Sony has announced the new Sony ILX-LR1 (buy here) E-Mount mirrorless camera. Unlike most of the Alpha cameras you’ll be familiar with though, this one isn’t aimed at photographers and filmmakers. It’s designed for industrial use but offers a similar spec to the Sony A7R V (buy here), but for about a grand less.
The ILX-LR1 doesn’t shoot 8K video like the A7R V, but it’s a full-frame camera, with a 61-megapixel sensor. Its lightweight, compact form factor is targeted towards inspection, investigation, surveying and mapping by drone.
Sony ILX-LR1 – It’s not quite an A7R V
As an industrial camera, it makes a few sacrifices compared to the company’s Alpha 7 series lineup. As mentioned, it doesn’t shoot 8K video like the A7R V. It also has no viewfinder. In fact, it has no kind of display on it whatsoever. Not even a big rear LCD to check your images or footage.
There’s no battery slot, either. Nor is there any form of IBIS. If you want stabilisation, you’re reliant on using lenses with built-in optical image stabilisation.
But it does provide plenty of connectivity options for remote monitoring and control, including HDMI output (micro HDMI, unfortunately), USB-C as well as exposed pins to remotely control focus, exposure and triggering. Two of those pins provide the camera with power, between 10-18v – letting you power it externally straight from a V-mount battery or 3S & 4S drone batteries.
What does it do?
Even though there’s no 8K, it does let you shoot 4K video at up to 60 frames per second in 10-bit 4:2:2. It also provides 4K 60p output over HDMI in 16-bit RAW. I haven’t heard any announcements from Atomos or Blackmagic yet, though, so how you’ll utilise and record this signal is unclear.
It shoots 61-megapixel still images, but if you want continuous shooting, you’re limited to 3 frames per second. This isn’t a lot for fast action or wildlife, but for surveying and even photogrammetry, this is more than plenty.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t sport one of Sony’s recent dual-format card slots. It supports UHS-II SD cards but there’s no CFexpress Type A (or B) slot. There’s no indication of bitrates for video in the specs sheet, so whether you’ll need a V90 card or if you can get by with V60 is unknown. We’ve reached out to Sony for clarification and we’ll update this post when we hear back.
It’s also extremely lightweight, weighing only 243g. Mirrorless cameras are already fairly lightweight, but this is ridiculous. For comparison, the recently announced tiny full-frame Sony A7cr (buy here) weighs in at 515g, more than double that of the ILX-LR1.
This makes it ideally suited for use on drones, where weight is often at a very limited premium. Even if your drone can handle heavier cameras, the reduced weight of the ILX-LR1 is still going to help extend your battery life and your flight times.
Remote control and monitoring
The Sony ILX-LR1 utilises Sony’s Camera Remote SDK, allowing you to create your own applications to be able to control the camera. If you’re using it on a drone, you can potentially control it remotely through your drone’s controller, too – depending on the drone and controller being used, of course.
For most people, this isn’t going to be anywhere near a substitute for the Sony A7R series of cameras. Or, well, any model in Sony’s A7 and its variants product lines. But depending on your needs, this might be better suited to the task.
Sony ILX-LR1 Specs
|Shutter type||Mechanical and Electronic|
|Focus type||Auto & manual focus|
|Internal video||4K UHD 10-bit 4:2:2 at up to 60fps|
|External video||4K 16-Bit 4K RAW over HDMI|
|Memory card slots||UHS-II SD card slots|
|Connectivity||USB-C, RC Port, Camera Remote SDK|
|Dimensions||100.0 x 74.0 x 42.5 mm|
The Sony ILX-LR1 certainly isn’t the camera for everybody. In fact, when it comes to most photographers and filmmakers, it’s going to be the camera for hardly anybody. But I can see some uses in my own work where a camera like this would be very handy indeed.
Given the remote control nature of the camera and its ability to plug into Sony’s Camera Remote SDK (although, to be fair, most of Sony’s current model cameras do that now), I could see this being a great option for a high-quality trail cam.
Price and Availability
Update 8th September 2023: Sony has issued a correction to the press release stating that “ILX-LR1 expected availability is at the end of November 2023 through Sony and a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers.”