Sony Announces the Alpha 1 Full-Frame Camera

As anticipated some days ago with the launch of a YouTube teaser, Sony surprised everyone with their first announcement of the year, pushing the barrier of numerous technologies as well as brought us technology that has previously been impossible.
If you missed the live streaming here are the details: 8k video, 50 megapixels at 30fps, 9.44 million dot EVF with no blackout, and I think this is pretty much enough the point, at least for now.

“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.”

In the heart of the Sony a1, there is a 50.1-megapixel full-frame Exmor RS CMOS image sensor capable of 15-stops of dynamic range, in combination with an upgraded BIONZ XR imaging processing engine with eight times more processing power compared to the BIONZ X processor.
High-speed readout from the sensor and a large buffer memory makes it possible to shoot up to 155 full-frame compressed RAW images or 165 full-frame JPEG images at up to 30 frames per second with the electronic shutter while maintaining full AF and AE tracking performance, autofocus technology that enables up to 120 autofocus calculations per second, which is double the speed of the a9 II.

The ISO sensitivity is available between 100-32,000 (expandable to 50-102,400 when shooting stills). The camera offers a stabilization unit as well as gyro sensors that should provide up to a 5.5-step shutter speed advantage. The camera also includes the Active Mode that further boosts stabilization.

The camera has a 9.44M dot OLED viewfinder that can be refreshed at up to 240fps. The faster mode still offers 1600×1200 pixel (5.76M dot) resolution. It has an impressive 0.9x magnification and an eye-point of 25mm, which should allow the finder to be seen even when wearing glasses.

It also features a silent, vibration-free electronic shutter that features the world’s first anti-flicker shooting with both mechanical and electronic shutter. Additionally, the Alpha 1 is capable of electronic shutter flash sync up to 1/200 second and up to 1/400 second with the mechanical shutter (this extends to 1/500 when shooting in APS-C crop mode) thanks to what the company is calling its dual driven shutter.

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 system, 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 birds, 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 changes.

When it comes to video recording, the Alpha 1 is capable of 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video recording in XAVC-HS. The image is oversampled from the full 8.6K sensor for sharp results. Furthermore, the Sony Alpha 1 is capable of 4K 120p and 60p in 10-bit 4:2:2 in both efficient Long GOP inter-frame compression as well as All-I intra-frame compression. For the first time in an Alpha camera, Sony also included the S-Cinetone color profile.

Just like the Sony a7S III, the new Alpha 1 also offers 16-bit RAW video output via its full-size HDMI port. The camera additionally offers a Super35 crop mode for 4K videos from an oversampled 5.8K full-pixel readout mode.

For photojournalists and sports shooters needing to deliver pictures immediately, it features dual-band Wi-Fi that allows FTP transfers and 3.5x the rate offered by the a9 II: which Sony presumably expects to be used with its new Xperia Pro smartphone/HDR monitor/5G transmitter. There’s also an Ethernet port for wired connections.

The Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable-Lens Camera will be available in March 2021 for approximately $6,500.

More info on Sony’s website.

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