Product designers have been trying to find a great way of combining the power of your smartphone with an attachable souped-up camera. So far, designs have been awkward and less than user-friendly. DxO thinks it has a better solution with the new One camera.
The One looks like an action cam in size and shape. Inside is a high class 20-megapixel one-inch sensor, the same found in Sony's RX100. This thing can spew fantastic pro-quality images. You attach it to your iPhone's lighting port with a fold-out connector, and boom -- you've got a full-fledged cameras that instantly transfers images and video to your device.
You might remember Sony's attempt at this very idea last year with its QX line. Those cameras were bulky as hell, and relied on spotty WiFi and NFC for connectivity. The One is significantly smaller thanks to a 32mm equivalent f/1.8 prime lens. This thing can fit in your pocket, which, honestly, is a must for this concept to be feasible.
The One snaps JPGs that are instantly transferred to your phone, and RAW files which are stored on a removable microSD card. It has a physical shutter button, or you can use the app interface, which seemed pretty OK to us. It provides full manual control and the modes every photographer is used to. The f/1.8 aperture and 1/8000 max shutter speed should make it possible to get really great shots in a variety of conditions. When attached to your phone, the One pivots 60 degrees in either direction for angled shooting, or flip it around into selfie mode. You can also use the camera on its own, not connected to a phone, but you are limited to auto mode.
Two things that might stand in the way of greatness. First is the simple fact that it's a pain to attach a thing to your phone in order to take a picture. I mean, you have a camera built right into your phone. Many thing it's a wonderful camera. But the quality is indeed utter shit compared to what the One's sensor and lens can deliver. The second bitter truth is that the One will cost $US600. I'll just leave that there because enough said really.
Despite all that, the One is cool because it's a new approach to this concept and genuinely looks way more appealing than Sony or Olympus' offerings. DxO has a long history of image science and optics knowledge behind it, so it should (in theory) deliver solid performance. In fact, it's got a really nifty feature thanks to that expertise, and it's called Super RAW. This mode is for extreme low light. It combines four exposures at different ISO values and interpolates the pixels for reducing noise. We didn't get to examine the results up close, but it sounds compelling. You can be sure we'll be testing this thing further as its available.
For now it is only compatible with Apple devices with lightning ports, but future versions could offer more compatibility. Expect the DxO One to ship in September.