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The Alpha 1 is Sony’s new flagship camera with monstrous specs and a $6,500 price

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A new 50.1-megapixel sensor, 10-bit 8K video, Eye AF that works on birds, and more

Image: Sony

Sony has today announced its most advanced mirrorless camera yet: the $6,500 Alpha 1 features a new 50.1-megapixel full-frame sensor, is capable of continuous photo shooting at 30 images per second, and can record 8K video at 30fps. It’ll ship beginning in March.

The powerhouse camera is priced significantly above the highest-end mirrorless cameras from Canon and Nikon, but Sony promises that customers who buy in will be rewarded with “the most technologically advanced, innovative camera” it’s ever made.

It sounds like a dream for sports and action photographers: even with its large sensor, Sony says the buffer lets you shoot “up to 155 full-frame compressed RAW images or 165 full-frame JPEG images at up to 30 frames per second with the electronic shutter while maintaining full AF and AE tracking performance.”

That autofocus and autoexposure system can make up to 120 calculations per second. And you’ll be peering through a high-resolution OLED electronic viewfinder with a refresh rate of 240Hz — something Sony claims is a world first. The Alpha 1 offers five-axis, in-body image stabilization and a standard ISO range of 100–32,000 (expandable to 50–102,400 for stills).

Sony’s autofocus system is still perhaps the best in the game, and the company says the Alpha 1 speeds up Eye AF even further when focusing on humans and pets. And with this camera, Eye AF will also work on birds. If you can justify a $6,500 camera for your nature forays, Sony says that “optimized algorithms ensure that tracking is maintained even if a sitting bird suddenly takes flight, or the framing suddenly changes.”

Flash sync speeds have been pushed up to 1/400 sec. (with mechanical shutter), and the silent electronic shutter supports sync speeds of up to 1/200 sec. Rolling shutter has been reduced due to high-speed sensor readout, and Sony says you can unleash that full 30fps continuous shooting without any blackout. Flicker under LED lighting conditions is also mitigated, as the Alpha 1 can match the shutter speed to flicker frequency.

As for video, the Alpha 1 can shoot 8K30 and 4K120 — both in 10-bit — and recording 4K at up to 60fps allows for full-sensor readout without any pixel binning. Adding an external recorder to the mix lets you capture 16-bit RAW video.

The Alpha 1 represents Sony’s very best, and the price clearly reflects that. You’re looking at a price several thousand dollars above the Canon R5. But considering the reputation that Sony has earned with its full-frame mirrorless cameras past and present, there will be a lot of pro photographers itching to get this $6,500 beast in their hands come March.