AJA Cion Review – All You Need to Know About the AJA Camera

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AJA Cion Review – Ergonomics & Handling

AJA-Cion-YU2A2206

The AJA Cion’s design looks very ergonomic. With the included shoulder pad and the convenient ARRI rosette mounts on the sides (for handles) it is quickly transformed into a perfect single operator camera. The Zacuto Gratical Viewfinder with a Wooden Camera UVF mount complemented the Cion very well.
PS: The shoulderpad is awesome. With its low weight of 3kg the camera rests comfortably on the shoulder.

AJA-Cion-YU2A2210 AJA-Cion-YU2A2208Working the menu of the AJA Cion was partly intuitive, but mostly unintuitive. It took me some hours and a read through the extensive user manual to fully understand the structure and all settings. It is not a camera you can take out of the box and shoot, like the ARRI Amira or the Blackmagic Cameras.

AJA-Cion-YU2A2222When shooting with the camera I overestimated the ergonomics and handling. The menu can only be accessed from the side monitor, so it is not possible to operate it from the shoulder. Changing a setting like shutter speed, whitebalance or framerates means taking the camera off the shoulder, because the operator’s head blocks the screen and buttons.
AJA-Cion-YU2A2220Then it is not easy to find basic settings. To change the shutter I have to enter the “Exposure Index” menu, select “shutterspeed” setting, click, select my desired speed, confirm, select “end”, click. Too many clicks to change any setting on a camera. This can not be done from the hip so it means placing it on a tripod and working through the menu or having an assistant who can do that for me.

AJA-Cion-YU2A2215Another concern in terms of ergonomics is that the camera took 31 seconds to boot. This was also slowing us down because a framerate change needed a restart on the 2 cameras we tested (most probably a bug that will be addressed by a firmware update soon).

With some user keys for quick access to important settings the camera could have become much more ergonomic, but browsing through the “config” menu with 43 settings, where only 1 display’s at a time, doesn’t allow quick operation on set.

AJA-Cion-YU2A2212Playback mode is the complete opposite of shooting mode. It is more ergonomic and convenient to use than on any other camera I have used before. No need to switch to playback mode, just press “play” and you get instant playback. There are dedicated keys for all playback operations and an “eject” button that instantly unmounts the media. Playback and media operation is flawless and intuitive, it almost feels analogue.

In terms of operation, once the camera is setup everything works as it should. It has tactile solid buttons and tally lamps in all the right places. There is always a feeling that my shot was securely captured. In this regard the AJA camera worked perfectly too.

Overall the AJA Cion was not as easy to use as I expected. In this regard it seems less suited for single operator shooters like me.
There are some ergonomic strong points, like the form factor, mounting points, weight and playback / media operation, but the menu and shooting controls are like a bottleneck and seemed to heavily reduced the possibilities of the Cion.

GO TO PAGE 4 → Pro’s & Con’s | Conclusion

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PiDicus Rexs fErvaniDan ESebastian Wöber Recent comment authors
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Ervani
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More than three years later I’m testing the Cion and got mixed feelings about it. It got a learning curve and I think some settings used in this review are not the best for this camera. Other settings give much better results. This camera is not an all men friend and needs to be operated with care. But when you do the results are still amazing. I’m working on a set of test video’s that can be found on YouTube just search for hdslr35 + AJA Cion to see my test results. Test is still in proces :-)

Lance Bachelder
Member

Nice review! I had the CION for about a month to test and we found the best image is to always use Normal Expanded vs. Expanded 1. The flat profile of the CION is not the same as other flat profiles like Sony or Canon. Using Normal Expanded gives far better color, skin tones and even right shots. You are right about highlights though, you absolutely must protect for highlights on any shot and a lot of ND is required for bright exteriors etc. I agree there is a learning curve and the camera is probably better suited for experienced Cinematographers and not run and gun indie shooters. You can achieve a very filmic, feature film look with careful shooting.

Joseph Tammel
Member
Joseph Tammel

Great review! Lots of usefull information here.

I really cant believe they have used the same sensor as in the blackmagic camera. It is a many times cheaper camera. Now they have the downsides of it in this camera.

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