Sony has announced a new professional full-frame camera designed for industrial applications. The Sony ILX-LR1 can be fully operated remotely via the Sony Camera Remote SDK (Software Development Kit). Sony says that the new camera is ideal for inspection, investigation, surveying and mapping by drone.
Sony fitted the ILX-LR1 with a full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor with approximately 61.0 million effective pixels. The camera is also powered by the BIONZ XR image processing engine. In addition, the camera has a wide ISO range of 100-32000. Sony hasn’t quoted specific figures for dynamic range but says that the ILX-LR1 gives “high resolution, low noise and wide dynamic range imagery.” The ILX-LR1 doesn’t have in-body image stabilization, but with its standard E-mount you could use lenses with optical stabilization. There’s a single SD card slot on the back of the camera for your recording media.
The ILX-LR1 basically resembles a sensor in a small casing. It measures 4 inches (100 m) wide by 3 inches (74 mm) deep and is only 1 11/16 inches (42.5 mm) deep. The body also weighs only 8.6 ounces (243 g). The camera has a single tripod socket in the base but has 18 M3 screw holes across all six faces of the case. In addition, there is a USB-C port, micro HDMI port and a Molex socket for external power and control.
Sony designed the ILX-LR1 to be controlled remotely from a computer using the Sony Camera Remote SDK. With this, you can adjust camera settings, shutter release, live view monitoring and more. However, the ILX-LR1 does have some controls that are common for Sony mirrorless cameras. These include a menu button, control wheel, playback button and an enlarge button. There’s also a shutter and movie recording button.
Sony appears to be marketing the ILX-LR1 primarily for still photography use. However, it can record video 4K UHD video (3840 x 2160 resolution) at 59.94p in 4:2:0 8-bit H264 or H265 files. It also supports picture profiles and creative looks including S-Log 3 and S-Cinetone. In addition, the back of the camera has a switch for selecting movie and S&Q recording. S&Q is a mode for recording off-speed footage which plays back in slow motion. The HDMI port can even be configured via the SDK to output 16-bit RAW video.
The ILX-LR1 doesn’t have a viewfinder or LCD screen so you will need to use an external monitor. Another thing that’s missing is a battery connection. The ILX-LR1 is powered via a Molex Micro-Fit 3.0 six-pin socket that also gives you control over focus, exposure and trigger. There’s also no built-in microphone or external microphone socket. This means that while the camera’s video format includes an audio track, it will always have no sound. The camera’s specifications also state that 4K movie recording is limited to around five minutes.
What we think
The ILX-LR1 is a bit of an enigma. Sony says it is designed for industrial applications that don’t need an LCD monitor, viewfinder, grip, Multi Interface (MI) Shoe or battery option. The company also focuses on the still photography uses of the camera on a drone or other remotely operated uses. However, the ILX-LR1 also supports S-Log 3 and even S-Cinetone, which seems unnecessary for industrial video shooting. The ILX-LR1 feels a little like a work in progress. We wonder if more features could be switched on via firmware updates or through the SDK. If so, it could make an ideal gimbal or drone camera, or even a crash camera for Hollywood movies. The ILX-LR1 is definitely one to watch for the future.
Pricing and availability
The Sony ILX-LR1 will be available in November 2023 and will retail at $2,950.