When RED unveiled Helium, the new 8K S35 sensor they built for the Weapon and Epic-W, much of the filmmaking community could see right away that it was built to impress. Director Mark Toia said it best: "IMAX performance in your pocket is now." The cameras outfitted with the new sensor can shoot 8K (8192x3456) at up to 75fps, has 16.5+ stops of dynamic range, and packs 3.65 microns into each pixel resulting in a stunning level of image quality.

So, after all of the fanfare about Helium over the last several months, filmmakers, especially those who are die-hard RED fans, were hoping that it'd live up to the hype, and maybe receiving the highest sensor score of all time from DxOMark, a whopping 108, helps prove its mettle.

Helium_dxomarkCredit: DxOMark

DxOMark put the Helium sensor through a battery of tests, from measuring its true dynamic range (15.2 stops vs. RED's reported 16.5) to color depth. According to them, Helium surpasses the RED Dragon 6K sensor in many different areas. Not only did it have impressive results in low-light ISO and noise tests, it also set records in dynamic range and color depth as well. DxOMark measures Helium's color depth at 27 bits, and dynamic range at 15.2 stops, slightly lower than RED's reported 16.5, but still the highest APS-H or full frame sensor they've ever tested.

Here's what DxOMark had to say about their impressive findings:

The RED Helium 8K is the most impressive sensor we’ve ever tested. Rating 10 points above the best of the full-frame DSLRs, it stands alone as our top scorer. Its image quality is even more impressive given its very high maximum frame rates. Our only caveat is that the Helium 8K sensor appears to benefit from some noise reduction to enhance its RAW image quality.

We can likely explain the Helium 8K’s improvement over our previous top scorer, RED’s own Dragon, by a combination of both better sensor technology and temporal noise reduction. The upgrade to 8K video and improved image quality across the board make it a clear upgrade from the RED Dragon – and a clear winner. The Helium 8K is an impressive achievement by RED. For those with the budget, its top-of-the-line image quality, high frame rate, and 16-bit RAW capture capability absolutely make it worth considering as a competitor to high-end DSLRs and medium-format cameras for still image capture.

586028404Behind the scenes shot from 'The Underdog', the first short film shot on the RED Weapon with Helium 8K sensor. (Director: Jonny Mass; DP: Jared Fadel)

In case you missed them, here are the specs for the RED Weapon with the Helium 8K sensor:

  • 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)

If you want to know more about DxOMark's Helium tests and why they gave the sensor such high scores, check out their write-up here.

What do you think about DxOMark's findings? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: DxOMark