Real Life Review: Sony Alpha 1 camera

The Sony Alpha 1 camera came into my life in March 2021, and it’s now March 2022. I have been using this extraordinary camera almost exclusively since then. I have shown you use of the camera in a variety of contexts, including studio flash. I have only shot stills, because I don’t shoot video. I thought I should summarise my thoughts about this camera after using it to take over a hundred thousand images.

Here are the articles I’ve written so far about the A1, or using the A1. There are more than I remembered, but some are just a few images.

Posts on the Sony Alpha 1

The new boy in town

The new boy in town

PositivityApr 29, 20221 min read

This is the new male lion (his name is Sheru) at Werribee’s Open Range Zoo. He is still in quarantine,…

Boys only in this tree-house!

Boys only in this tree-house!

PositivityApr 27, 2022

I showed you Werribee’s Open Range Zoo lion tree-house for female lions (are we still allowed to call them lionesses?)…

That rock is moving!

That rock is moving!

PositivityApr 25, 2022

Melbourne Zoo hosts a number of Aldebara tortoises, which are among the largest in the world. I’ve overheard plenty of…

Melbourne Museum’s Monster Revisited!

Melbourne Museum’s Monster Revisited!

PositivityApr 21, 2022

I got to see Horridus on the opening day. You can see the images I took then in an earlier…

Nothing in focus?

Nothing in focus?

PositivityApr 19, 2022

I showed the image above to a friend who asked why I’d processed it, after all “Nothing is in focus”.…

No boys allowed in this tree-house!

No boys allowed in this tree-house!

PositivityApr 17, 2022

Werribee’s Open Range Zoo was down to just two lions – a mother and daughter – but they are part…

Real Life Review: Sony Alpha 1 camera

Real Life Review: Sony Alpha 1 camera

PositivityMar 30, 2022

The Sony Alpha 1 camera came into my life in March 2021, and it’s now March 2022. I have been…

Melbourne Museum’s Monster!

Melbourne Museum’s Monster!

PositivityMar 12, 2022

Last year Melbourne Museum announced a new acquisition to members (I’ve been a member for some years). They had managed…

What can you do with a whole bunch of images from a burst?

What can you do with a whole bunch of images from a burst?

PositivityFeb 27, 2022

I enjoy trying to photograph birds in flight, and I thoroughly enjoy free-flight bird shows, like the Spirits in the…

A water dragon, not a lemur

A water dragon, not a lemur

PositivityFeb 26, 2022

This shot was taken in the walk-through lemur enclosure in Melbourne Zoo. An enclosure that was devoid of lemurs for…

A bit too much glass for the shot

A bit too much glass for the shot

PositivityFeb 19, 2022

We can see that two people on the left of the image were trying to photograph Magra the wedge tail…

Natural light – a dancer against a wall

Natural light – a dancer against a wall

PositivityFeb 15, 2022

Renee pinned to a wall in natural light. This is in a different studio, one with a naked concrete floor…

Australia’s apex aerial predator still has to moult

Australia’s apex aerial predator still has to moult

PositivityFeb 13, 2022

Australia’s apex predator of the sky is the wedge tail eagle. This is Magra, an older wedge tail, who is…

Go, go, goanna!

Go, go, goanna!

PositivityJan 23, 2022

A goanna is essentially a large lizard, technically a monitor lizard. This particular goanna is around a metre long, and…

Gorilla’s breakfast answering “how sharp is it?”

Gorilla’s breakfast answering “how sharp is it?”

PositivityJan 16, 2022

I have been using the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM II for almost two months now, and I’ve mentioned that it’s…

Studio flash – a dancer against the light

Studio flash – a dancer against the light

PositivityJan 9, 2022

Renee joins us again, helping me show you what the A1 can do with studio flash. Last time you saw…

The wild dogs of Werribee

The wild dogs of Werribee

PositivityJan 3, 2022

I am not fond of canids of any kind, and sometimes that bothers me, because I feel I should give…

Melbourne Zoo on New Year’s Eve

Melbourne Zoo on New Year’s Eve

PositivityJan 1, 2022

Christmas Day at Melbourne Zoo was really pleasant, with temperatures in the high 20s (Celsius). New Year’s Eve, not so…

A pirouette turns out beautifully

A pirouette turns out beautifully

PositivityDec 27, 2021

I’ve shown you the A1 photographing sequences of birds and cats, but I thought it was time for something different:…

Melbourne Zoo on Christmas Day

Melbourne Zoo on Christmas Day

PositivityDec 25, 2021

Melbourne Zoo is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day. It used to be a rather quiet day…

How do I feel about the A1 now?

I’ve said it before: the A1 is the most fun I’ve had with a camera. One year, and one hundred and one thousand images later, I’m still having fun, but I have to qualify it. It’s enormous fun, but you have to work for it.

The A1 is not a simple camera to use, because it gives you so much control over its abilities. This is not a camera to get lazy with. Get the A1 if you enjoy the process of taking the photograph and all the way through the final image. If you pay attention, the A1 will reward you with images. Sharp, beautifully focussed, images, in rapid sequence, with the A1 adjusting the focus in between every image. Doing it all in complete silence. Of all the cameras I’ve owned, this one most feels like it is intended for people who do NOT want to “just point the camera at it and click”. To use a car metaphor: if you are wanting a car to visit the supermarket and get to work, you do not want a high-end sports car – the sports car is for someone who wants to enjoy the experience, and who will be paying attention to each detail of the driving experience; stop paying attention and you’ll wrap the sports car around a tree – it is relying on you to control it. Fortunately, the A1 isn’t that dangerous, but it has let me mess up on an epic level and on more images than ever before! There’s nothing quite as mortifying as getting home and having to look at 100 images, all mis-focused because I locked focus on a tree branch. At least I know who’s at fault – the A1 is just doing what I told it to do. Makes me determined to be more careful the next time, and watch the focus while I’m shooting.

Does everyone need an A1? No. Please don’t think that I’m telling you that you must go and get one. There are quite a few cameras out there, and many people don’t need (or want) what an A1 can do. I have tried to show you some of what an A1 can do (and carefully hidden almost all of my mistakes!), so you can get a feeling of why you might want one. An important warning: do not buy an A1 if it means you are spending every cent on the body. If you are going to use the A1 to its best, you are going to want some really good lenses, and possibly some new memory cards (which are currently rather expensive), and you may well need to buy more disk space (I did). I even ended up buying a new photo processing computer, so I could process more images in less time.

Do you need Sony GM lenses with an A1? No. I’ve posted images shot with the Voigtländer APO Lanthar 50mm f/2, for example, which is a fine lens, and not expensive, and it works very well on the A1. One of the joys of the Sony E mount is the large number of lenses which you can use, in both native E mount, and via adapters. There are A1 shooters who are using no Sony lenses at all. I am, but I like a lot of Sony lenses. You can use any lens you like, but sooner or later you’ll want to have at least one really good lens.

I’d characterise the A1 as a brilliant camera for the keen enthusiast. Someone who has used a number of cameras, and knows what they want, and really wants it! Someone who will learn about their camera, and go to the trouble to set it up “just right”. Importantly, I would never recommend that someone start with an A1 as their first camera, because it is just too complicated.

What’s better than an A1? Er, two A1s and an unlimited lens budget? OK, what is as good? If you are a Nikon shooter, the Z9 is the obvious choice – a Z9 shooter was telling me about his. and how it replaced both a D850 and a D5, and I got the feeling he is enjoying it (almost) as much as I’m enjoying the A1. If you shoot Canon, then maybe the R3, or the as-yet-unannounced camera they have hinted at. I am not really the best person to ask. In the past I have used high-end Canon (1Ds III), Nikon (D810), and Leica (M9) cameras, and the A1 is better (for me!) than any camera I have used before (it’s also better than all the Sony cameras I’ve used before, I must point out). Does that mean I will stop looking at other cameras? No, but don’t tell my A1 that!

It has been quite a year, and I have learned a lot. I am sure my photography has improved, because the camera has demanded that I improve.