The DxO ONE is Cool, But is It Worth the Price Tag?
If you haven’t seen or heard of the DxO ONE, you must have been living under a rock the last couple of years.
This little gizmo came out in 2015 to much fanfare, and it’s quickly gained a reputation for being a solid camera that brings DSLR quality in a positively tiny package.
It can stand alone as a camera, or better still, iPhone users can attach it to their phone, which then becomes a giant HD touchscreen for the ONE.
The question still remains - is this awesome little gadget worth the price tag of $500?
Let’s find out.
For such a small camera (more on its size later), the ONE takes surprisingly good photos. You can shoot in both JPEG and RAW, giving you access to the larger file size for more robust post-processing.
Inspecting JPEG images, you’ll find colors that are more or less true to form and details that are crisp and sharp. RAW files are naturally less impressive in their unprocessed form, but throwing the images into a program like Photoshop can help you generate a quality of image that’s on par with many entry-level full-sized DSLRs.
That image quality is a consequence of the ONE’s one-inch, 20.2-megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor. Paired with a six-element aspherical lens with an equivalent focal length of 32mm, you have a camera that produces good results in the wide-angle and normal spectrums. See actual sample images in the video below from DxO:
The lens diaphragm has six blades that have an adjustable aperture from f/1.8 to f/11. Combined with a standard ISO range of 100-12800 (expandable to 51200), the ONE offers incredible possibilities for low-light shooting and creating close-ups with buttery smooth bokeh.
For even better results, the ONE has SuperRAW support, which is specifically designed for shooting with a very high ISO or in extremely low-light conditions. Essentially, the camera takes a burst of four images which are then combined into a single RAW file. Advanced processing techniques reduce noise to create a final image that retains far more color and detail.
The verdict: The DxO one can’t compete with the likes of a top-end DSLR or mirrorless camera the image quality department. However, it’s no slouch either. The quality of the images is far beyond what one would expect in such a small package.
One thing that full-sized cameras don’t have going for them (especially full frame models) is their bulky size.
Though there are plenty of APS-C and mirrorless options that come in a smaller package, it’s hard to beat the DxO ONE’s petite frame.
At just 3.81 ounces and measuring a sparse 2.64 x 1.89 x 0.98 inches, it’s no stretch to say that you can carry this camera in your pocket quite easily.
That’s nice for photographers that are constantly on the move or traveling, but don’t want to pack a heavy DSLR around all day or rely just on their smartphone to capture photos.
There’s a reason why DxO bills it as a “pro style camera, miniaturized.”
The verdict: The DxO ONE’s size is a winner.
Whether you’re an amateur that needs to rely on the ONE’s auto shooting modes or an enthusiast or professional that needs to manipulate the camera’s settings manually, you’ll find that the controls for the camera are smart and intuitive, and easy to use as well.
A major complaint of DxO ONE users is it’s rather delicate connection to an iPhone.
The only thing holding the two together is the lighting port, which, though capable of holding the connection well, still doesn’t inspire much confidence to shoot with both hands on the body of the ONE.
Instead, most ONE shooters find themselves having to hold both the ONE and their phone in the hopes of minimizing the possibility of damage to the lighting port.
That’s not to say that the ONE has a reputation for damaging the port, but with all its weight on that single spot, it can strike fear into you pretty quick.
Another consequence of the lighting port connection is that the ONE can feel a bit unstable. Its weight, though small, is far heavier than any iPhone, and that weight can even cause it to become detached from the phone.
The verdict: Though the controls are intuitive, the experience of holding the camera with your phone leaves something to be desired.
Wi-Fi Remote Control
A really cool feature of the ONE is that it can be used wirelessly, which frees you up for all kinds of fun photography pursuits.
The ONE simply connects using Wi-Fi, and you can seize control of it by using your iPhone. Change the camera settings, start and stop video recording, and even move your photos and videos to your iPhone wirelessly.
Even better, when it’s wirelessly connected, you can still use your iPhone as a viewfinder, enabling you to move around the camera as needed without missing out on what you’re photographing. Using the remote feature also takes care of the issue of gingerly holding the ONE and your iPhone at the same time.
The verdict: The Wi-Fi remote feature isn’t just cool, it’s highly functional too.
Unfortunately, there are two issues with the battery life of the ONE.
For starters, it’s onboard battery only lasts for a couple of hours, so if you have a long day of shooting planned, you’d better take along another camera. The battery isn’t removable either, so it’s not like you can bring an extra along.
Exacerbating the issue is that it plugs into the very port on your iPhone that’s needed for charging, so if you’re approaching a drained battery, your only choice is to stop shooting and charge your phone by removing the ONE from the lighting port.
That doesn’t make for a very photo-filled day.
The verdict: The DxO ONE’s battery is a bit of a dud.
There are a wealth of programs and accessories that extend the usefulness of the ONE and make it an even more robust tool.
For example, you can use the DxO Connect software to preview and process RAW and SuperRAW files. DxO OpticsPro for Photos is another option that gives Mac users a dedicated extension pack for processing RAW, SuperRAW, and JPEG images. Add OpticsPro for total control over the conversion parameters that are used, and add some style to your images with the DxO FilmPack for an analog look.
Other accessories include an outdoor shell to protect the camera from the elements (shown in the video from DxO above), a variety of filters including a polarizer and a couple of NDs, stands, and carrying cases.
The verdict: There’s plenty of add-ons that give the ONE greater functionality, but they come at a price.
The biggest bugaboo with the DxO ONE is definitely the price.
At $500, it enters the realm of entry-level DSLRs where its competitors offer a better range of tools and features for similar money.
That means that consumers will have to choose between a DSLR with more capabilities, but that is heavier and won’t fit in your pocket, and the ONE which is light, easy to use, and has some pretty cool features that give it expanded capabilities.
Is the DxO ONE a replacement for your DSLR? No.
Could it be someday? Definitely!
The newest DxO One has improved features over the original that get it closer to taking on full-fledged DSLRs. Perhaps with the next iteration, it’ll start pulling more people away from traditional cameras. But before that happens, the price will likely need to drop and some of its quirky features (like the poor battery life) will need to be addressed.
Nevertheless, the ONE is an incredible camera that has a lot of fans, including Geoffrey A. Fowler of the Wall Street Journal:
The verdict: The DxO ONE is a great little camera that’s fun to use and would be a nice complement to your existing camera gear and ideal for iPhone only shooters that want expanded capabilities. But it’s not quite ready to take on the big boys as a DSLR replacement.