The Mack Sennett Studios was part of the early days of moviemaking in Los Angeles and soundstage home to such luminaries of the day as Charlie Chaplain. Now it hosts special events — which is why AJA Systems chose this location to present their CION production camera. Definitely cutting-edge 21st Century technology, the 4K/Ultra HD and 2K/HD AJA CION camera is designed for ease of use without sacrificing any professional capabilities.
CION can record at 4K (4096×2160), UltraHD (3840×2160), 2K (2048×1080) and HD (1920×1080); 2K and HD being hardware scaled from the 4K sensor.[image:blog_post:55451]
Jon Thorn, AJA’s Senior Product Manager, took us through a few of the internals that CION boasts: shooting direct to edit-ready Apple ProRes 444 at up to 4K 30 fps, ProRes 422 at up to 4K 60 fps or outputting AJA Raw at up to 4K 120 fps certainly is impressive.
The camera is surprisingly lightweight for such a full-featured beast, thanks to a construction of gravity-molded magnesium. Adding to the classy look is the wooden handle — more comfortable to grab when it’s cold, points out Thorn. The sensor’s size — 4K APS-C — means that lenses designed for Super 35mm cover all of the sensor’s imaging area.
Of course, there are enough features to spark anyone’s technical or creative juices, from color temperature and gamma controls to built-in filters (Optical Low Pass/IR Cut) to an electronic global shutter w/12 stops of dynamic range that obviates the “jellies” when shooting. But perhaps most desirable is a removable PL lens mount that can accept third party lenses, making a wider focal choice available — industry standard accessories work here, too.
Or maybe it’s the “confidence monitor” on the side or the mechanical back-focus adjustment for proper calibration of the distance between lens and sensor. Or having all interface controls on the side of the camera. Or using, via the LAN connection, a web browser interface for remote configurations. [image:blog_post:55449]
AJA also provides Pak Media (solid-state hard drives) that the CION uses for storage: this assures that the drives will work without issues.
We also had a chance to get up close and personal with the CION as an adjoining studio was equipped with sets in which multiples of the camera were present. A production setup demonstrated the fast route to 4K/UltraHD post and how settings can be “pushed” to the camera connected via Ethernet. When we caught sight of a steady-cam mounted CION moving among the onlookers, we took over from the operator for a moment to confirm just how comfortable and ergonomic the CION was when handled.
If the impression is that the CION has a lot to offer from what its specs say and how it handles, then adding the fact that the retail price is $8,995 only furthers the level of professionalism and desirability that it exudes.