Sony A1 Slow Motion has 8x Mode!

Sony A1 Slow Motion

Just in time for the Japanese Olympics if they ever take place, Sony has released the Sony Alpha 1 or A1 for short which is probably the most powerful mirrorless camera ever produced.  Customary for Japanese camera manufacturers in Olimpic years, the likes of Canon and Nikon have released their professional flagship products like the  1DX and D6 which are still SLR mirrored products that have the highest possible Autofocus features for a camera of that type as well as speed and dependability.

Sony has had some inroads in that space with the Sony a9 series but they were missing a higher megapixel count version that could really differentiate it from the pack and the A1 seems to be just that kind of product. By shooting 8k video at 24,25 and 30p it becomes future-proof for the next decade as far as resolution goes and by taking 30 images per second in stills mode at the full 50MP resolution with AF Tracking, it is one blinding fast beast.  The fact that it also shoots 120fps 4k and 240fps Full HD doesn’t hurt it either.

Sony A1 Sensor Specs:

Lens Mount Sony E
Camera Format Full-Frame (1x Crop Factor)
Sensor Resolution Actual: 50.5 Megapixel
Effective: 50.1 Megapixel (8640 x 5760)

Sony A1 Video Specs:

Recording Modes H.265/XAVC HS 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [50 to 280 Mb/s]
H.265/XAVC HS 4:2:0 10-Bit
UHD 8K (7680 x 4320) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p [200 to 400 Mb/s]
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [30 to 200 Mb/s]
H.264/XAVC S-I 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [240 to 600 Mb/s]
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [89 to 222 Mb/s]
H.264/XAVC S 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [100 to 280 Mb/s]
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p/200p/239.76p [50 Mb/s]
H.264/XAVC S 4:2:0 8-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p [60 to 200 Mb/s]
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p/200p/239.76p [16 to 100 Mb/s]
External Recording Modes Raw 16-Bit
4.2K (4264 x 2408) up to 59.94p
4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/50p/59.94p
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 50i/59.94i
4:2:0 8-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/50p/59.94p
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 50i/59.94i

The Sony A1 is probably the fastest mass production professional hybrid camera ever made. The speed required for 50 megapixels at 30fps means that it is processing and saving in RAW format or RAW+JPG to CF Express Cards  at 1.5 Billion Pixels/Second and all of this while using the 120Hz continuous intelligent Auto Focus for people and animals.

Introducing Alpha 1 | Sony | α by Sony | Camera Channel:

Sony A1 Slow Motion Frame Rates:

  • H.264/XAVC S 4:2:2 10-Bit
    UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at
  • 50p/59.94p/
  • 100p/119.88p [100 to 280 Mb/s]
  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p/200p/239.76p [50 Mb/s]
  • 8x Slow motion is 240fps played in a 30fps timeline!

The Slow motion frame rates are also here with up to 4x 120fps in 4k 10 bit at up to 280Mbits/sec and 100 to 240fps 8x in Full HD 1080p at 50Mbps.   We can see the sample below that contains several clips at 4k 120fps and some intercut 240fps Full HD like the divers shot in Hunters Of Light below.  We can safely say that the quality at 4k 120fps 10 bit is near perfect but we still cannot attest to the quality of a file in Full HD at 100, 120, 200 and 240fps derived from a Full Frame sensor recording from a 50MP source.

We have confirmed that the camera has a 21 Megapixel crop factor in APS-C size for stills and possibly video which probably means that all the higher 1080p frame rates are possibly extracted from the crop area of the sensor and not from the full 50MP area.

Testing Out 240 FPS Sony A7S III – Indonesia by Calvin Kho:

The samples above are from the Sony a7s III which also shoots 240fps 1080p and the quality while not pristine, is above average in this camera.  We can safely estimate that the Sony A1 will at least match this quality in the higher frame rate at full HD but probably not surpass it due to the a7s III low light capabilities which are unmatched in Sony Alpha cameras and currently has the mirrorless championship belt for low noise high dynamic range recording.

The Hunters of Light video below shows the camera in a variety of situations including what we believe 1 or 2 clips at 240fps intercut with the master files at 4k and 8k.

Hunters of Light: Shot on the NEW α1 | Sony Alpha Films:

Finally, the Sony A1 is able to record 8k video at up to 30fps in full HDR 10 Bit mode which is so good that it probably rivals or exceeds some cinema cameras in dynamic range and color reproduction. The quality showed here regardless of the skin tones which many point as not ideal, is really Jaw-Dropping!

You will need a very beefy TV, PC, or Mac that can playback HDR 8k video in order to fully appreciate the footage. At a Maximum 400Mbps recording, Sony has really made a good codec without going overboard. It will still be massive in terms of hard drive space but much better than other options which really are closer to 2x or 3x that amount for similar end results.

Price and Availability:

  • Pre-orders start January 27th, 2021 for a March shipping date. 
  • Body Only Kit MSRP: $6,498.00

As you can see all of this power comes at great cost for the body only, you are expected to pay $6,498.00 USD plus TAX which easily will pass $7,000 depending on where you live.  Then you have to factor in the lenses and CF Express memory cars and we are easily talking five-digit pricing.  We know of an Alpha shooter that Is spending $25k for a 3 lens and body kit for this camera which by any standard is massive.   For that kind of price we are talking lower end Phantom Slow Motion camera range.

Should I order the Sony A1?

There is no question this camera is an incredible piece of technology but if you have already purchased an a7s III from Sony, we would not even think about updating to this camera. The a7s III can shoot 240p 1080p and 120fps 4k as well with a lesser overall video format since the Sony A1 shoots on the S-Cinetone format for maximum Dynamic Range and only available on this camera for now.

We expect this technology to trickle down the Alpha line in a year or two for a much lesser price. The A1 is intended for the professional that needs the most dependable and fastest machine for shooting sports and editorial imaging with very little misses and lots of keepers.

The slow motion quality is great at 4k 120fps but we probably are going to see a similar performance at Full HD 1080p as other Alpha cameras which is not perfect but acceptable.  We would not buy this camera as a frame rate shooter but as a stills behemoth that can shoot in 4k and 8k with enough quality for a high-end video or cinema production as a B camera.   While the price is high, the professionals that will use it can afford the elevated tag and not be heavily impacted. If you are an amateur and or Sony user that needs to have the latest and greatest we cannot recommend this camera as it is a tool that will be overkill for your use. You are better off getting the excellent a7s III for 4k and a Chronos 2.1 Slow motion camera for 1080p 1000fps for the price of an A1 with a good lens.

We will get more video samples of the Sony A1 as they are released, we commend Sony for going head to head with Canon and Nikon for the top professional spot with literally nothing but the best in their arsenal. If you are in a Canon or Nikon legacy SLR system, the Sony A1 is probably an Omen that you will have to upgrade to a better system in order to compete or be left behind. -HSC

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