DxO, the company behind the DxOMark sensor performance rating database, has made a camera. Called the DxO One, it is a 2″-tall box that contains a sensor and lens, and that’s about it. To use the camera, simply plug it in to the Lightning port on an iPhone or iPad, then load the DxO app and you gain full manual control over the camera. The screen on your phone becomes the viewfinder for the camera, which does not contain its own viewfinder. Sound familiar? Sony’s QX-line of cameras tried to do the same thing (some with the same sensor, even) only they relied on WiFi rather than a hardwired connection into the device. That meant set up time was longer and there was significant lag in the viewfinder function. The Sony QX cameras never really caught on, at least not here in the States, likely because they ruined the sole feature for using a cameraphone in the first place: convenience. With it’s one-click setup, perhaps the DxO One can avoid the same fate.
Looking at the specs, DxO isn’t playing around. It’s clear they’re trying to avoid having the One fall into the territory of “gimmick.” Built around the tried-and-true 20MP, 1″ Sony sensor found in the RX100 III, Canon G7 X, and many other cameras, we know that real world image quality should be great. And the 32m-equivalent, f/1.8 lens sounds promising. That focal length should provide a minimum of distortion compared to standard smartphone lenses, yet still offers a slightly wider-than-normal angle of view making it easy to capture casual group portraits.
The ace up its sleeve, though, is what the camera can do in post, thanks to DxO’s software. The One offers two RAW shooting modes: the standard one-shot RAW like every other camera, and a new, multi-exposure RAW file that DxO calls SuperRAW Plus. (Personally, I would have gone for SuperRAW Plus Extra Extreme Supreme, but they didn’t ask me.) In this mode, four exposures are taken in quick succession and then “merged” into a single file for the purpose of eliminating noise. In this mode, DxO claims the low-light performance of the One eclipses even the best APS-C DSLRs, with the caveat being it can only be used on stationary subjects. Still, when you find yourself in a dimly-let restaurant, SuperRAW Plus should let you create a perfectly-exposed image of your foie gras or balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts.
Currently, the One is only available for Apple iOS devices, but it would not surprise me if an Android-compatible version was on the way. DxO may be testing the waters first on iOS to see how it goes.
Note: this article is simply FYI. The DxO One is an exciting product and we wanted to tell you about it, but it is not currently available from Pro Photo Supply and may never be. We’ll let you know if that changes.