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November 2015

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REVIEW JA surprised a lot of industry folks (such as myself) when it introduced the CION camera at the 2014 NAB show. The company certainly makes lots of great products, but a 4K camera loaded with a ton of features? After spending a few weeks with the CION, I'm happy to report that yes, AJA is a camera company. The CION is a great camera, replete with enough fea- tures to satisfy really demanding shoot- ers and post production professionals. TAKE ONE: CION HARDWARE As with most of the cameras I review, I couldn't wait to get the CION up and running. The camera body is really solid. A little on the heavy side (7.40 pounds), the adjustable Kinogrip wood grip/trigger handle mounted to an outrigger rosette and shoulder mount made the rig com- fortable to hold for a fair amount of time. The supplied Cineroid eyepiece/view- finder was easy enough to set up and, since you could detach the eyecup and use it as just the 3.5mm monitor, it was really pretty trick. AJA CION allows for the shooter to use a variety of different eyepiece/monitor combinations. So in the end, the shooter has the choice of attach- ing the monitor set up that they would be most comfortable shooting with. This open-ended customizing approach by AJA plays an important role, since it al- lows the end user to determine ultimately how the CION will work best for them. Other parts of the hardware I had fun figuring out and setting up included a rail (rods) mounting system for things like Matte boxes, battery mounting plates, front and back plates and a Red Rock focus controller, which was incredibly smooth and provided spot- on focus. I would have liked to have seen an end stop of sorts added to the camera handle itself. Overall, the CION was easier to set up than I anticipated. The CION also has all the connect points one would expect, including four SDIs, USB, HDMI, two XLRs for audio, and LAN for ganging and remote control functions. Recording on the provided AJA proprietary PAK Cards and PAK Dock was simple enough, and moving files to Adobe Premiere was relatively quick and painless. If I were going to shoot longer scenes on a sound stage, I would choose to go with a big fat RAID stack and just save the hassle of switching cards. TAKE TWO: TAKING CONTROL OF THE CION Here is the part that gets really interest- ing. The camera body has a confidence playback/camera settings monitor built in. Below the monitor are four push buttons — Status, Configuration, Media, and White Balance — that control all of the settings for the camera. I give kudos to AJA for this set up. This made it really easy to get the camera going for the test shoots. It was a breath of fresh air to just push some big fat buttons to get through the menu, not thumb or scroll through endless menu items to get to the function you need. Transport functions are also easy enough to follow and can be managed on the camera or via Web browser. TAKE THREE: SHOOTING WITH THE CION As with any new camera, there is usually a pretty good learning curve, and the CION is no exception. But that didn't bother me on the shoot. AJA obviously did some deep thinking and built in a lot of what I call "smart flexibility." In the CION menu, one set of gamma settings is "Normal," "Normal Expanded," and "Video." In the Color Correction selec- AJA CION A SOLID PERFORMING CAMERA WITH A CINEMATIC LOOK AND FEEL VITAL STATS MANUFACTURER: AJA PRODUCT: CION PRICE: $4,995 MSRP WEBSITE: • Zeiss CP.2 Super Speed 35mm PL lens • CMOS 4K 12 Stops Dynamic Range sensor • Open system allows for customization and accessorizing A 46 POST NOVEMBER 2015 BY M.J. FOLEY PRESIDENT BLACKROCK MEDIA GROUP COVENTRY, RI BLACKROCKMEDIAGROUP@ GMAIL.COM

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