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    #11
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    Thank you, Jon. I like several things about the CION:

    - global shutter
    - smart design. "Some Leonardo heads are just a few lines. You look at them and you think, all you have to do is get eight or ten lines in the right place and you've made this beautiful portrait. Well, yes, but you have to get them in exactly the right place. The slightest error will make the whole thing collapse." --- http://www.paulgraham.com/taste.html
    - obviously built by a cameraman, for himself
    - nice picture quality in what I've seen. I'm curious to hear any more details, like how you (and Blackmagic) decided to tune the sensor to 12 stops, when it can get 10-15, which HDR mode you use to tune it up to 12, what the artifacts are, what the artifacts would be if you tried to tune it higher, etc. If you don't want to share at this time, I respect that.

    Great job! The last 20% of the work always takes 80% of the time.


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    #12
    Senior Member hscully's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve phillipps View Post
    That's fair enough, your point of view, perfectly valid, but I don't see it like that - to me most of the cameras these days are boxes which you can build to whatever style you want (a good thing), and then it comes down to the specs of what it can deliver - so for me they are both 4k, upto 60fps, decent internal codecs, fairly compact, low power, low price, flexible lens options... Either can be made to work on the shoulder or as full Hollywood rigs. I'd be happy to take either, and would choose based on reliability and support more than anything (assuming both put out a decent, workable image of course).

    Steve
    I agree with that, Steve. The global shutter, PL mount, and the ProRes 444 just make the CION seem more a cinema camera to me. The native 2000 ISO on the Sony feels as if it's made more for available light shooting, event type stuff. I'm sure there's more crossover than not, though, as you say.

    That little video looks great. I don't know. I just love the look of the CION. It looks like film to me.


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    #13
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    I know it was a very early specimen and it was shot very quickly but still: a lot of shots on that piece have severe magenta casts. Jon Thorn, have you (Aja) managed to solve that problem so far? Thanks!
    FS7 & other


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    #14
    Senior Member h-munster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alohype View Post
    I know it was a very early specimen and it was shot very quickly but still: a lot of shots on that piece have severe magenta casts. Jon Thorn, have you (Aja) managed to solve that problem so far? Thanks!
    The footage was graded.

    They evidently corrected with magenta to counter the green cast from their IR pollution filters, as shown by these before-&-after grading examples that they posted a few hours ago. They might have gone a little too far in adding magenta in a few shots, but I don't see anything excessive.


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    Senior Member hscully's Avatar
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    yeah! That's what I'm talking about! Look how nice that shadow detail, which is ALL there, comes up by lifting the mids.


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    #16
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    I see absolutely nothing technically wrong in this fotage that cannot be attributed to grading choices.
    Mitch Gross
    Cinema Product Manager
    Panasonic Media Entertainment Corporation


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    #17
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    Just my opinion here, but I reckon AJA have slipped up a bit here. I think they've missed a whole load of sales that they would have had if the Cion had shipped before September. At that time it was several thousands of cheaper than the competitor from Sony (the F5), while now it is several thousands of more (because the Sony has veiwfinder and battery / charger included) than the competitor from Sony (the FS7). Like it or not Sony have the established name in the industry with buyers and with the people who hire the buyers, so for people like AJA and Black Magic to compete they need to make something as good, but much cheaper. This is what they did at NAB and hence the buzz about the Cion. For the Cion to do well I reckon it need pricing at around $6,000 - this allows the buyer to spend around $2,000 on a viewfinder and battery / charger and come in around the same price as the Sony. Even at this price I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people would go for the FS7. That's my take on it, others may differ.
    Steve


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    #18
    Senior Member Erik Naso's Avatar
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    The Cion needs a log gamma. I dont see how it will compete with in camera baked looks.
    VIMEO: http://www.vimeo.com/eriknaso
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    Cams: C300, FS7, A7s II & anything else I can get my hands on.
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    #19
    Senior Member Alvise Tedesco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Thorn View Post
    The short film Steve found was shot shortly after NAB. We used the project as an opportunity to gather on-set operational information. During this particular shoot, there was only one color profile, one gamma profile and one exposure index value that was available to the filmmakers so they were quite limited. Both the picture and feature set has been improved upon significantly since this was shot.


    I thought it was worthwhile to share these details.


    Thanks,
    Jon Thorn
    Senior Product Manager
    AJA Video Systems

    Really nice character. Congratulations.
    Curious to see if and how much you managed to improve highlights room and rolloff.


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    #20
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    This will be a very long post in order to help answer some of the questions that have been posed by Steve Phillipps and others in the thread. Therefore, I apologize for the length of the post in advance.

    Every product I have ever proposed or been involved with developing at AJA has been originated by asking myself the following three basic questions:
    1) What tool could AJA create to help improve people's work?
    2) What features do people want?
    3) Can AJA build it?

    I developed the idea for the first Apple ProRes tapeless video recorder, the AJA Ki Pro, in 2007. (That year is not a typo; because complex products take time to develop, it reached the marketplace in 2009.) The Ki Pro was a success because it allowed a diverse (and disparate) group of cameras in the marketplace to be connected to the device with a wide array of connection types (SDI, HDMI, component), it could record to a high-quality edit-ready codec instead of one of the myriad of codecs being offered by the traditional camera manufacturers at the time and it could get all of these cameras to the same format (SD or HD) via up/down or cross conversion. Following the success of the original Ki Pro, I was asked many, many times if AJA would ever consider building a camera.

    Why were people asking AJA to build a camera? Primarily, people wanted a camera that could record to a post-production friendly codec like Apple ProRes. People also expressed an interest in seeing cameras with a wider array of connectivity: SDI, HDMI, timecode, balanced analog audio, etc., etc. During this time, many of the traditional camera manufacturers had begun to "tier" their offerings; sometimes cameras were stratified by little more than the connection types used on the cameras.

    AJA had a significant portion of what people seemed to want - a popular edit-ready recording format and the ability to offer an array of connectivity - but we did not have at that time was experience with sensors or the mechanical components associated with an optical system. People continued to ask me, "Will you ever make a camera?"

    In 2010, I made my first proposal at the company to produce a camera. In addition to a traditional market requirements document, I had also sourced a small camera head and so my "pitch" to others at the company involved showing that small camera head sitting directly in front of the Ki Pro. People were skeptical. Honestly, when you consider building a camera, you should be skeptical. Building a camera is not trivial; it requires a huge amount of time and a huge resource investment. I was asked to continue to develop the idea. So essentially I had answered the first question, "What tool could AJA create to help improve people's work?"… but I had a lot more work to do.

    The second question, "What features do people want?", is always the "fun" question to answer if you are in product development. If you burden a product with too many features, you probably make the device too difficult to bring to the market in a timely fashion and you may "overshoot" what people really want. If you "overshoot", you will likely also unnecessarily burden your product with costs. Conversely, if you under-deliver on a feature set, you often aren't even considered a part of the conversation when products are being evaluated. I came from a camera background. I have a passion for cameras. I've toted around everything from massive 35mm camera rigs to tiny DV cameras. My heart though has always belonged to the 16mm and Super 16mm cameras that I learned to shoot on: ARRI SR I, II and III, Aaton LTR and XTR, Eclair NPR and ACL. Somehow, over the last decade or so, the traditional camera manufacturers decided that a certain "tier" of cameras should have a certain shape. That shape involved a "pony-tail" viewfinder and the notion that the camera needed to be held out in front of you without any help from your shoulder The lens would also be fixed on such a design, not interchangeable. If you didn't like or want this, you'd be asked to pay more money to obtain some ergonomics. So I believed whatever camera AJA made needed to be ergonomic. To me, that meant it sat on your shoulder, not out in front of it. At the same time, it could not be what I sometimes refer to as "soul stealing"; if it was too heavy, whatever ergonomics that had been achieved would be a moot point. It's like a "sports car"; if the curb weight is too high, all the power in the world won't improve a fundamental issue with the design. So, personally, I wanted a camera that was comparable to Super 35mm… but in a 16mm/Super 16mm form factor. Sometimes you do think about what you want while answering the basic questions… because you believe firmly that what you want is what others will also want.

    What should the image look like? Now we enter the most nebulous part of a camera design… Some people talk a lot about a "film look." That is a very, very subjective term and it means something different to everyone. Having said this, most video cameras tend to feel too "cold" to me. Somewhere over the last few years it felt like everyone producing cameras had become afraid of the rich blacks, of the rich colors… things I felt were hallmarks of photochemically produced moving images. I was lucky enough to shoot film in the 1990s, during the rise of Kodak's Vision film stocks. So every time I looked at a sensor for evaluation, that was something that influenced me. I thought that "look" was missing in other digital video cameras that were being offered. Other looks will be possible to produce as well if this isn't something that interests you.

    This brings me to the final point, the question that was phrased in a slightly different way, to begin this thread, "Can AJA build it?" Considering how close AJA is to delivering the camera, the answer is yes. Many, many people have poured many, many years into this project. The finish is near.

    In closing, the CION camera wasn't produced to compete with the Sony PXW-FS7; it was made to answer the questions noted at the beginning of this post. It was made because it was something people were asking AJA to produce. Any comparison of the AJA CION to the newest Sony product - with our first effort at producing a camera - could honestly be taken as a compliment. The development and introduction of the CION pre-dates the introduction of the Sony PXW-FS7. The AJA CION is a "from the ground up" effort which is why it has taken us time to produce. The Sony PXW-FS7 of course calls on elements that have been developed by Sony over time and can be found in pre-existing products. While both cameras seem to share some similarities, they have many differences. From an included connectivity standpoint, the AJA CION has more in common with the Sony PMW-F55 than it does with the Sony PXW-FS7. To make the Sony PXW-FS7 connectivity closer to the AJA CION, you would need to add the optional XDCA-FS7 unit (roughly $2,000 USD) to the cost of the PXW-FS7. If you want a PL mount for the PXW-FS7, you'll need to source an adapter and factor that into the cost. In fairness, if you want the CION to be comparable to the PXW-FS7, you'll need to source a viewfinder of your choosing for it. (For the Sony PXW-FS7, my understanding is you will need to use the viewfinder specific to that model; the viewfinders designed for the PMW-F5/55 aren't apparently compatible.) These types of comparisons can go on at length. In the end, only you can decide which camera suits your needs. Everyone's needs differ. Everyone's tastes differ. I'm happy AJA will be able to offer you the CION soon.

    Sincerely,
    Jon Thorn
    Senior Product Manager
    AJA Video Systems


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