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Gear & Apps

DxO Labs ‘ONE’ – DxO’s Own 20MP ‘DSLR Quality’ Camera For iPhone

By Kishore Sawh on June 18th 2015

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When we think of DxO Labs, it’s sensor testing and software that comes to mind. I imagine geeky test runners with inch-thick spectacles and adenoids, the type who keep linear charts under their mattress, and have their significant others listed in their phones as QT3.14, finely examining each new camera and sensor. I could be wrong…but DxO is making, or rather has made, a large jump from the world of software developer and tester, to camera manufacturer with the release of the DxO ONE.

A camera coming from the developers of DxO OpticsPro and DxoMark testing system is going to all at once gather a lot of interest, and a lot of scrutiny, so it’s not surprising that their first offering isn’t exactly standard. At a time when cameras of all levels are being marketed with the idea that even pros will want to get their images on their phones quickly, the ONE cuts to the chase as a camera to be used in conjunction with an iOS device like your iPhone or iPad, and the company has worked closely with Apple to ensure a seamless experience.

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But before you dismiss it as something fun but ultimately empty, like a compliment from a stripper, you should know that the beating heart of this truly pocketable camera is a Sony 1-inch 20.2 MP back-side illuminated CMOS sensor, that processes views of the outside world as seen through a 32mm equivalent f/1.8 aspherical lens complete with 6-bladed diaphragm. Those numbers alone should at least have your eyebrow raised, especially when considering the sensor is the same that you’ll find in the dominant pocket point and shoot, the Sony RX100 III.

Fitting that sort of sensor in the RX100 was an achievement in and of itself, but now it’s in something that’s only 2.65 inches tall and weighs only 3.8oz. This is sort of feasible because the DxO One is essentially a modular platform that requires the screen real estate of the iDevice to view and frame shots. And since DxO is a software company, naturally we expect the software to work well and be intuitive. It certainly appears so from the shots shared thus far.

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Again due to that sensor, it’s not surprising that it captures JPEG & RAW files, as well as a proprietary .DXO SuperRaw format which is made by the camera shooting 4 RAW images in rapid succession and then combining them. The idea behind this is that noise will be reduced, and high ISO performance and dynamic range will be increased as is typical with image stacking.

Like the devices it is aimed at being paired with, the DxO One has an inbuilt battery that isn’t interchangeable so you’re limited in use to however long it holds a charge, which is said to be 200 images worth.

But…

I think the idea is a great one, and the execution seems to be quite good also. The only problem I can see most having so far, is the price. $599 is near the price of the iPhone itself, and you can get an RX100 for the same, and it’s still more powerful. DxO is quick to say, however, that it will sweeten the deal for a limited time by including DxO OpticsPro ELITE and DxO FilmPack for your desktop with the purchase of the device. Sure, that’s a $300 value, but the ‘value’ of something is there only if you wanted it in the first place.

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Actually, let me be honest here, and price is not the only problem I have with that DxO has put out. You can see their full ‘review’ with their standard test done on the DxO here, and what you’ll see are impressive numbers that seem to best even the likes of the RX100 III, and come close to the score of say a D7200, and not too far off the Rx1R (which we reviewed and I still hold as perhaps one of the best performing cameras I’ve ever seen). Here’s the problem: DxO is sort of known within our industry as an honest benchmark company who many rely on for reviews before purchase, and on their main page they somewhat sneakily have given the DxO ONE a score of 85. To put this in perspective a D7200 has a score of 87.

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[REWIND: SAMSUNG T1 EXTERNAL SSD – TINY & BLAZING FAST| REVIEW]

This is misleading. The fact is that a D7200 will consistently get that rating and the DxO One needs certain conditions to. The thing is, the rating of 85 is sort of a trick because that rating is only for the SuperRaw filetype, which, as we know, is an image stacking shot of 4 images. In my opinion, it’s deceiving because other cameras are given a score based on just a single exposure.  Disappointed in their decision to market the DxO ONE at 85 when really it’s a native 70 without stacking.

Find out more here.

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. John Cavan

    Conceptually, I like the idea. Execution? Not so sure. I’m positive that the sensor is going to be excellent (consider the source), but the price/value ratio seems way out of whack here to be honest. Couple that with the very real concern you mention about their impartiality and I’m not so sure about this any more. I sense a possible dud here.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I feel like it may take a nice enough image, but as you said, price/value ratio appears to me to be, well, nuts. Cheers John

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  2. Trevor Dayley

    Very well written review. Loved the stripper comment as well. Too funny.

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  3. Mark Henry Dela Torre

    I will just get a second hand camera. For $300, I got a point and shoot camera (Nikon Coolpix A), APC size, fixed lens, got a flash mount, better lens and small enough to be brought everyday.

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  4. robert raymer

    I was really excited when I got their email about this. Then I saw the price. It is a great concept, and one I would have definitely considered purchasing for 100-200, but $600 is terribly overpriced for something I would only be using to essentially take better snapshots. If Im going to drop 600 on something it will be on my professional gear.

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  5. Barry Tobin

    I don’t think you get to present yourself as the most impartial AND have a vested commercial interest all at the same time… credibility can be pretty valuable (and fragile) currency.

    But who am I kidding – most spec obsessed camera geeks are conditioned to swallow whatever these guys say whole anyway…

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  6. Paddy McDougall

    Like the concept but the price point kills it for most people, for that money I would go with a premium compact.

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  7. Stephen Jennings

    So now people really will be able to shoot weddings with their cell phones!

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  8. Tom Marvel

    “something fun but ultimately empty, like a compliment from a stripper”
    Reading that made my afternoon!!
    :-))))

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  9. Jesper Ek

    I’m still waiting for a successful add on solution for our smart phones that actually works for people…

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    • Dustin Baugh

      Ever since wifi/NFC connections became common in point and shoots I’ve preferred to carry the camera around rather than an addon. Sizes are comparable and the advanced point and shoots are very capable now. Then you choose the best of your pics, transfer it over, and post it to a blog or social media. EAsy, and still so similar to a normal camera workflow.

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