DV by Ned Soltz
AJA's latest acquisition solution is a winner.
AJA is now shipping the Ki Pro Mini, a major step forward in the company’s line of direct-from-camera acquisition products. First came the I/O HD, a product I reviewed at its introduction some four years ago. At that point, its ability to transcode any input into ProRes was revolutionary but I remarked what was needed was some way to make it portable and record on the fly. Well, two years later came the KiPro, a product which remains a hot item. But the Ki Pro, for all that it does in acquisition, cross and transcoding, and up/down rez, is a relatively expensive ($3,995) and certainly large device, not lending itself to easy portability.
The Ki Pro Mini is the next and greatest stage of evolution of this line of AJA products and the lines are forming to acquire it. And for good reason. The Ki Pro Mini will take any HDMI or SDI signal and record to two CF cards in Apple ProRes with the ability to output HDMI and SDI. It does not cross convert or transcode. But it is lightweight, able to be powered by a variety of sources and at $1,995 represents a tremendous value for the quality of its construction and video results. Add two XLR analog inputs and you have a complete 10-bit field acquisition unit.
The Mini records in all Apple ProRes flavors and available frame sizes and rates with the exception of ProRes 4444. The data rates required by ProRes 4444 could not be sustained on today’s CF cards, nor does the Mini itself have dual link or 3G HD-SDI I/O. That is not to be considered a significant omission since the overwhelming majority of users may find ProRes HQ or even ProRes 422 more than sufficient.
Now, to the unit itself. The Ki Pro Mini looks at first glance as if it might be a bit awkward, and indeed, it does require some creativity and additional devices for mounting. Indeed, with its height of about 5.4” and width of almost 3.5” as well as bottom-situated 4-pin XLR power connector, it could present some mounting challenges. AJA sells for an additional $75 cheeseplate mounts for each side of the Mini. In fact, for maximum versatility, AJA recommends buying two plates—one for either side of the unit and to mount them at 180” opposites. These plates have multiple iterations of every conceivable size of video mounting screw. They attach solidly to the unit and are milled precisely. Considering prices of precision mounting plates, $75 is a real bargain. Also available is a desk stand, elevated to allow a right-angle XLR power connector. Unfortunately, the desk stand cannot be use with the mounting plate. AJA also recommends using the rod assembly from the KiPro exoskeleton option to mount the Mini on rails. read more...