DxO One review: A better camera for your iPhone

Camera add-on brings DSLR quality to the iPhone.

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Image quality

Shooting with a DxO One instead of your iPhone won’t make you a better photographer. But if you know what you’re doing, it will help you get photos with above-average image quality. The photos I took with the DxO One were not just relatively noise free: they were technically excellent in every way (contrast, sharpness, tonality etc.). The color of the DxO One’s image is particularly noteworthy. Since the DxO One gives you 20 megapixels to play around with, your images will often look even better on your retina iPad or MacBook’s display than they do on your iPhone. And 20 megapixels means you can print large or crop fairly aggressively. On the other hand, 20 megapixels is overkill if all you ever do is share photos on social media.

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DxO One produces images with excellent color and texture. Click to enlarge.

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Color not quite right in this iPhone 6 Plus photo. There’s a yellow cast that wasn’t there in real life. And since the iPhone’s camera doesn’t generate a raw file, fixing color balance is trickier than it should be. Click to enlarge.

Realistically, the DxO One isn’t going to replace system cameras with even bigger sensors, bigger and better lenses, terrific viewfinders and/or better body-based ergonomics. But, while there’s never been a shortage of cameras that are much better than the camera in your iPhone, the DxO One is the first camera designed to be better for your iPhone. If you carry around a high-end compact camera like the Panasonic LX7 or the Sony RX100, you might find yourself leaving them at home more often, since you’ll have the DxO One with you always. And once you’ve got a DxO One in your pocket, I predict you’ll pull it out, plug it in and use it even for silly photos that the iPhone’s camera could have handled—that was my experience.

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I tested the DxO One mainly as a still camera, but it does video, too, in two modes: normal 1080p (30 fps) and “sport mode”, i.e. slow-motion, 720p (120 fps). Shooting in video mode, the DxO One provides electronic image stabilization. (There’s no image stabilization in still-capture mode.) Shooting blind—i.e., disconnected from the iPhone—might be useful if you’re doing undercover work and is easier to do with the DxO One than with your iPhone. I’m not a connoisseur, but video output seemed pretty decent to me. The DxO One’s superior lens and sensor do help even with video.

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DxO Optics Pro’s outstanding lighting controls pull a lot of detail from the blown-out upper left area of the image (which shows the bright sun outside). Click to enlarge.

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Shot with DxO One, processed in Mac OS X Photos. Click to enlarge.

Bottom line

Every camera is a package of compromises. But the compromises baked into the DxO One make sense and serve the goal of producing a better camera for your iPhone. DxO offers a 30-day return guarantee so you can buy with minimal risk. It may be overkill for casual shooters. But if you are serious about mobile photography, I recommend the DxO One enthusiastically.

At a Glance
  • DxO Labs DxO One

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