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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.

camera

Is the Sony A1 a good camera? The A1 has a Camera Elo of 3199. 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.

Headline Specifications
Sony A1
Mirrorless system camera
Sony E mount lenses
49.8 MP, Full Frame Sensor
8k/30p Video
ISO 100 - 32 000 (500 - 102 400)
Electronic viewfinder (9437k dots)
3.0 LCD, 1440k dots
Tilting touchscreen
10 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilization
Weathersealed body
530 shots per battery charge
129 x 97 x 81 mm, 737 g


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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.

Sony A1 vs credit card front
A1 versus credit card top view
A1 and credit card rear side

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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Sony A1 129 mm 97 mm 81 mm 737 g 530 Y Jan 2021 6,499 i
2.
 
Canon R5 138 mm 98 mm 88 mm 738 g 320 Y Jul 2020 3,899 i
3.
 
Nikon Z7 II 134 mm 101 mm 70 mm 705 g 420 Y Oct 2020 2,999 i
4.
 
Sony A7S III 127 mm 97 mm 81 mm 699 g 600 Y Jul 2020 3,499 i
5.
 
Sony A7C 124 mm 71 mm 60 mm 509 g 740 Y Sep 2020 1,799 i
6.
 
Sony A9 II 129 mm 96 mm 76 mm 678 g 690 Y Oct 2019 4,499 i
7.
 
Sony A7R IV 129 mm 96 mm 78 mm 665 g 670 Y Jul 2019 3,499 i
8.
 
Sony A7 III 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i
9.
 
Sony A7R III 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199i
10.
 
Sony A99 II 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i
11.
 
Sony A7R II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199i
Notes: 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.

Sony A1:
Check Amazon price

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.

Sony A1 sensor measures

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.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Sony A1 Full Frame 49.8 8640 57608k/30p25.914.5316398
2.
 
Canon R5 Full Frame 44.8 8192 54648k/30p25.314.6304295
3.
 
Nikon Z7 II Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/60p26.314.72841100
4.
 
Sony A7S III Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/120p23.713.9252086
5.
 
Sony A7C Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7340795
6.
 
Sony A9 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.0343493
7.
 
Sony A7R IV Full Frame 60.2 9504 63364K/30p26.014.8334499
8.
 
Sony A7 III Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096
9.
 
Sony A7R III Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100
10.
 
Sony A99 II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
11.
 
Sony A7R II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498

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.

Feature comparison

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.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Sony A19437 n3.0 / 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
2.
 
Canon R55760 Y3.2 / 2100 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
3.
 
Nikon Z7 II3690 Y3.2 / 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
4.
 
Sony A7S III9440 n3.0 / 1440 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
5.
 
Sony A7C2360 n3.0 / 922 swivel Y 1/4000s 10.0 n Y
6.
 
Sony A9 II3686 n3.0 / 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
7.
 
Sony A7R IV5760 n3.0 / 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
8.
 
Sony A7 III2359 n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
9.
 
Sony A7R III3686 n3.0 / 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
10.
 
Sony A99 II2400 Y3.0 / 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
11.
 
Sony A7R II2400 n3.0 / 1229 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y

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.

articulated screen
Flexible screen on the A1

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.

Connection comparison

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.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Sony A1Ystereo / monoYYfull3.2Y-Y
2.
 
Canon R5Ymono / monoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
3.
 
Nikon Z7 IIYstereo / monoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
4.
 
Sony A7S IIIYstereo / monoYYfull3.2Y-Y
5.
 
Sony A7CYstereo / monoYYmicro3.2YYY
6.
 
Sony A9 IIYstereo / monoYYmicro3.1YYY
7.
 
Sony A7R IVYstereo / monoYYmicro3.1YYY
8.
 
Sony A7 IIIYstereo / monoYYmicro3.1YYY
9.
 
Sony A7R IIIYstereo / monoYYmicro3.1YYY
10.
 
Sony A99 IIYstereo / monoYYmicro2.0YYY
11.
 
Sony A7R IIYstereo / monoYYmicro2.0YY-

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.

Expert reviews

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]).

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Review Scores
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Sony A15/5o4.5/593/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2021 6,499 i
2.
 
Canon R54.5/5+4/591/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2020 3,899 i
3.
 
Nikon Z7 II4.5/5..4.5/5..4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2020 2,999 i
4.
 
Sony A7S III..+ +5/591/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2020 3,499 i
5.
 
Sony A7C3.5/5..3.5/586/1004/54/5 Sep 2020 1,799 i
6.
 
Sony A9 II....5/590/1005/55/5 Oct 2019 4,499 i
7.
 
Sony A7R IV5/5+4.5/591/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2019 3,499 i
8.
 
Sony A7 III..+ +4.5/589/1005/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i
9.
 
Sony A7R III..+ +4/590/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199i
10.
 
Sony A99 II....4.5/585/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i
11.
 
Sony A7R II5/5+ +5/590/1005/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199i
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 BSI-CMOS (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?

The camera gets its power from the NP-FZ100 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

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?

Grey imports from Asia, as found on eBay, are often very attractively priced. However, these cameras come without a warranty from Sony.

Camera to camera comparisons

If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications Summary
    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 Specs
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 862 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    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
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.9x
    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
    Touch Input Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peaking
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 10 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy500 000 actuations
    Silent ShootingElectronic Shutter
    Time Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer Built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CFexpress or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots
    UHS card support UHS-II
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    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
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-FZ100 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)530 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 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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