NEWS & NEW PRODUCTS
Sony tops the headlines in this issue’s news with the arrival of its Alpha 1 full-frame mirrorless camera – try 50 megapixels with 30fps continuous shooting for size. Fujifilm has now packed its 102MP medium format sensor in a more compact body… and the GFX 100S is more affordable too. Panasonic has added a new 70-300mm telezoom to its Lumix S system and, for the classicists, Leica has introduced Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 ASPH, which is a re-issue of the original Noctilux-M 50mm f1/1.2. From Kuvrd comes a new version of its nifty universal lens cap, and Olympus’s camera business begins a new life as OM Digital Solutions.
Sony continues on its merry way to what must surely be eventual dominance of the interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market. As if the A7R IV, A9 II and A7S III didn’t already hit all the right spots, here’s the Alpha 1 which, as you can probably tell from the emphatic model designation, is the alpha male in Sony’s full-frame mirrorless line-up (now numbering nine bodies).
You get the best of all three of those cameras wrapped up in the Alpha 1, which has a 50.1MP sensor, but can also shoot at 30fps and, like the A7S III, delivers 4K UHD video at 120fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 colour. Unlike the A7S III though, it can also shoot 8K video internally at 30fps with 10-bit 4:2:0 colour sampling. Take that Canon! The Alpha 1 also has the fabulous 1.6cm and 9.44-million dots OLED EVF from the A7S III, but souped up further with a refresh rate of 240fps… a world first. And even at 30fps you still get full AF/ AE adjustment (carried out at 120 calculations per second), with a no-blackout viewfinder too. Is there any key spec that Sony hasn’t trumped with the Alpha 1?
The sensor is a brand-new Exmor RS CMOS that combines backside-illuminated and stacked design elements to optimise both sensitivity and speed. The native sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 100 to 32,000 with extensions to ISO 50 and 102,400. Sony is claiming a dynamic range of 15 stops for both stills and video. All the number crunching is done by Sony’s latest generation Bionz XR that enables the 30fps stills shooting and video at 8K/30p or 4K/120p. A large buffer memory enables a burst length of up to 165 best-quality JPEGs or 155 compressed RAW files. Like the
A7S III, the Alpha 1 has dual ‘multi slot’ memory card compartments supporting CFexpress Type A and UHS-II speed SDHC/XC. For the first time on a Sony A series camera there’s the option of a lossless compressed RAW capture mode joining the lossy compressed and uncompressed modes. In addition to JPEGs, the Alpha 1 can also record 10-bit HEIF images with higher definition and a wide colour gamut. Additionally, there’s a new ‘Light’ compression setting for both JPEGs and HEIFs for smaller file sizes to allow for the faster delivery of sports and news pics.
The Alpha 1 has in-body image stabilisation of up to 5.5 stops of correction for camera shake and five-axis movement when combined with optically stabilised lenses. An ‘Active Mode’ adds electronic stabilisation to enable smoother handheld video shooting Sensor shifting is also used to deliver ‘Pixel Shift Multi Shooting’ that generates 16 images to merge into one with a resolution of, ahem, 199MP.
There’s a new mechanical shutter with carbonfibre blades, and a dual drive system employing both a spring and electromagnetic actuator for both lightness and durability.
Flash sync is possible up to 1/400 second. Furthermore, with the electronic shutter (specifically the ‘electronic first curtain shutter’) flash sync is now at up to 1/200 second. The mechanical shutter automatically closes when the camera is switched off, so the sensor is protected when the lens is removed. The autofocusing is the same updated hybrid system that debuted in the A7S III, using 759 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection to give 92% frame coverage and EV -6.0 low-light sensitivity. The AI-based object-recognition tracking now has a new mode for birds, in addition to the existing ones for humans and animals.
Needless to note, the Alpha 1 has a fully weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, but it also employs the same passive heat sink arrangement as the A7S III to enable video recording at high bit rates for durations of up to an hour. It also has this camera’s 16-bit RAW video output (at 4K/60p) over HDMI, which is, again, a full-size Type A connector. Wi-Fi connectivity supports both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands (the latter with 2x2 MIMO support), and there’s also a built-in 1000BASE-T LAN connector. The camera’s
USB Type-C connector allows tethered shooting and in-camera battery recharging. The Alpha 1 also uses the higher-capacity NP-FZ100 lithium-ion pack and can be fitted with the optional VG-C4EM battery grip.
Not surprisingly, all this comes at a price and a Sony Alpha 1 body will set you back $10,499. It’s available in Australia now and for more information visit www.sony.com.au.