FAQ: Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Camera

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Cameras are getting more and more technical and seem to add new features, formats, and codecs every year. The Sony Alpha 1, or a1, is one of the most advanced cameras ever released and, because of that, there is a ton of questions that need to be asked and answered. Below you’ll find a list of all the answers we have compiled so far.

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IMAGING | VIDEO | DESIGN | GENERAL

IMAGING

What resolution is the a1?

The a1 is equipped with a newly developed full-frame 50.1MP Exmor RS stacked CMOS sensor. This should provide users with outstanding detail and dynamic range.

What is a “stacked” sensor?

Sony’s Exmor RS, or stacked, sensor design uses a combination of technologies to improve low-light performance and readout speeds. It uses a back-illuminated design to ensure each photosite (pixel) receives as much light as possible and adds a DRAM memory chip mounted on the rear of the sensor for ultra-fast off-loading of image data. The on-chip memory increases shooting speeds, reduces the impact of rolling shutter, and allows for faster video frame rates.

What does "back-illuminated" mean in terms of sensor design?

In literal terms, it means the wiring is moved below the light-receptive layer, allowing light to directly hit the receptive layer. Practically, this is more efficient for capturing light, so there will be less noise and better image quality.

What is HEIF?

HEIF, or High-Efficiency Image File, is a newer compressed image format. It’s similar to JPEG but can be much smaller and offer better quality due to increased compression efficiency. You may have seen it in use on your latest smartphone. Other benefits of HEIFs over standard JPEGs are that they can support 10-bit 4:2:2 color, as opposed to JPEG’s 8-bit limitation. This means more detail, more dynamic range, and more color fidelity. The only problem is that support is not yet widespread, so be careful and test it on your devices and with your software before you use it.

What is the dynamic range?

Sony has measured the a1 to record images with up to 15 stops of dynamic range.

What is the fastest continuous shooting?

The a1 can reach 30 fps with the electronic shutter or 10 fps with the mechanical shutter, both with full AF/AE. However, 30 fps is possible only with compressed raw or JPEG/HEIF.

What lenses support 30 fps shooting?

Sony has indicated that only lenses featuring linear autofocus motors will fully support this fastest continuous shooting rate.

What shutter speeds are available for the different shutters?

The mechanical shutter can shoot from 1/8000 to 30 seconds, or in bulb. The electronic shutter offers speeds of 1/32000 to 30 seconds.

How long can I shoot at 30 fps?

You can shoot for up to 155 consecutive compressed raw frames, or 165 JPEGs, in a single burst.

Is there a lossless compressed raw?

Yes! Sony has added a lossless compressed raw option. The existing uncompressed and compressed options still exist.

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VIDEO

Is there a global shutter?

No, the a1 uses a more common rolling shutter. This electronic rolling shutter’s readout speed has been improved over previous models.

Is there a recording limit?

No, the a1 has unlimited recording and eliminates the 30-minute limit found in many older cameras.

What are the 4K modes?

The a1 can record 4K at up to 120p.

Is the camera 10-bit?

Yes, the camera can record internally in 10-bit for all modes, including 8K 30p and 4K 120p.

Does the a1 oversample?

Yes, the a1 will oversample from the full 8.6K sensor area when recording 8K. It will also oversample from a 5.8k Super 35mm area in crop shooting for 4K.

Is there line skipping or pixel binning?

Sony does not explicitly confirm this; however, it only calls out oversampling for 8K or when shooting 4K with Super 35mm/APS-C crop. This would indicate some other form of resolution reduction is used for 4K and Full HD when shooting full-frame imagery.

Does the a1 have S-Cinetone?

Yes! The a1 comes with S-Cinetone for beautiful out-of-camera imagery and matching with Sony’s Cinema Line cameras, such as the FX6 and VENICE.

How long can I record in 8K?

Sony has rated the camera to record in 8K for ~30 minutes before overheating may become an issue. Please be aware that this may require changing the Temperature Setting in the camera to “High” and may vary based on environmental conditions.

Can I output 8K over HDMI?

Yes, you can output an 8K 8-bit 4:2:0 signal over HDMI.

Can I record raw video?

Yes, the a1 supports raw video output. However, this will require a supported, separately available external recorder. The camera will output a 4.3K (4332 x 2448) 16-bit linear raw signal at up to 60p.

Will it support the XLR-K3M XLR Adapter?

Yes, it will support the XLR-K3M via the Multi Interface Shoe. The a7S III also supports higher-quality 4-channel 24-bit audio from this configuration.

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DESIGN

What lens mount does the a1 have?

The a1 features the Sony E mount. This makes it compatible with all full-frame E-mount lenses, often labeled as “FE” by Sony. It will also support APS-C E-mount lenses in a crop (reduced-resolution) mode.

Does the screen tilt or articulate?

Sony has opted to use a tilting screen on the a1, not a fully articulating screen.

What batteries does it use? Can I use my current batteries?

The a1 uses the same NP-FZ100 batteries as other recent full-frame Alpha cameras.

Can I use a battery grip?

Yes, the camera will work with the VG-C4EM Battery Grip.

Can I power it from an external source?

Yes, the camera will support USB Power Delivery via the USB Type-C port. With a sufficient power delivery device, this can keep the camera powered indefinitely, although a battery will need to be in the camera at all times.

Is there a built-in ND filter?

No, there is not a built-in ND filter.

What memory cards does the a1 use?

The a1 has two dual CFexpress Type A/SD card slots. This means you can use either a CFexpress Type A or UHS-II/UHS-I SD card in either slot.

Do I need CFexpress cards?

Select modes require CFexpress Type A cards, though the extra speed is recommended anyway for high continuous shooting and video. These modes won’t work without CFexpress:

  • S&Q Mode: 4K XAVC S-I at 100p or 120p

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GENERAL

Has the menu system been changed?

Yes, Sony implemented a new menu structure that supports the touchscreen and should be easier to navigate.

Can I have different settings for stills and movies?

Yes, Sony has made it so many functions and settings can have different defaults depending on whether you are in stills or movie mode.

Can I save my custom settings to a memory card for use on other cameras?

Yes, you can export custom settings and then load them onto another camera. You can also save settings to load for specific situations.

Is there a built-in GPS?

No, but location data can be tagged by connecting to Sony's Imaging Edge mobile app on a smartphone.

How is the weather sealing?

This is a very well-sealed mirrorless camera designed for demanding professional workflows and can comfortably operate in less-than-ideal conditions.

How much does the camera weigh?

The camera’s listed weight is 1.6 lb, or 737 g, for the body only.

Where is the camera made?

Thailand.

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If you have a question not listed here or just need some extra help, please make sure to leave it in the Comments section, below. You can also contact our knowledgeable sales staff with more specific inquiries and to help find your next camera.

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