RED Epic Dragon Outstrips the D800E in DxOMark Tests, Breaks 100-Point Barrier


Until today, the Nikon D800E stood at the top of the DxOMark totem pole with an amazing sensor score of 96. But the champion has been unseated, and not by some Canon or Nikon full-frame camera or one of the impressive new APS-C shooters we’ve seen recently. No, the D800E has been decidedly put out of first place by the RED Epic Dragon video camera.

The RED Epic Dragon set a record today when DxOMark announced that it had actually broken the 100-point score barrier on their tests. The camera scored a 101, which DxOMark points out is all the more impressive considering the fact that it has a smaller sensor than the D800E (APS-H… about halfway between APS-C and 35mm) and can shoot full res at very high frame rates.


The camera’s secret, the way it achieved this crazy score, has to do with the incredibly low read noise demonstrated by the sensor. Both its dynamic range and color depth scores (14.8 Ev and 26.5 bits, respectively) outpace every other camera DxOMark has ever tested. So even though it fell short of the D800E at extremely high ISOs (an expected consequence of the smaller sensor), it still managed to pull a higher score and wow the testers.

“It’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed by the Dragon’s performance (except maybe at extremely high ISO)…” writes DxOMark in the Conclusion section, adding, “The ability to choose a high quality still photo from a movie sequence will be invaluable to time-pressured imaging professionals, in the studio or elsewhere. While this will take some time to filter down to consumer level HD-DSLRs, this new technology just may forever change the way both footage and stills are shot in the future.”


So no, this won’t affect you in the near future — unless, of course, you have nearly $30,000 to spend on the Dragon body alone — but as DPReview pointed out, it shows that there’s still a lot of untapped potential in conventional Bayer CMOS sensors. Which, in turn, means we still have plenty to look forward to.

To read the full review and find out exactly how it did in every category and why it’s such an impressive camera, head over to DxOMark by clicking here.

  • ihphoto

    As for pulling stills – not necessarily: it will depend on the shutter speed vs frame rate chosen and the speed of any subject movement. You may well get a blurred still. If you’re shooting for movie footage you are often doing things differently to a stills guy, period.

  • John Redmond

    Yep, most of the time movies are shot at 1/48th shutter speed which is not really that sharp for stills.

  • Robin

    Can someone explain why medium formats have such “poor” ISO performance
    compared to full-frames? I thought “the bigger sensor the better” at
    least that is true until FF due to larger pixels. Why does it get worse
    with MF?

  • Nate Parker

    pixel density is my guess

  • Halfrack

    CCD v CMOS is a good place to start, then take into account that MF is designed for better performance at low ISO’s, so tests like DxO really don’t apply. Read up on their site:

  • Kyle Clements

    It could be the size of the market and economies of scale, with FX and DX sensors they can really push things, high sales volumes and rapid development.

    It looks like ultra-tiny smartphone sensors are advancing extremely rapidly as well.

  • Alex

    Because they use CCD chips, which are terrible at high ISO. That’s why it’s such a big deal that both Blad and Phase 1 have released a CMOS chip: opens it up too higher ISO performance and video

  • da

    heating is a big issue with larger seniors

  • Brent

    True dat…I’m only 45, but me and the summer don’t get along:)

  • David Liang

    Exactly. Every time a 4k camera is announced people start talking about pulling stills and assuming stills can be pulled. You get motion blur with average movement at 1/90th of a second, never mind fast moving action, unless the characters are standing still, stills pulled from 1/60th of less won’t be usable.

  • Jeez

    And at a “modest” $50,000 I know where I am spending my money………..

  • kassim

    It won’t last for long. The new Sony medium-format CMOS sensor will dethrone it.

  • Anonymus

    Medium format has never been tested by DxO…

  • Anonymus

    Ohh! Shame on me! In fact they did!


    Wow, a $30,000 camera body outperforms a $3,000 one ! Who would have thought !

  • Jordan Mary

    Wow! Can’t wait till I get $30,000 to shell out on gear