Is the DxO One the perfect camera upgrade for iPhone users? Andy Westlake finds out.
DxO One Review – Operation
The camera’s shooting features are defined by the DxO One controller app. The first time you plug the device into your iPhone it will take you to the App Store and prompt you to download the app. Thereafter, it will automatically launch the app and go to the shooting screen, so long as the iPhone is unlocked.
The app itself is attractively designed and laid out. Its minimalism reflects the fact that there are relatively few features available. A control panel on the left side of the phone’s screen gives access to exposure parameters – shutter speed, aperture, ISO and exposure compensation – but there’s no live histogram or overexposure warning display to help guide your choices. It’s also possible to change white balance, metering mode and focus mode, including manual focus, but these settings are hidden away off-screen at the end of a scrolling list, with no visual cue to suggest they exist.
On the right side of the screen is a column of four buttons. The top selects file format, from JPEG, DNG raw and DxO’s unique multi-shot SuperRaw setting. Below that is self-timer (two or ten seconds), an option to use the iPhone’s flash and exposure-mode selection. In addition to auto, program, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual modes, there are scene modes for sports, portraits, landscapes and night scenes. The on-screen touch buttons are well separated and responsive, and the icons clear, making the app very easy to use.
DxO is keen to stress that both the app and the camera firmware can be updated automatically, and has revealed several features that it will add in the near future. These include an electronic levels display, burst shooting at 8fps with a 20-frame raw buffer, detailed exposure information overlay on the live view display, and the option to display Exif data during playback. Depending on how you choose to look at it, DxO is adding features for free based on early feedback, or it has launched the app before it is ready for prime time and is working on bringing it up to speed.
One of the DxO One’s key advantages compared to other add-on cameras is that it requires no messing around with your network connections. With Sony QX models and their various clones, so long as your phone is controlling the camera unit over Wi-Fi, it has effectively lost its connection to the internet. In contrast, with the DxO One JPEGs can be copied to your iPhone’s camera roll as you shoot, and can even be uploaded to social media directly from the DxO app without having to turn off or disconnect the camera. Alternatively, you can edit your pictures in the Photos app before uploading. Overall, the DxO One fits much better with how you normally use an iPhone compared to other ‘connected cameras’ I’ve used.
There’s a second side to the DxO One, though – it also has aspirations to be a serious camera, recording DNG raw files that can be opened in almost any imaging software and processed how you please. DxO supplies a very basic downloader/raw-converter program called DxO Connect and early buyers of the One will also get free lifetime licences to DxO OpticsPro, which is a more sophisticated raw converter with a greater range of adjustments and controls.