I’ve personally never shot with the AJA Cion, but I’ve always been intrigued by the camera as it offers some powerful specs in a nicely designed body. That said, the fact that it retailed at $9000 was always a huge drawback for me, as the Cion always seemed like it should have been priced more in the $5000 range to compete with the Blackmagic URSA. As of today, AJA just made their pricing a whole lot more competitive and reduced the cost down to $4995… And in my opinion, they really needed to.
This is pure speculation, but like many I would have to assume that the AJA Cion was developed in reaction to the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Both AJA and Blackmagic Design have been competitors for years, and there is no doubt that the original BMCC must have stirred up a lot of discussion at AJA, ultimately leading to the creation of their Cion.
When the Cion was first released it looked really promising. It offered so many great features such as 4K recording, 12bit ProRes4444, RAW Capabilities, 60p slow motion, and much more. What was even more impressive though was the actual design of the camera, as it was clearly built with ergonomics in mind. One of the biggest issues many people had with the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera was of course the size and shape of it, and the AJA Cion offered a viable alternative.
With all that said, the Cion never quite had the same appeal that the BMCC did to many shooters. Sure, there were some users that fell in love with the camera right away, but for the most part people were still gawking over Blackmagic’s cameras too much to really notice what was going on with AJA. This wasn’t just because Blackmagic was first to market with this type of product, but also because their design and branding has always been so slick. It was certainly hard for AJA to compete, and this year things got even harder.
I was expecting to see some sort of update or new camera from AJA at this year’s NAB, but there was nothing announced. Instead, Blackmagic stole all of the thunder again with their URSA Mini – which is largely what I believe prompted AJA to drop the price of their Cion. The fact that the URSA Mini costs as little as $3000 (and that even includes DaVinci Resolve), makes it very difficult for AJA to justify charging $9000 for their camera… Especially because it hasn’t been updated in a couple of years.
Once you get into $9000 territory there are a lot of other types of cameras to consider – not just the offerings from Blackmagic. For instance, the Sony FS7 offers some really incredible performance (on paper at least) that clearly trumps the AJA Cion in almost every way. It may not be a true cinema camera, and it definitely has more of a ‘video look’ than the Cion in my opinion, but regardless it’s still a very tempting option from a trusted brand.
Now that the AJA Cion is only $4995 I think the sales will definitely start to increase. I don’t think it will reach the level that Blackmagic will with their URSA Mini, as it’s still a slightly older camera and doesn’t quite have the allure of the Mini… But there is undoubtably a segment of the market that will love working with the Cion, and will find it to be the best camera for their particular needs.
Even though I will likely not pick one up (even at the reduced rate), I’m really glad that the price has been dropped as more competition in that price bracket is a good thing. It will only drive better products from all of the other brands competing in that space, not to mention it could be a sign that another AJA camera is around the corner.
For those of you interested in other AJA products, the Cion wasn’t the only one to get a price drop. Click here to read AJA’s announcement on their ‘Summer of Savings’ which also includes price reductions on their Ki Pro line.
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Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!