Red Helium 8K Camera Sensor Test

Decode’s RED S35 Helium 8K camera sensor test was carried out with a RED Epic–W with Standard OLPF. This exposure latitude test was designed to evaluate the noise levels at the native ISO of 800.

The sensor was rated at the base ISO of 800, white balanced to 3200 Kelvin and shot at 25 fps with 180 degree shutter. The test was shot in 8K HD 7680 x 4320 resolution (16:9 aspect ratio) at 8:1 compression. The R3D clips were set at Red Log Film and Red Colour 2 when imported into REDCINE X Pro and the files were finally exported as ProRes 4444 in 1920 x 1080 resolution.

This test evaluates information retained in R3D RAW, then in comparison to RED Rec 709 LUT applied in DaVinci Resolve. Secondly we tested how much information could be reclaimed from the under and over exposed R3D footage back to normal exposure value. The lens used was a Zeiss CP.2 50mm at T/5.6. The under exposure was achieved with Tiffen Neutral Density filters from 0.3 to 1.2. Over exposure was achieved by opening the iris at 1-stop intervals. 4-stops over exposure was achieved by moving the key and back light closer to increase exposure. Key and fill was balanced to a 2-stop difference (4:1 ratio).

The test was lit by an Arri 2K Blonde open face in a book light configuration, bouncing against a poly board and then through two layers of 216 diffusion. The three quarter backlight was achieved with the use of an Arri 650w Fresnel bounced into a poly-board. Exposure was determined with a Minolta handheld light meter (the camera’s inbuilt waveform and false colour exposure tools were not used).


Immediately we noted that normal exposure rendered a much darker image, which may require balancing your lighting to compensate. For low-key situations this may mean rating your meter to 320 – 400 ISO, and high-key environments at the cameras native ISO.

Roll off into the shadow areas was to be expected from a top end digital camera such as the RED Epic-W, however, given the high pixel count of the sensor it may be wise to provide adequate fill where appropriate or switching to the Low Light OLPF. Noise levels where kept to minimum by carrying out a black balance immediately before the test. Low noise was also benefited by the sensors high pixel count, however when exposure was pushed, the result was a very ‘electronic’ looking noise pattern.

Highlight retention was very good, yielding good results even at 4-stops over exposure.

If you want to discuss hiring a RED Weapon or Epic W Helium 8K for your next production and to take advantage of any deals that we’re currently offering, do get in touch with us by calling us for a chat on +44 (0) 2087359170 or email us at for additional information and rates. Our team will be happy to discuss your production requirements and many other tips with you.

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