DxO ONE Field Test Part I

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DxO One Field Test Part I

This small wonder picks up where smartphones fall short

by , with Dave Etchells, and Dave Pardue

f/1.8, 1/1600s, ISO 200

For times when your iPhone camera just won't do

Like it or not, smartphone-based photography is more than just a passing phase, it seems. Cameras on smartphones keep getting better and better, the apps for editing and tweaking more complex and sophisticated, and the resulting images themselves more impressive and higher in quality. Of course, there's certainly a time and a place for a dedicated camera, interchangeable lenses, add-on flashes and strobes and all sorts of other gear, but the beauty of smartphone photography is its simplicity.

That being said, there are times when the simple, built-in camera is perfectly adequate for your needs -- quick snapshots here and there, daytime shooting for small-res prints or sharing on Instagram. But, then there are times when that simple, very small-sensor camera just won't cut it -- whether for extra detail and resolution for larger prints, added editing flexibility of RAW images for better post-processing and, perhaps most importantly, much better low-light and high-ISO performance. This is where the DxO One connected camera comes in.

The DxO One, with its ultra-compact form factor, takes up about as much pocket space as a large pack of chewing gum, and yet features the same large, 20.2-megapixel 1-inch-type back-illuminated sensor as the Sony RX100 III, as well as a very bright 12mm (32mm equivalent) f/1.8 prime lens. Its built-in Lightning connector makes it fast and easy to connect to your iPhone -- no need for bouncing around in menus on both devices as when pairing a Wi-Fi connection.

I've had a chance shoot with this new camera (I'm hesitant to call it an "iPhone accessory"), and the DxO One certainly has a number of positive things going for it. Like many first-generation products, though (including many of Apple's), it also has a few drawbacks, quirks, and frustrations.

Let's dive in and start with some of the positive features of the DxO One...

f/2.0, 1/500s, ISO 100

Excellent image quality out in good lighting

Given that the DxO One shares the same well-regarded sensor as the much-loved Sony RX100 III, it was no surprise to find the image quality from the One impressive. In daytime shooting, the One captures really nice, highly detailed images. Even zooming in to 100% on some base ISO shots, the DxO One was able to resolve very fine, very small details, such as the minute details on leaves and rocks. With wider landscape shots, I was also pleased with the resolution of far-off objects.

The DxO One lets you capture your choice of just JPEG images, RAW (DNG) + JPEG, or a special multi-shot "SuperRAW file (with a non-standard .DXO file extension), along with the standard paired JPEG image. The SuperRAW mode is mainly aimed at increasing high ISO performance; one of the particular strong points DxO claims for the One. I'll look at high ISO performance more later.

Native .DNG raw files = easy cross-platform editing

Being a standard file format, the native .DNG raw files open just fine in Adobe Lightroom, my image editing software of choice. The SuperRAW .DXO files, on the other hand are proprietary and, at this time, can only opened using the included DxO OpticsPro software (more on the software later, as well!). For Lightroom fans, Adobe does have plans to support the SuperRAW format in a future update.

f/2.0, 1/8000s, ISO 100
Edited in Adobe Lightroom.
Click the image for the full-size edited file, or click here for the originals: RAW, JPEG.

For now, editing .DNG files from the DxO One in Lightroom works just like any other raw image file. Despite shooting a number of daytime shots under harsh mid-day sun, I was rather pleased with the DxO's metering capabilities, as well as its dynamic range performance. I was pleasantly surprised by how the files handled pulling down the highlights and bringing up shadow detail. There were a few times, though, in which the foreground subject was properly exposed, but the bright mid-day sky was just too blown-out to be recovered in post-production. (Not unusual, with many cameras.)

f/4.0, 1/200s, ISO 100

All told, out and about during the day and in otherwise good lighting, the DxO One captures really nice, really crisp photos. Where the DxO really shines compared to the iPhone 6, though, is in low-light/high ISO situations. 

The DxO One easily outpaces the iPhone in low light

Given that most people carry a smartphone nowadays, we all have a camera with us at all times. And in many social situations, the iPhone, or any other smartphone, is the quickest, most convenient camera to use for grabbing quick snaps of your friends and family. When out at night or in a dimly light restaurant or bar, though, the tiny sensor of the iPhone 6 really becomes a limiting factor for image quality. This is one of the primary situations where the ultra-portable, yet larger-sensored DxO One comes into its own.

f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 6400

Using the same 1-inch-type sensor that earned lots of praise for its class-leading high ISO performance in the Sony RX100 Mark III, coupled with an f/1.8 prime lens and unique multi-shot SuperRAW mode, the DxO One promises great low-light photography, in an extremely pocketable camera.

My colleagues and I took the DxO One, the iPhone 6 and an RX100 III out for some low-light shooting at night, both outdoors and inside a restaurant. In well-lit indoor scenes, the iPhone 6 can do a decent job, with reasonably controlled noise and nice detail. In darker situations, though, the iPhone 6 really struggles, and its camera's shortcomings are much more apparent. In these situations, the DxO One -- even in its standard JPG files -- clearly comes out on top. The Sony RX100 III also does quite well here, though we found the DxO One's white balance and skin tones by far the most pleasing and natural, even after trying to tweak the Sony's white balance to give a more realistic rendering.

DxO One vs iPhone 6 vs Sony RX100 III Comparison (Click images for full-res)
DxO One @ ISO 3200: f/1.8, 1/40s.
Notice the much more natural skin tons and white balance from the DxO.
Sony RX100 III @ ISO 3200: f/2.0, 1/30s
Despite manually adjusting white balance, Dave Etchells had difficulty getting a natural white balance.
iPhone 6 @ ISO 800: f/2.2, 1/15s.
The tiny iPhone camera sensor really struggles, not only with noise and detail in really low light, but also with white balance and colors at higher ISOs.

The DxO and Sony again show their strengths against the tiny sensor of the iPhone 6 in terms of fine detail at higher ISOs. Using ISO 3200 on DxO One and Sony RX100 III and ISO 800 (auto) on the iPhone 6, you can see in the shots above how much more fine detail the dedicated cameras provide relative to that of the iPhone. The iPhone really struggles to suppress noise while retaining detail.

Comparing the DxO One to the iPhone 6 camera in outdoor low-light scenes, the DxO One was again the clear winner. Even with the iPhone opting to use ISO 500 while the DxO used ISO 3200 (making for much shorter shutter speeds and thus less likelihood of blurring due to camera shake), the One managed much lower noise levels and much better fine detail.

DxO One vs iPhone 6 Comparison (Click images for full-res)
DxO One @ ISO 3200, f/1.8, 1/60s
iPhone 6 @ ISO 500

Low Light Video Performance significantly bests the iPhone

While we're planning to expand on the video performance of the DxO One in a later post, IR founder Dave Etchells did have an opportunity to briefly test the One alongside the RX100 III and iPhone 6, to see how it handled video after dark. The video below includes clips taken with the iPhone 6, DxO One, and Sony RX100 III. You can see how the much larger sensors of the DxO One and Sony RX100 III allow them to produce far better results than the iPhone 6 under dim lighting. We did however notice the DxO One hunting back and forth for focus a fair bit in this particular low-light test. The iPhone 6 did a decent job of maintaining focus, but its video was simply too dark to be usable. The Sony RX100 III seemed to be the clear winner in this test. (We'll explore the DxO One's low-light AF further in a subsequent piece. This is a pretty severe test; it may be that typical indoor after-dark shooting conditions will pose less of a challenge.)

DxO One Low Light Video Comparison
vs Sony RX100 III & Apple iPhone 6
1,920 x 1,080, H.264, 30 fps
Download full-resolution video (92.5MB MP4)

SuperRAW vs RAW

One of the things I was most eager to test with the DxO One was its SuperRAW mode, to see whether shots at higher ISOs displayed noticeable improvements, or were otherwise strikingly different than the camera's regular raw files.

In DxO's OpticsPro 10 software, there two levels of noise reduction processing, HQ (fast) and PRIME (for standard raw files), or in the case of the SuperRAW file, 'SuperRAW' denoising processing that replaces the "PRIME" option. I shot a variety of comparison tests, from ISO 6400 all the way to the extended ISO 51,200.

I was hard-pressed to see any discernible improvements or major differences relative to standard raw files when using HQ noise reduction option for both file types. SuperRAW noise reduction did however produce much cleaner images, but fine details were a little smudged and overall the images were quite soft. Using PRIME noise reduction on a regular raw file actually produced better overall results to my eye, with better detail and sharpness, and only slightly higher noise.

Take a look at the comparison table below with 1:1 crops based on raw conversions from DxO OpticsPro 10 using default settings.


DxO One Raw vs SuperRAW Comparison (Click images for full-res)
ISO HI 2 (51,200)*, f/2.2, 1/1600s
RAW Format, OpticsPro 10 Conversion, HQ Noise Reduction, 100% Crop
SuperRAW Format, OpticsPro 10 Conversion, HQ Noise Reduction, 100% Crop
RAW Format, OpticsPro 10 Conversion, PRIME Noise Reduction, 100% Crop
SuperRAW Format, OpticsPro 10 Conversion, 'SuperRAW' Noise Reduction, 100% Crop
*Note: We have been experiencing a bug in the DxO One, in which incorrect ISO values are written to the EXIF data. All shots above were set to ISO 51,200 despite the EXIF reporting 12,800

(Note that all of these tests were shot with stationary subjects. SuperRAW's multi-shot approach means it probably won't be a good choice for moving subjects, as there'd be artifacts left behind in the final image after the camera processes the multiple shots to form the composite image. We'll investigate this in a follow-up Field Test Addendum.)

Cool, compact design, but ergonomics can be awkward

While the image quality of the DxO One is a huge selling point, its ultra-compact size is another key factor making it a compelling, unique camera that's easy to carry with you at all times. As I mentioned earlier, the One is about the size of a large pack of gum, and it easily slips into a pocket and is super easy to carry around.

I spent some time out hiking with just my iPhone 5S and the DxO One. No other cameras or devices, just a few items that I carried in my pocket. It was quite refreshing not to carry a camera backpack and DSLR, or even a shoulder bag with my smaller, but still sizable Olympus E-M1. It was rather freeing and just plain convenient, just walking around with the DxO slipped into a back pocket.

While I loved the convenience factor of the DxO One's size, getting things set up and ready to shoot was sometimes a bit awkward. First, you pull the DxO One out of your pocket, slide the lens cover all the way down to disengage and pop out the small Lightning connector tab. Then, you need to get your iPhone out, spend a moment unlocking it either with the passcode or with Touch ID, if that's an option on your device. Now, make sure the two devices are oriented the right way for what you want to shoot -- normal photos or selfies -- and then connect them. Conveniently, the DxO One will automatically launch the companion DxO One control app when the One is connected. Now you're ready to shoot.

While this is far from a difficult process, I did feel as though I fumbled around with the two devices in both hands, having to power-on one and unlock the other in order to take a photo. The whole process seemed more of a hassle than taking photos with just an iPhone or with a dedicated, standalone camera. If I had a dedicated camera with me, slung across my shoulder or in my pocket, all I would need to do is pull it up to my eye, perhaps flip a switch and start taking pictures. Similarly, the iPhone is extremely convenient, as you can access the iOS camera app directly from the lock screen without having to unlock the device. (As a side note, this is probably why I never end up using any third-party camera apps on my iPhone; the default one can be accessed anywhere at any time.) It's unfortunate that Apple will probably never let DxO's app launch directly from the lock screen :-(

The fact that I had to basically assemble my photography apparatus whenever I wanted to take a shot made it a bit of a turn-off for me. While the small Lightning connector provides a decent connection between the two devices, it isn't rock solid, and I often found myself inadvertently "disassembling" my camera setup when I starting any serious hiking or walking around.

The DxO One shown here attached to an Apple iPhone 6.

The Lightning connector itself was also a point of minor awkwardness. On the one hand, the built-in connector is extremely convenient in providing a very fast, cable-free connection to your iOS mobile device without any of the fuss of a Wi-Fi connection. As long as the camera is unlocked, simply plug it into a compatible iOS device and the app launches quickly and behaves responsively.

However, the Lightning connector is spring-loaded and activated by the lens cover on/off switch, and also locks into place with popped out. This is obviously necessary, to provide some level of rigidity in the One's mounting, but presents some issues. Logically, sliding the cover down to power on the camera and then sliding it down one step further to engage the Lightning connector makes sense. But when you're done taking pictures, what do you do? I found myself instinctively sliding the cover up to turn the DxO One off, but then the Lightning connector tab is still locked in its "open" position. I then need to slide the cover all the way down -- powering on the camera as I go -- and then hold the cover down as I fold the connector away, before turning the camera off again as I slide the lens cover back up. It all seems very counterintuitive. I'm not sure of the internal mechanism for the Lighting connection, but I really don't see why there couldn't be some other tab-unlocking switch or some other more convenient solution. (What about having another extended-travel position at the top of its range of motion? Then powering down and stowing the connector would be the same as powering-on, only in reverse.) It's quite possible that this behavior would all become second nature after using the DxO One for a while; I've only shot with it for a relatively short period of time as of this writing.

Image courtesy of Kirk Paulsen, DxO.

One final note about the Lightning connector: iPhone cases. The small nub connector does not protrude out from the camera very far -- just enough space, really, to completely seat within the iPhone's port and sit more or less flush against the bottom of the phone. This doesn't leave much space if you like to use a case on your iPhone. Apple's official leather and silicone 6 and 6 Plus cases appear to work with the DxO One, but the thicker, third-party case we have on our iPhone 6 made it impossible to use the DxO One when it was on the phone.

As I discussed in my earlier Hands-On Preview with a non-shootable DxO One sample, the build quality was very nice, and this remains the case for the production sample. It's very small, very lightweight, but still has a nice little "heft" to it. My one complaint about the physical design other than the Lightning connector I just mentioned, is the shutter button: There's quite a bit of play and "wobbliness" to it, rather than a precise, solid half-press and full-press.

The DxO One has a 12mm prime lens, a 32mm-equivalent focal length relative to 35mm format. This is a nice, very versatile focal length for a wide variety of subjects, from portraits to landscapes as well as various general subjects. There is some digital zoom available, but as usual, this degrades image quality. One feature that I sorely missed was an in-camera panorama mode; a feature DxO says will be coming in a future software/firmware update.

Interestingly, IR chief Dave Etchells noticed very small filter threads along the interior rim of the lens's front element during our initial briefing on the One. When asked about these threads, DxO's response was "ah, you're very observant ... no comment." Given this, we think it's likely that there'll be front-element adapter lenses for the DxO One at some point, which would be a nice added bit of versatility.

f/1.8, 1/80s, ISO 100

Sleek software with an easy to use, nice interface

Given the DxO One's iPhone-dependent design, a large part of the experience with the camera is its software. The DxO One uses its own dedicated app, offering a handful of advanced settings and adjustments as well as the default fully automatic point-and-shoot mode. The app provides PASM exposure modes, with full adjustments to all the usual settings, including exposure compensation, focusing mode, metering mode, ISO and white balance adjustments. There are also four simple Scene modes and other amenities like flash (yes, the One can use the iPhone's "flash") and self-timer.

Main "home" screen of the DxO One iOS App seen on an iPhone 5S.

Design-wise, the app's UI is very clean, modern and a pleasure to use. Most of the setting adjustments sit over on the left-hand sidebar, and depending on your device's screen resolution, you might not see all of the settings at first glance, as in the iPhone 5S screenshot below. Once you know they're there, it's easy to access the other settings, but it's not very apparent from the get-go that this area of the app's UI scrolls up and down to reveal more setting adjustments.

Having a direct, physical connection between the camera and app makes for a very responsive, lag-free experience. It's light-years ahead of the typical experience with WiFi-connected cameras. The touch interface works very well, and even on smaller devices, the screen UI elements are easy to read, tap on and swipe or scroll through. Big kudos on the DxO One's user interface!

Shooting mode screen of the DxO One iOS App.

Full DxO desktop software included (!)

The DxO One is more than hardware and an iOS app. In fact, it comes with the full Elite Edition of DxO OpticsPro, their professional image editing software, a solid $300 value. The camera also comes with a license for DxO FilmPack, an array of digital film simulation presets and filters. For enthusiast users in particular, the software package is a very significant added value for the DxO One. The is the full version of the DxO OpticsPro software, which includes their new PRIME noise reduction engine and support for raw-format image files from over 250 different camera models. OpticsPro is one of the most capable RAW converters on the market, so buying the DxO One immediately brings increased image quality from your current camera as well. This makes the DxO One more than just a way to get better quality photos with your smartphone.

Battery life definitely on the short side

Nothing in this world comes for free, and one consequence of the DxO One's tiny size is that there's not a lot of room for battery in there. It has an internal, non-replaceable 750 mAh lithium-ion battery pack.  According to DxO, they made a conscious decision to keep the One as small as possible, which necessitated a rather small battery, which in turn means rather limited battery life. Based on the CIPA battery life standard, the One gets about 200 RAW shots in quick succession on a charge, but according to DxO, if left on continuously while connected to an iOS device, the battery will fully drain in about 90 minutes.

The reason for the high power drain can be found in the exceptionally responsive viewfinder display: Rather than a succession of stills, the DxO One continuously streams HD video to the iDevice through the Lightning connector.

In my typical usage, I enjoy walking around with my camera at-the-ready; not a use-case the DxO One is well-suited to. I found I was always worrying about battery consumption, so was constantly sliding the lens cover up to power-off the camera. If my iPhone also went to sleep, that meant I had to basically power-on and unlock two devices to take a picture. Nevertheless, I did try to walk around with the camera powered-on and "awake" -- the camera will auto-sleep after about 50 seconds of inactivity and fully power off after two minutes -- to see what happened. After about an hour and a half to two hours of hiking around, 128 photos and a quick HD video later, I was already down to around 30% battery life. 

The DxO One seems most suited for use sporadically, or times when your iPhone itself won't cut it, as opposed to a dedicated, primary camera for extended periods of use. For an evening out with friends, the short battery life would be less of an issue.

On the up-side, the DxO One recharges very quickly. Should you want to, it's very simple to use a portable USB battery pack to give your DxO some extra juice or extend its shooting time. Of course, that's another piece of gear to hang on to, negating some of the DxO One's cool, ultra-portable simplicity. For extended sessions, you can also power the One from its USB port while shooting. (It's not in the current firmware, but DxO tells us an upgrade to provide time-lapse capability is coming later this year. External power would be essential for this usage.)

f/2.5, 1/500s, ISO 100

Autofocus Performance

While we have yet to test the DxO One's AF performance in the lab, it didn't feel especially fast acquiring focus in the field. How much this matters will depend on your choice of subjects, fine for landscapes and shots of friends at dinner, less so for squirming toddlers. Also, with the wide angle lens and a minimum focus distance of about 8 inches, I often found myself inadvertently getting too close to small subjects for a detail shot.

The DxO One app mimics the iOS camera app's default AF point behavior. Even in AF-S mode, the camera will continuously adjust focus every so often if it notices changes in the scene, and can even move the AF area box to a completely different area of the scene -- forcing you to re-tap on the screen to move the AF point back to where you want it. Unlike a typical camera, which lets you define a static AF point or area, say a center AF point and then focus and recompose, the DxO One works more in reverse, in that you need to compose first, then tap to focus on your intended subject. (We'd suggest the ability to set a fixed AF point as a prime candidate for a future firmware update.)

A final quibble is that, as of this software version, there's no way to adjust the size of the AF area box, which in my opinion is much too large, especially when shooting smaller subjects requiring more precise focus control. This seems like a simple change that could be made in a future DxO One app update, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 3200

Field Test Summary

What I liked:

  • Super compact size is easy to carry with you
  • Very quick & easy to share images and video to social media
  • Excellent image quality in both well-lit scenes and low-light
  • Great high ISO performance
  • Painless setup with auto-launch iOS app
  • Super-responsive viewfinder display
  • Great app GUI; simple, modern and easy to use
  • Full, professional DxO OpticsPro 10 software included with camera (!)

What I didn't like

  • Short battery life
  • Process of unlocking iOS device & powering-on DxO One and attaching devices feels clunky
  • Autofocus seems slow and not the most accurate
  • Locking Lightning connector awkward to stow back into camera
  • Pricey at $600, but bundled software makes it more appealing
  • Prime lens felt limiting; not wide enough and not long enough (I'm too accustomed to zooms)

The DxO One is a very unique, ambitious camera from the folks at DxO Labs that really sets a new high mark in the integration of cameras and phones. Sporting the same 1-inch-type sensor as the Sony RX100 III, the DxO One captures fantastic images, even in low-light scenes. Thanks to its larger sensor and bright f/1.8 lens, the DxO One picks up the slack where the always-on, always-connected iPhone camera falls short -- low light. The DxO One's limitations are short battery life, just-average autofocus speed and the awkwardness of still having to deal with two devices. The ultra-portable form factor is certainly liberating, though, and the ability to take "real camera" photos and share them immediately online is something no other dedicated camera offers with anything like the same ease and convenience. Will it replace your standalone camera? Maybe not, but it's a great way to always have a camera with you, and one whose pictures are ready to share as soon as they're taken.


How the DxO One images stack up against the competition

by Dave Pardue

Today's camera market is packed with more imaging options than ever before. Once upon a time in the consumer market there were only stand-alone cameras, and then cellphones and later smartphones began to offer cameras on-board, which have steadily improved in overall image quality. For the most part, though, these cameras don't provide anything close to the imaging power of current higher-end compact cameras, which is where the DxO One comes into play to help bridge the gap.

But just how wide is that gap? To make an informed choice of whether this clever little device will suit your own shooting needs, you need to know just how good the images look, not only compared to a typical smartphone camera, but also against other competitors like the Panasonic CM1 with its 1-inch sensor, the Sony RX100 series of cameras, as well as another recent "smartphone extension camera" in the form of the Olympus AIR.

Our Still Life test lab images help us get a good idea of just how big the differences really are. We'll start with the popular iPhone 6 (which we also used as our "base" camera on which to test the DxO One), with side-by-side 1:1 image crops from our lab test target at both ISO 100 and ISO 800 below. The apparent size difference is due to the disparity in resolution, with the DxO One sporting a 20-megapixel sensor while the iPhone 6 has a sensor with just 8 megapixels.

[Click any image to access the full resolution image and EXIF data. Note: The iPhone 6 does not have full resolution images available for clicking yet.]

DxO One vs iPhone 6 at ISO 100
DxO One at ISO 100
iPhone 6 at ISO 100

At ISO 100 the DxO One produces images that are crisp and clear, resolving a good deal of fine detail in the bottle of this "Pure Brewed" label. The iPhone 6 with its much smaller sensor and lower resolution can't come close, and it's a strain to even try to read the red lettering, or make out any pattern within the larger "Pure" letters. There really is a staggering difference in resolution on display here.

DxO One vs iPhone 6 at ISO 800
DxO One at ISO 800
iPhone 6 at ISO 800

At ISO 800 the image quality discrepancy is even more pronounced, as the DxO One handles this ISO with a fairly low amount of noise for a sensor its size, while the iPhone 6 begins to introduce a significant amount of noise and splotching of the image.

How does the DxO One compare to a larger-sensored smartphone?

So while the iPhone 6 and similar smartphone offerings are fine for taking snapshots in outdoor conditions, it's clearly no match at all for the DxO One. There is one smartphone now offered, though, that has the same sensor size, namely the Panasonic CM1. Even though it's a bit pricier, it's a standalone image solution that requires no external camera. So let's take a look at base ISO as well as ISO 1600, and we'll venture to another area of our test target to offer a variety of crops.

DxO One vs Panasonic CM1 at base ISO
DxO One at ISO 100
Panasonic CM1 at ISO 125

The DxO One image here at base ISO is sharper and shows more color detail and contrast than the CM1. These are default in-camera JPEGs, so the processing will likely have something to do with the results, but this gives us a good comparison from which to start.

DxO One vs Panasonic CM1 at ISO 1600
DxO One at ISO 1600
Panasonic CM1 at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600 we see a reversal of fortunes, as the CM1 is clearly able to resolve much more fine detail than the DxO One, and without much in the way of noise present. The DxO One also has little in the way of noise, but the default noise reduction processing has robbed most of the fine detail in the monk and the mosaic tiles.

And how about an RX100 IV?

Turning to more conventional alternatives to the DxO One, perhaps the single largest competitor currently offered is the Sony RX100 series, which first brought this pioneering sensor size to the camera market a few years ago. We'll use the RX100 IV for our comparisons here since it's the latest model in the line, although its image quality in still images is virtually identical to that of the RX100 III. To compare the DxO One to to the RX100 III or any of the other models in the series (or any other camera we've ever tested!) you can use our Comparometer.

DxO One vs Sony RX100 IV at base ISO
DxO One at ISO 100
Sony RX100 IV at ISO 125

The RX100 IV certainly appears to offer a bit more in the way of fine detail and contrast, though both cameras perform admirably here at base ISO.

DxO One vs Sony RX100 IV at ISO 1600
DxO One at ISO 1600
Sony RX100 IV at ISO 1600

Similar to the results from the CM1 comparison, the RX100 IV is able to resolve a lot more fine detail here than the DxO One, which loses a lot of ground in the tiles of the mosaic, especially noticeable in the yellow tiles surrounding the "HELLAS" box.

Are there other options in the smartphone add-on category to consider?

And lastly, to round out our initial image quality comparisons we'll take a look at a few side-by-sides with the Olympus Air camera announced earlier this year. The AIR has the disadvantage of not being able to plug directly into the camera, instead needing Wi-Fi in order to communicate, but this is actually an advantage for the times when you need a camera held or mounted away from your smartphone. The AIR also has additional advantages in offering a sensor roughly twice the size of the one found in the DxO One, offering interchangeable lens capability and at a retail price of roughly half that of the DxO One ($299 vs $599).

In order to further push the ISO limitations we'll use ISO 3200 here and switch to yet another common area of our Still Life test target.

DxO One vs Olympus AIR at base ISO
DxO One at ISO 100
Olympus AIR at ISO 200

The DxO One has more resolution than the Olympus AIR, with 20mp compared to the AIR's 16mp. The actual size of the pixels on the AIR though is significantly larger since its surface area is almost twice that of the DxO One. Here at base ISO there isn't a big discrepancy visible for image quality, other than the AIR images appearing a bit sharper in general, with a bit more contrast detail overall.

DxO One vs Olympus AIR at ISO 3200
DxO One at ISO 3200
Olympus AIR at ISO 3200

The real difference in quality with choosing a larger sensor becomes more apparent as ISO rises, as the DxO has a hard time matching stride with the AIR here at ISO 3200. While the AIR is able to preserve much in the way of fine detail without the expense of much added noise or artifacts, the DxO One suffers considerably in both regards, with fine detail beginning to slip and noise levels becoming obvious throughout many areas of the image.

So, there are a few comparisons to get you started in deciding if the DxO One will fit your shooting needs, ranging from a relatively tiny-sensored smartphone to a Wi-Fi connected Micro Four Thirds camera with a sensor twice as large. Each of these cameras has its place and is intended to suit certain photographic needs; the trick is determining which is best for you. At least now you'll be better armed with actual image comparison data, and for any additional comparisons please visit our Comparometer!


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