Nature is Unpredictable. My Sony's Alpha 1 is Not - Pete McBride

As a photographer and filmmaker who has contributed to National Geographic for over twenty years, I have worked in some hard-to-reach places around the world documenting expeditions, wildlife, remote cultures and more. I’ve had the pleasure to swim in the Arctic with orca and humpback whales and worked on the front lines of an elephant conservation project in Africa. Once, I trekked roughly 1300 kilometers, without a trail, through the entire length of the Grand Canyon to highlight the beauty as well as the commercial development threats of this sublime, natural monument that the world shares. 

The most important aspect of my work, whether I am taking photographs for a magazine or filming for a documentary, is to have a system that is light, fast and reliable. In the field, I want a camera that can provide as many features as possible for the surprises I encounter — and for me, the Sony’s Alpha 1 is that camera.

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Pete Landscape
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Nature is Unpredictable. My Sony’s Alpha 1 is Not - Pete McBride

For instance, when I am covering fast-action sports like skiing, I need lightning-fast focus tracking and high shutter speed to ensure I dont miss a moment. The Alpha 1 has fast autofocus covering a wide area, including a tracking feature that allows me to follow a skier at 60km/hour down the mountain while maintaining precise focus.

Pete Ski

Alpha 1 | FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II | F8 | 200mm | 1/1600s | ISO 250

When I am shooting one of my favourite subjects, aerials, the Alpha 1’s wide dynamic range allows me to capture not just the high alpine light on mountain peaks but also open up the shadows in the valleys below. The 50.1MP high resolution sensor also captures incredible detail for photographing the breathtaking landscapes I find myself in.

When training my lens on wildlife, one of the most critical challenges I always face is finding the right spot without stressing the animals or making any noise. Having a camera that has a silent, no vibration shutter option is absolutely key for wildlife photography, because nothing is worse than hiking for hours in quiet nature to the right spot, and then having a camera shutter click scare off the herd of elk or a sleeping leopard.

Pete - Wildlife Elk

Alpha 1 | FE 600mm F4 GM OSS | F5.6 | 600mm | 1/200s | ISO 400

Another amazing element of the Alpha 1 for wildlife photography and videography: the ability to track focus on animals’ eyes. I often use eye-tracking focus for human portraits, but to have an option that tracks the often-darker and larger eyes of our wild, furry friends (or feathered or scaled or spotted) is game-changing. With the Alpha 1’s blackout-free shooting, I can find a fast-moving creature and know I’ll keep everything I need to in frame - and in focus -as I follow it with my camera.

No matter where I am in the world or what I am doing, I want to the ability to quickly transition from still photo mode to motion.

Sometimes I want to speed up time and create timelapses; On other occasions, I prefer to slow time down, requiring the ability to capture video in 60p or even 120p. Of course, I want it all in 4K – or higher when needed. In the past, slow motion options have often lowered image quality on output or cropped in on the sensor. Those issues no longer apply to my workflow, as the Alpha 1 offers stunning video quality up to 8K 30p and 4K 120p, 16-bit RAW output and 10-bit 4:2:2 colour, and amazing gamma profiles including HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) S-Cinetone, S-log3, so I know that whatever sequence I’m filming will end up looking just as good in the final video as it does in front of my eyes. Sometimes even better.

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Alpha 1 Rhythm of Life - Pete McBride

The amount of hard, often sweaty work and logistics that goes into getting the shot is formidable, so having a camera that lives up to the task is critical for me. And I dont want to carry backpacks full of different cameras for different needs. I just want one, and that one camera for me is Sonys Alpha 1. I have used Sony Alpha Cameras for years, and this body has improved ergonomics, menu, durability, no overheating issues, and amazing battery life.

Taking only a quick tap of a button or spin of a dial, the Alpha 1 goes from shooting photos at 30 frames per second to switching to 8K video with the simple touch of a button, or quickly changing between human and animal eye-tracking, or using the silent shutter or cranking up my shots per second, this camera makes light work of every circumstance.

At the end of the day the Alpha 1 does what I ask of it in every situation that I’ve thrown – and will throw – myself into.

In my many years working in the elements – from high in the windswept mountains or the heat of the desert to the bustling city streets swirling with culture, colour and music, Ive learned that life, adventures and travel are all unpredictable.

I am grateful my camera is not. The Sony Alpha 1 is the one camera I grab no matter who or what calls me out the door.

Pete - Landscape 1

Alpha 1 | FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS | F7.1 | 105mm | 1/320s | ISO 160

Pete - Wildlife 2

Alpha 1 | FE 600mm F4 GM OSS | F4 | 600mm | 1/125s | ISO 800

Pete - Mica

Alpha 1 | FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS | F8 | 150mm | 1/640s | ISO 800

Pete - Ariel

Alpha 1 | FE 600mm F4 GM OSS | F22 | 600mm | 1/400s | ISO 400

Pete - Milky

Alpha 1 | FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS | F11 | 105mm | 1/125s | ISO 400

Pete - Portrait

Alpha 1 | FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS | F4 | 89mm | 1/400s | ISO 200

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