One of the most newsworthy cameras announced in 2014, AJA's CION 4K camera, is now shipping globally, as the company makes good on its pledge to release the camera before the end of the year.
Way back at NAB 2014, AJA stole the thunder of other camera makers with the announcement and exhibition of its AJA CION, the company's lightweight, ergonomically-designed 4K camera, sporting a ton of features and capability at a comparatively low price ($8,995 for the body). Since then, a slew of other 4K cameras have entered the market from the likes of Sony, Panasonic and others, yet that hasn't dampened excitement for AJA's entrance into the camera business.
For years, AJA's been an industry leader in I/O devices, but its announcement of the CION came as a huge shock to anyone who follows film technology. Blackmagic Design took a similar course, transitioning from I/O maker to camera (and I/O) maker, so perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised, but AJA did a great job keeping the project leak-free until the announcement.
Of course, as is the case with many camera announcements, the shipping date has been a moving target, as AJA likely hit a few snags along the way. Originally slated for a Summer release, the shipping window has been pushed back a few times, finally to the end of December, which left many wondering if AJA would, in fact, ship one of 2014's most talked about cameras in 2014.
Arriving just under the 2014 wire, the AJA CION is now shipping globally to retailers, meaning that in the next couple of days, your pre-order of the AJA CION may be leaving B&H, Adorama or whatever your preferred equipment dealer may be, on its way to your address. Depending on shipment levels and the number of existing pre-orders at your retailer, you may be able to purchase the AJA CION without a pre-order before the calendar flips to 2015.
In case you haven't been keeping up on the AJA CION, here's a quick run-down: it's a lightweight camera designed to be versatile, with appropriate ergonomics and balance for single-operator shoulder operation, but with orientation of menus and displays suitable for using any supports and accommodating use by traditional camera teams for cinema. The camera can record 12-bit 4K (UHD and DCI) in camera onto AJA Pak media up to 60p, and can output 4K RAW at 120p over SDI. (The AJA CION is actually the only camera available that captures 12-bit 4K internally.) AJA flexed it's I/O might with the CION, giving it comprehensive variety of pro ports, from LANC to XLR audio to HDMI to Thunderbolt and many more, all logically arranged, with accessory connection points adhering to film standards, which should allow you to use many of your existing accessories. Rounding out the offering are built-in optical low pass and infra-red filters, helping to reduce moire and IR color pollution, respectively. It would have been nice to see the inclusion of built-in ND filters, but this is still an outstanding value for the money, rivaling (on paper, at least) cameras that cost several thousands of dollars more.
Of course, it remains to be seen how well the camera actually performs in the field, but given AJA's solid reputation in the industry, the CION has a good chance of living up to the hype. And, as the units ship, we're only days away from being able to test it ourselves.
Check back with RedShark News regularly for more news on the AJA CION, including our first impressions and a full length review, coming soon!
Full Press Release
AJA CION 4K/UltraHD/2K/HD Production Camera Now Shipping
Maximize production and minimize post with the easiest 4K workflow yet
Grass Valley, CA (December 22, 2014)—AJA Video Systems’ CION 4K/UltraHD/2K/HD production camera is now shipping globally. Ergonomic and lightweight in design with unparalleled connectivity, CION™ is capable of shooting at 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD resolutions. In-camera recording directly to the Apple ProRes family of codecs, including 12-bit ProRes 444, enables incredible image quality capture to cost-effective AJA Pak SSD media at up to 4K/60p, and offers compatibility with a wide range of post production applications. CION also outputs AJA Raw HFR at up to 4K/120p. CION is the only 4K/UltraHD camera available that captures internally to 12-bit ProRes 444.
Featuring more simultaneous on-set monitoring outputs than any other camera in its class, alongside a built-in confidence monitor and LAN browser video tap, CION provides advanced monitoring flexibility for a wide range of productions. Users can choose a combination of 2 x 4K/UltraHD and 3 x 2K/HD or 8 x 2K/HD, check each camera feed in multi-cam setups through an integrated LAN connection, and monitor remaining recording time all in tandem. The unique LAN port and embedded webserver facilitates full remote configuration and control, so users can set up and control or gang control multiple CION cameras via a standard web browser. Made from a lightweight yet strong magnesium alloy and featuring a contoured suede shoulder pad, CION is easy and comfortable to setup and operate. Using AJA’s Pak Dock on set, CION operators can also achieve lightning fast transfer speeds via Thunderbolt™ or USB3 for immediate access to files for editing. Third party lens mounts are available which allow CION greater compatibility than any other 4K/UltraHD camera system.
“CION is the culmination of years of R&D, technical ingenuity and passion. We couldn’t be prouder to release it; it not only delivers an extraordinary film-like image quality and accuracy, but offers a unique feature set that facilitates a level of flexibility and control in production environments unlike anything else before regardless of resolution – while still providing the same great reliability and support that AJA is known for,” said Nick Rashby, president, AJA Video Systems.
• Sensor: 4K APS-C sized CMOS sensor with an electronic global shutter. 12-stops of dynamic range.
• Exposure index: 250, 320, 500 and 800
• Gamma: Disabled, Normal, Normal Expanded, Video and Expanded 1
• Recording Formats and Resolutions: Apple ProRes 4444, Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), Apple ProRes 422, ProRes 422 (LT) and Apple ProRes (Proxy); 4K (4096x2160), UltraHD (3840x2160), 2K (2048x1080), HD (1920x1080). 2K and HD are hardware scaled from the full 4K sensor for high-quality over-sampled images and retention of field-of-view.
• Media: Record to AJA Pak SSD media available in 256GB and 512GB capacities. Transfer via Thunderbolt™ or USB3 with optional AJA Pak Dock; Complete 10-bit and 12-bit workflow from HD to 4K.
• Raw Support: Output AJA Raw via 3G-SDI at up to 4K 120 fps or via Thunderbolt™ at up to 4K 30 fps.
• Lens Mount: Industry standard PL mount, removable, with 3rd party mounts available for CanonEF/FD, Nikon F/G-Mount, Leica M, ARRI Bayonet, Panavision and B4 ENG lens types.
4 x 3G-SDI/HD-SDI outputs (4K/UltraHD/2K/HD)
2 x 3G/HD-SDI monitor outputs with overlay support
1 x HDMI output offering support for 4K and UltraHD or scaled 2K/HD
1 x HDMI output for 2K/HD
2 x mic/line/48v XLR analog audio inputs
2 x LANC control ports
1 x LTC input connector
1 x Reference connector
1 x USB connector
1 x 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN connection
1 x Mini TRS headphone jack
1 x 4-pin XLR power connector
1 x input power connector for attaching third-party battery plates
1 x P-TAP output power connector
1x Thunderbolt™ connector
• Optical Low Pass Filter and IR cut filter: An integrated OLPF (Optical Low Pass Filter) reduces unwanted moiré effects while still retaining vital image detail. The infrared (IR) cut filter produces high quality colors within the image by blocking unwanted light wavelengths.
• Back Focus Adjustment: The mechanical calibration of the distance between lens and sensor allows finely tuned adjustments to ensure the sharpest image quality possible.
• Industrial design: Lightweight magnesium chassis, built-in confidence monitor, standard playback controls and connectors placed to optimize functionality. Integrated “cheese plates” fitted to both the top and the bottom of the chassis provide easy mounting of accessories. All CION accessory connection points use open standards, including 15mm rods, 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 threaded holes, and M6 hirth-tooth rosettes.
• User interface: Via operator side panel display, control knob and buttons or via LAN connection using a web-browser; no software installation required.
Pricing and Availability
Pricing for CION is US MSRP $8,995. AJA Pak SSD media is available at a US MSRP of $695 (256GB) and $1295 (512GB). AJA Pak Dock is available at a US MSRP of $395 along with a host of other AJA camera accessories. To place orders, please visit http://www.aja.com/en/where-to-buy#wtb-cion for a list of AJA CION resellers. For additional CION information and a full list of features, visit www.aja.com
Third-party camera accessory manufacturers including Alphatron, MTF, Portabrace, Wooden Camera, Vocas, Zacuto, Arri and many others have already produced several accessories, from viewfinders to lens mounts and protective cases for CION and are available through their respective retail channels. Support for AJA Raw has already been announced by industry-leading workflow companies, including Adobe and Colorfront.
About AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of video interface technologies, converters, digital video recording solutions and professional cameras, bringing high-quality, cost-effective products to the professional, broadcast and post-production markets. AJA products are designed and manufactured at our facilities in Grass Valley, California, and sold through an extensive sales channel of resellers and systems integrators around the world. For further information, please see our website at www.aja.com.