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Sony a1 teardown shows that Sony has made many hidden changes and improvements: Digital Photography Review

After rigorous testing and a lot of hands-on experience, we know a lot about Sony’s flagship mirrorless camera, the Sony a1. However, we’ve never taken one apart. Thankfully, we won’t have to, as the fine folks at Kolari Vision have done it for us. If you’re not familiar with Kolari Vision, they offer a variety of products and services, including specialized lens filters and camera conversions. For example, if you want an infrared camera or a full spectrum camera, you can send your camera to Kolari Vision, and they will perform the conversion.

Kolari Vision wanted to convert a Sony a1 into a full spectrum camera and, while doing so, decided to take the entire camera apart to see how the a1 differs from Sony’s other mirrorless cameras. The first step is to peel off the leather grips on the camera and remove the outer plates that form the a1’s shell. There aren’t that many screws, but it looks like Sony applies Loctite to them for improved hold. After removing panels, Kolari Vision found that Sony has added some weather sealing material under various seams.

Image credit: Kolari Vision

After popping the hood, so to speak, Kolari Vision immediately noticed a metal thermal frame. It’s like what’s in the a7S III, but different from what was in the a7 III and a7R IV. The Sony a1 records 4K/120p video and even 8K video, so heat dissipation needed to improve. Otherwise, the overall internal layout is familiar. The HDMI port is now connected via a folded flex cable and held in place by a bracket, whereas in prior Sony cameras, it has been soldered onto the board. That should make replacing a defective HDMI port much easier.

Image credit: Kolari Vision

After unpacking the a1, layer by layer, Kolari Vision made its way to the primary circuit board and the dual Bionz XR processor. These are the brains of the operation and drive the a1’s impressive performance, including full-resolution RAW image capture at 30 frames per second. There are a lot of wires and ribbons inside the a1, including some that have changed from being clip-in connectors to press-on connectors. Kolari Vision writes that there are pros and cons to those. Press-on connectors can be easier to remove, but trickier to put back on.

Image credit: Kolari Vision

With everything disconnected, the board can be removed. Underneath it is another layer of metal heat sink. Kolari Vision writes, ‘Beneath the board, is another layer of metal heat sink. This one feels more condensed than what we’ve seen in other models. On the a7III and a7RIV, it stretched over to the battery compartment, and the A7III’s heatsink had ‘feet’ that extended down to attach to the front. Also, with the A7RIV they went with a more skeletal design, leaving gaps in the plate to cut down on the weight. Here, however, they have prioritized keeping it cool to keep up with the performance demands. They’ve included a layer of heat pads in the middle.’ Has the new heatsink design worked? Let us know in the comments if you’ve had any overheating issues with your a1.

Image credit: Kolari Vision

While the Sony a1 may look familiar on the outside, there are a lot of changes to its internal design. Kolari Vision writes, ‘The A1 may look identical to its predecessors, but there are a lot of little changes inside and out that make this a very impressive camera.’ If you’d like to learn more about all the minor changes Sony has made to its a1 camera, or get a closer look at the many photos Kolari Vision captured during its disassembly, head to Kolari Vision.

Image credits: All photographs taken by Kolari Vision, used with permission.

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