DxO One makes your iPhone camera good enough for a pro

“For as long as there have been cameras, photographers have faced a Goldilocks conundrum. The best-quality cameras are too heavy. The portable ones sacrifice too much performance,” Geoffrey A. Fowler writes for 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,” Fowler writes. “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.”

“Despite a few compromises, most notably in battery life, the DxO One satisfies mobile photographers’ dreams of a pocket-size connected camera that can match many of the pro capabilities of a digital SLR camera,” Fowler writes. “So let’s talk about the price: $600. That isn’t unusual for a camera with these specs, but ranks it among the most expensive non-couture iPhone accessories. Not that sticker shock will abate the lust of avid photographers for this thing. The DxO One is the ultimate big-vacation, retirement-wanderlust, new-baby, like-my-Instagrams-dammit camera. Santa, I’ve been a very good boy this year.”

Much more, including example photos and videos, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We haven’t tried the DxO One yet, but here’s more info via DxO:


    1. In good light, iPhone produces most amazing images. Its sensor is precise and accurate, its lenses clear and sharp.

      However, much like all other non-pro cameras, the differences begin to show in sub-optimal light. There is a reason why professional productions shoot with cameras that cost so significantly more than a Canon DSLR (never mind a PowerShot). They give the professionals much greater range of shooting options.

      Several successful independent movies have been completely shot on an iPhone (most recent on iPhone 5s). This doesn’t mean that the iPhone is (almost) as good as any professional camera; it means that the cinematographer who shot the film knew iPhone’s limitations and worked around them. This isn’t easy, and can be frustrating, but the good thing about it is that these limitations aren’t debilitating. With plenty of proper planning and testing, you can overcome them and produce surprisingly beautiful results.

      The bottom line does remain, though: inexpensive cameras produce inexpensive results, and even with the most experienced hands, you can only do so much.

        1. Goofy is the right word. It is really neither here, nor there — not a solid DSLR ($1k +), nor a light (but powerful) pocketable point-n-shoot.

          Having said that, I am sure there will be people who will get it, whatever their reasoning may be.

    2. bot: I’m beginning to think there is a marketing service out there in techno-land that can be paid to troll sites like MDN and BOMBARD them with desired likes, thumbs down, single stars of 5 stars. That of course makes such approval/disapproval systems a total joke. I also don’t get the point of that sort of propaganda, which of course is exactly what it is: Attempting to change people’s opinions with utter bullshit. BFD that your useful observation got bombed below 3 stars. Wow. What a statement, not.

      In any case, bullshit-ification is standard practice regarding anything Apple. It’s been going on since the release of the Apple Mac for a wide variety of bullshit reasons. I don’t expect it to stop. Anything that breaks the status quo and upsets mediocrity will consistently upset those with a stake in keeping things unchanged, IOW very sad and lost people who waste their lives pretending change isn’t inevitable every moment of the day.

  1. There is a point… When you ask… Why?

    If you spend $600, you will buy a dedicated camera, with interchangeable lenses. Sure the whole kit will actually cost more in the long run, but this is simply a POS with SLR code. You can’t tell me they stuck a full frame or 4/3s backlit CCD in that. No love on WSJ comments as well.

    I am not convinced. The examples provided does not justify the cost and “inconvenience” of carrying an extra piece of kit. If you are going to do a night shot, you would want a tripod – again this is against the notion of, “hey I have a camera,” when you see something you want to remember.

  2. When it comes to image sensors, size matters. The DXO One uses a very highly rated 1″ sensor with a proprietary lens designed to pack the most performance into the least volume possible. That sensor, combined with all of the image processing goodness that is built into the iPhone, is capable of producing better images than the sensor on the iPhone, and the difference becomes progressively more noticeable with lower levels of ambient light.

    Here is a very basic guide to the relationship between sensor size and image quality:

    Whether the improvement in image quality is worth the additional cost and bulk of the DXO One and the reduced battery life is something that each potential consumer will have to decide for themselves, but it is inaccurate to claim that there is no difference.

  3. “Despite a few compromises, most notably in battery life, the DxO One satisfies mobile photographers’ dreams of a pocket-size connected camera that can match many of the pro capabilities of a digital SLR camera,”

    Can the lens be swapped out like you can with a DSLR? Nope. Well then, I’d say that’s a huge mis-match of capabilities, not only for a DSLR, but many mirrorless cameras as well.

    I’m sure the 1″ sensor, and high quality 32mm lens on this, along with advanced software and controls, allow for much better pictures than what the iPhone can provide, but it’s far from being able to match the capabilities, let alone “pro” capabilities of a DSLR.

    For $600, I also think this is way over priced. Unlike a conventional camera, this is dependent on working and integrating with the iPhone, and iOS. A buggy app kills it. A new version of iOS could result in waiting for an app update. A change in hardware could also make the camera incompatible.

    That’s a lot of investment with risk to improve upon the iPhone camera as opposed to getting the capabilities one would get with a a mirrorless or DSLR. Even many compact cameras may be better choices depending on shooting needs.

  4. There is a lot to like about this idea, but the fixed lens is the problem. I love the wide aperture and the way that it can throw backgrounds out of focus, which is very desirable for portraiture, but who shoots portraits with a 32mm lens? A focal length of around 100mm is much more appropriate and of course a fixed wide angle lens like this one would not be much good for anybody wanting to get close to the action at sporting events or for natural history pictures.

    I’m sure that before long, somebody will come up with a compelling solution that offers a full size sensor with interchangeable lenses and also uses the power of the iPhone’s CPU, but while there are quite a few things to like with the DxO One, it’s not a sufficiently complete solution.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.