Super Bowl LV may have been most notable for Tom Brady's sensational seventh ring, but The Big Game was also a big deal for another reason: it marked the NFL debut of the Sony A1.
In addition to the Bucs routing the Chiefs (and Brady nabbing his fifth Super Bowl MVP), the NFL's centerpiece event saw the Sony A1 bring its astonishing professional-grade firepower to one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.
• Read more: Best camera for sports photography
A late addition to the equipment being used by the CBS Sports production team covering the Super Bowl, Sony's 8K powerhouse was brought in to capture the dreamy, shallow depth of field shots that have become one of the broadcaster's most talked about new tricks of late.
Of course, any full frame camera with a fast lens can separate the subject and make the background blurry. Where the Sony A1 comes into its own is the manufacturer's new and improved autofocus system, with spookily accurate subject detection and near-magnetic tracking.
“The operator has been blown away by how cool it is and how fast the autofocus is,” Jason Cohen, CBS Sports' VP of remote technical operations, told Sports Video Group News.
“He said it’s amazing because he literally just touches a screen to select the subject that he wants it to focus on and it is instantaneously locked in the focus.” The A1 was set to be deployed on a MōVI handheld rig, for cinematic close-up shots.
The NFL's – and NFL fans' – fascination with Sony shallow depth of field shots began on 20 December, during a game between the Seahawks and the Redskins. This was where a Sony A7R IV and Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM was used on a gimbal to capture bokehlicious close-ups.
While the A1 and A7R IV aren't up to the task of filming entire games, they are fast becoming favorite tools for specialty shots along with other camera tech like Skycams, Flycams, Steadicams and the Movie Bird (a 53-foot telescoping jib). Still, it's fascinating to see consumer cameras being used in professional environments.