The DxO One iPhone Camera is a First Generation Breakthrough Product
The DxO One ends any excuse photographers might have to miss the moment.
This palm-size device uses the same one inch 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor in Sony’s RX100 111, and even takes pictures as a standalone camera without taking the seconds needed to attach it to an iPhone.
DxO has been known primarily as a software company, but with the introduction of this little, almost spy-sized camera, that will soon change. Every photographer needs a good travel camera on hand. Unfortunately, even the Panasonic or Leica portable camera is a bit too large for a back pocket.
The DxO One connects to your iPhone and uses its display as a viewfinder. To attach the device, users simply slide the lens cover all the way down, which reveals an Apple-approved lightning connector. Once inserted into an iPhone, the DxO app opens and displays a viewfinder. The app is a free download on the iTunes store.
With the DxO One attached, the iPhone becomes a 32mm camera. The DxO One has a 6-element aspherical lens, a maximum aperture of f/1.8, and an adjustable iris. It also boasts a powerful 1” sensor and 20.2 megapixels for incredibly sharp images that can be cropped substantially in post processing.
The current version of the DxO software is basic but it allows users to select from several shooting modes including Program, Aperture and Speed priority. The device also has a full manual mode, which gives the user total control. The company promises software and firmware upgrades by the end of 2015 and continuously thereafter.
The DxO One is a powerful device, considering it can fit in your pocket. It weighs less than four ounces and is less than three inches tall. According to the company, the secret to obtaining such superior image quality in such a small device is that it positioned the lenses close to the sensor, eliminating the empty space that exists in traditional cameras.
The DxO One also has its own memory card and battery, so it won’t drain the power on your phone or take up a lot of storage space. When the memory card is installed, the DxO One can take pictures or movies without attaching it to an iPhone. There is no viewfinder and the choices when using it as a standalone are simple—still photos or videos.
As expected with a first generation product, the DxO One is not without some problems. The connector does not extend enough to connect to an iPhone with a protective case. Even the thin Moshi protective hard case for the iPhone 6 needs to be removed in order to connect the DxO. This is a big problem that eliminates the possibility of connecting the camera to an iPhone quickly when the need arises, unless you are prepared to carry an iPhone with no protective cover.
Overheating and battery life are the other main hardware problems. While the specs say the DxO can take up to 200 pictures on one charge, keeping the camera on for more than about 20 minutes continuously will either drain the battery or cause it to overheat and automatically shut down until it cools off. The automatic shut off is a good safety feature, but the time period for the camera to remain in use is a problem.
While battery life appears to be about 1 ½ to 2 hours, the automatic shut off for overheating prevents a video from lasting much more than 20 minutes.
The lens is unquestionably superior to anything that comes in a device this small, but it is fixed at 32mm and there is no zoom feature. This is not much of an issue for the semi-pro or professional photographer since most prefer prime lenses to zooms, but it will be an issue for a more casual photographer who might not realize how much you can crop an image with 20.2 megapixels in post processing.
Not surprisingly, the DxO is generating a lot of buzz. As reviewed by the Wall Street Journal:
Finally, there’s a camera that’s just right. The ambitious new DxO One takes stunning 20.2-megapixel pictures from a device that’s half the size of a deck of cards. The secret: It’s a pro-level image sensor and bright lens that plugs onto the base of an iPhone, which serves as the viewfinder and central command.
The DxO One, which went on sale in September 2015, sells for $599. Consumers who purchase the DxO ONE now will also receive DxO Connect, the company’s import and optimization software for DxO ONE, DxO FilmPack, and (offered for a limited time) DxO OpticsPro Elite Edition, its professional editing software.