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Alpha 1: 50 Megapixels, 8K And The Creative Sweet Spot

As the announcement of the new Sony Alpha 1 reverberates through the Internet, the specs and features are getting parsed and analyzed by the journalists, bloggers, vloggers, photographers and filmmakers around the world. At Alpha Universe, we’re connecting with a diverse group of leading creatives to get some perspective on some of the tech in the Alpha 1, starting with its 50 megapixel sensor and 8K video resolution.

Leading creatives share their perspectives on some of the tech in the new Sony Alpha 1 camera.

The 50 megapixel/8K resolution is an extremely powerful combination for professionals who are tasked with delivering both photos and video to a client or editor. “I’m always being asked to shoot both photo and video,” says  Philip Edsel, a photographer and filmmaker in Austin, Texas. Edsel was one of the handful of people who had a chance to use the Alpha 1 briefly prior to its announcement and he worked with the camera at a high-speed car shoot at Willow Springs racetrack in California. “It’s just how we have to work and having the very high resolution for both stills and video in one camera is extremely helpful on set and tight deadlines.”

The Resolution Sweet Spot

Some people say resolution is like money; it’s hard to imagine having too much of it. But the fact is there can be diminishing returns with very high resolution for some photographers. Brian Smith is one of the world’s leading portrait, celebrity and editorial photographers. He also won a Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography and he describes how 50 megapixels can be in the photography the goldilocks zone. “Sony Alpha 1’s 50-megapixel resolution hits a real sweet spot for professional photographers. It’s a huge jump in resolution from 24mp and to those shooting sports and wildlife in APS-C mode, it can still yield 21mp stills.“  

And landscape pro Gary Hart, who admits to being enamored with his α7R IV’s 61 megapixel resolution, also acknowledges that 50 megapixels can be a sweet spot. “50 megapixels is the resolution sweet-spot. With 50 megapixels I have the freedom to crop without anxiety. While it’s important to get the framing right at capture, sometimes that’s not possible. Also, magazines frequently will ask if I have a vertical version of a horizontal image to put on their cover. 50 megapixels is more than big enough to crop a vertical version from the original file, and I’m confident that I’ll still have plenty of resolution for even the highest quality publication.”

Emphasizing the need to consider resolution in context, Chicago-based pro photographer Jermaine Horton remarks about the balance between speed and pixels. “Now with the pandemic when I’m shooting sports, I’m often in the stands instead of up close to the action,” he says. “So being able to crop into the image in post while still having extremely fast shooting speeds is a huge bonus. With the Alpha 1, I won’t have to sacrifice resolution for speed. For what I do, Sony really knocked this out the park!” 

Travel photographer Colby Brown also speaks to the combined speed and resolution, especially when it comes to photographing wildlife. “With the Alpha 1, I am thinking of this camera as the ultimate wildlife camera. By doubling the megapixel count from the α9 series, I will have so many more pixels to work with when it comes to cropping into my images of distant subjects. For me as a working travel photographer, the 50 megapixel resolution makes the Alpha 1 a formidable landscape and travel photography camera as well because I often need high resolution for making large prints.”

The 8K Advantage

Cinematographer and photographer Drew Geraci knows the importance of 8K resolution in his pro-level timelapse work, and here he points out the advantage it provides for all creatives. “The content we create as visual artists rely on the best image quality and the ability to tell our stories through our visuals. 8K resolution (in both stills and video) allows us to bend our creative thinking to go beyond our normal scopes. It allows us to recompose, reimagine, and redesign entire scenes while retaining image quality – sacrificing nothing when it comes to our art. I use 8K+ footage daily in my normal workflow and being able to have a camera that's as robust as the Alpha 1 will mean I can do both still and video simultaneously on the same production. It also opens up so many new avenues for creation when you talk about the ability to shoot 30FPS at 8K. This opens the door to many new and never-before-done creative aspects. I'll be fully embracing this new camera!”

Filmmaker Garrette Baird explains how 8K high-resolution footage creates new storytelling capabilities. “Speaking as a storyteller and filmmaker, having 8K in our repertoire will allow us to make decisions in post-production to help better tell the story. Yes, I make every attempt to get the scene framed the way I’d like while shooting, but on occasion I’ll think of a new way to present the scene while editing. A crop, slow push, a pull, or even a Dutch angle if the opportunity presents itself. Having all these options in post production and still delivering crystal clear 4K is a welcomed addition every filmmaker can look forward to using.”

Global adventure filmmaker Renan Ozturk creates compelling work through flexible 4K editing in post-production, and 8K resolution provides that flexibility. “8K is the future and has already played heavily into my workflow with its ability to crop in, stabilize and recompose. Very excited to have such a high end camera in such a small package…another big step forward!”

Learn more about the new Sony Alpha 1 HERE.

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