Sony Just Destroyed the Competition With New Sony a1 Mirrorless Camera

Sony has long been leading the way in the mirrorless market, but over the last year, Canon and Nikon have been trying to scratch and claw their way to the top. Today, Sony has sealed their fate.  

In a recent article, I asked the question “is lack of competition slowing camera innovation?”. And for a brief overview, I think that Sony has dominated the mirrorless market so heavily, that it has essentially stalled innovation. I feel this has to do with the competition spending all their R&D money trying to play catchup which simultaneously leads to Sony not needing to release any sort of crazy innovations. Instead, they released features that I view as more iterative rather than innovative. Things like slightly better and faster AF or slightly higher megapixel sensors. In the article, I said, “why release a race car that can go 300 miles per hour when the competition is still racing go-karts”. But recently, Canon and Nikon have begun to take the mirrorless market seriously. So Sony just dropped their 300 mile per hour car into the market. 

The Sony a1

With the new Sony a1 camera release, Sony has pushed the barrier of numerous technologies as well as brought us technology that has previously been impossible. The first of these innovations come with the sensor. The new Sony a1 now has a 50.1MP sensor paired with a new BIONZ XR imaging processor that is eight times more powerful. What this allows is for the Sony a1 to shoot at a blistering and blackout-free 30fps. You can literally shoot full-resolution raw images at a higher speed than traditionally used video frame rates. This is all done completely silently using the electronic shutter and the buffer can hold up to 155 compressed raws or 165 JPEGS.  

The electronic shutter on the Sony a1 is also similar to that of the Sony A9 in the sense that it has a minimal rolling shutter. In fact, on my Sony a9, I have never noticed any rolling shutter when taking stills and this new Sony a1 reduces any rolling shutter by 1.5 times. All while giving you better autofocus. 

For the AF, the camera features 759 phase-detection points that cover 92% of the image sensor. The real-time AF tracking has also seen a performance increase of 30% over the previous a9 II and also features eye-AF for humans, animals, and birds. With the new image processor, the camera will actually take 120 AF/AE calculations per second which is double that of the a9 II and it will still work when shooting at 30FPS. 

Strobists Rejoice 

One area where the Sony a1 is making leaps in innovation is in terms of using flash. Most cameras are limited to flash sync speeds of 1/250th of a second or lower. Not only that, but you can’t use flash at all when using the silent shutter. But the Sony a1 can achieve a world's first for mechanical shutters and get you 1/400th of a second sync speed. It can also get you 1/200th of a second sync speed when using the electronic shutter. That means you can get the same sync speed using the silent shutter as the new Canon R5/R6 and Nikon Z 7II mechanical shutters. If you use the mechanical shutter on the a1, you'll get double that of the competition.

What About Video?

The Sony a1 offers an impressive 8k/30p in 10-bit along with the ability to shoot 4k/120p in 10-bit with 15+ stops of dynamic range (15 stops for stills). It also features the same S-Cinetone color matrix as seen on the FX9 and FX6 to give you that amazing cinematic look everyone always wants. You can also record using the built-in image stabilization that will give you 5 axis stabilization with a 5.5 step shutter speed advantage. The Sony a1 also features a unique heat dissipating structure that allows the camera to shoot 8K/30p for up to 30-minutes while maintaining the small body form found with the other Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras in their lineup. 

Other Features 

A few other features worth noting. The Sony a1 has an electronic viewfinder that is a 0.64-type 9.44 million dot OLED Quad-XGA that gives you the world's first 240fps refresh rate. The camera also gives you the world's first anti-flicker shooting with both the mechanical shutter and Electronic shutter. And for those that need fast access to their images, the a1 also features the industry's fastest built-in Wi-Fi, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, and 1000BASE-T Ethernet. There is also a revised menu system, diverse image output (compressed, lossless, HEIF, “Light” JPEG/HEIF, and more), an improved dust removal feature, and it’s dust and moisture resistant. There is also a new feature that closes the mechanical shutter when the power is off to help protect the sensor from dust when changing lenses. 

You can pre-order the Sony a1 now for $6,500. Which may give a lot of photographers sticker shock. But given the mass amount of innovations and “world's firsts”, I think they have more than justified the price tag.  


Jason Vinson's picture

Jason Vinson is a wedding and portrait photographer for Vinson Images based out of Bentonville, Arkansas. Ranked one of the Top 100 Wedding photographers in the World, he has a passion for educating and sharing his craft.

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Oh good another fancy camera I can't afford.

By Ansel Adams beard... That is one super expensive camera.

Price aside - it is a marvel of technology. However, I'm more interested in hearing real world experience with it than the fancy marketing.

Right, I get that this is pre-order, and sounds absolutely impressive. But this entire article sounds like it was written by Sony marketing. Not a single hesitation, doubt, query or question, just "superlative this", "superlative that", "superlative more more more", "Canon dead, Nikon dead!".

Agreed. A few sentences beginning with words such as, "If this camera lives up to the marketing hype..." or "If Sony can deliver a user experience with this camera that lives up to the spec sheet..." or "We realize this camera is really pushing the possibilities of what a high resolution camera can do, but we are confident that Sony...." Would have made this article much better and much more responsible from a journalistic perspective.

and, "If this camera doesn't overheat".

Excellent news. Now all I have to do is to wait for those features to filter down to less expensive camera ranges, whilst looking out for stunning photographs that just couldn't be taken with out them.

Jason- Does your "...passion for education" make you write article headlines that sound totally inane and fanboyish? I guess you have enough audience that likes your writing style. Canon, Nikon nor Sony can destroy the competition. They can up the ante for over the top specs that most of the audience isn't in the market for. Any serious videographer would use a cine camera, which Sony and Canon make.

I better start posting the Canon gear for sale and prepare to switch to Sony...then switch back when Canon announces the R1...then prepare to buy Nikons response. Or I can simply grow as a photographer and work with what I've got.

I agree, gears doesn’t matter anymore. Those days photographers focus too much on gears. They should spend their time on creating beautiful works. Bunch of photographers who caters toward reviewing gears and have tendency to switch brands tends to put out subpar work.

These types of responses are equally as bad - and quite often hypocritical - as the (bad) gear heads all of you decry. But switching or upgrading in itself is not the issue itself. The REASON one changes is the issue. If someone is a good photographer and can afford to upgrade or have different tools - salud! But don't begrudge them - it says a lot more about yourself. And for those that talk about gear, um for many that's their JOB. It's like dissing on Top Gear for talking about a Lambo.
TLDR: lighten up. Live and let live.

Gears definitely helps. Same time it's better to focus on creativity and create work. In old days photographers have limited technology yet they still blow most photographers out today that have newer gears. Likes of Albert Watson, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, and others. I agree with you on comparing top gears talking about Lambo.

Bad analogy, Top Gear USED to be a motoring review show. It is now very much an entertainment show. Unless you are suggesting that Fstoppers is an entertainment site (in which case they'd better step their bloody game up! lol)

Some Youtuber will claim that all other cameras are now WORTHLESS.

Also don't forget to do a video about "why you switched"!

Yeah, when I look at Flickr photos from 10 years ago, there are some stunning ones I will never be able to make, and they didn't have gear of this caliber.

Some Youtuber will claim that all other cameras are now WORTHLESS.

Whaooah! Can't wait see real world wrecking. :D

Regarding the "world's first" comment about flash sync speed: The Nikon D1, D1x and D1h could sync at 1/500 with any strobe or speedlight. It would actually go beyond that with strobes that had a 1/1000 duration.

Yoooooooooooooo looks like i'm buying that nikon D1x i found on craigslist lol. it's only $65!
I wanna play with that sync speed!

Those are ASPC sensor sizes though. I'm referring to full-frame cameras. I'll update the article to be more clear. Thanks! :)

The Nikon D70 also had 1/500 If I remember correctly

Damn this sounds like my dream camera... but dat price!

If only you didn’t short that Tesla stock, it would have been gum money. Hope all is well in Puerto Rico!

If only I'd bought calls. I could have afforded to buy all of Sony.

Pretty sure I paid 8k for my Nikon D3x 7 or 8 years ago.

The Youtube promo video looks very impressive... but what amused me the most was all the people crying that it doesn't have an articulated screen, gotta get that vlogging right with the £6500 camera lol.

oh man... it's funny but that is actually a deal breaker for me. I will never buy another camera that doesn't have an articulating screen. I use it every time I shoot video.

I figured by now all new cameras would have articulated screens like all cars have FM radios.
I use the articulating screen all the time when shooting on a tripod at waist level...sort of like using a Hassy or RZ.

For my shooting purposes the Fuji 3 way tilt is better. And my point was more spending £6500 on a camera and not wanting to use an external recorder/monitor, it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of smaller, lighter options for doing video work handheld where that type of screen is needed.

Possibly they want you to use their new 2500 USD 4k HDR OLED phone, announced at the same time as this camera (Xperia Pro). Designed to act as a 4k monitor exactly for this purpose.

I darent even look at that, my work phone is a Sony Xperia haha, it’s not great.

My personal phone is an Xperia 1 II... it IS great (not so much if you like iPhone/Pixel computational photography). But if you want a phone with a camera as close to an Alpha as possible, this is it.

The Xperia Pro however looks like a dead duck. I doubt the number that they sell to 'in the field' professionals who would actually need those features will cover the cost of producing it.

I looked..... I can’t unsee it now, wow, mind..................blown

It may be crap and not be capable of making a simple phonecall, who knows, but it sure is expensive :-)

That art of photography guy already on YouTube telling us it’s a must have lol

Deal breaker? An external recorder and it's screen are going to give you a much better experience. I mean if you're vlogging, at a distance, the detail on a small 3-in screen isn't going to be nearly as good as a 5-in atmos...

Every time I lay on the ground behind my a7rIV because I'm doing a vertically focus stack close to the ground I wish it would have an articulated screen ;D

The 3 way tilt on my X-T2 satisfies all those requirements.

I am not on the fanboy train for any camera manufacturer. For me it is just a tool. I switched a few times for different reasons. I am also not particularly fond of Sony.

But I like that Sony forces other manufacturers to innovate. Competition is good for the market. I am happy with my Z7 but if everybody has to up their game - good for us photographers...

Too bad the lenses are generic and overpriced. Oh, and $8500 CAD will get you medium format and a lens these days. I know it’s a different tool for a different job but still. Can’t wait to see what the canon R1 does

Ya know there's a ton of of excellent 3rd party lenses... often under 2/3rds or even 1/2 the price. Sony provides open protocols. Canon and Nikon are woefully thin there and you are going to eat the same prices for about the same quality.

Only $6500 you say..

How many times Nikon and Canon were "killed"? Shouldn't they be completely dead by now?

They keep respawning

I didn't say "killed" a single time so I'm not sure of the reference. But a Ferrari will destroy a Honda Civic, but there are still plenty of people that buy a Honda. Just because something is better in every way doesn't mean people can justify spending to get it. There are also people that are fully invested in a camera brand and it would be an even larger expense to switch systems.

That analogy isn't a good one, as if the Sony is the Ferrari and the other brands are the Honda Civic, I know which one will run up the most expensive repair bills and be the most unreliable..

Synonyms for destroyed

annihilated, creamed, decimated, demolished, desolated, devastated, did in, extinguished, nuked, pulled down, pulverized, razed, rubbed out, ruined, shattered, smashed, tore down, totaled (or totalled), vaporized, wasted, wracked, wrecked
Words Related to destroyed

beat, bested, clobbered, conquered, crushed, defeated, drubbed, licked, mastered, overbore, overcame, overmatched, prevailed (over), routed, scotched, skunked, subdued, surmounted, thrashed, trimmed, triumphed (over), trounced, walloped, whipped, won (against)
blasted, blew up, broke, crippled, damaged, defaced, deteriorated, disfigured, disintegrated, dissolved, dynamited, harmed, impaired, injured, mangled, marred, mutilated, spoiled (or chiefly British spoilt), vitiated
eroded, scoured, swept (away), washed out, wore (away)
dilapidated, disassembled, dismantled, gutted, took down, unbuilt, undid, unmade
blotted out, effaced, eradicated, expunged, exterminated, extirpated, liquidated, obliterated, removed, rooted (out), snuffed (out), stamped (out), wiped out
despoiled, havocked, looted, pillaged, plundered, ravaged, sacked, trampled, trashed, vandalized
assassinated, butchered, cut down, dispatched, executed, felled, killed, killed off, massacred, mowed (down), murdered, slaughtered, slew, took out, zapped


Deed to me :)

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