37 Steps to the Ultimate Sony Alpha a1 Setup

The Sony Alpha a1 is here, and it is time to set up this camera for use. Following are the 37 steps I took to make an out-of-the-box a1 ready for use.

  1. Charge battery
  2. Record serial number and add camera to insurance policy
  3. Download and install Capture One (for Sony) and/or Sony Imaging Edge (unless your current favorite RAW image processing software supports this camera)
  4. Insert charged battery, and power on the camera
  5. Set the time zone, date, time, timeformat
  6. insert memory card(s)
  7. Select M mode, press "Menu", and configure the camera as follows:
  8. Shooting Menu, 1 Image Quality: Image Quality Settings: File Format: RAW, RAW File Type: Lossless Comp (full image quality, reduced file size, ensure your software supports this format)
  9. Shooting Menu, 1 Image Quality: Long Exposure NR: Off (I'll enable this option for very long exposures)
  10. Shooting Menu, 1 Image Quality: Lens Compensation: Shading, Chromatic Aberration, and Distortion Comp: All Off (I use the RAW processing software to enable any lens compensation, with CA correction frequently selected)
  11. Shooting Menu, 2 Media: Format (ensure there are no important files on the card(s) prior to formatting)
  12. Shooting Menu, 3 File: Copyright Info: Write Copyright Info: On, Set Photographer: [your name], Set Copyright: [as desired], Write Serial Number: On (note: entering this information on the touchscreen may be a painful process)
  13. Shooting Menu, 5 Drive Mode: Con. Shooting Speed: Lo(E-Shutter): 10 images/sec (I will use 10 fps more than the default 5 fps)
  14. Shooting Menu, 5 Drive Mode: Bracket Settings: Bracket order: ->0>+ (considerably enhances image selection for HDR processing)
  15. Shooting Menu, 6 Shutter/Silent: Release w/o Lens: Disable
  16. Shooting Menu, 6 Shutter/Silent: Release w/o Card: Disable (why is this not the default?)
  17. Shooting Menu, 9 Shooting Display: Grid Line Display: On (Rule of Thirds selected)
  18. Exposure/Color Menu, 3 Metering: Spot Metering Point: Focus Point Link
  19. Exposure/Color Menu, 6 Color/Tone: D-Range Optimizer: Off
  20. Exposure/Color Menu, 6 Color/Tone: Creative Look: NT (Neutral), Sharpness = 1 (this setting provides a lower contrast histogram. I usually process with the Natural creative style in Capture One)
  21. Focus Menu, 1 AF/MF: Priority Set in AF-S: AF
  22. Focus Menu, 1 AF/MF: Priority Set in AF-C: AF
  23. Focus Menu, 2 Focus Area: Focus Area: Spot
  24. Focus Menu, 2 Switch V/H AF Area: AF Point Only
  25. Focus Menu, 3 Face/Eye AF: Face/Eye Frame Disp: On
  26. Playback Menu, 4 Delete: "Delete" first
  27. Playback Menu, 7 Playback Option: Display Rotation: Off (image fills LCD)
  28. Network Menu: 1 Smartphone Connection: Smartphone Connection: Off
  29. Network Menu: 7 Network Menu: Airplane Mode: Off
  30. Setup Menu: 3 Operation Customize: DISP (Screen Disp) Set: Monitor: Uncheck For viewfinder and Monitor Off, press [enter]
  31. Setup Menu: 3 Operation Customize: Custom Key Setting: Top: 3: Image Quality Settings (allows quick access to the RAW file type, availing the Compressed option access 30 fps)
  32. Setup Menu: 4 Dial Customize: Av/Tv Assign in M: TV/Av (I adjust the shutter speed more frequently and urgently than aperture and the front dial is easier to access quickly)
  33. Setup Menu: 5 Touch Operations: Touch Panel/Pad: Both Valid
  34. Setup Menu: 5 Touch Operations: Touch Pad Settings: Touch Position Mode: Relative Position, Operation Area: Whole Screen
  35. Setup Menu 9, Sound Option: Audio signals: Off (how to turn off the loud and usually-annoying AF beep sound)
  36. My Menu: Format; Px. Shift Multi Shoot; Shutter Type; Anti-flicker Set.; Steady Shot; Flash Comp.; Face/Eye Subject, Bracket Settings
  37. With a lens mounted and a subject in focus, adjust the viewfinder diopter until the scene is sharp

I make additional menu and other setting changes based on current shooting scenarios, but this list covers my initial camera setup process.

To copy this configuration means you intend to shoot as I do — including in RAW-only format. While this setup works great for me, you should tweak these steps as needed.

If you can't remember your menu setup parameters, keeping an up-to-date list such as this one is a great idea. Anytime your camera is reset to factory state for some reason, such as when being serviced or when acquiring an additional camera, you will be ready to create your setup quickly while ensuring that an important setting is not omitted. If you purchase another same or similar camera, you will be able to set it up quickly. Note that the a1 enables camera settings to be saved and loaded, a timesaving feature.

More Information

Sony Alpha a1

The Sony Alpha a1 is available for order at B&H | Adorama | Amazon.
Rent the Sony Alpha a1 from Lensrentals.

Posted: 3/19/2021 8:18:33 AM ET   Posted By: Bryan
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