Sony A1 Comparison Review
The Sony A1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that was officially introduced in January 2021 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 49.8 megapixel.
Is the Sony A1 a good camera? The A1 has a Camera Elo of 3188. This very strong rating puts it among the elite group of camera grand masters. The A1 ranks among the top 10 percent of all mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the A1 also ranks among the top 10 percent.
|Mirrorless system camera|
|Sony E mount lenses|
|49.8 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|ISO 100 - 32 000 (500 - 102 400)|
|Electronic viewfinder (9437k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 1440k dots|
|10 shutter flaps per second|
|530 shots per battery charge|
|129 x 97 x 81 mm, 737 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
The physical dimensions of the Sony A1 relative to a credit card are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Sony A1 alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|1.||Sony A1||129 mm||97 mm||81 mm||737 g||530||Y||Jan 2021||6,499||amazon.com|
|2.||Canon R5||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||738 g||320||Y||Jul 2020||3,899||amazon.com|
|3.||Sony A7 IV||131 mm||96 mm||80 mm||659 g||580||Y||Oct 2021||2,499||amazon.com|
|4.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499||amazon.com|
|5.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799||amazon.com|
|6.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499||amazon.com|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499||amazon.com|
|8.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|9.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199||ebay.com|
|10.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||ebay.com|
|11.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Sony A1 was launched in the US market at a price of $6,499. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
The Sony A1 features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Sony A1 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of alternative cameras.
|1.||Sony A1||Full Frame||49.8||8640||5760||8k/30p||25.9||14.5||3163||98|
|2.||Canon R5||Full Frame||44.8||8192||5464||8K/30p||25.3||14.6||3042||95|
|3.||Sony A7 IV||Full Frame||32.7||7008||4672||4K/60p||25.4||14.7||3379||97|
|4.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|5.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|6.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|8.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|9.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|10.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|11.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A1 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the A1 can use is 8k/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A1 has an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 9437k dots. The viewfinder offers a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.9x. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A1 and comparable cameras.
|1.||Sony A1||9437||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|2.||Canon R5||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Sony A7 IV||3686||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|4.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0 / 1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Sony A7C||2360||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|6.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|8.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|9.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The LCD screen on the Sony A1 is flexibly attached to the body. In particular, the LCD can be tilted vertically to facilitate odd-angle shots in landscape orientation. This tilting design is often preferred, for example, by street photographers to a fully articulated, swivel type of LCD attachment, as it is more unobtrusive during shooting than a screen that flips out to the side.
One feature that differentiates the A1 from many older cameras is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A1 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while cameras without IBIS have to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony A1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Sony A1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Canon R5||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|3.||Sony A7 IV||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Sony A7C||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A1 has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A1. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).
|1.||Sony A1||5/5||o||4.5/5||93/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2021||6,499||amazon.com|
|2.||Canon R5||4.5/5||+||4/5||91/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2020||3,899||amazon.com|
|3.||Sony A7 IV||5/5||+ +||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2021||2,499||amazon.com|
|4.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||5/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499||amazon.com|
|5.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799||amazon.com|
|6.||Sony A9 II||..||..||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499||amazon.com|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||4.5/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499||amazon.com|
|8.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||4.5/5||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||amazon.com|
|9.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199||ebay.com|
|10.||Sony A99 II||..||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||ebay.com|
|11.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Sony A1 FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the A1.
What is the technology behind the imaging sensor in the A1?
The camera is build around a Stacked BSI-CMOS (Stacked Backside Illuminated Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.
Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?
Sony equipped the A1 with the Dual BIONZ XR image processor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the A1?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 32000.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Sony A1?
Sony mentions a shutter rating of 500 000 actuations for the A1. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the A1 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 500 pictures each and every day.
Is completely silent shooting possible with the Sony A1?
The camera has an electronic shutter option, so that it is indeed feasible to capture images without any shutter noise.
Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?
No, the Sony A1 has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.
Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Sony A1?
The A1 offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.
Does the Sony A1 feature an autofocus assist light?
Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.
What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?
The A1's flash sync speed is 1/400 sec.
Does the Sony A1 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?
Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-II cards (data transfer speed of up to 312 MB/s).
Which battery does the A1 use?
Is there a vertical grip available for the A1?
Yes, Sony offers the VG-C4EM as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.
Where can I find the best deals for the A1?
Camera to camera comparisons
If you would like to see a side-by-side review with another camera, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
|Camera Model||Sony A1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2021|
|Launch Price||USD 6 499|
|Sensor Technology||Stacked BSI-CMOS|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||862 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||49.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8 640 x 5 760 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.16 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||8k/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 32 000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||500 - 102 400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Dual BIONZ XR|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||98|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3163|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||9437k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|LCD Size||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen|
|V-logging Friendliness||No front-flip|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||500 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||Electronic Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||Intervalometer Built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CFexA or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2|
|HDMI Port||full HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||NP-FZ100 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||530 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging|
129 x 97 x 81 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||737 g (26.0 oz)|
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