Industry News: Sony announces their new flagship camera, the alpha a1

f119a

My Cars Always Break Down
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Jun 18, 2013
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Impressive on paper anyway. It’s putting it up to Canon. It puts the R1 under pressure and makes the 1DXIII almost old fashioned. You’d need a lot of storage space. 1TB laptops will fill quite quickly. It’s so fast you wonder will it be robust . It must have some very fine engineering inside with tight tolerances . You could burn through 100,000 shutter cycles in no time. I look forward to the reviews especially its focus tracking abilities.
Well actually it does not need "very fine engineering"
because it's mechanical shutter still only goes up to 10fps, same as A9II.
However the superfast, anti-flickering, almost-no-distortion electronic shutter has eliminated most of the situations that require mechanical shutter.
Everything magical just happens on the CMOS nowadays.
 

blackcoffee17

EOS RP
Sep 17, 2014
592
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Sony Trumps Canon once more (ah! Should I have said that word, Trump! Lol) Sony first to announce the mirrorless 1! I watched the launch via CR live and certainly an impressive bit of kit.

Come on Canon! The bar is set to follow or surpass for the up-and-coming R1

Probably not that difficult to clear that bar. Just make an R5 with 50% faster burst speed and almost there.
 
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tiggy@mac.com

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Jan 20, 2014
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I'm very likely to get an R1, but if it winds up having =<24mp, then I'm not going to bother. I am very impressed with the A1, but have too much glass in the RF system to consider it, so I'd just stick with the R5s if the R1 is lame.

Things I hope this pushes Canon to do with its R1:
- All the stuff the R5 has +...
- 45mp + (really this was my big complaint prior to the A1)
- Better heat management for longer internal high bitrate video
- Antiflicker in electronic shutter, without lowering frame rate significantly
- Faster flash sync
- Pixelshift hi-res with in-camera processing
- Double CFexpress Type B cards


Things I hope it doesn't push Canon to add:
- 30 fps stills. Give me variable rate up to 20 fps, and I'm happy.
- Type A cards


Sony has a long tradition of timing release announcements (at least ones that aren't themselves tied to an actual shipping date) to imminent releases of competitor's offerings. They very much like to steal others' thunder. This might portend that they think Canon is going to announce the R1. As this will be launched in March, there doesn't seem to be another reason to have this sudden announcement.
 

StevenA

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The elephant in the room (one of them at least) is that the Alpha 1 is directed at the professional market but doesn't have a built-in battery grip so all that tech runs off of a single battery. This will force professionals to buy a grip adding extra cost to an already expensive body. Meanwhile, Canon and Nikon pro bodies come standard this way.
 

H. Jones

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Aug 1, 2014
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My safe bet after seeing this is that Canon pulls off a 24-30 megapixel global shutter that can do up to 60 FPS full resolution uncompressed. The 1-series has never been about high resolution, and Canon knows their market. The megapixel war never won over that market segment, and it won't this time.

Canon can, however, draw tons of high end users in with industry changing features like the global shutter and far higher FPS. 60 fps with an unlimited buffer is 100% doable at this point, especially at something like 30 megapixels.

Canon users like myself already have access or own an R5 for 20 fps 45 megapixel images, so I don't feel like Canon needs the R1 to compete the A1. The A1 already exists in Canon's lineup for almost half the price!

The R1 instead should use the $6500-$7000 price range to give us global shutter, unlimited buffer, antiflicker at 60 FPS, 20 FPS mechanical, 0 delay 0 blackout huge viewfinder, full size grip, big batteries, and total weathersealing. That would sell me far faster than the A1 ever would.
 

StevenA

EOS M6 Mark II
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Jul 8, 2020
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My safe bet after seeing this is that Canon pulls off a 24-30 megapixel global shutter that can do up to 60 FPS full resolution uncompressed. The 1-series has never been about high resolution, and Canon knows their market. The megapixel war never won over that market segment, and it won't this time.

Canon can, however, draw tons of high end users in with industry changing features like the global shutter and far higher FPS. 60 fps with an unlimited buffer is 100% doable at this point, especially at something like 30 megapixels.

Canon users like myself already have access or own an R5 for 20 fps 45 megapixel images, so I don't feel like Canon needs the R1 to compete the A1. The A1 already exists in Canon's lineup for almost half the price!

The R1 instead should use the $6500-$7000 price range to give us global shutter, unlimited buffer, antiflicker at 60 FPS, 20 FPS mechanical, 0 delay 0 blackout huge viewfinder, full size grip, big batteries, and total weathersealing. That would sell me far faster than the A1 ever would.

I think you are on to something here. Professional sports photographers do not want 50mpx but they will swap for higher frames and lower light. All else being equal (built in battery grip and connectivity). Canon knows this market better than Sony ever will.
 
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usern4cr

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---

The 30 fps Burst Rate Stills bandwidth is usually a function of the DSP (Digital Signal Processor) and ADC/DAC (Analog-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analog Converter) chip speed which indicates how many gigasamples per second it can do and at what output bit-depth is creates.

For the Sony A-1, the full-frame 8640 x 5760 pixel 3:2 image frame requires 49,766,400‬ pixels with FOUR SAMPLES per RGBG Pixel (i.e. 4 separate Red, Green, Blue, Green photosites) which means 199,065,600 samples per frame or 5,971,968,000 samples per second at 20 bits wide initially and then sub-sampled down to 16, 14, 12, 10 and 8 bits per output RGBG channel sample.

YOU MUST be able to process an entire set of 30 frames UNCOMPRESSED during each second so you can then make a reasonable calculation on other parts of the system to see what sort of bandwidth is required. It really isn't all that exotic based upon what I am seeing.

With an 8-channel ADC/DAC/DSP chip set, it means at least 746.5 Megasamples per Second per channel since you are doing multiple instructions per second (i.e. 2 to 4 cpu ops per clock tick) on most BIONZ chips, so MY GUESS that it's PROBABLY a 1.5 GHz processor and probably costs Sony $150 USD to produce in-house or get from GlobalFoundries (aka AMD and IBM) under OEM/ODM outsourcing agreements! Based on the microcode I see, it's at least an ARM Cortex A5 quad-core CPU system. It might even be one of the Octo-core (i.e. 8 cores) designs as it is ABLE to do 30 fps!

Sony has ALWAYS been good on ADC/DAC/DSP chip design! I remember asking TI (Texas Instruments) for an ADC/DAC/DSP chip set for our high-orbit space cameras many years ago and they wanted $25,000 USD PER SET !!! A few days later I just went to Sony and asked for the 20-BIT ADC/DAC/DSP chip set used in one of their high end pro-level audio processors. It was $400 per chip set which means it was $24,600 USD CHEAPER AND it had better performance AND was a full 20 bits wide instead of 14 bits wide which meant HIGH QUALITY signal processing! We just repurposed multiple sets of the chips for ADC/DAC/DSP of 2.6K still photos and 1080p video!

I just stuck the chip sets in a tungsten shielded box along with a higher end Sony CCD sensor and UP it went! It's still there doing its thing 15 years later! Quality is STILL great for video and 2.6K stills. Lotsa "Fast Walkers" up there! Counted over 50 different planform types in crystal clear clarity over the years!

Now You Know!

V
You are saying that the Sony A1 has ~50MP x 4 pixel elements = 200M pixel elements? I find this *very hard* to believe. I think it will be the standard 50M pixel elements in a Bayer array which is de-bayer interpolated up to 50M rgb pixels, just like everyone else does. This isn't a Foveon sensor, which has 3 pixel elements on top of each other for a single pixel and has nothing to do with a Bayer pixel element array.
 

fox40phil

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Apr 12, 2013
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It is my opinion that R5 is close to A1 for about half the money!
Even the AF of the A9I is better then this one of the R5. So... the AF of the A1 will be insane I think.
Also NO blackouts! 240Hz EVF with ~80% more resolution!!

does anyone else feel like the awful ergonomics of the sony makes it the whole line a non compete to canon. for someone who lives everyday with a camera in their hand id never switch from canon to sony for that exact reason no matter the specs
Yep me2.... to small...like a toy and feels not so durable.

But anyway... I heavily hope, that Canons R1 can compete!! please! maybe in my next life... I will have a state of the art pro body with awesome Canon ergonomics :D
 

HarryFilm

EOS RP
Jun 6, 2016
705
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You are saying that the Sony A1 has ~50MP x 4 pixel elements = 200M pixel elements? I find this *very hard* to believe. I think it will be the standard 50M pixel elements in a Bayer array which is de-bayer interpolated up to 50M rgb pixels, just like everyone else does. This isn't a Foveon sensor, which has 3 pixel elements on top of each other for a single pixel and has nothing to do with a Bayer pixel element array.

--

Even IF it's a Bayer Array you STILL have to do each RGBG channel separately at each photosite for output and processing by the container file format CODEC. And Sony's OWN documentation says around 50 million active pixels which are part of a Bayer Array which means 4 channels must be processed per each pixel by the DSP/ADC/DAC. My math PROBABLY still stands unless someone else offers a better explanation based upon more or different documentation.

V
 
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snappy604

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Jan 25, 2017
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looks like a solid camera and we won't know how good/bad it is until people get their hands on it and test widely... however simply looking at specs, it is similar to the R5, its not mindblowingly better for a fair bit more money. And it's ok, not every generation needs to be, polish/evolution has its uses...

There are definitely things I'd like to see but how much they offer is a good question. 50 vs 45 MP..

not significant at that level.. 30 FPS ... canon's 20FPS is almost too much, I and others would like to see a bit of a reduction in some ways as it generates a heck of a lot of files to sort through.. don't get me wrong, I love.... but man what a headache, don't really thing going to 30 will help me

the flash stuff I think is something I'd find useful

video seems similar spec wise

so solid camera, bit pricey... but how good it really is will only show up when people start testing it widely.
 
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usern4cr

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I'm glad Sony came out with this A1. It will keep up the pressure for Canon to come out with the absolute best features it possibly can in the new R1 and R5s. The one feature I like the most in the A1 is the EVF - Not only is it 9M pixel elements but it gives a much wider angle of view and 240 FPS which should make it an absolute joy to look through. If that alone causes Canon to come out with a similar hires wider angle of view EVF at 120 (or higher) FPS then I will jump for joy! It'd also be nice if Canon came out with a higher res & bigger back LCD.

But I don't care for Sony ergonomics or lack of build quality, and I'm already very invested in the Canon R5 & RF lenses, so I won't even consider getting Sony equipment. The one thing I was really glad to see is that the A1 does NOT have a fully articulating screen. That's the thing I have to have and why I am happy with Canon since they have it. There are a lot of people who prefer the Sony style pull out&down LCD, so they should be happy with Sony - Hey, whatever "floats your boat"!
 
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raptor3x

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The R1 instead should use the $6500-$7000 price range to give us global shutter, unlimited buffer, antiflicker at 60 FPS, 20 FPS mechanical, 0 delay 0 blackout huge viewfinder, full size grip, big batteries, and total weathersealing. That would sell me far faster than the A1 ever would.

If the camera had a global shutter, what would be the point of a mechanical shutter?
 

reef58

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Apr 16, 2016
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The R1 will have (or will need to have) about 45Mp like the R5 so that it does 8K, otherwise it'll be lagging behind the R5, not to mention the A1.

I guess if Canon is engaged in some sort of spec war. If they want to sell 1 series cameras to their core customer base it will be closer to 30 than 45. The market is ever changing though so who knows?
 

HarryFilm

EOS RP
Jun 6, 2016
705
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Man, you really have a way to go on wild tangents. :LOL: Thanks for sharing your industry insights... Or creative writing skills. That I don't know.

Anyway, to answer my own question, a quote from the official announcement :

"20 fps max. when shooting Uncompressed or Lossless compressed RAW"

So 30 FPS forces you to use their lossy compression format, which Google leads me to believe is always 12 bit.

Now I know.

The ADC/DAC/DSP will LIKELY process at the full bit-width initially and sub-sample down to 12 bits at the output stage.

In terms of "Lossy Compression" I would say it's more a factor of reduced bit-width than an actual higher video frame compression cycle that allows the BIONZ processor on the Sony A-1 to achieve 30 fps. I KNOW that it is AT LEAST an ARM Cortex A5 quad-core AND MAY be an Octo-core processor (i.e. 8 CPU cores!) so that is a FAAAAAST processing chip probably doing anywhere from 1.0 GHz up to 1.5 GHz clock speed!

Sony is VERY VERY VERY GOOD at signal processing. They have been doing this since the 1980's so I have no accusation that Sony is "faking" their processing abilities. They KNOW their stuff!

Again, this is a VERY VERY GOOD CAMERA !!!!

BUT...... The Canon R5 is BETTER because it is 4:2:2 at DCI 8K 1.89 aspect ratio at 8192 by 4320 pixels which is DEFINITELY more Hollywood Cinema B/C/Crash Cam friendly than the Sony A-1.

For stills imaging, I use the Canon R5 DCI 8K video mode on the R5 to get me 30 fps equivalent Burst Rate as my cropped 5442 by 4320 pixels (23+ megapixels) still photo images which I can submit to my side-job Web and Magazine editors EVERYWHERE once I colour correct and crop them to a 3:2 aspect ratio! If I am doing 2.35:1 panoramic/super-wide photos I just crop them to 8192 by 3486 pixels (i.e. 28.6 Megapixels) for my double page magazine spreads (i.e. for the super-wide F1, skiing, motorbike and powerboat racing imagery). And so far, no-one has complained YET on the megapixel counts for the images I have submitted and had accepted/paid for publication!

I should note we USED TO submit SIX MEGAPIXEL DSLR photos for major printed magazine spreads! This megapixel race is getting ridiculous! You really only need for most online work about 20 megapixels since most CURRENT Television and Computer displays are still 1920 by 1080 or 4K displays which max out at about 8 to 10 megapixels!

And since the Canon R5 is MUCH CHEAPER than the Sony A-1, if you are a stills photographer, the R5 makes more financial sense for prosumers and professionals!

Plus the Canon R5 is MORE RUGGED being better weather sealed and has a MUCH MUCH BETTER GRIP!

Canon STILL Wins This Round !!!!

V
 
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Billybob

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May 22, 2016
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does anyone else feel like the awful ergonomics of the sony makes it the whole line a non compete to canon. for someone who lives everyday with a camera in their hand id never switch from canon to sony for that exact reason no matter the specs
To each their own. I used Sony for years without a concern about its ergonomics. I do like R5 ergos better but the A7rIII's were okay, and the rIV (like the A9II) were much improved. So, I go with you in claiming that Canon's ergos are better, but Sony's are far from awful, and I for one have had no problem working with A-series cameras all day.

I'm extremely impressed with the A1. I was thinking about taking a 10am break Wed morning to place an order, but I'm willing to wait for the Canon R1 (and release/announcements of RF Big White lenses). I'm not sure if Canon can match or exceed that stacked sensor and the A9-level AF, but if this camera had been released before the R5, I probably would have stayed with Sony (I was begging for at least 36MP of resolution with that stacked sensor, so 50MP is almost irresistable). As it is now, I'm loving my RF lenses, and the R5 is without a doubt the best full-frame camera under $4000 U.S.
 

analoggrotto

EOS RP
Aug 27, 2016
279
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First impression : Holy supernatural specifications!

Second impression : that SAME beta-type body.

Sony has well earned it's position in the market. This might take a while for Canon to catch up to.

No doubt the first copies of this will be going to AP.

Your move, Canon.
 
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