home-made adapter. 

Bursts of glory

  • 30fps burst in JPEG & Uncooked at full 50MP decision
  • Mechanical/digital shutter choices
  • Silent capturing (digital)
  • Actual-time monitoring

Undoubtedly, the headline function of the A1 is its wondrous administration of burst capturing. It may shoot actually excessive bitrate pictures at ludicrously fast speeds, and with none display or shutter blackout. Or no less than, that is the declare. Particularly – it might seize 50-megapixel photos at 30 frames-per-second. That is excessive decision nonetheless photos captured on the identical price as customary video recording. 

We examined it on just a few events, capturing bursts of youngsters operating and leaping, and numerous different snippets of movement, and have been fairly blown away at its efficiency.

Wanting on the display whereas holding down the shutter button and it was nearly unimaginable to inform that it wasn’t capturing video – it is that fluid. There is not any black display at any level, only a delicate pulsing in our framing information to tell us that it was certainly capturing a group of quick bursts. And with the shutter being so so quiet, we might barely hear it working both. 

Contemplating the scale and determination of the sensor, and the mind energy in Sony’s picture processing unit, that is simply mind-boggling. It is doing a lot monitoring and adjusting focus between every picture, and it is processing and capturing with out skipping a beat. 

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With the real-time monitoring following the topic, it made it fairly simple to get good photographs with out shedding focus between every body. This turns into tougher if the topic is coming in the direction of the digital camera rapidly, and it’d generally lose focus through the odd body right here and there, however not typically. 

Sensor, focussing and stills

  • 50-megapixel full-frame Exmor RS sensor (35.9 x 24.0mm)
  • 5-axis stabilisation – 5.5 stops
  • Bionz XR picture processor
  • 759 phase-detection factors
  • 425 contrast-detection factors

We alluded to the sensor already, but it surely’s value reiterating what this digital camera is supplied with. It is received a 50-megapixel, full-frame Exmor RS CMOS 3:2 sensor. Mix that with Sony’s highly effective Bionz XR picture engine and there is little it might’t do. 

Then in fact there’s the same old incredible autofocus and real-time monitoring. Half enabled by the intelligent brains of the digital camera, half by the sensor with its mixed array of 759 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection factors. 

Set the touchscreen to ‘contact to trace’ mode and you’ll simply faucet on a topic and watch because the digital camera retains it in focus – whilst you document video or shoot steady bursts.

As you’d count on from a high-end Sony digital camera, that works rapidly with none extreme looking, holding the topic typically locked in. It would wrestle at occasions with actually fast-moving objects, but it surely’s uncommon for the A1 to drop a body except the topic is not simple to differentiate visually from the background. 

You too can set the digital camera to give attention to faces or eyes – be that folks, animals and birds. Though, but once more, you do must set it to a kind of settings manually earlier than trying it. Wish to shoot your pet? Higher be sure to’ve received ‘animal’ chosen within the AF settings menu. 

With the proper lens connected, the outcomes are nothing wanting scrumptious to take a look at. Pictures are so sharp, that particulars look actually life-like, whereas human faces are very pure wanting. Colors are excellent and you will get some pretty bokeh when stopped down. It has been exhausting to shoot a bad-looking image with this setup.

The great thing about this sensor although as that – as a result of it is such a high-resolution one – you may crop into it with out actually shedding any noticeable element. As you may see from the 100 per cent crops in our pattern collections, above, the element remains to be there. That offers quite a lot of flexibility to shoot and crop till you may have the framing you need. It additionally means you can snap a close-up picture with out having to shoot an extra shot. 

Video capabilities 

  • 8K (7680 x 4320) 10 bit as much as 30p
  • 4K (3840 x 2160) 10 bit as much as 120p
  • Sluggish & Fast modes from 1fps to 240fps 
  • 48kHz 24bit audio recording

With the A1 being all about that sensor and the spectacular burst charges, you can nearly neglect it is greater than well-equipped for video too. Sony permits 8K recording as much as 30fps on the A1, with a big selection of bitrates and frame-rates out there in 4K and 1080p resolutions too. 

At 4K, you may shoot 10-bit video at 60fps, whereas 1080p goes as much as 120fps. On condition that the Sony A7S III additionally shoots 4K at 60fps in 10-bit, it nearly appears a waste to get the A1 over it should you’re primarily a videographer. These additional pixels within the sensor do not actually profit you right here, besides in enabling 8K recording. Which is – as of proper now – not supported on very many screens in any respect. 

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Nonetheless, the autofocus and highly effective engine makes gentle work of any video work you may need to attempt, whereas these ports on the aspect imply you get the flexibility to make use of it any which manner you please – together with plugging in skilled sound recording gear and exterior displays. 

The 5-axis stabilisation additionally implies that capturing handheld is a largely shake-free affair, with any minor wobbles simply handled, and people who aren’t not being very extreme. Or, no less than, simply fixable in submit. 

Efficiency and battery

  • Wi-Fi 2.4GHz/5Ghz help
  • Wired LAN + Bluetooth 5.0
  • NP-FZ100 battery – as much as 530 photographs/90 minutes video
  • Expenses by way of USB-C with Energy Supply help 

The A1 is a beast on the subject of efficiency. Maybe what’s most stunning is that it does not chomp via its battery life. We had only one battery throughout testing and barely felt the necessity to take a battery pack with us when out capturing. 

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In its spec sheet Sony says you may get anyplace between 430 and 530 photographs with a full battery, which is not unhealthy. Or as much as 90 minutes of video recording. That is a stable quantity of longevity from a full cell. Clearly, our makes use of are much less intense than a studio photographer or skilled. For those who’re a kind of who can simply rack up 1,000 photographs very quickly, that is the place a battery pack and the USB-C charging functionality will come in useful. 

Mixed with the efficiency and ease at which the digital camera dealt with every thing we threw at it, the A1 is among the most easy cameras out there. It is an actual workhorse. 

Verdict

There aren’t many cameras on the planet able to doing every thing the A1 can. It is a magnificent machine. From 8K video recording via to intense 50-megapixel bursts at lightning pace, all with out breaking a sweat, it is received just about every thing.

It is protected to say it is a actual funding, and people doubtless to purchase one aren’t simply your informal amateurs or wannabe vloggers and photographers. The individuals who’ll gravitate towards the A1 are those that know precisely what they want from a digital camera in knowledgeable setting and can see the value pay for itself over time, given the outcomes.

For those who’re after primarily a video digital camera (with out 8K) then we expect Sony’s A7S III is a way more good selection given its display design, capturing choices and worth level. The A1, we really feel, is a digital camera for individuals who must seize fast-paced motion in nonetheless pictures.

Positive, the Sony A1 is area of interest and out of attain for many. However those that do attain out and make the leap might be extremely rewarded with an impressive beast. It truly is the one digital camera to rule all of them.

Additionally contemplate

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Sony A7S III

As talked about, should you’re after a video digital camera primarily, the A7S III makes arguably extra sense. No, it is nonetheless not low cost, but it surely’s significantly much less painful to the financial institution stability than the A1. It is nice for low-light too, because of the massive pixels within the comparatively low-resolution sensor. 

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Panasonic Lumix S1

For full-frame goodness with out as huge an outlay, the Lumix S1 represents nice worth for cash. It isn’t as quick because the Sony, and does not function the identical variety of ports, however should you’re on the lookout for a stills digital camera at first then the Leica lens mount means high quality is assured.

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Writing by Cam Bunton. Initially printed on .

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