AJA announced today that their highly anticipated CION digital cinema camera has finally begun shipping to resellers worldwide. The company also released a camera test detailing the CION's internal gamma settings and in-camera color correction abilities.
When AJA released the first showreel of ungraded CION footage earlier this year, many people gave the footage a big "meh" in terms of the overall image quality. However, the footage wasn't your typical ungraded log footage, as many people were expecting, but instead an example of the CION's ability to apply basic color correction in-camera. This has always been one of the more confusing aspects of the CION, but a newly released test video shows the many ways in which the CION can interpret luminance and chrominance information and manipulate them in-camera. Take a look.
Here's what AJA says about the above video:
The CION Technical Video 1 shows in precise detail the Exposure Index, Gamma and In-Camera Color Correction options available with the CION 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD production camera from AJA. The video is split into two sections; the first shows these comparisons at 5600K and the second section details the same comparisons at 3200K. No grade or color correction has been applied to this 4K footage although some scaling and resizing has been made to create the side-by-side comparison images you see within the video.
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In the eight months since AJA surprised the world with the announcement of the CION at NAB 2014, a few things have changed in the digital cinema camera game, chiefly Sony's release of the FS7, a camera that compares well with the CION in terms of specs and price. Despite the fact that many were quick to declare the CION irrelevant after the announcement of the FS7, I'm convinced that these are two completely unique cameras that will dig out their own niches in the digital cinema camera market.
On one hand, I see the FS7, which utilizes the same sensor as the F5, as a truly formidable documentary-style camera with a few features (like RAW) aimed at narrative filmmakers. For me, if Sony sees the F5 and F55 as competitors to the ALEXA, then the FS7 is their answer to the Amira. The CION, on the other hand, is not a low-light camera. With an expected base ISO of 320, the CION is a camera that will need external light to produce its best images. For that reason, the CION will be right at home in a more traditional narrative filmmaking atmosphere where external light sources are a given. It may find use in run and gun narrative work if it can pull a clean image at 800 ISO or higher, but primarily its niche will be in lighted narrative situations.
The CION is currently available for pre-order at B&H, and will likely be shipping from them within a few days.
What do you guys think about where the CION fits into the current digital cinema camera market? Is it fair to compare it with the FS7? Let us know down in the comments!