Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 3.26.34 PMThis week has been a crazy one for camera announcements. Not only did Blackmagic blow the lid off of NAB once again with the announcement of the URSA camera, but Digital Bolex brought their A-game to the world of black and white cinematography, and Apertus (despite the fact that they couldn't make it to NAB) announced that the Axiom Beta is well on its way. Perhaps the most interesting camera announcement, however, came from hardware-manufacturer AJA, as they announced the arrival of a brand new 4K cinema camera simply called CION. We just got wind of the full specs on this camera, and even caught a glimpse of some early footage. Check it all out down below.

First and foremost, here's the product launch video for AJA CION, which contains a brief glimpse at the first footage from the new camera:

And here are all of the tech specs that AJA has listed on their website.

  • 22.5mm x 11.9mm Super 35mm sensor with a global shutter
  • 12-stop Dynamic Range
  • Lens Mount: PL (positive lock), replaceable
  • Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) and IR Cut Filter (combined)
  • Removable Storage: AJA Pak media (proprietary SSD)

Recording modes:

  • 4K (4096×2160), Ultra HD (3840×2160), 2K (2048×1080) (2K limited to 60p)
  • Progressive 23.98 to 120 fps
  • Apple ProRes 4444 or Apple ProRes 422 to 30 fps
  • Apple ProRes 422 to 60 fps
  • SDI output support for 119.88/120 fps (SDI 1-4 Raw) (2K limited to 60p)
  • 1080 HD (1920×1080) progressive 23.98 to 60
  • Apple ProRes 4444 or Apple ProRes 422 to 30 fps
  • Apple ProRes 422 to 60 fps
  • SDI output up to 60p


  • 4x 3G-SDI (main), 2x 3G-SDI (Monitor) (AJA RAW 4K at 120 fps)
  • 2x HDMI
  • Thunderbolt (limited to 4K at 30 fps)

Audio Input:

  • 2x 3-pin balanced XLR connectors with dedicated line/mic/48v phantom
  • Audio Output
  • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Jack


  • 1x Reference Input (BNC)
  • 1x LTC (BNC for Timecode)
  • 2x 2.5mm LANC connectors
  • 1x LAN RJ45 connector 1 Gbps


  • 7.4 lbs / 3.4 kg (with top handle attached)


  • AC Range: 100-240 VAC 50/60Hz
  • DC Range: 12-18Vdc, 5A maximum, 4-pin XLR or 2-pin input connectors
  • Power: 38-42W typical, 45-47W maximum
  • (Note: does not include power draw from 2-pin output connector)

And for those of you that missed our interview with the folks at the AJA booth about this camera, here it is again:

Of the announcements made this week, the AJA CION has me the most excited. It's not necessarily that the CION has the most impressive specs of the cameras announced this week, as the Blackmagic URSA takes the cake in that respect. However, Blackmagic has a bit of a shaky track record when it comes to delivering their cameras, both in terms of the timing and the firmware bugs that often go unaddressed. AJA, on the other hand, has a stellar reputation for delivering products that work exactly as advertised on day 1 (although this is their first camera, so who knows what unexpected problems they might encounter). With that said, having worked with several AJA products like the Ki-Pro Mini and Quad, and having had nothing but fantastic experiences with all of them, my intuition tells me that AJA will deliver everything that is promised with the CION.

In a market that is now saturated with fairly inexpensive digital cameras aimed at independent filmmakers, reliability and ease of use are often not the first things on the camera manufacturers' minds. Image quality should definitely be the first and foremost concern, but we, as independent filmmakers, need tools that will offer us the rock-solid stability and reliability of cameras like the ALEXA. If AJA plays their cards right, it looks like the CION has the ability to become the poor man's ALEXA, which would be one hell of  a compliment for AJA.

Beyond the fact that AJA will most likely meet and perhaps exceed the hefty expectations for a camera of this caliber, the camera itself signals a major shift in design ethos that all of us should be massively excited for. Cameras like the CION are a breath of fresh air -- it's simply designed, entirely utilitarian, and it's meant to sit on the shoulder with proper balance without additional rigging. Of course, AJA isn't the first to put out a camera with these design principles in mind, but to this point, they have certainly done it the best. I mean, the CION is not only beautiful, but ergonomically functional in all respects.


Now let's talk about price. At $9000, it's certainly not the cheapest option out there. However, I think that the CION will perfectly fill the gap in the market between low-end solutions like DSLR's and the Blackmagic cameras and seemingly middle of the road cameras like the F5 and beyond. For many independent filmmakers, this is a crucial piece of the market with very few legitimate options (except for the FS700). However, if the folks at AJA really nail the color science and image pipeline of the CION, then there is little doubt that it will be a powerhouse for independent filmmakers.

I'm curious to hear if you guys are as fond of the AJA CION as I am. Leave your thoughts down in the comments!

Link: CION: Science of the Beautiful -- AJA

[via WolfCrow]

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