Sony A1 Field Test Part I: An absolute powerhouse for image resolution, AF and performance
posted Monday, May 3, 2021 at 12:15 PM EDT
Click here to read our Sony A1 Field Test Pt. 1
Sony's full-frame mirrorless series continues to grow and evolve, with the company now offering a variety of models targeting different price points and use-cases. If you're a landscape or portrait photographer in need of amazing resolving power, the high-res 61MP Sony A7R IV is a clear choice. If you're a sports or action photographer, or a photojournalist, the speedy Sony A9 II offers an incredible 20fps capture rate and fast built-in ethernet.
However, what if you needed or wanted a camera that was capable of high-resolution image quality and insane performance? The new Sony Alpha 1 aims to fit that need. Sporting a new 50MP stacked CMOS sensor, the latest-gen BIONZ XR image processing system, updated autofocus, continuous burst shooting at up to a whopping 30fps with C-AF, the Alpha 1 is Sony's premier, flagship full-frame mirrorless camera. The A1 also packs in some incredibly impressive video features, as well, including 8K video recording at 30p and 4K at 120p. On paper, at least, this camera really does sound like the "Swiss Army Knife" of the imaging world; a camera designed to handle almost any task.
I was given the chance to take the new Sony A1 out into the field for a week or so, and during my time with the camera, I came away extremely impressed. I was already thoroughly impressed with the earlier Sony A7R IV, and I thought that camera offered an excellent combination of high-res image quality and performance, even if it "only" shot at up to 10fps. But the Sony Alpha 1 takes things to a new level.
The image quality from the Sony A1 is stunning, and the performance is outstanding. Furthermore, the usability is also excellent, not only from a physical standpoint with lots of user-customizable controls and updated menus but also in terms of features like the new Bird Eye-AF. The A1 adds bird detection to its Real-Time Eye AF tracking, and this feature worked incredibly well, making birding and wildlife photography a really pleasing experience.
As I only had a short time with our A1 review sample, my just-published Field Test Part I only covers a portion of the camera's features and capabilities, including overall image quality and resolving power, autofocusing -- particularly with regard to bird and wildlife photography -- and general performance and responsiveness. I also discuss handling, ergonomics and usability. The A1 sports a fantastic high-res EVF, a nice photo-centric tilting touchscreen with improved touch usability, and a rugged, weather-sealed construction. Overall, given Sony's years of experience and history of producing excellent full-frame mirrorless cameras, my expectations for this flagship, $6500 Sony Alpha camera were already pretty high, and suffice to say, the camera knocked it out the park.
For all my thoughts and details, as well as a wide range of real-world sample images, head over to my Sony Alpha 1 Field Test Part I. There's lots more to cover with our Sony A1 review; we are planning to receive an Alpha 1 sample again, once they become available -- stay tuned!