I find myself in Las Vegas once again, attending my tenth NAB convention. There is no doubt that 4K and UltraHD will be the primary themes this year, with many new products updated to operate at those higher resolutions. Cameras have actually been available in that range for many years now, as have the software solutions. The missing pieces have been on the display and delivery side, so that is where I expect to see the most significant advances.
But the single most significant announcement I am aware of, which I anticipate will draw a lot of attention right off the bat, is AJA’s newest product. They have announced their first camera, shooting directly to ProRES at 4K, dubbed the Cion. It basically includes all of the established functionality of the existing KiPro Quad, but with its own capture sensor on the front end. Specifically a natively 4K APS-C sized sensor with a global shutter, and 12 stops of dynamic range.
Visually, Cion’s design looks very similar to the Arri Alexa. Functionally it seems similar to a C500 with an integrated KiPro Quad. It will be interesting to see in which segment of the market it eventually most excels in. It shoots HD, 2K, UHD, and true 4K. It has an impressive array of framerate options, starting at 24fps at any resolution, up to 30fps at 4K ProRes444, 60fps at ProRes422HQ, and up to 120fps over four RAW 3G BNC data streams. The RAW data is intended to be ingested by AJA’s existing Corvid Ultra product, for slow motion and selective region of interest playback. It should be a popular tool for high end sports broadcast productions. And with a price tag of $9000, it will be popular with a lot of other potential users as well.
Now there is no getting around a comparison with Blackmagic-Design’s line of cameras, originally announced two years ago. While it is a similar story of a hardware I/O company getting into the camera business, AJA has taken a very different approach. First off, the Cion form factor wasn’t borrowed from Fisher-Price. It follows a fairly traditional shoulder mount approach, and should work with existing standard accessories. I personally prefer the DSLR form factor in many cases, but there is definitely a valid place for larger shoulder mount cameras. AJA’s offering has a true 4K sensor, instead of one limited to UHD. The workflow is based on ProRes, and should be similar to BMD’s camera, and familiar to anyone who has used a KiPro.
AJA also announced a number of other new products, including a long overdue update to the Kona line, with the Kona4. It adds HDMI 2.0b output, on a PCIe x8 2.0 card, but retains the familiar four bi-directional 3G-SDI spigots, and other legacy connectivity. The io4K was released late last year, and adds 4K support to their Thunderbolt line of “io” products. The Corvid88 is an OEM PCIe card with 8 bi-directional SDI spigots, allowing 8 channels of HD, 1 channel of 4K at 60p, or anything in between. The FS1-X adds hardware frame-rate conversion to their line of conversion products, similar to the original Teranex products, but with many more I/O options. And although I am unfamiliar with it, 64 channels of MADI I/O on the audio side should allow any audio configuration you can dream up. They also have a new LUT-Box mini-converter for color space conversion of 3G SDI signals. Stay tuned for more updates to follow as the week progresses.