Last year AJA surprised us with the announcement of a high quality, affordable, 4K shooting, cinema camera. The AJA Cion was a tool we were looking forward to use and now, after a long wait and after the public release we could finally analyse and test it thoroughly.
Here is our complete AJA CION review with some awkward surprises and a long list of pro’s and con’s. This is a camera that needs careful observation before the shooting can start. Read on to see all our findings.
If you plan on shooting with the AJA CION we recommend you read our new article:
10 important tips to help you master the AJA Cion
In this review we will present objective test results from our labs, compare the camera to other contenders, and try to give you a subjective observation of how the camera worked for us.
We will look at the following aspects:
- Page 1: Features at a Glance
- Page 2: Sensor Tests (& comparison to Blackmagic Production Camera 4K)
- Page 3: Ergonomics & Handling
- Page 4: Pro’s & Con’s | Conclusion
AJA CION Review – Features at a Glance
The AJA Cion’s sensor has some great technical features. It is a 4:3 APS-C sized global shutter sensor that upon closer inspection had a striking resemblance to the sensor we find in the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K (We do not claim it is the same sensor). The sensor also performs very similarly in terms of lowlight and dynamic range. More on that later.
- Global shutter CMOS sensor
- 4K pixel readout
- 22.5mm x 17mm 4:3 APS-C sized sensor (a little smaller than super35)
The camera records in the ProRes format. This is fantastic, a great recording format, easy to edit.
Additionally the CION does 120fps RAW via the 4 SDI ouputs on the back. This didn’t work with the Atomos Shogun in our tests.
- Apple ProRes 4444 (up to 30fps) 12-bit
- Apple ProRes 422 (up to 60fps) 10-bit
- RAW externally (up to 120fps)
The AJA CION is a camera that gives you lots of connections. The idea of an “open architecture” camera, that is highly compatible is one that any operator will welcome.
- 6 SDI outputs in total
- 2 hdmi outputs (one of them supports 4K)
- 2 XLR balanced analog inputs (with phantom power + dedicated boost), 24bit 48khz
- Well positioned headphone jack for audio monitoring
- Thunderbolt for direct recording via PC (up to 30fps)
- 2 LANC connectors for remote control
- D-tap connector to power an accessory
- and more
The AJA CION comes with a 2-pin battery connector behind its back plate so you can install your own V-mount or Anton Bauer battery plate. Battery life is extensive on the CION. It lasts forever.
- Standby time on our fully charged 126Wh V-mount battery: 3h 15m