Specs aren’t everything when it comes to cameras, especially when you’re comparing a $59,000 cinema-grade camera to $3,000 still cameras. But every so often it’s hard to ignore the specs of a particular model that blows away any and all competition out there, regardless of price point.
That is exactly the case with Red’s new Helium 8K S35 sensor, which has shattered Red’s previous record with a DxOMark Sensor Score of 108; a whopping seven points more than the Red Epic Dragon, a predecessor that was the first to break the 100 point benchmark.
For those uninitiated, the DxOMark Sensor Score is a proprietary benchmark by which camera sensors are scored. The index is derived from various aspects of a sensor’s capabilities, including high-ISO performance, color depth, and dynamic range.
In each of the above benchmarks, the Red Helium 8K S35 sensor far surpasses any camera DxOMark has tested in the past. As seen in the graphic below, the Helium 8K S35 performed particularly well in the low-light department, beating out the highest-ranked full-frame camera on the market, Sony’s A7R II, by ten points.
DxOMark notes that a great deal of the Helium 8K S35’s color depth success is due in part to its impressive tonal range, powered by its 16-bit RAW capabilities.
The validity and accuracy of DxOMark’s Sensor Score is a topic of much debate. But regardless of the controversy, it’s an impressively comprehensive database by which we can at least gain a better understanding of how cameras compare to one another in a fairly controlled testing environment.
From the looks of it, it’ll be tough for anyone other than Red itself to outscore the Helium 8K S35 sensor. Then again, comparing Red’s sensors to even the most advanced DSLRs and mirrorless cameras is the equivalent of comparing apples to gold-leaf oranges in terms of cost.
For the price of one Helium 8K S35 setup, you can purchase 18 Sony A7R II cameras and a set of lenses. It’s not exactly the best value unless you’re planning on shooting a feature film with an eight-digit budget.