Continuing our efforts to bring you the best coverage of NAB 2014, we have the next big camera that shook up the show even before it started, the CION from AJA.
Sunday afternoon, the day before exhibits open, we get a tip on an interesting new camera release from an unlikely party: AJA. Within mere hours twitter was alight with the news, with pictures of the new production camera having already started making the rounds along with some basic tech specs.
Whether intentional or not, AJA managed to have a pretty surprising release for the flagship camera in a way I haven’t seen before. So we quickly set up a meeting with AJA’s Andy Bellamy to talk about the CION, and what it’s all about.
AJA’s first camera, the CION is a production camera that shoots 4K, 2K, and HD. AJA seems to have attempted to make this a very ‘all-in-one’ kind of camera, with the ability to “take it [the CION] from the box and put it straight on your shoulder, with very few accessories being added”. To that end they’ve added a suede shoulder pad built into the camera body itself, which is of hardy magnesium make and weighs only 6 pounds.
The CION sports a PL mount, and while Bellamy states that AJA has no plans to make alternate lens mounts, they have made it relatively easy to replace. This leaves the door open for any third party manufacturers to design their own lens mounts, as there’s simply 4 torque screws attaching the lens mount to the camera.
The CION also has a mechanical back focus adjuster for additional focus pulling, and a small “confidence monitor” on the side of the camera for a quick view and menu functions, but lacks a dedicated viewfinder. AJA has attempted to make it “easy to choose your own [viewfinder]” says Bellamy, with dedicated down convert HD and 2K SDI, HDMI, and P-Tap ports on one side.
¼-20 mounts on both the top and bottom of the camera and a removable back power plate for alternate power options help make the CION a more customizable camera all together. Finally, the CION possesses standard sized BNC, XLR, and HDMI outputs, with “nothing proprietary on the system at all”, beyond the recording media.
Now for the sensor, “The sensor is an APS-C sized sensor”, explains Bellamy. “This means if you’re shooting 4K or Ultra HD there will be a very slight crop factor. If you’re shooting HD or 2K, we’ll oversample the whole sensor and give you a dedicated hardware down convert. So there’s no crop factor or line removal for standard HD or 2K workflows.”
The CION records to AJA’s SSD based Pak media drives. They allow the CION to record to ProRes 4K 4444 up to 30fps, as well as ProRes 422 at 60 fps. AJA aims to improve the recording speed when the recording media itself catches up to the camera. It will record to AJA Raw, a feature Bellamy was unable to comment on further, with more details coming closer to release.
The CION will retail for $8,995, with a two year warranty and a projected summer release. For more information, visit www.aja.com
Original press release:
AJA Debuts CION: 4K/UHD/2K/HD Professional Camera
Las Vegas, NV, NAB Conference, Booth SL2505 (April 7, 2014) — AJA Video Systems today announced CION, an entirely new professional camera. CION features an ergonomic design and is capable of shooting at 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD resolutions. AJA pioneered lens-to-post Apple ProRes workflows with the introduction of the Ki Pro product line in 2009; CION builds on this achievement by offering in-camera recording directly to the Apple ProRes family of codecs – including 12-bit 444 – for pristine image capture. ProRes codecs are well established in many post-production environments and offer wide compatibility with editing, color correction and finishing applications. CION enables today’s growing demand for high frame rate support and offers the ability to output 4K raw data at up to 120 fps via 4x 3G-SDI outputs. CION can record directly to AJA Pak SSD media at up to 60 frames per second.
“CION represents a new direction for AJA. Bringing this sophisticated camera to market underscores our passion to support filmmakers, broadcasters and content creators,” said Nick Rashby, President, AJA Video Systems. “We are incredibly proud of CION. We believe that the thoughtfully considered design, along with a powerful feature set, will make it extremely useful and versatile for productions worldwide.”
CION embraces a familiar and tested camera form and ergonomic layout. It includes a built-in shoulder mount and standard connectors in logical positions. CION features a PL lens mount for compatibility with industry-standard lenses. When recording in HD or 2K, the image is oversampled from the full 4K sensor, retaining focal length as well as providing a vibrant and detailed image. A built-in filter combines an optical low pass filter (OLPF) to eliminate unwanted aliasing and moiré with an infrared (IR) cut filter to produce appropriate colors. Additionally, a back focus adjustment means the sharpest image possible can be produced. Also included are several 3G-SDI and HDMI outputs, which are all simultaneously active and supply signal to a variety of 4K/Ultra HD and 2K/HD monitors. A power output connector is conveniently placed at the front of the unit to make electronic viewfinders easy to use. Professional audio inputs round out an unmatched amount of connectivity.
CION features an uncomplicated user interface that can be easily managed from the operator-side. The camera’s menu parameters are also remotely configurable via a web interface and can be accessed through any web browser via a LAN connection. CION’s sleek chassis is formed of magnesium, which is lightweight yet extremely strong. Integrated steel rosettes allow for mounting of industry-standard accessories such as handgrips and handle extensions directly to the camerabody. The open approach to design also includes integrated cheese plates with standard tapped holes. These cheese plates are fitted to both the top and the bottom of the chassis to provide easy mounting of accessories from both AJA and third parties.
CION is the culmination of years of development; AJA has used a considered process to create a production camera with a feature set and form factor that offers the user a wide variety of options both in the field and the studio. CION is an elegant union of great design and functionality, an engineered aesthetic that AJA is proud to describe as “Science of the Beautiful”.
- Sensor: 4K APS-C sized CMOS sensor with an electronic global shutter. 12-stops of dynamic range.
- Recording Formatsand Resolutions: Apple ProRes 4444, Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), Apple ProRes 422, ProRes 422 (LT) and Apple ProRes (Proxy); 4K (4096×2160), Ultra HD (3840×2160), 2K (2048×1080), HD (1920×1080). 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
4x 3G-SDI/HD-SDI outputs (4K/Ultra HD/2K/HD)
2x 3G/HD-SDI monitor outputs with overlay support
1x HDMI output offering support for 4K and Ultra HD or scaled 2K/HD
1x HDMI output for 2K/HD
2x mic/line/48v XLR analog audio inputs
2x LANC control ports
1x LTC input connector
1x reference connector
1x USB connector
1x 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN connection
1x Mini TRS headphone jack
1x 4-pin XLR power connector
1x input power connector for attaching third-party battery plates
1x 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
CION will be available Summer 2014 via a worldwide network of AJA resellers at a US MSRP of $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. Optional CION accessories will also be available when the camera ships. For more information about AJA products please visit www.aja.com.
About AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of video interface and conversion solutions, bringing high-quality, cost-effective digital video 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.