It’s always a good idea to be measured and understated when talking about sensor test results. Test methodology can vary - especially when it comes to dynamic range, which is ultimately always subjective to some extent. But the latest results from image experts DxO leave no room for doubt. The figures from their Helium tests are so pronounced that they are happy to say that RED’s 8K imager is the best-performing sensor- ever.
DxO typically tests still cameras. But RED’s cameras have always been pitched as still image-capable. The cameras capture RAW images with 16 bit depth, making them incredibly malleable in post production. Dynamic range is superb too, with DxO’s results corresponding closely to REDs own performance claims.
What’s even more remarkable is that the Helium is actually a relatively small sensor compared to its resolution. It’s a full 8K imager but in an S35 form-factor, making it compatible with a wide range of still and movie lenses. Conventional thinking would suggest that the smaller size would mean smaller pixels and therefore lower quality - specifically in the form of more noise. But the results don’t bear this out. In fact, the Helium is one of the least noisy sensors ever.
DxO speculates as to why this might be the case. There is, they say, no obvious spacial noise reduction. (That’s noise reduction within an individual frame). Since DxO is only interested in single frames and not video as such, they’ve not tested for temporal noise reduction, which applies across multiple frames.
The headline score for the Helium sensor is 108, based on a combination of DxO’s tests. To put it in perspective, the next best performer was the RED DRAGON sensor with a score of 101. Below that (remember this is a test of still cameras) is Sony’s A7R II.
Jarred Land, President of RED Digital Cinema said in response to the news: “To achieve the best imaging technology on the planet, it starts with building the best sensors on the planet. This score from DxO validates all of our efforts and I could not be happier with our HELIUM sensor.”
As a reminder, here are the full specifications for the RED WEAPON with HELIUM:
Specifications for the RED WEAPON with HELIUM 8K S35
* 35.4MP CMOS sensor
* 75 fps 8K capture at 2.4:1 (8392 x 3456)
* 60 fps RAW full 8K resolution
* 120 fps at 4K resolution (240 fps at 2K)
* 300 MB/second data readout
* Captures in 16-bit RECODE RAW or Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHR/HD
* Super 35-format sensor (29.90 mm x 15.77 mm)
* Integrated dual-channel audio
* Integrated REDLINK WiFi antenna
* Upgrade path to WEAPON 8K VV (when available)
DxO asks us to note that the Helium sensor that it tested was a prototype, so it’s possible that performance of production models will be even better.
Read the results in detail on DxO’s website.