Eric L. Woods

So… That Sony A1 announcement: First thoughts. Of course I want it, but…

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Like I said in the title of course I want the Sony A1. I am a GAS sufferer after all. Wanted to get my thoughts down before I take in the inevitable deluge of breathless, exclamation point laden, and gaping maw feature shot blog and YouTube initial review, speculative, and comparison posts. Understandable. Have to get those clicks.

The specs are amazing. It seems like Sony has created the kitchen sink camera many claim to want and need. And some actually do have a need or would benefit from such a powerful piece of kit. Many, many impressive specs were listed but this is what stood out to me.

  • 50MP. Not that I need a high MP camera, but that is the upper threshold of what I would consider if I did.
  • 30fps continuous shooting with no blackout.
  • 8K at 30p and 4K at 120p.
  • 30 minute recording at both of the above without overheating if testing proves out the claims.
  • Better weather sealing.
  • Many other intriguing things.

What this camera does do is knock many of my “dream” GAS cameras off of their perch.

Fujifilm GFX 50R

  • Matches the resolution.
  • IBIS.
  • Class leading AF.
  • Video specs.

Hasselblad 907x

  • See above.
  • Viewfinder.

Leica M10

  • See 50R list.
  • AF.

All of the other full frame mirrorless camera brands are quite capable and compelling, but share the same shortcoming. A lack of lens diversity and affordability that will only come with time and third party lens company participation. With the third party primes and zooms available one could easily flesh out a kit without a single Sony lens. Tamron has a great f/2.8 zoom lens trio. Rokinon/Samyang, Sigma, Tamron and more brands all have great prime lenses available. That is not a ding on Sony lenses. They are great, but more an indicator of how many AF lens brand options are currently available for the FE mount.

At first blush it looks like the A7SIII, A7RIV, A9II, and EOS R5 had a high MP, no EVF black out, 8k Frankenbaby and that is not a bad thing. Sure folks will sling rocks, as is their wont, but there are only two nits I could see anyone picking with any actual weight to them. And they both can be written off as understandable.

  • A non fully articulating screen given the video specs.
    • But…
      • Something has got to give. Stills folks like tilty flippy. Video folks like fully articulating. And attempts at a middle ground come off as a little over complicated while not really appealing to either camp.
      • Those going for a real video rig would likely add a screen anyway. And while I glazed over a bit (video is not my thing really) it looked like plenty of screen output options were provided.
  • Price.
    • But…
      • If everything pans out as advertised this will truly be a true one camera for it all option for those looking for such a thing.
      • I imagine the processing grunt necessary to perform such feats of techno daring do are not cheap.
      • Speaking purely objectively you could easily spend more elsewhere and get fewer features with no better image or video creation output.

So sign me up! Let us get this trade train out of the station. Gather up everything and…

Nah.

I definitely would love to test an A1 even though that would likely prove a catastrophe for my bank account. But at least for now I am good. Why? Glad you asked.

Subjectively I would really like to have this camera on general principle simply because it exists. Who does not want the best a company has to offer? Especially if you have already bought into the brand. I imagine most who own an entry level vehicle from an automaker would prefer their top model if given the option.

I will grant you that when the question of how many available MP I need comes up there is a small, insistent voice within me that answers like Gary Oldman in “Leon The Professional”…

But truth be told after dabbling with a higher MP Sony body or two (A7RII and A7RIII) I find that 24MP does just fine and better meets my needs. Similarly my overall minimum specs are pretty low key:

  • The aforementioned 24MP.
  • Full frame.
  • An EVF.
  • IBIS.
  • 10fps or thereabouts.
  • Class leading AF.
  • Full sensor 4K, as opposed to APS-C crop, because why not? 8K sounds good, but I do not need it.
  • Not camera related per se but a deep and varied affordable lens selection.
  • Solid low light performance.
  • Great battery life.
  • As little spend as possible that gets me everything listed above.

As it turns out I have some preferred specs that contradict themselves and would be difficult to fulfill in one camera.

  • I would like a camera to be as small as possible but also have a camera with a more traditional faux DSLR design.
  • I would like a tilty flippy screen but also have a fully articulating screen and not an attempt at a hybrid compromise.
  • I would like a device that caters to stills and also caters more to video.

As mighty as the A1 is it cannot meet these dueling preferences. But I know of a solution that does meet those requirements and costs around $2,700 less than the A1 does. And what camera is that? No one camera. Two.

Sony A7c and A7III
Sony A7c and A7III
Sony A7c and A7III
Sony A7c and A7III
Sony A7c and A7III

With me Sony messed up with the A7III and the A7c. They created two cameras so good that they have short circuited my GAS tendencies. And that $2,700 difference could go a long ways towards lenses or a high MP or video centric body like the A7RIV or A7SIII. I have been perfectly happy with the A7III and was very happy with the very similar, older A7II until the A7c came along and upset my apple cart a bit. For my purposes these two cameras are a perfect compliment for one another.

The A1 is not really a threat to my wallet. Theoretically what should concern me is the inevitable upcoming sooner or later A7IV. But in all honesty (And I may just regret saying this one day.) I am struggling to come up with a feature or set of features that would lead me to upgrading the A7III. And that is not nostalgia talking. Sony’s are not nostalgia type cameras. They are just so consistent and capable that they just take whatever you throw at them without blinking. Are they perfect? No. No camera is. But the list of things that I would improve is very short and contains nice to haves not showstoppers.

  • If Sony swiped a few ergonomics pages from the Nikon Z series notebook I would not be mad. Sony made a huge leap forward with the A7III and after but the Nikon Z bodies do still feel a bit better in hand.

That is about it.

I would say menus, but Sony has since addressed this with the A7SIII and A1 menus. If they wished they could likely address this with the newer A7c at least, if not the A7III, via firmware a la Fuji but I will not hold my breath. I have been using Sony so long now that this is no longer an issue for me.

So that was a lot of words. Short version?

That is a fantastic camera that Sony released but Sony messed up by creating two cameras that just about perfectly meet my needs so they will not get any more of my money right now.

Have said this before though. Right before purchasing the ZV-1. And right before purchasing the A7c. I am not delusional. Sony will get me eventually. But as of this moment I can mark myself safe from a Sony product release announcement.

Happy shooting.

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