Back side illumination has become standard image sensor technology owing to its superior quantum efficiency and fill factor. A direct comparison of front and back side illumination (FSI and BSI) used in event-based dynamic and active pixel vision sensors (DAVIS) is interesting because of the potential of BSI to greatly increase the small 20% fill factor of these complex pixels. This brief compares identically designed front and back illuminated DAVIS silicon retina vision sensors. They are compared in term of quantum efficiency (QE), leak activity and modulation transfer function (MTF). The BSI DAVIS achieves a peak QE of 93% compared with the FSI DAVIS, peak QE of 24%, but reduced MTF, due to pixel crosstalk and parasitic photocurrent. Significant “leak events” in the BSI DAVIS limit its use to controlled illumination scenarios without very bright light sources. Effects of parasitic photocurrent and modulation transfer functions with and without IR cut filters are also reported.