After the release of the Sony a7s III, the Alpha 1 announcement from Sony was a bit of a head-scratcher. We waited years for the a7s II update, and we finally got one with a host of amazing features. It was undeniably a hit, and I'm regularly surprised at just how many of my friends bought one. Then along came the Alpha 1, coming in at nearly twice the price, but offering a jump into 8K video.

Why would Sony release a camera with "superior" video specs shortly after the release of the 4K a7S III?  It didn't make a lot of sense. So when Sony offered us a chance to shoot with it for two weeks, we jumped at the chance. 

Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Sony Alpha 1
  • 50.1MP full-frame stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor with integral memory
  • 8x more powerful, next-generation BIONZ XR image processing engine
  • 50.1MP RAW+JPEG up to 30fps with 120 AF/AE calculations per sec.
  • Blackout-free shooting up to 30fps from fast sensor readout speed
  • World's first 240 fps refresh rate, 9.44M dot 0.64" QXGA OLED EVF
  • World's first anti-flicker mechanical and electronic shutter

What is it? 

The Alpha 1 is the latest flagship camera from Sony. It has a brand new sensor design that outputs 8K video, has amazing autofocus, and takes super fast stills while coming at a price premium that's steep enough you could potentially get two a7S III cameras for the same money. So is it worth it?

Shooting with it is a joy, but fundamentally didn't feel radically different from the a7s III. Autofocus is great, but no big surprise there. Sony is killing it on that front. Ergonomically they are very similar cameras and perform in similar ways, so if you are already an Alpha shooter or considering moving over, the A1 will feel completely normal.



The big headline feature is 8K resolution. While the a7s III rolled out with 4K, which we thought was very smart (better pixels always matter over more pixels). The 8K lets Sony continue to compete with cameras from Canon and Nikon that have that high-end marketing number at a price point that comes in a hair higher.

It has to be said, while early reviewers weren't that impressed with the 8K resolution, we found it to be a noticeable bump up in quality when cropping in. At 4K resolution and not-punched, the footage intercuts very well. But when you need the reframing, either for stabilization or to avoid jump cuts, the 8K from the Alpha 1 was truly appreciated. 

The 8K is a noticeable improvement over the images from the a7s III, but you could buy two a7s IIIs for the price of the Alpha 1. Since most people are still finishing 4K, the argument for 8K is often, "You get a wide shot and a medium shot from one angle."

But we'd rather buy those two a7s III cameras and shoot your wide and medium shot from slightly different angles instead of just punching in.

Plus, the difference in quality in 8K is not really "twice" as much, whatever twice is in quality. It's better, but not double. However, where it's really clutch is in stabilization, since you can crop to stabilize, and Sony of course includes internal accelerometers that can offer tremendous benefits in post stabilization using Sony's proprietary software Catalyst Browse. 



We didn't have any heat issues in our office tests, but the second we were shooting for real and set up the Alpha 1 as a C-camera in the field, it overheated almost immediately. We gave it time to cool, and it was able to get back into action, but it was a bummer to have a camera overheat and shut itself down in the thick of things. 

Heat issues aren't surprising in any camera going for new resolutions (the Canon R5 and even the old 5D had them), but it's something to be conscious of depending on what kinds of jobs you might want to use this for.


One thing that makes this camera make more sense is the release of the Atomos Ninja V+.  8K internal is the issue that leads to overheating: it's just a lot of data for a little camera body to wrap into a recording format. With an external recorder like the Ninja V+, you offload that processing to an external unit and can get straight 8K ProRes files and proxies ready to edit with a much smaller to non-existent chance of overheating.

Of course, that adds another $1,500 to the package price, but you end up with a camera platform capable of 8K recording, pretty stellar autofocus, great low light, and cheap SSD media.

That said, the Atomos Ninja V+ doesn't yet support 8K on the Sony Alpha 1, just the Canon R5. Hopefully, that will change soon. The a7s III and Ninja V is a popular combo, and we could imagine the Alpha 1 and Ninja V+ could have similar popularity.


After so many of the "early" reviewers not being excited by the Alpha 1, maybe I was primed with low expectations, but I found myself really liking it. If nothing else, shooting with the Alpha 1 made us love the a7s III even more.

The images are similar, the functions are similar, but you can afford an a7s III, and if you need a B-camera operator with the same unit, you'll find plenty of folks out there ready to come to set prepped to shoot.

Based on price point, the Alpha 1 is more a niche product, a way of Sony showing us where they are going next, than a unit ready to be shot with on a day-to-day basis for video shooters today. If you are ready to spend the price of the A1, the camera certainly offers resolution benefits to make it worth considering, but you should also seriously look at the FX6 as well, which lands at a similar price and will have more video-centric features.

That said, for some shooters where resolution matters above all, the autofocus, 8K, and improvements to Sony color really come together on the Alpha 1.