After having to skip a year my Northern Lights tours are back on again starting January 2022. These trips are made for those that appreciate the beauty of nature. The arctic is a spectacular place in so many ways. Especially in winter when the low arctic sun skims along the horizon providing golden hour light all day.
During the long nights when the sky is clear the Northern Lights come out to play. The cold air provides very clear viewing and most guests are blown away by the numbers of stars visible. It’s a photographers paradise.
For more information take a look at the tour page. If you are interested, send me a message.
The Nanlite Forza 300 is a LED COB spotlight normally used with a reflector to provide a 55 degree light cone.
The lamp is 300 watts and can be powered from the mains with the included power adapter or vai a pair of V-lock batteries. It is daylight balanced at 5500K and has a CRI of 95 (measured by myself). It has always resulted in very pleasing skin tone whenever I have used it.
The 300 watt LED COB emitter produces a similar amount of light to a 3000 watt tungsten lamp. This makes the Forza 300 suitable for illuminating very large areas or as a source light for a large soft box or for use with large silk diffusers. Nanlite make a very nice parabolic reflectors/soft boxes for the Forza lamps that are very quick to erect due to the use of clever quick locking support arms.
The lamphead has a standard Bowens mount so there are many light modifiers that can be used, but one that I particularly like is the Nanlite zoomable Fresnel adapter. This large fresnel lens can be adjusted to provide a very tightly controlled light beam from just 5 degrees wide to 45 degrees wide. It comes with barn doors and turns the Forza 300 into something comparable to the old Arri 2K fresnel, just without the heat and power draw.
I’m a big fan of fresnels as they give you good control of where your light is going. Make it dimmable as well and you have a very versatile lamp.
The light can be controlled via DMX as well as a couple of very cheap wireless remote control units (around £20/$30) and an app is due to be released soon.
Like many modern lights it also has a number of effects modes including strobe, storm, TV and bad bulb and these can be quickly and easily selected from the lamps control unit and power supply. The build quality is very good. The lamp head is mostly metal while the control unit is a mix of good quality plastics and metal. The whole thing weighs 4.8kg so you don’t need a particularly large light stand to support it.
with a street price of around £650/$850 this is a very affordable yet also very capable lamp. I would suggest that anyone trying to build their own versatile light kit should include at least one spot light and not just rely on LED panel lights. Having a good, bright spot light allows you to a lot more creative lighting as a spot light, especially if you add the Fresnel lens can be used with gobo’s or objects in the foreground to create interesting shadow effects.
For a recent short film shoot I used the Forza 300 to throw light through a forest of trees. The trees creating interesting shadows adding a lot of extra contrast to the shots. For another scene I used the Forza 300 as a backlight through some smoke for an interesting mystic effect. A flat panel light cannot reproduce these effects in the same way.
For this shoot I needed to power the lamp off batteries. It is worth noting that if running the lamp at is maximum output of 300 watts you will be drawing over 10 amps from each of the 2 V-Lock batteries need to run it. This is right at the limit of what many V-Locks can deliver. As a result you may find your batteries cutting off before they are fully discharged. To run a high power LED lamp like this you should consider Lithium Manganese batteries or other batteries capable of at least a 12 amp output. My own preference is to use Pag Paglink batteries as by linking two batteries together you can double the amount of power they can deliver. Using 4 Paglink batteries (2 pairs of 2) I was able to run the lamp for 90 minutes at full power.
The lamp I used for the review was supplied by Prolight Direct UK. They are very knowledgable with many years of experience with all kinds of film and television lighting, so do contact them with your lighting needs.
I highly recommend the Forza 300. It is, in my opinion, one of the best of this type of lamp on the market today and very competitively priced. Please see the video above for more information.
In this video – live streamed on June 24th 2021 I take a look at the new Hollyland Lark 150 dual channel wireless microphone system.
The Lark 150 is a compact digital wireless microphone system that is available as a single channel or dual channel kit. If you buy the single channel kit you can add an extra transmitter pack later if you wish and pairing the units is really simple.
Each kit is supplied in a storage box that acts as a drop-in charger. To pair the transmitters to the receiver simply place them all in the storage box together and they are paired automatically, it’s as simple as that.
The transmitter units have a built in microphone and come with a clip on fluffy wind gag. But in addition a plug in lavalier microphone of pretty good quality is also included in the kit, one for each transmitter pack. There is also a mute button on each transmitter unit.
The receiver outputs a mono output or stereo output via a 3.5mm TRS socket depending on you personal preferences (connecting cables for cameras or phones are included in the kit). There is also a handy “safety mode” that outputs at full level on channel 1 and at a reduced level on channel 2. This is great for filming in environments where the audio levels can suddenly change as the lower level recording helps avoid clipping or distortion if the levels suddenly increase. There are two large control knobs on the receiver that control the levels of the two channels and allow you to switch between the different operating modes. The LCD screen clearly shows how the microphone is configured along with the audio levels. There is an additional headphone output on the receiver for headphone monitoring in case your camera doesn’t have a headphone jack.
Battery life is excellent, I got around 8 hours of use from a single charge. To charge the transmitter and receiver units just put them in the carry case and the battery built into the case will charge them back up again. The case has a USB socket to charge it.
The sound quality is very good for a low cost system. As it is entirely digital there is virtually no hiss or noise. The only downside is that the range is more limited than most much more expensive professional radio mics. This system uses the licence free 2.4Ghz band so there are no licensing issues in most countries and the digital transmissions are very secure, so you don’t need to worry about people illicitly listening in.
While you can get up to 100m/300ft range from them in perfect conditions. I found that I reliably and consistently get a range of about 100ft (30m). Operate them in this distance range and they are generally rock solid. However if the presenters body or some other substantial objects gets between the transmitter and receiver there is a small decrease in range, perhaps dropping to a reliable 50ft (15m). This is still plenty for most applications.
I really like these microphones. They won’t replace my much more expensive Sony UWP-D professional microphones, but they are great when you need something compact, ultra light and really simple to use. They are perfect for a lot of blogging applications as well as for interviews etc. At a cost of around £210/$275 for the dual channel kit these are excellent value for the money.
Before the large sensor resolution most professional video cameras used 3 sensors, one each for red, green and blue. And each of those sensors normally had as many pixels as the resolution of the recording format. So you had enough pixels in each colour for full resolution in each colour.
Then along came large sensor cameras where the only way to make it work was by using a single sensor (the optical prism would be too big to accomodate any existing lens system). So now you have to have all your pixels on one sensor divided up between red, green and blue.
Almost all of camera manufacturers ignored the inconvenient truth that a colour sensor with 4K of pixels won’t deliver 4K of resolution. We were sold these new 4K cameras. But the 4K doesn’t mean 4K resolution, it means 4K of pixels. To be fair to the manufactures, they didn’t claim 4K resolution, but they were also quite happy to let end users think that that’s what the 4K meant.
My reason for writing about this topic again is because I just had someone on my facebook feed discussing how wonderful it was to be shooting at 6K with a new camera as this would give lots of space for reframing for 4K.
The nature of what he wrote – “shooting at 6K” – implies shooting at 6K resolution. But he isn’t, his 6K sensor is probably delivering around 4K resolution and he won’t have any room for reframing if he wants to end up with a 4K resolution final image. Now again, in the name of fairness, shooting with 6K of pixels is going to be better than shooting with 4K of pixels if you do choose to reframe. But we really, really need to be careful about how we use terms like 4K or 6K. What do we really mean, what are we really talking about. Because the more we muddle pixels with resolution the less clear it will be what we are actually recording. Eventually no one will really understand that the two are different and the differences really do matter.
Can you tell which is genuine and which is fake? It would appear that a number of fake BP-U batteries are starting to show up on ebay and other less reputable places. The battery on the left won’t charge on a genuine Sony charger, this tells me it is not a real Sony battery.
If you look at the labels on the batteries the quality of the printing on the fake battery on the left is not as fine as on the genuine battery, in particular the ® as well as the box around the level indicator LED’s is not as crisply and finely printed.
The sellers are clever. These are not so cheap as to raise suspicion, they just seem very competitively priced. These batteries might be a little bit cheaper, but how safe are they and how long will they last? I have to say this would have fooled me and I have a lot of sympathy for others that have been tricked into buying these. But if the manufacturer can’t sell these by legitimate means under their own brand name I really do have to question their quality and safety.
If you were an alien on another planet and had access to nothing but all the latest camera demo or “film-maker” reels on YouTube or Vimeo you would quite possibly believe that much of planet Earth is in perpetual darkness.
All you see is clips shot at night or in blacked out studios. Often with very little dynamic range, often incredibly (excessively?) dark. I keep having to check that the brightness on my monitor is set correctly. Even daytime interiors always seem to be in rooms that are 90% dark with just a tiny, low contrast pool of daylight from a window filling one corner and even the light coming through the window is dim and dull.
I recently viewed a clip that was supposed to show the benefits of raw that contained nothing but low dynamic range shots where 70% of each frame was nothing but black. Sadly there were no deep shadow details, just blackness, some very dark faces and where there were highlights they were clipped. It was impossible to tell anything about the format being used.
The default showreel or demo shot is now a very dark space with a 3/4 profile person, very dimly lit, low key, by a large soft source. Throw in a shiny car with some specular highlights or a few dim practical lights into the background for extra brownie points.
Let me let you in to a little secret – it’s really, really easy to make black frames. Want a little pool of light – add a light to your mostly black frame. It’s really easy to shoot under exposed and then as a result not have any issues with dynamic range. It’s really easy to shoot a face so that it’s so dark you can barely see the persons eyes and then not have a problem with shiny skin.
But try shooting someone at a desk in a bright office and make that look really great. Try shooting a proper daytime living room scene and making that look flawless. A summer picnic on a beach with brilliant blue sky perhaps. These are all challenging to do very well for both the DoP and the camera.
We have these wonderful cameras with huge dynamic ranges that work really well in daylight too. But we seem to be losing the ability to shoot anything other than shots that have very low average brightness levels and low dynamic range. They depend on often coloured or tinted lighting to provide some interest in what would otherwise be a very, very boring images. Where are all the challenging shots in difficult lighting? Where are the bright, vibrant shots where we can see the dynamic range, resolution and natural colour palettes that separate a good camera from a great camera?
So there are now quite a lot of these devices appearing on the market. I have a Hollyland Mars 400 kit and it works really well. But this one caught my eye because it includes the ability to stream to platforms such as YouTube using RTMP. In these days of remote production being able to stream the cameras output to a remote client or producer could prove very useful.
I haven’t seen one in person and I don’t know the company, so no idea if it’s actually any good. But certainly on paper it’s really interesting.
Here’s the info from the press release.
Accsoon releases Cineeye 2S super-affordable 5GHz wireless transmitter with SDI
Wireless multi-device iOS and Android monitoring for SDI cameras at an unbelievably low price point has arrived with the new Accsoon Cineeye 2S. The SDI and HDMI camera-top 5GHz transmitter is perfect for the new normal of socially distanced filmmaking at every level of production.
View a camera signal remotely on up to 4 iOS or Android devices at a range of up to 150m (approx. 500ft) – perfect for directors, producers, clients and anybody else that needs to see the image live on set. Once connected to your smartphone the Cineeye 2S can even stream to audiences or remote clients using Youtube and other content delivery networks via RTMP.
Strong, stable, low latency 5GHz transmission
The Cineeye 2S can accept and transmit a 1080P video signal at up to 60fps from practically any modern mirrorless, cinema or professional camera. Signal strength, stability, and an average latency of less than 60ms mark it out as superior to other similarly priced systems.
At startup it uses automatic frequency selection to select the cleanest channel from up to 20 available. By choosing the frequency with least resistance it will be less prone to signal interference. If the user wishes they can override this with their own selection.
The Cineeye 2S also streams the embedded audio accepting 44.1KHz/48KHz 16bit/24bit inputs which it then transports using a low compression codec for nearly lossless sound monitoring.
Transform your smart device into a monitor with LUTs
The Cineeye 2S uses the free Accsoon Go app for iOS and Android to turn almost any modern iOS or Android phone or tablet into a fully featured monitor. It has advanced features like pinch to zoom, user selectable LUTs, peaking, false color, waveform, histogram and blue only display. The interface allows users to rapidly switch between setup menus and a totally clean uncluttered view of the image.
A user’s own custom LUTs or CDL can be loaded to preview on the iOS or Android device screen. Alternatively there are multiple presets for popular camera Log types that can also be selected. Users can display masks so that different aspect ratios can be previewed. There is also support for anamorphic lenses with 1.25x, 1.33x, 1.5x, 1.78x and 2x de-squeeze options.
Control your camera
The app also allows users to send Rec/Stop commands to a range of popular cameras. Using the appropriate accessory cable you can trigger Sony A7/A9 series, Canon EOS R/5D IV, Panasonic GH5/GH5S/S1H, Nikon Z6/Z7, Fuji X-T3 and others.
Rugged fanless design
The Cineeye 2S has a striking modern industrial design with all metal construction. Importantly it is fanless and so runs completely silently. Integrated twin antennas fold into the body for easy transport and storage and it has compact dimensions of just 108mm×68.5mm×30mm. Weighing in at only 213g without battery it is easy to attach to cameras of any size. A 1/4 20 thread on the base of the unit features additional ARRI style anti-rotation holes that offer extra security when mounting using an appropriate arm or shoe mount.
Multiple power options and amazing battery life
The Cineeye 2S has a super long battery life with up to 14 hours of runtime off a single NP-F970 battery. Alternatively it can be powered via DC barrel connector with a wide ranging input of 7.4-16.8V which is perfect for use on rigs where a single battery is used to power all accessories. If the two options are used in combination the battery can even be hot swapped without having to power down the unit.
Setup is straightforward with easy menu-driven options for channel selection and transmission settings. A clear 1.3 inch OLED display shows the status of the Cineeye 2S at all times. Simple push buttons on the facia allow users to make rapid adjustments and settings can also be controlled with ease from the Accssoon Go app.
Leading the way in 5GHz wireless
The Cineeye 2S builds on the success of Accsoon’s previous HDMI-only Cineeye products and demonstrates the brand’s commitment to professional users by bringing them genuinely useful wireless features at a hitherto unthinkable price point.
As well as film and TV work the Cineeye 2S has many other uses. It will allow for the creation of simple wireless streaming setups in education, sports, house of worship and countless other applications where a high quality mobile camera feed is required.
The Cineeye 2S is available immediately from authorised dealers with a MSRP of $329 US/ 329 Euro (VAT included)/ 239 GBP (Tax not included).
Channel?Auto/Manual, 20 channels (dependent on local RF laws)
Range?150 meters?open sight, 1 transmitter to 1 phone?
Power Supply?Sony type NP-F550, NP-F750, NP-F970 or DC?7.4?16.8V) Input.
Power Consumption?4.0 Watt (Typical)
Mounting Hole?1/4‘’ with ARRI style locating hole pattern
Operating Temp?0?45 deg-C
Focus, Listening and Innovation are at Accsoon’s core. Founded by a group of passionate and innovative filmmakers, designers and engineers, the company is committed to designing and producing the most innovative high-performance video transmission products for broadcast, cinema and imaging applications.
A dramatic headline perhaps, but once I start to look at what the Xperia Pro can do, I can’t help but say – I want one! The Xperia Pro is so much more than just a phone for making calls or watching YouTube videos.
The Xperia Pro shares many features of Sony’s flagship Xperia 1 II and adds an HDMI input.
HDMI IN. Yes, that’s right – it has a 4K/HD HDMI input. So you can plug your camera into it and use it as an HDMI monitor, plus its HDR so you have a small pocket sized HDMI monitor. When I travel (travel – hopefully that will happen again) to remote locations I often don’t take a monitor because of the extra bulk. But being able to use a phone as a monitor from time to time would be such a help. It supports HDR and Rec2020 and has pinch to zoom if you need to enlarge the image to check focus etc.
Streaming from the HDMI input.
Install a streaming app on the phone and you can use it to stream the HDMI feed from any connected camera direct to your favorite platforms. No need to use clumsy tethering, just plug in the HDMI and start your favorite app.
5G millimeter wave. Because the phone features 5G millimeter wave connectivity, where available you will have access to extremely fast data transfer speeds for streaming or ftp transfers. The phone also includes a Network Visualiser App that allows you to find the best network connectivity so you can be sure of the best possible connection wherever you are.
3x High Quality Cameras. The Xperia Pro has three 12mp cameras with Zeiss lenses that are the equivalent of 16mm f2.2, a particularly impressive 24mm f1.7 as well as a 70mm f2.4. The cameras have been co developed by engineers from the Alpha team and feature full manual control as well as raw stills. For video it can shoot at 4K HDR at 24, 30, 60 and 120fps with an optional wide screen 21:9 (2.370:1) aspect ratio mode that matches the 21:9 aspect ratio of the phone itself.
But all of this goodness comes at a price. Currently its priced at $2499 USD which is a huge amount of money for a phone. The very similar Xperia 1 II without the HDMI input can be found for less than half of that. But for someone that streams a lot, perhaps for TV news applications there is a lot to like. You could use the phone as your camera or use the phone to stream from a better camera, easily and simply. With 5G you can use it to upload finished packages quickly and easily. The cost of any high end phone plus an HDR 4K monitor would be close to that of the Xperia Pro, so while it is a lot of money it isn’t perhaps as outrageous as it first seems.
Much rumoured for some time here it is, the Sony Alpha 1.
Some of the headlines are impressive to say the least:
Full Frame 8K 30fps recording from over sampled 8.6K recording using 10 bit 4:2:0 XAVC-HS. 200-400Mb/s. This should be possible for 30 minutes of continuous shooting.
5.8K over sampled Super35mm 4K shooting mode. Wow!!
4K up to 120fps, codecs including 10 bit intraframe and long GoP 16 bit raw output. EDIT: Originally I thought this would be oversampled from 8K up to 30fps, but I’m now hearing that it’s pixel binned. If that is the case there may be a lot of aliasing and moire in this mode.
S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine and YES it has S-Cinetone, so should be a good match for the FX6 and FX9.
15+ Stops of dynamic range in both video mode and 15 stops in photo mode.
5 Axis internal stabilisation. Built in motion detection gyros and image stabilisation as well as the ability to stabilise in post production with Catalyst Browse.
Faster eye AF and improved AF – how the hell can it get any better?
Available March 2021 for $6,500 USD – A lot of money for a stills camera but not a lot for an 8K, 15+ stop video camera!
I think this is a camera that simply cannot be ignored, whether you shoot corporate videos or make Hollywood blockbusters. I have never been a fan of the ergonomics of a stills camera when shooting video. The Alpha 1 does not have ND filters and you will need to use an MI shoe adapter to get XLR audio in. Also the LCD screen on the back is quite small to use as an LCD finder for video. But it does have a very nice built in OLED EVF that looks to be of exceptionally high quality. There doesn’t appear to be any LUT options or dedicated log shooting mode.
But despite these missing or not quite right for video things, you cannot ignore 8K, the over sampled Full Frame 4K and oversampled Super 35mm 4K – plus 4K 120fps. All in all, this camera ticks a lot of boxes. It could be very nice for chroma key or green screen applications.
It won’t be the low light monster that either the A7SIII or FX6 are. But given recent improvements in sensor technology you can bet the low light performance won’t be terrible.
I also have to wonder what this sensor and processing could do if repackaged into a video camera body. Throw in an ND filter system, a couple of SDI outs and a proper viewfinder – as done with the A7SIII – FX6 – Could this be turned into the F55 replacement many are looking for? If it was it could end up better than a Venice. Could this become the Venice II?
With many parts of Sony now coming under the Alpha Group, for example Pro cameras in the US are now sold by the “Digital Imaging” arm of Sony, the same people behind the Alpha cameras. Could we be seeing the start of a new approach for large sensor video cameras sharing a lot more common DNA than in the past and all coming from just one part of Sony. It makes sense. If they do turn this into a video camera with all the right options and ergonomics it could be an awesome piece of kit.
But let’s just slow down for a minute. I haven’t seen any footage other than via YouTube yet, so maybe it’s not as good as the specs suggest. If the Full Frame 4K is pixel binned that particular mode might not be so good. I suspect this camera is going to be awesome! But at the same time for video shooters the FX9 and FX6 still make a lot of sense. The variable ND is a huge time saver, I’m not sure I ever want to go back to carrying a box of ND’s. Do I need 8K? Certainly no one except Sony have ever asked me for 8K – Sony use it for the CLED video walls. If I did lots and lots of green screen or other effects work it could be beneficial – we need to see how good the codec is first.
And for a lot of what I do the low light, low noise performance of the FX6 and FX9 are important. Exactly how the Alpha 1 stacks up against them remains to be seen. Plus I find LUTs and a dedicated CineEI mode makes shooting Log or Raw so much simpler than having to expose S-Log3 correctly when shooting run n gun.
So while the idea of the Alpha one excites me a lot. I really want to see what it’s like to actually work with before passing final judgement.
I’m not impressed by the video below. Lots of over exposed shots and some odd grading choices which is a bit disappointing. Hopefully these are issues with the video production rather than the camera.
What I don’t know:
It can read the sensor at Full Frame 8K and 30fps, so I assume there is a Full Frame downsampled 4K recording mode. But can it record Full Frame 4K without pixel binning/skipping faster than 30fps? Or does it have to go down to a lower sampling rate or crop to go above 30fps?
What will the quality of the 4K 120fps be like. Can the full 8K sensor be read at 120fps.
I assume the 16 bit 4.3K raw out will be a downsample from the 8.6K Full Frame readout. Again limited to 30fps perhaps, or a reduced scan mode for higher frame rates?
This is from Sony:
New 50.1-megapixel (approx., effective) full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ CMOS image sensor in combination with an upgraded BIONZ XR™ imaging processing engine with eight times more processing power[i]
Blackout- free continuous shooting at up to 30 frames per second[ii]
Fast sensor readout enables up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second[iii], double the speed of the Alpha 9 II, even during 30fps continuous shooting
Bright and large 0.64-type 9.44 million-dot (approx.) OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder with the world’s first[iv] refresh rate of 240 fps
Silent, vibration-free electronic shutter
World’s first[v] anti-flicker shooting with both mechanical and electronic shutter
Electronic shutter flash sync[vi] up to 1/200 sec. for the first time in the Alpha™ series
World’s fastestv mechanical shutter flash sync up to 1/400 sec.
8K 30p[vii] 10-bit 4:2:0 XAVC HS video recording with 8.6K oversampling for extraordinary detail and resolution, in addition to 4K 120p[viii] 10-bit 4:2:2 movie shooting capabilities
Wide dynamic range of 15 stops for stills[ix] and 15+ stops for video[x]
Improved Real-time Eye AF (autofocus) for humans and animals, and new Real-time Eye AF for birds[xi], as well as Real-time Tracking that automatically maintains accurate focus
5-axis optical in-body image stabilization for a 5.5-step[xii] shutter speed advantage
S-Cinetone color matrix as seen in FX9 and FX6to deliver expressive cinematic look
Professional workflow support with the industry’s fastest[xiii] built-in Wi-Fi, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, 1000BASE-T Ethernet and more
SAN DIEGO, CA – January 26, 2021 – Sony Electronics, a global leader in imaging sensor technology and digital imaging, has announced the arrival of the groundbreaking new full-frame mirrorless Alpha 1 camera – asserting their commitment to leading the industry with a stunning combination of innovative new features.
The most technologically advanced, innovative camera that Sony has ever released, the Alpha 1 combines high-resolution and high-speed performance at a level that has never been accomplished in the world of digital cameras. With a brand new 50.1-megapixel full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ image sensor, up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video and much more, the Alpha 1 will allow creators to capture what they’ve never been able to before.
“We are always listening to our customers, challenging the industry to bring new innovation to the market that goes far beyond their expectations.” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “Alpha 1 breaks through all existing boundaries, setting a new bar for what creators can accomplish with a single camera. What excites us the most – more than the extensive product feature – is Alpha 1’s ability to capture that which has never been captured before. This camera unlocks a new world of creative possibilities, making the previously impossible now possible.”
The newly developed image sensor is built with integral memory and paired with an upgraded BIONZ XR imaging processing engine, making it capable of shooting 50.1-megapixel images continuously at an astounding 30fps with up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second. The Alpha 1’s shooting capabilities are further enhanced by a 9.44 million dot OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder, with a refresh rate of up to 240 fps[xiv], ensuring no black out. Additionally, for the first time in an Alpha series camera, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video is available. The Alpha 1 is also capable of 4K 120p / 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and includes S-Cinetone color. The Alpha 1 is also packed with features that support field professionals with faster workflow, including 3.5 times faster wireless FTP transfer speed[xv] and more.
Unprecedented Resolution and Speed
Continuous Shooting at Up to 30 Frames Per Second
The Alpha 1 captures moments that would otherwise be lost thanks to its high-speed performance, providing any photographer the speed they require to capture fast-moving objects. High speed readout from the 50.1-megapixel image sensor and a large buffer memory make it possible to shoot up to 155 full-frame compressed RAW images[xvi] or 165 full-frame JPEG images[xvii]at up to 30 frames per second with the electronic shutter while maintaining full AF and AE tracking performance[xviii].
At an astonishing calculation speed of up to 120 AF/AE per second, the Alpha 1 can maintain focus with high accuracy even for fast moving subjects. It can automatically adjust exposure, even with sudden changes in brightness, with an AE response latency as low as 0.033 secondsii.
Advanced Electronic Viewfinder with the World’s Firstiv Refresh Rate of 240 fps
Complimenting the camera’s ability to capture images at an unprecedented speed, the Alpha 1 viewfinder features the world’s firstiv240 fps refresh ratexiv, for a super-smooth display. The viewfinder does not black out when an exposure is made to offer an uninterrupted view and allow for seamless framing and tracking, even during continuous shooting. The 9.44 million-dot (approx.), 0.64 type Quad-XGA high-definition OLED display and refined optics deliver the highest resolution in its classiv. It also offers 0.90x[xix] viewfinder magnification, a 41° diagonal FOV, and a 25mm-high eyepoint for clear, low distortion viewing from corner to corner.
Sony continues to push the boundaries of autofocus technology with the introduction of the Alpha 1, which can easily track complex, fast-moving subjects with high precision. The camera features 759 phase detection points in a high-density focal plane phase-detection AF system cover approximately 92% of the image area – ensuring accuracy and unfailing focus in environments where focusing might otherwise be difficult.
Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous systemi, thanks to the powerful image processing engine, BIONZ XR. It ensures accurate, reliable detection, even when the subject’s face looks away. In addition to improved Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals, the Alpha 1 employs high-level subject recognition technology to provide Real-time Eye AF for birdsxi, a first in an Alpha series camera. Optimized algorithms ensure that tracking is maintained even if a sitting bird suddenly takes flight, or the framing suddenly changes[xx].
The Alpha 1 also features AI-based Real-time Tracking that automatically maintains accurate focus. A subject recognition algorithm uses color, pattern (brightness), and subject distance (depth) data to process spatial information in real time at high speed.
Silent, Vibration-free Electronic Shutter
High-speed readout from the new image sensor has made it possible to reduce rolling shutter by up to 1.5 times when shooting stills, compared to the Alpha 9 II. It also offers silent anti-flicker continuous shooting with an electronic shutter for the first timev in the world. The electronic shutter[xxi] operates silently, without mechanical noise, and is vibration-free. Stress-free continuous shooting is now possible even when shooting in challenging lighting situations with florescent or other flicker-prone types of artificial lighting. And for the first time in an Alpha camera, electronic shutter flash sync up to 1/200 sec[xxii] is possible. The advantages of the electronic shutter advantages can now come to life even when using flash for broadly expanded shooting versatility.
Dual Driven Shutter System for 1/400 Flash Sync
The Alpha 1 boasts the world’s fastest flash sync speedv of 1/400 sec. with mechanical shutter, making it even easier to capture dynamic action. In addition to a carbon fiber shutter curtain, the Alpha 1 features the newly developed dual driven shutter system utilizing spring and electromagnetic drive actuator, offering high durability and lightness at the same time.
High Resolution Shooting Enhancements
Even with this sensor’s high pixel count, the Alpha 1 offers high sensitivity with low noise, plus 15+ stops of dynamic range for video and 15 stops for stills, for smooth, natural gradations from shadows to highlights thanks to its cutting-edge processing system, throughout a wide ISO sensitivity range of 100-32,000 (expandable to 50-102,400, when shooting stills).
Additionally, the new camera features an evolved Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode that composites up to 16 full-resolution images. In this mode, the camera precisely shifts the sensor in one pixel or half-pixel increments to capture 16 separate pixel-shifted images containing a total of 796.2 million pixels of data, which are then composited into a 199 million pixel (17,280 x 11,520 pixels) image using Sony’s Imaging Edge™ desktop application. With a flash sync of up to 1/200 sec. in this mode, it is ideal for photographing architecture, art or any other still life subject with a level of detail and color accuracy that is simply stunning.
Professional Video Quality
8K High-resolution Movie Shooting
For the first time in an Alpha camera, the Alpha 1 offers 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 XAVC HS recording with 8.6K oversampling for extraordinary resolution. Combined with Sony’s acclaimed autofocus technology, gradation and color reproduction performance, the Alpha 1 will help the user realize their creative vision with the finest detail. It’s 8K footage can also be used for flexible 4K editing during post-production.
Supporting Various Video Formats for Professionals
The Alpha 1 offers in-camera 4K recording at up to 120 frames per secondviii which allows the user to shoot up to 5X slow-motion video[xxiii]. In addition to supporting 10-bit 4:2:2 recording, this feature can be used with efficient Long GOP inter-frame compression or high-quality Intra (All-I) intra-frame compression.
The Alpha 1 features S-Cinetone, the same color matrix that produces the highly regarded FX9 and FX6 color and skin tones. It delivers natural mid-tones, plus soft colors and gorgeous highlights to meet a growing need for more expressive depth. The S-Log3 gamma curve makes it possible to achieve 15+ stops of dynamic range, while the S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.Cine color gamut settings make it easy to match Alpha 1 footage with video shot on VENICE cinema camera, FX9 and other professional cinema cameras.
A unique heat dissipating structure keeps image sensor and image processing engine temperatures within their normal operating range, preventing overheating while maintaining compact body dimensions. This makes it possible to record 8K/30p video continuously for approximately 30 minutes[xxiv].
Supporting Hand-held Shooting
A high-precision stabilization unit and gyro sensors, plus optimized image stabilization algorithms, achieve up to a 5.5-step shutter speed advantage, maximizing the quality of the high-resolution images derived from the camera’s 50.1-megapixel sensor. The Alpha 1 also features an Active Mode[xxv] that offers outstanding stabilization for handheld movie shooting. When using Sony’s desktop applications Catalyst Browse or Catalyst Prepare[xxvi] for post-production, an accurate image stabilization function is available which utilizes metadata generated by camera’s built-in gyro.
Other features that the Alpha 1 offers include; 16-bit RAW output[xxvii] to an external recorder[xxviii] via HDMI for maximum post-production flexibility, a digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe for clearer audio recordings from a compatible Sony external microphone, 5.8K oversampled full pixel readout without pixel binning for high-resolution 4K movies in Super 35mm mode and more.
Enhanced Workflow withNetwork Technologies including Connectivity to 5G Compatible Devices
The Alpha 1 has been designed and configured to support photo and video journalists and sports shooters who need to deliver stills or movies as quickly as possible with advanced connectivity options. It offers several features for fast, reliable file transfers. Industry’s fastestxiii built-in wireless LAN allows communication on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz[xxix]bands with dual antennas to ensure reliable communications. 5 GHz includes 2×2 MIMO support (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) offering 3.5 times faster wireless FTP transfer speed than the Alpha 9 II – a notable advantage for news and sports shooters who need to deliver with reliable speed. There is also a provided USB Type-C® connector to support fast data transfer when connected to a 5G mmWave compatible device such as Sony’s Xperia PRO and makes high-speed PC Remote (tethered) data transfer available for smooth handling of large image files. The Alpha 1 also has a built-in 1000BASE-T LAN connector for high-speed, stable data transfers, including remote shooting. FTPS (File Transfer over SSL/TLS) is supported, allowing SSL or TLS encryption for increased data security.
In addition to compressed and uncompressed RAW, the Alpha 1 includes efficient lossless compression with no quality degradation, Lossless Compressed RAW. There is also a new “Light” JPEG/HEIF image quality setting that results in smaller files than the “Standard” setting, allowing faster deliver for news and sports photographers who depend on speed. Along with a versatile range of RAW and JPEG formats, the Alpha 1 includes the HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) format for smooth 10-bit gradations that provide more realistic reproduction of skies and portrait subjects where subtle, natural gradation is essential. Images shot on the Alpha 1 can be trimmed in-camera to a desired aspect ratio, size, or position for versatile usage.
The Alpha 1 is also compatible with a variety of apps, add-ons and tools. With Imaging Edge Mobile and Imaging Edge Desktop[xxx], professionals can easily transfer RAW files and files that use lossless compression and remotely control Touch Tracking and Touch Focus for convenient AF operation. The Transfer & Tagging add-on (Ver. 1.3 or later) can automatically covert voice memos attached to image files to text captions or transfer the files to an FTP server from a mobile device. Desktop applications Catalyst Browse/Catalyst Preparexxvi allow professionals to browse and manage video clips shot by Sony’s camera. In addition, the Remote Camera Tool[xxxi] can remotely change camera settings and shoot from a computer connected via LAN cable and feature a number of refinements for the Alpha 1: faster transfer, touch response, dual slot and HEIF support, and more.
Reliable and Easy Operability
Professional users need more than just refined features and performance. They also need the reliability and durability demanded of any professional tool. The Alpha 1 has two media slots that both support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards, as well as new CFexpress Type A cards for higher overall capacity and faster read/write speeds. It also features a durable magnesium alloy chassis, long battery life with the Z-battery which can be extended using the optional VG-C4EM Vertical Grip (sold separately), an improved dust removal feature, shutter close function on power-off? to protect image sensor, plus dust and moisture resistance[xxxii] that maximizes reliability in challenging environments. It includes a durable, reliable HDMI Type-A connector, and USB PD (Power Delivery) support, allowing higher power to be supplied from an external source so that users can record for extended periods with minimal internal battery usage.
A revised menu structure provides easier navigation, and touch-responsive menu operation offers fast, more intuitive control with Touch Focus and Touch Tracking on its 3.0 type 1.44 million-dot (approx.) LCD monitor. For easy customization, a subset of the camera’s shooting settings now changes according to the selected shooting mode, making it easier than ever to use different aperture, shutter speed and other settings for shooting stills and movies.
Pricing and Availability
The Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable-Lens Camera will be available in March 2021 for approximately $6,500 USD and $8,500 CAD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.
Exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new camera and Sony’s other imaging products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony ? – Alpha brand cameras.
For detailed coverage on the new product on Alpha Universe, please visit this LINK.
The new content will also be posted directly at the Sony Photo Gallery.
Additionally, a product launch video focused on the Alpha 1 can be found at this LINK.
[i] Compared to the BIONZ X imaging processing engine.
[ii] “Hi+” continuous shooting mode. In focus modes other than AF-C, effective at 1/125 sec. or higher shutter speed. In AF-C mode, effective at 1/250 sec. or higher shutter speed, and the maximum continuous frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. 20 fps max. when shooting Uncompressed or Lossless compressed RAW.
[iii] At shutter speeds of 1/125 sec. or higher. The number of AF calculations will depend on the lens used.
[iv] As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among full-frame mirrorless cameras.
[v] As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among full-frame interchangeable-lens digital still cameras.
[vi] Up to 1/200 sec. Synchronization via the sync terminal is not available for electronic shutter.
[vii] [APS-C S35 Shooting] is fixed [Off] when shooting 4K 120p and 8K movies.
Sony has launched an entirely new division called Airpeak. Airpeak have produced a large drone that can carry an Alpha sized camera. They claim that this is the smallest drone capable of carrying an Alpha sized camera. It’s unknown at this time whether the Airpeak division will purely focus on larger drones capable of carrying non integrated cameras or whether they will also produce smaller drones with integral cameras. It would certainly make sense to leverage Sony’s sensor expertise by creating dedicated cameras for drones and then drones to carry those cameras.
The drone market is going to be a tough one to make inroads into. There are already a couple of very well regarded drone manufacturers making some great drones such as the DJI inspire or Mavic Pro. But most of these are small and cannot carry larger external cameras. However the cameras that these drones are equipped with can deliver very high quality images – and they continue to get better and better. The use of larger drones for video applications is more specialist, however globally it is a large market. Whether Sony can compete in the more specialist area of larger drones that carry heavier payloads is yet to be seen. I hope the succeed.
One thing I intend to do in the next few years as the Sun enters the more active phase of it’s 11 year solar cycle is to shoot the Aurora from a drone and a camera like the A7S III and a larger, stable drone would be perfect. But there is no indication of pricing yet and a drone of this size won’t be cheap. So unless I decide to do a lot more drone work than I do already, perhaps it will be better to hire someone with the right kit. But that’s not as much fun as doing it yourself!
For more information on Airpeak do take a look at their website. There is already some impressive footage of it being used to shoot a Vision-S car on a test track.