The Sony a1 is the company’s flagship camera that saw a significant firmware update last fall — but the last nine months have resulted in nothing but basic bug fixes. Yawn. Was the Fall 2022 update that enhanced the autofocus system the last prominent feature add before the launch of a Mark II? More than two years after its initial launch, the Sony a1 remains a major sports camera, yet it still lacks some basic features that could easily be added with firmware.
Ease of Use Update June 2023
I tested firmware version 1.32 on the Sony a1, which doesn’t add any features but fixes a bug where, when specific video features are added, the camera doesn’t turn on. (Thankfully, Sony’s instructions for the firmware update walks you through updating via a computer, since updating on an SD card isn’t helpful when the camera won’t turn on.) Obviously, the bug needed to be corrected, so it’s good that Sony released the update. And I didn’t experience any glitches while testing the firmware update.
But, that also begs the question — are any more new features coming to the Sony a1? Many manufacturers are now limiting firmware updates, including Canon and Fujifilm. At a certain point, it’s common to forget the old models and encourage photographers to spend some money on the latest model for those features.
The Sony a1 is packed full of features — in fact, we already called the camera overkill for most. Yet, at the same time, Sony’s most expensive camera still lacks the ability to do in-camera double exposures, a feature that’s found even on budget cameras. The PlayMemories app used to allow Sony users to purchase that feature, along with options like light trails, but the PlayMemories app was discontinued in favor of the Imaging Edge app. Most other brands already have multiple exposures built-in, for example, including budget and entry-level cameras. This would be a nice addition to see coming via firmware, but as Sony’s other bodies don’t shoot double exposures either, it’s doubtful this feature is coming. Still, perhaps the double exposure’s resurgence on Instagram could inspire the Sony engineers.
The Sony a9 and a9 II, previously Sony’s flagships before the a1 arrived on the scene, had about 2.5 years between the initial body and the Mark II. If Sony follows that same pattern, then the Sony a1 Mark II would be out before the end of 2023. But, it could be 2024 — as Sony Alpha Rumors suggests — as three years is more typical, and Sony doesn’t exactly have a reputation for the most consistently-timed updates.
To be fair, even as a slightly older model, the Sony a9 wasn’t exactly eclipsed by the announcements for the Canon R3 and Nikon Z9 at the end of 2021, at least in terms of burst speed and resolution. Still, I know a lot of photographers would love to see the Mark II gain a better articulating LCD screen and improvements to low light autofocus.