Blog of Michael Fielden

DxO One First Thoughts

First and most importantly, this is now a review of the DxO One. I do not own one. I have not used one. I want one. I can imagine it now sitting in my drawer unused and I still want one. Now, with that out of the way, lets talk about a professional photographer’s viewpoint on the DxO one.

To start with, I have a love/hate relationship with my Canon 5D Mark III and my iPhone 6+. Both of them are remarkable photography tools and both have their place in my day-to-day life. The Canon is my bread and butter camera. It’s absolutely the best value camera that money can buy. The second best value in a camera today is pretty much every smartphone camera made. Huh? If you’re wondering what I mean by that, keep in mind that most of you are already carrying a camera on your cell phone that has a better sensor than most two year old cameras and with all the whiz bang software on your phone it is arguable that your modern cell phone is the best camera for most people. Trust me, the camera that you’re carrying with you is ALWAYS better than the one you left in the car or closet.

Now, with that said, I do hate my iPhone 6+ and what it represents, which is quite frankly the fact that almost anyone can take a decent picture on their iPhone 6+ which means some of them may never need me or my services. But that aside, for general photography, the iPhone camera is damn good – and the DxO One is supposed to be (and logically should be) an exponential improvement, if you’re willing to carry that one more thing with you every day. So here’s what I know today:

1 – you need to have an iPhone. So the cost of the DxO One is actually quite a bit more than just the $599 list price, but as so often needs to be done in the world of photography, take the price out of the equation and it will make more sense.

2 – the DxO One does not have a screen and you may never miss it. It hooks directly into your iPhone via the lightning port (some complaints from early adopters about a less than solid feel, but I have to side with this being way better than a bluetooth connection.) Everyone I’ve seen holding their DxO One attached to their iPhone looks silly, but like trying to shoot with the first generation Lytro, I’m sure that we’ll all get used to it.

3 – quality. It certainly must be better than the iPhone alone, I’ve seen it proved time and again, but there is a caveat (as there almost always is), in that the DxO One requires its own software to take advantage of all these features. And, like Instagram and so many of other iPhone photo apps, that software includes onboard editing tools, which also means that users are probably at least minimally editing their photos before posting them.

At the same time, the camera supports a variable aperture (f/1.8-f/11), which provides options for depth of field that the fixed iPhone f/2.2 doesn’t come close to. The DxO one also includes a 1-inch backside illuminated (BSI) CMOS censor that is over 6 times larger than the standard iPhone 6. For those pros out there, the camera also gives you the option of shooting in raw (.dng) and SuperRAW (.dxo) to offer even more options for editing. Of note: SuperRAW images are only able to be edited in DxO’s own app.

4 – even with all this cool technology, you’re not going to be a better photographer. The quality of a crappy photo doesn’t matter, and the quality of a better camera only improves a quality picture incrementally. This also isn’t going to eliminate the need for a digital SLR camera. It may, however, eat into the market currently owned by the high-end compact cameras from Panasonic and Sony.

5 – sharing photos on your iPhone is easier. Sharing raw images that you’ve taken on your Canon or Nikon DSLR is at least a three step process. With the DxO One that’s definitely going to be simplified. With the allure of instant gratification on Facebook and other social media sites, this is definitely one more reason that the DxO One may gain a following. Soccer moms looking to one-up the competition.

So… will I be buying one. Probably not. After all this, do I still want one? Absolutely. It’s a toy and would be fun to have, but at $599 I can think of other less compromising tools that I’d like to buy into. What do you think? Share your thoughts below.