Probably the most unexpected announcement at NAB 2014 was that of the AJA Cion. AJA are well known for their high end external recorders but have never released a camera before, until now. I think everyone was quite taken aback by the camera which seems to have had a fantastic amount of thought put into what would make it really usable, the main reservation people seemed to have related to what the footage from the camera might look like as this has been the big unknown. Well now we have the first glimpse of what this camera can do at the tail end of this introductory video from AJA:
The colour is looking very impressive. Sadly the footage lacks any glimpse of skin tones which is the thing people tend to be most concerned about with digital video cameras at the moment. We will have to wait a little longer to know more about that.
One thing that is a little strange about the Cion is that it can record at higher speeds to an external recorder than it can internally. It’s usually the other way around! The Cion can record up to 120fps in full 4K raw to an external recorder via 3G-SDI but only 60fps internally. It’s a shame that it can’t record to higher frame rates at lower resolution internally. Say 1080p resolution for example? Perhaps we might see that in a future firmware update.
Raw is also only supported to an external recorder but given that the camera supports a wide range of ProRes recording in 4K,UHD,2K and 1080p, I have a feeling that people will most likely plump for the ProRes anyway.
Other than what the output from the camera might look like, the two other big concerns I have heard from people are that it is only PL mount and worries about the cost of the SSD media. AJA are not planning other mounts but are hoping that third parties might step in to provide this and they have designed the camera so that mounts CAN be swapped over, it’s just that they aren’t providing any right now. With regard to the cost of the media, AJA provide their own SSD paks in 256gb and 512gb capacities. The cost is $695 for the 256gb pak and $1295 for the 512gb pak. There is also the option of using an external recorder with some other kind of media too of course.
So far it’s looking like this camera isn’t going to disappoint which given the price tag of $9000 and the fantastically well thought out design, is perhaps going to make it an even bigger surprise than anyone could have possibly expected.