The Alpha a1 is Sony’s flagship full-frame mirrorless camera. It boasts 50MP high-res stills, 8K video recording, high speed and sensitivity, and connectivity for demanding professional workflows. It also offers dual memory card slots, both of which support working with CFexpress Type A or SD UHS-II memory cards for flexible and high-speed file storage.

Pretoria-based professional photographer, Henry Marsh, tested out the Sony a1 over the Easter weekend and provided us with the following review along with straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) JPEGs that will blow your mind:
I had exactly five days to put the camera through its paces on a variety of different shoots and most of what I discovered is already known. However, some things a normal YouTube review simply won’t tell you – so allow me to take you through my initial thoughts.

“Aim your focus point at anything and the focus just sticks.”

First up, coming from a Sony a7 III and a7R III, the subject tracking and autofocus of the a1 is just mind-blowing! Aim your focus point at anything and the focus just sticks. The lightning-fast startup time together with zero lag between switching from monitor to viewfinder was a welcome addition for someone who shoots a lot from the hip and eye level. Speaking of the viewfinder – it is like looking through a window: very clear and very large.

Henry March reviews Sony a1 portrait

© Henry Marsh

Henry March reviews Sony a1 portrait 2

© Henry Marsh

Keeps recording while changing settings

Being someone who changes settings almost without looking, having the ability to now change settings (Super 35 Mode, getting into the menu, etc.) whilst the camera is recording to the cards is absolutely terrific. I used stock standard 300MB/s SD cards and had no issues changing settings. It’s like the camera just screams “use me to take more photos”!

No lag between taking photos

One of the trademark features of the camera is the no lag/ blackout between taking photos. It’s like taking a video… just still frames. Coming from previous-gen Sony cameras, the buttons and grip are far more comfortable and easier to use. However, the camera feels heavier. Colours are always going to be a hot topic of debate when it comes to Sony cameras, but my opinion is that the SOOC images from the a1 are more pleasing.

What are its heat limitations?

I’m not much of a video guy and did not use the camera for such, but I did notice after three hours of shooting a fashion campaign in a studio environment that the camera got very hot. Not hot like I couldn’t use it, but hot enough that it could keep my hands warm on a winter’s day.

Henry March reviews Sony a1 car 1

© Henry Marsh

Henry March reviews Sony a1 car 2

© Henry Marsh

The takeaway

Overall, the Sony a1 is by far the best camera I have ever used (and I have used a lot of cameras), but its price tag is by far the highest as well. 

“If you’re looking for something that is the best at everything, you genuinely can’t find better than the a1.”

However, my biggest take away from using the Sony a1 is that it is just a camera. It didn’t help me take better or more interesting photos. Sure, it made my life slightly easier, but at the end of the day, the person using the camera is still a more important “upgrade” than the camera itself.

To see more of Henry’s work, check out his Instagram page.