AJA Releases CION v1.3 Firmware with New Gamma Settings; Announces New Pak1000 Promo

AJA Releases CION v1.3 Firmware with New Gamma Settings; Announces New Pak1000 Promo

AJA Video Systems today released new v1.3 firmware for the AJA CION, AJA’s 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD production camera that shoots edit-ready Apple ProRes files at up to 4K 60fps.

CION v1.3 firmware, available today as a free software download, was created based on customer feedback, and adds features that improve the CION imagery pipeline. AJA has also announced that CION purchases made after April 18, 2016 will qualify for a complimentary Pak1000 drive (US MSRP $1,495.00) provided directly from AJA.

CION v1.3 firmware new features:

– Improved highlight handling and black detail in every gamma mode.

– New gamma naming conventions make the modes more closely aligned to industry standards.

– New renamed gamma settings are now available in the CION menu and include new options for Standard, Expanded, Video and Cine modes.

“Our new firmware update and promo were created in direct response to community feedback. CION v1.3 offers a more gentle roll off of highlights, and a greater level of detail in the blacks, while the new promo makes the camera even more accessible to shooters looking to capture stunning footage,” said Nick Rashby, President, AJA Video Systems. “We’ve seen great adoption of CION from the commercial and industrial production community and we look forward to getting this update into our customers’ hands.”

Pricing and availability

CION v1.3 firmware is available today as a free download from AJA’s site. CION is available through AJA’s worldwide reseller network at a US MSRP of $4995.00. To redeem a complimentary Pak1000 drive with a CION purchase made through an authorized AJA Reseller, submit a claim directly here. For more information about CION, visit the AJA site.

For more on the latest NAB Show releases, take a look at our roundup post, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

4K Shootout: Your guide to the current 4K camera crop

4K Shootout: Your guide to the current 4K camera crop

With our 4K shootout due to mosey into town any day now (well, on 23rd July), we thought it was time to take a closer look at four of the cameras you’ll be able to get hands-on with on the day. Take notes, prepare questions, mentally pick out lenses: anything to ensure you’re not overwhelmed when you get the chance to shoot with all four of them side by side. 

Sony PXW-FS7

First up, the Sony PXW-FS7. As we’ve said before, this Super 35mm 4K handheld takes everything we loved about the FS700, ratchets it up to 11 and then marries it to one of the most ergonomic designs we’ve seen in a long time.

The FS7 is the most flexible workhorse of the bunch, well built enough to function as an excellent ENG and documentary camera. The built-in hand grip serves the dual function of making the camera lighter and easier to balance during long shoots, and means that you don’t have to rig the camera to the extent that you expect in order to get the shots that you want – both big pluses for run and gun shooting.

However, that’s not to discount the quality of images you can get from this camera – it’s capable of shooting beautiful footage, and its support for S-Log3 effectively gives you 1.5 extra stops of dynamic range compared to its predecessor, the FS700, and, as S-Log3 is pretty close to Cineon log, the footage you get is easier to grade and you’ve got more chance of achieving a classic ‘filmic’ look.

Sensor-wise, the PXW-FS7 boasts a Super 35mm CMOS image sensor with 11.6 million pixels in a 4352 x 2662 configuration, including 8.9 million effective pixels. The sensor’s high readout speed means the FS7 can support super slow motion 4K shooting, and its full pixel readout capability and lack of pixel binning mean that jaggies and noir are minimised.

While it’s natively E-mount, an A-mount adaptor is available if you want access to a wider pool of lenses. Plus, Sony are so confident about the quality of their hardware that they’re offering an extended warranty on it, which is always reassuring.

AJA CION

AJA are known for their sturdy, unfussy designs, and the CION follows that pattern exactly: its traditional form factor and lightweight body make it an ergonomic choice for longer shoots. There’s also the usual (but highly practical) fact that it can be stored away while fully rigged, so if you need to shoot with no notice, you can just take it out of its case and go.

Design considerations aside, the CION is able to output 4K raw data at up to 120fps via 4x 3G-SDI outputs (you can shoot directly to edit-ready Apple ProRes 4444 at up to 4K 30fps over Thunderbolt, ProRes 422 at up to 4K 60fps, or output AJA Raw at up to 4K 120fps), and records directly to AJA Pak SSD media at up to 60 frames per second. Its APS-C sized CMOS sensor is backed by great internal processing, meaning your end image is noise-free under most conditions, and it packs in an electronic global shutter and 12 stops of dynamic range.

Given the range of codecs and lens options available to you, the CION is a great choice for anyone who’s looking to achieve a cinematic look under a range of circumstances and workflows. AJA’s hardware is typically built like a tank and rarely goes EOL, so we’re willing to bet the CION will be kept current for a good few years – it’s already had some interesting firmware upgrades – making it a safe investment for anyone who needs their camera to last far longer than it should at its price point.

Blackmagic Design URSA

As we’ve said before, of all this group, the URSA is most suited to multiple operators; you can even split the on-camera controls so that one side of the camera controls audio while the other handles image settings, and can check separate scopes on all three of the URSA’s on-board monitors.

The corollary to this is that the URSA really needs to be rigged on a tripod, being, as it is, one of the heaviest cameras we’ve ever encountered. You’ll also need a good stock of V-lock batteries, as the URSA’s massive internal processing power translates to a constant thirst for power, so grab some batteries and a VTC plate along with the camera body if you’re thinking of buying.

However, it can shoot incredibly flexibly, supports high frame rate and delivers what are team our calling “pretty hardcore” image quality, so if you want 180fps ProRes now, no questions asked, this is the camera to set your sights on.

JVC GY-LS300

Not often mentioned in the same breath as the other three, but we think the LS300 has a lot more to offer than most people assume. First off, this is a Super 35mm 4K camera for under £3K ex VAT, which is extremely good value. And the fact that it supports a wide range of interchangeable lenses means that you can probably save again by reusing your existing still camera lenses to shoot video. Then of course there’s the fact that it shoots 4K Ultra HD, full HD with 4:2:2 sampling, SD and web-friendly proxy files, so you’re not going to need to replace or add to it for some time, meaning you’ll get great ROI.

It also has some very nifty hidden features and, because it has a full frame sensor and lets you scale down the crop factor by percentage, offers you ultimate lens flexibility. If you want to capture a micro 4/3″ or 2/3″ size image, you simply need to scale to the correct size, then carry on shooting as if you were on a smaller sensor camera. And even if you’re attaching the smallest lenses in your collection, you’ll still be able to pull HD images off the camera – in some cases, even 4K.

It also has XLR inputs, so you have plenty of high quality micing options, and will support auto-focus and zoom rocker use on any lenses that have those features enabled, meaning that with the right accessories the LS300 can become a really interesting run and gun camera, perfect for live events and ENG-style shooting – especially given its live streaming and FTP capabilities.

Register for our 4K Shootout

Drop by our Soho office on 23rd July to get hands on with these guys and put your questions to the team – we’ll also have Varicam, DSLRs like the A7S and GH4, the URSA Mini and the XC-10, as well as Zeiss glass, a 4K lighting setup from Cirrolight (and a tutorial on lighting for 4K with cinematographer John Harrison).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Review: AJA CION camera first look

Review: AJA CION camera first look

It’s not long now until AJA’s CION 4K camera finally hits, and for me (and majority of video professionals), this is VERY EXCITING NEWS. Having got my hands on the CION back in April, I’ve been waiting for a chance to really put it through its paces, and start grading some footage. 

For anyone who’s looking into the AJA CION, or thinking about updating their video production workflow in general, this is why we’re all getting so worked up…

What is the AJA CION camera?

The AJA CION is a brand new professional camera from AJA – their first foray into actual cameras. Put simply, it’s a fantastic-looking shoulder mount production camera that’s designed to give a cinematic look to your footage. It’s able to output 4K raw data at up to 120fps via 4x 3G-SDI outputs (shoot directly to edit-ready Apple ProRes 4444 at up to 4K 30fps over Thunderbolt, ProRes 422 at up to 4K 60fps, or output AJA Raw at up to 4K 120fps), and records directly to AJA Pak SSD media at up to 60 frames per second.

Sensor-wise, you get an APS-C sized 4K CMOS image sensor with an electronic global shutter, 12 stops of dynamic range, and there’s a PL lens mount with manual back focus adjustment for attaching your glass.

What I first thought…

We first got our hands on the CION back at NAB 2014 in Vegas, and I had another chance to check it out just after too. The first thing you notice about it is the form factor and build quality. AJA are renowned for their design, and the CION is no different. Its sleek black body is complemented by a nice suede shoulder mount and wooden handles, which make it a real looker as well as being fantastically ergonomic.

Without compromising on quality, AJA have also managed to make it as light as they possibly can. The body weighs in at just 6.4lbs/2.8kg, but that will obviously ramp up once you start to add viewfinders, battery packs and a lens (the amount of glass in your lens especially affects this).

What I do really want to see is the actual quality of the footage. There has been some speculation around the ISO on the CION, with native ISO put at 200 on the pre-production camera. But AJA have put people’s fears to rest and let out that the final camera which ships will crank the ISO up to a more respectable level, making it brighter and better for shooting in low light. This should put it on a par with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and close to the EOS C range at 850 ISO.

Lewis from Jigsaw24 gets hands-on with the AJA CION

Why the CION is special

The real selling point of the CION is its all-in-one, all-purpose ethos. While similar cameras like the Sony FS700, PMW-F5 and Canon C500 match it in terms of specs and similar pricing, the CION is really designed to give a more traditional ergonomic feel, with each section such as audio and option menus allowing for multiple users. The audio inputs are strategically placed so that a sound engineer can visually monitor the sound directly on the side of the camera without the camera getting in the way.

It also already has a built-in recorder, so you can shoot directly to AJA’s Pak SSD media – the same as you get with the fantastic Ki Pro Quad.

Perfect for large sensor lovers

I can see the AJA CION being perfect for the large sensor market. So anyone working in advertising, music videos, documentaries or that sort of thing, will benefit from the cinematic look and feel that the CION’s 4K CMOS sensor will afford them. The shoulder mount also gives it a bit more flexibility, and makes it much more portable than some other large sensor cameras. I wouldn’t say it’s the ideal option as a run and gun camera, but we’re almost into ENG-style ability and form factor here.

My recommended peripherals

When you buy the AJA CION, you are essentially paying for a chip and recorder based in a very stylish production camera body. Everything else is modular. With an expected price tag of $8999, it’s a big investment, so you should really think about your options before you take the plunge.

First of all, it’s a good idea to think about audio. Although the XLR and preamps are the same as the ones from the Ki Pro and are top-notch, considering your audio monitoring options is a good place to start. Because the CION already has its own recorder built in which records to Pak SSD (again, from the Ki Pro), you don’t need a separate recorder.

You will, however, need a lens and viewfinder. Lenses will vary depending on what you want to be doing with the CION, but I can definitely recommend the Cineroid EVF-4RVW EVF with retina display as a really good option, as well as the Alphatron EVF-035W-3G hi-res 3.5″ LCD EVF with 3G HD-SDI input. Battery-wise, I would go with the Anton Bauer or IDX battery plate. Lastly, you’ll need something to carry the whole lot around in. We’ll soon be looking at putting together special shooting kits with everything you’ll need to get up and running.

Shut up and take my money!

Hold on just a minute – the AJA CION isn’t actually shipping just yet, but we are taking pre-orders now. AJA’s official line is that it’s shipping in ‘Summer 2014′ which, judging by the length of British summers, should be imminently. As one of the UK’s largest AJA partners and biggest stockholders, it’ll be a good bet to get in touch with us for more information when it does drop though.

AJA CION on Jigsaw24

Want to know more about AJA and pre-order the AJA CION 4K production camera? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.