DxO One

The iPhone be­comes an al­most-pro-level cam­era for al­most-pro-level cash

Mac Format - - RATED -

You have to an­swer two ques­tions in a re­view: ‘is this thing good?’ and ‘should you buy it?’. With the DxO One – a palm-sized cam­era with a 1-inch sen­sor and good op­tics – the an­swer to the first is easy: yes. It works stand-alone or can be plugged into a Light­ning port so it can use the iOS de­vice’s screen as a viewfinder and for con­trol. The sec­ond ques­tion is a bit more com­pli­cated.

Clas­si­cally, a ma­jor ad­van­tage of a big sen­sor is bet­ter per­for­mance in low light; less noise and truer colours. Un­sur­pris­ingly that proves to be the case here. Pit the DxO One against even the well-re­garded rear cam­era in the iPhone 6 in a dim room (the 6s wasn’t used in this test), and the former com­pletely trounces the lat­ter. In well-lit scenes, the gap nar­rows, though the One’s shots are still sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter – with greater dy­namic range – even be­fore you take into con­sid­er­a­tion the ex­tra cre­ative flex­i­bil­ity the DxO One’s higher res­o­lu­tion and wider aper­ture gives you.

What’s more, se­ri­ous pho­tog­ra­phers will love that it can shoot in raw (DNG), giv­ing you even more cre­ative con­trol once you copy the pic­tures to your Mac. (Pho­tos and video are saved to a not­in­cluded mi­croSD card, and op­tion­ally also to the iPhone.) In­deed, it can shoot in a pro­pri­etary for­mat which takes four raw shots at once; the in­cluded Mac soft­ware uses th­ese to process an im­age which has even less noise. It re­ally works, too.

The JPEG that the cam­era it­self pro­cesses from its raw shot is good, but you get the best re­sults when you copy the raws to your Mac and let it process them, even if you make zero tweaks. (This is a CPU-heavy task, but it’s multi-threaded.) Which brings us to a prob­lem.

The cam­era is good, with the com­pan­ion iPhone app’s P/A/S/M modes giv­ing you wel­come pro con­trol, and be­ing able to shoot with the One and im­me­di­ately edit and share from your iPhone is fan­tas­tic; that lack of fric­tion sets it apart from even a mod­ern Wi-Fiequipped CSC/EVIL cam­era. Yet since you get even bet­ter re­sults by pro­cess­ing the images on your Mac, you then won­der if you’d be bet­ter off with a Wi-Fi-equipped CSC/EVIL cam­era; that would let you change lenses (the One has no zoom, though Ol­lo­clip-style add-ons should be pos­si­ble), and would be more com­fort­able to use, since the One’s er­gonomics are awk­ward – and you’d still be able to squirt oc­ca­sional shots to your iPhone for quick shar­ing.

We do love the One, though, and DxO plans to un­lock plenty of ad­di­tional fea­tures in soft­ware – and even in the hard­ware. And it might not seem it, but it’s well priced given its specs and the qual­ity of the pho­to­graphs it pro­duces.

If you are look­ing to buy a great cam­era and lean a lit­tle more to­wards ‘so­cial’ and ‘apps’ than ‘tra­di­tional pho­tog­ra­phy’, then buy this rather than a nor­mal one. Just be aware that even for an en­thu­si­as­tic am­a­teur, never mind a pro, reg­u­lar cam­eras still of­fer more flex­i­bil­ity, with dif­fer­ent lenses and ac­ces­sories (mount­ing on a tri­pod!), and so in the right hands will take bet­ter pic­tures. Christo­pher Phin

The DxO One is about the size of a ho­tel soap, so is easy to slip into your pocket as you head out the door.

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