AJA Shows First CION Footage, Gives a Few More Details

At IBC AJA has shown the first footage from the CION camera. The footage was shot in 4K and has not been color graded. Image analysis is part scientific and part subjective. The subjective part of me likes what i see. It looks very pleasing and full of detail. View the clip in 1080p below. There’s also a clip from the IBC floor where an AJA  rep shares a little more detail. We are taking CION pre-orders right now with a fully refundable deposit of $900. As a reward for your pre-order we are including $250 of store credit that you can use towards any purchase.

Now Officially Taking AJA CION Pre-Orders

We are now officially taking pre-orders for the highly anticipated AJA CION camera. The camera is set to start shipping this fall. At $8,995 its an incredible value. It features a Super35mm 4K sensor and records internally to ProRes up to 444. The well-built CION is ready to be used on your shoulder strait from the box, no need to add extra rods or pads. Right now we’re rewarding people who pre-order the CION by including a $250 credit for additional accessories. You can put that towards media, batteries, lenses, or anything else that you might need. We’re very excited to meet the first camera from AJA. Post by Eric C. Petrie

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Pre-Order Your BMD URSA or Other New Cameras Now & Get Rewarded

We are now taking pre-orders for an unnamed manufacturers camera, and for Blackmagic Design’s new camera, URSA. The Blackmagic camera is currently selling for $5,995 (EF-mount). The unnamed manufacturer’s camera is selling for $8,995. We ask that you pay a 10% deposit to hold your spot on our pre-order list. The deposit is fully refundable should you wish to cancel. If there is a price drop between the time you put in your order and when the camera ships (like what happened to the BMD Production 4K camera) you will only be charged for the lowest price. As a thank you for pre-ordering with us we have a special offer for you. Unfortunately we can’t say what that offer is here. Call us to find out, 503-598-9142.

Why pre-order with Professional Video? When these camera manufacturers start shipping these cameras they disperse them fairly evenly across the country. We are a relatively small dealer. That means we don’t get hundreds, or even dozens or customers pre-ordering from us. Simply put, our wait line is shorter. With the last few Blackmagic camera launches we filled our back orders with in a few weeks. That means whether you’re in the front of our line or the back of our line we’re going to get you your camera quickly. Post by Eric C. Petrie

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Above picture may or may not represent unnamed manufacturers actual camera.

 

UPDATE: AJA has requested that we remove specific mention of the CION camera from this post.

NAB ’14 Camera Recap: What Did We Really Get

The annual NAB show has come and gone. It was a good year for cameras and it also saw the spreading of some interesting trends:

Dockable Cameras: What’s old is new again. The two piece camera concept, something big up through the late 90’s, is back. We saw two piece, head-dock combo cameras from Blackmagic Design with the URSA and from Panasonic with the new VariCam system. We’ll see if these dock systems catch on with more manufacturers and more models and if these docks actually pay off with the flexibility the makers claim 

High Speed: We’re starting to get to a point where 60p is just expected in a professional camera. But we’re also introducing the concept that to make a “high speed” camera you don’t have to be Phantom creating thousands of frames per second. Most users are very excited about 120 or 240. For a lot of camera makers frame rates in this range are now becoming very tangible specifications. AJA, Panasonic, Sony, and even JVC all showed cameras that could reach the 120 threshold.

ProRes & Other Beefy 10-Bit Codecs: ProRes is starting to become the closest thing the video industry has ever had to a high end “universal standard” codec. Blackmagic, AJA, and even Sony and Panasonic all showed ProRes recording cameras. And we have more options for ProRes external records then ever, thanks to AJA and Atomos. Beyond ProRes the theme was 10-bit. XAVC and AVC-Ultra where shown off on many new models, all recording in 10-bit. In some cases the compression schemes have become so good we can get a 10-bit signal out of a 25mbps package. RAW recording is starting to become more readily available, though i wouldn’t quite call it a “common” feature yet.

Super35mm: Large sensor “cinema” cameras have been the growing trend for the last 3-4 NAB shows. This year the ratio of cameras that specifically use the Super35mm standard compared to smaller sensors was the biggest it’s ever been. Panasonic, AJA, Blackmagic Design, JVC, and Sony all showed new cameras that make use of this format. There were very few cameras shown with smaller traditional broadcast 1/3” or 2/3” sensors.

Shoulder Mount/ Improved Ergonomics: Generally speaking there weren’t too many cameras that required kitting out shown this year. There was a very pleasant uptake in ready to go cameras. The Blackmagic URSA, The AJA CION, the new VariCams, and the new JVC all use shoulder mount designs. Sony’s even gone to the lengths of improving the F5 & F55 shoulder mount. Those cameras are already shoulder-mountable, and always have been. But now they’ve gone totally ENG with a new control layout and new features via a docking sled. JVC even showed an economically designed hand-held camera with a large Super35mm sensor. For some reason that’s a concept that hasn’t really been that prevalent before.

Post by Eric C. Petrie

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AJA Debuts Their First Camera: CION Digital Cinema Camera

In a somewhat surprising, but not entirely unexpected move, AJA has revealed their entry into the world of 4K digital cinema cameras. They call it the CION. According the AJA the built the camera with a few goals in mind. Foremost, they wanted to design a camera that actually was a camera, not a unusable box. As you can see the camera has a very traditional camera design that could almost pass for an Arri Alexa or Sony F55 or Phantom Flex. This means you can actually take it out of the box, throw it on your shoulder, and start shooting. Another of AJAs goals was robust data capture. As you would expect from an AJA product the whole back end of the camera is based around ProRes.

What exactly can CION do? It has an 4K APS-C (near Super35mm size) CMOS sensor that features a global shutter. That means no rolling shutter or skewing effect. They utilize several filters in front of the sensor to virtually eliminate moire. All internal recoding is done using ProRes. In 4K or 1080p it can record 30p at 4:4:4 12-bit. In 4K that’s around 1200mbps. Or, if you need higher frame rates, it can record 4K or 1080p 60p at 4:2:2 10-bit. It’s interesting that changing your resolution doesn’t seem to have a bearing on limitations of frame rates or color sampling. It also features RAW output up to 120 frames per second. But that means you need an external recorder that is compatible with RAW 120fps. Hello Convergent Design? Of course using an external recorder sorta defeats one of the reasons for buying this camera, to have a clean, well designed, all-in-one camera system.

The camera will obviously be compared to the Blackmagic Design Production 4K camera that has similar specs but also features internal RAW recording. This will be one of those cases where it might come down to the small details. For example, the AJA can play back clips, delete clips, and reformat media in camera. That gives it a leg up on the Blackmagic. If the AJA allows you to retain all settings after a power cycle thats another leg up on the BMD. But the Blackmagic will always be cheaper. AJA CION ships this summer for around $8,995 Post by Eric C. Petrie

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What is ProRes?

More and more we’re starting to see ProRes popping up as an acquisition format. The codec has had popularity from 3rd parties like AJA, Blackmagic Design, and Atomos for a few years now. But then we started seeing it natively in cameras from the likes of Arri and Blackmagic. Now even the big old digital camera brands, Sony and Panasonic, have started adding it into their cameras. So what exactly is ProRes and why is it in everything.

ProRes is a format that was invented by Apple. It debuted in 2007 with Final Cut Pro 6. At the time Final Cut was starting to gain some very serious headway into ultra high end post production. But there was one glaring issue: no mastering format of their own. The big intermediate codecs of the day were Avid DNx and CineForm. Apple decided they need to have their own solution. Hence ProRes was born. ProRes is an all Intra-Frame, minimum 10-bit, minimum 4:2:2 codec. But then a funny thing started happening. Camera manufacturers started using more internal compression to compensate for the large amounts of data that H.D. created. We started getting these really great cameras at very reasonable prices but they used low quality internal recording codecs. Companies like Panasonic and Sony wanted to protect their high-end cameras by reserving their best formats for the higher-end market.

Enter AJA with the Ki-Pro. The Ki-Pro recorded ProRes to SSDs from an HD-SDI input. The original Ki-Pro was designed more as a studio ProRes deck. Something to put into a rack or an edit desk. But AJA had the idea to market it as a mobile device as well. People loved the idea but weren’t thrilled about the form factor. Next came the Ki-Pro Mini. The Mini was perfectly designed to mount onto the back of a tape-based camera and instantly turn it into a non-linear tapeless ProRes camera. Then the products starting popping out more. Blackmagic Design, Atomos, and others began putting their own spin on mobile ProRes recording. Both Avid and Adobe began to support it natively. At this time  Atomos released their first recorder in 2011. Around the same time Arri began shipping the Alexa camera with internal ProRes recording. The Alexa set a new standard for 1080p digital cinema cameras. And it showed the benefits of recording in a ready-to-edit format as appose to RED and their everything-RAW approach. Soon ProRes was synonymous with high quality codec. Blackmagic Design released several cameras with internal ProRes recording. If you purchased a Canon Cinema EOS camera there was a good change you hooked an external ProRes recorder to it. And now we have Panasonic putting ProRes in their new 4K VairCam and Sony, after 2 years of pressure, putting ProRes into the F5 & F55 cinema cameras.

There are several flavors of ProRes. As previously mentioned all ProRes formats are Intra-Frame and all are a minimum of 10-bit 4:2:2. ProRes Proxy is 35mbps, 4:2:2, 10-bit, Intra-Frame. ProRes LT is a 100mbps 4:2:2, 10-bit, Intra-Frame format. ProRes is runs at 150mbps, 4:2:2, 10-bit, Intra-Frame. ProRes HQ delivers 220mbps, 4:2:2, 10-bit, Intra-Frame. Finally ProRes 4444 is a 330mbps, 4:4:4, 12-bit, Intra-Frame codec. All of these bit rates are based on 30 frame per second recording. If you were to record 60 frames per second you would need to double the mbps. ProRes HQ and ProRes 4444 are capable of recording 4K resolution. If you were to shoot in 4K you would multiply these data rates by a factor of 4x. There fore, at 4K ProRes HQ, 4:2:2, 10-bit, Intra-Frame, would run around 900mbps. And PreRes 4444 at 4K,  4:4:4, 12-bit, Intra-Frame, would be over 1200mbps. These are crazy-high data rates that really just show that ProRes as near limitless. Between ProRes’ limitless nature, high image quality, and extremely consistent cross platform behavior it’s no wonder we’re seeing larger adoption then ever before. It’s the closest thing to a universal high-end video format there has ever been. Post by Eric C. Petrie

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AJA Io 4K Now Shipping

Do you already have, or are you planning on getting, one of those shinny new Mac Pro cylinders? Allow us to introduce you to the best companion for your cylinder that you could ask for, the AJA Io 4K. This is an absolutely amazing video interface device all made possible via Thunderbolt 2 connection. Whether you’re working in an SDI-based workflow, an HDMI workflow or both, Io 4K has you covered with a complete set of full-sized connections for video and audio as well as a dedicated down-conversion output, Reference, LTC and RS-422 control, making Io 4K the choice for working professionals. Thunderbolt 2 connectivity provides maximum throughput on set or in the studio. Dual Thunderbolt ports allow additional devices to be connected on the same Thunderbolt bus for complete flexibility. Order your Io 4K from Professional Video today. Visit AJA in person at their booth at the Cascade Mt. Video Show on February 26th. Register for the show now. Post by Eric C. Petrie

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Canon’s Huge Promotions Ending Soon… Actually Ending This Time

I know we’ve said this before. Canon always puts time limits on their rebates only to renew the tim and time agsin. This time we’ve heard it strait from the top: the promos will not be continued. What promos are we talking about?

Photo Lens + Camera rebate

Right now buy any L-series lens with a C100 or C300 camera and receive an additional $500-$900 back.

Cinema Lens + Camera rebate

Right now buy any cinema lens and a Cinema EOS camera and receive $1,500 back.

Stackable Cinema Lens “Kit” discount

For a kit of 3 cine lenses get another $900 off, a kit of 4 lenses gives you $1600 off, a kit of 5 lenses gives you $2500 off.

Loyalty Lens Promotion

Already own a Cinema EOS camera or a 5DmkIII? We’ll give you $500 off any Canon cine lens just as a thank you for choosing Canon and Professional Video

C500 + 4K Recorder rebate

Get $4,000 off you combo kit when you buy a C500 camera and a qualified 4K recorder like the AJA Ki-Pro Quad.

All of these promotions end on January 4th. And of course keep in mind that we are offering 0% financing for 24 months with $0 down for any Cinema EOS purchase. If you’ve even been considering one of these cameras or lenses now is the time. Don’t let it pass by.

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Canon C300 & Cine Lens Indie Film Testimonial

The movie’s budget was ultra-low, the shooting schedule just 21 days, and the “studio” mostly the mean streets and cramped tenements of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Add a first-time director/screenwriter who is also portraying the film’s main character, and it was clear that making “Straight Outta Tompkins” presented multiple challenges. Nevertheless, director Zephyr Benson and DP Brandon Roots shot the film by combining diligent effort, expert collaborators, and the image quality, high mobility, and superb low-light performance of an EOS C300 cinema camera (and cinema prime and zoom lenses) from Canon, U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions. A gritty, cautionary tale of a young drug dealer, “Straight Outta Tompkins” is 21-year-old Benson’s debut feature and yet another example of the ongoing democratization in filmmaking made possible by affordable, high-performance digital cameras such as the EOS C300.

“Not so long ago, it would have been nearly impossible to make a movie of this quality, so quickly, as an ultra-low budget feature,” Benson noted. “With the Canon EOS C300 camera, however, my vision became a reality. I think that any filmmaker with a powerful enough desire to tell a story can now just get out there and do it.” Benson speaks from an informed viewpoint. The son of accomplished director, screenwriter, actor, and educator Robby Benson, Zephyr was introduced to filmmaking early on by accompanying his father to film sets and sitting-in on his lectures at various universities and film schools. Chief among the lessons he learned was that moviemaking is hard work.

“A lot of challenges can be thrown at you every day,” Zephyr confided. “Many young filmmakers don’t realize this at first. You can spend hours just setting-up one shot so it looks right and then everything can suddenly go wrong. Then you’ve got to brainstorm and figure out how to make it right, which is the challenge of filmmaking and one of the reasons why I love it. I learned more than I had ever learned in my entire life during the pre-production and filming of this movie. And throughout it all, it was great to look over to my DP and realize that the one thing we didn’t have to worry about was our camera.”

“I don’t think we would have been able to make this movie without the Canon EOS C300 camera,” agreed DP Brandon Roots. “From the very beginning we knew that we wanted to shoot the film handheld, so the lightweight body of the EOS C300 camera was quite important, especially since it was on my shoulder most of the time. We also knew we would be working in really tight interior locations, so mobility would be vital. The compact design of the EOS C300 camera and the Canon lenses we used enabled us to be quite agile, which made all the difference in our ability to shoot where we wanted to.”

With a camera body weighing just over 3 lbs., the Canon EOS C300 camera is equipped with a high-sensitivity Canon Super 35mm CMOS sensor, outstanding Canon DIGIC DV III image processor, and a 50 Mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2 codec for superb cinematic picture quality. The EOS C300 cinema camera is engineered to deliver full 1920 x 1080 HD and provides a selectable ISO range up to 20,000 for outstanding low-light performance.

“Our budget dictated minimal lighting, but the Canon EOS C300 camera has amazing low-light performance,” Roots informed “A large part of the film takes place at night on city streets, and we used available light. We filmed in interior locations as well. We routinely shot up to 3200 ISO, which on some other cameras would have resulted in a lot of noise and an undesirable image, but not with the EOS C300 camera. The low-light performance of the EOS C300 camera also saved us from needing an electrical generator for extra lights. We were able to power the few lights we needed off the available power at locations or the outlets in the apartments we used.”

Zephyr Benson recalled a particular instance in which the low-light performance of the Canon EOS C300 cinema camera moved him to describe it as “the most incredible thing” he’d ever seen. “One night we were shooting on a fire escape, looking down a poorly lit street that, to the naked eye, was barely visible beyond about 30 yards,” he recalled. “Brandon turned on the Canon EOS C300 camera and everything instantly looked illuminated and cinematic. It looked as if we had spent hours lighting the entire block. That was so important for this film because our ultra-low budget gave us hardly any time for lighting set-ups.”

“There was virtually no lighting on that street at all, it was very dark and dim,” added co-executive producer David Rudd. “Brandon turned to us and said ‘I can’t believe what I can see through this camera.’ The Canon EOS C300 camera really digs down into the dark areas of light. It loves the low end of the spectrum. On another occasion we lit a small interior location just by bouncing the glow of a Mini Maglite® off the ceiling. We didn’t have the time, budget, or manpower to do anywhere near the lighting you would normally do for a film of this kind, so the Canon EOS C300 camera was extremely beneficial to our project, as were the fast Canon cinema prime lenses we used.”

Straight Outta Tompkins was photographed principally with the Canon CN-E24mm T1.5 LF, CN-E50mm T1.3 LF, and CN-E85mm T1.33 LF cinema prime lenses. DP Brandon Roots also used the Canon CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6 L SP cinema zoom lens and the CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L SP compact cinema zoom lens. “The Canon cinema prime lenses are fast and lightweight, and because we were shooting hand-held they gave us great flexibility for shooting in low light,” Roots explained. “More often than not we were living on the primes.”

“We used the Canon cinema zoom lenses more for daytime exterior street scenes,” Roots continued. “They gave us the greatest flexibility by enabling us to adjust our framing and move quickly from one set-up to another. We were shooting guerilla-style and the zooms were incredibly versatile in those situations. We used the larger Canon CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6 L SP cinema zoom lens a lot more than I expected we would. We were ‘running-and-gunning’ the whole time, and the flexibility that zoom gave us when we didn’t have enough time to do a lens change was very helpful and allowed us to move more quickly. The Canon CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L SP compact cinema zoom lens was the longest lens we had, so we used it whenever we needed to get really tight on a shot. There were a number of times where it allowed us to get incredibly close to capture dramatic moments as they happened.”

Developed for contemporary 4K, 2K, and HD production standards, all of the Canon cinema lenses provide outstanding and consistent optical quality, as well as uniform gear positions, rotation angles, and 136mm front diameters for compatibility with matte boxes and other third-party accessories. The lenses also feature highly visible engraved focus scales for convenient operation, motion-picture style mechanical/tactile operation, and an 11-blade aperture diaphragm for creative background blurring.

Roots described the Canon cinema prime and zoom lenses as “incredibly sharp even when we were shooting wide open” He added: “I love how true these lenses were to the images that we were shooting. I’ve seen other lenses that make the image soft or apply some kind of ‘look’ to the scene. Canon cinema prime and zoom lenses don’t do that. They are incredibly accurate, sharp, and clean. What we saw was what we got.”

“I’m a photographer, and I adore the look of the images produced using Canon lenses, which is beautifully warm without being overly saturated,” added co-executive producer Robby Benson. “The Canon cinema prime lenses are remarkably fast and crisp. They allowed us to shoot things at night, which – for an independent film – is a blessing. We actually saw things through these cinema lenses – on the monitor – with better low-light perception than our eyes were capable of.”

The Canon EOS C300 cinema camera records to two CF (Compact Flash) cards through dual slots with a choice of serial or parallel (for backup) recording, providing up to 80 minutes of recording time on each 32GB card. “The dual CF card slots are a smart design,” said Roots. “We didn’t have to worry about filling up a card and losing a shot.”

Roots and Robby Benson also noted the advantages of the camera’s SMPTE time code capability. “It helped us immensely in post with synching up all of the sound and picture.” Robby Benson noted: “Even if you shoot a ton of footage, if you play by the rules and know what you’re doing in post, the EOS C300 camera time code feature enables you to find anything you’ve shot.”

Straight Outta Tompkins was filmed in the EOS C300 cinema camera’s Canon Log gamma setting, which helps ensure capture of the full exposure latitude that the camera’s Super 35mm CMOS sensor is capable of. Canon Log gamma image data provides the film-style dynamic range between shadows and highlights that is essential for achieving cinematic subtleties in post-production color grading. “It’s spectacular the latitude that the image gave us and how much detail we had in shadows and highlights,” Roots reported. “It was also great to know right from the beginning that we would be able to do a really fine color grade later on during post.”

“When we went to the post house to do a test on our material, Randy Coonfield, colorist from Shapeshifter Post, was amazed with the Canon EOS C300 camera and Canon lenses,” recalled Robby Benson. “We were giving the film more blues and grit, and we had the latitude to take it to places no other project I’ve ever worked on could go. The blacks got blacker; not muddy – no noise, just rich – and the colors were so defined, with exquisite clarity. When we needed more illumination – again, no noise – Coonfield turned to me and David and just said, ‘It’s the camera…it’s the camera and the lenses. Remarkable.’”

Above and beyond its role as the camera that enabled the ultra-low budget Straight Outta Tompkins to get made with high-end cinematic quality in a short space of time, all four filmmakers had special praise for the impact that the Canon EOS C300 cinema camera is having on independent production in general.

“The Canon EOS C300 – as well as Canon’s entire line of EOS cameras – has democratized filmmaking,” Roots stated. “It is amazing to see this footage projected on a big screen. The audience doesn’t know what format we shot it on, nor should it matter to them. It just looks great.”

“Democratized moviemaking – storytelling – is probably the most exciting thing that could ever happen,” Robby Benson emphasized. “Now young filmmakers, older filmmakers, and anyone can tell their story. Of course, you first have to be a good storyteller. That’s always true, regardless of budget. The Canon EOS C300 is a dream camera for low-budget filmmakers. It, and Canon’s cinema prime and zoom lenses, are fully cinematic. I’m a believer in this equipment.”

“What it really boils down to is that Canon is showing the way of the future of filmmaking,” Rudd added. “Nowadays you’ve got to maintain quality while budgets keep dwindling away. You also need a camera that records all the picture information you need. The EOS C300 camera does all of this and more. It makes it possible to tell your stories so they look good. There’s a lot of projects that can be done now because of this camera.”

“The Canon EOS C300 cinema camera makes it possible to make your movie on an ultra-low budget,” Zephyr Benson concluded. “Now aspiring moviemakers can just go and do it. I can’t thank Canon enough for this.”

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Buy a C500 with Canon Lenses & Save Big

Professional Video and Canon have teamed up to run some amazing promotions on the Canon C500. These promotions are designed to get you into a a full system with 4K recording, Canon glass, and of course the camera body.

Right now when you buy a Canon EOS C500 you get instant savings of $3,000 off the standard price, $25,999 is slashed to $22,999. Now throw a Canon cinema prime into the mix and you’re looking at another $1,000 off the camera body, bringing it down to $21,999. Plus we’re going to give you another $1,000 off of each prime lens, $2,000 off of each Canon compact zoom lens, and $3,000 off of each Canon large zoom lens you purchase.

But wait there’s more! If you put together a kit of 3 prime lenses we’re giving you an extra $900 as a bonus kit discount. A kit of 4 lenses gives you an extra $1,600 off as a kit discount. Finally a kit of 5 lenses gives you an extra $2,500 off as an extra kit discount.

With all of this sweet action on lenses what about the recorder? You’ve got to record you’re 4K onto something? When you buy a C500 and a qualified 4K recorder from AJA or Convergent Design we’re going to give you another $1,000 off the package price.

Lets draw up a scenario. Lets say you want a C500, a AJA Ki-Pro Quad, a 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm primes lenses. That would be a very nice set-up. George Lucas himself would be jealous. Normally that would be prices like this: $25,999, $3,695, $5,220, $4,950, $4,950 for a grand total of $44,814. With these promos your grand total would be $35,914, nearly $10k off! Now you’ll want to finance the whole thing with our 24 month 0% financing so you’ll be paying about $1,496 a month.

If you find these promos a bit head spinning we understand. Thats what we’re here for. Call us, please. Post by Eric C. Petrie .