Release of DxO ONE a Game Changer
What will the camera and photography landscape look like in a few years? Maybe we will see smaller, lighter, modular cameras that allow photographers to add optical hardware or cameras to mobile devices?
Well, guess what, it already happened this week. DxO, a cutting-edge French camera software company renowned for their software that measures image sensor quality, dropped a bomb this week by releasing the DxO ONE. The DxO ONE is a high-end consumer camera that connects to your iPhone’s Lightning port to become a camera via an app.
Blogs and magazines who have reviewed the DxO ONE are touting its image quality and low-light capabilities in this 20.2-megapixel camera. The DxO ONE has a larger 1-inch CMOS image sensor and a 20.2-megapixel sensor, which is the exact same exact size sensor and resolution as the Sony RX100 III (something pros consider to be a great take-with-you-everywhere camera).
Here’s a video of the DxO ONE:
Some photographers will find the DxO ONE unimpressive because of its hefty price tag and single focal length, $600 dollars with a 32mm fixed lens, respectively. But for what it lacks in optical power it makes up for with a high-end aspherical 6 element lens, a f/1.8 maximum aperture, and a small modular system that uses your iPhone as a camera body. The DxO ONE is very portable and is slightly smaller than a grip on a DSLR, and takes up very little real estate in your pocket or bag.
So, are cameras like the DxO ONE the future of consumer photography? I think so.
Oh Me, Oh My, Here Comes the Modular Eye
This isn’t the first time modular system cameras have been introduced to the photography and video world. In fact the RED, a digital cinema camera maker, makes a modular system of their own that can be arranged in a multitude of different configurations; and also the Ricoh GXR, which uses different lenses with built-in image sensors that connect to a camera base. Although the Ricoh never really took off in the consumer photography market, mostly because it was viewed as gimmicky niche camera, the RED remains a highly potent force in the digital cinema world today.
There is something different brewing here I think, especially since the demise of the point-and-shoot camera market because of smartphone camera ubiquity. DxO finally has created a camera that can be synced with a smartphone to create high-end imagery that is comparable, if not better, to high-end cameras like the Sony RX100 III, and better than the iPhone’s camera.
The fusion of a smartphone and a camera with a larger sensor than what the iPhone has, and the low-light and dynamic range capabilities of the DxO ONE, makes this idea of smartphone photography even more attractive to the shutterbug or pro who’d rather not to lug around a mirrorless camera or DSLR everywhere with them.
Future Of Photography is Convenience
Photography evolves in a way that makes future versions of cameras and optics more convenient and better versions than their predecessors. Every piece of technology exponentially grows over time, and Moore’s Law is still applicable to digital photography and camera hardware and technology.
When technology peaks, the rule of diminishing returns catalyzes the evolution of new technology, when very little strides can be made from camera model generation to generation, for example, the innovation of mirrorless cameras.
The DSLR always is improving on dynamic range and hasn’t peaked by any means, but there is always a need in the consumer camera market for a more convenient camera. The mirrorless camera has not only taken off, it has become a true professional camera format that now has full-frame image sensors and is keeping up with the big boys, i.e., the Sony a7R II is now considered a pro-caliber camera.
The point-and-shoot market has literally died because of the proliferation of the smartphone. Instead of embracing the ubiquity of smartphones and their cameras, which started making images just as good if not better than a point-and-shoot, the big cameras makers were too slow to answer the market demand, and started losing record profits which they once held a strong-hold on in the consumer photography market.
It’s exciting to see that the DxO ONE is getting kudos around the internet, and to me it seems to have a bright future ahead. Perhaps that future will be of different versions, different focal lengths, zoom lens versions, or even perhaps modular parts in future iterations of the ONE that utilizes an interchangeable lens system.
If nothing else, this integration with a smartphone is a brilliant move by DxO, and I hope the big camera makers will take notice before they’re too late to the ball game.
Bright Future Ahead
Although the price tag will make most photographers wince, mainly because of the idea of paying for a camera that only connects when plugged into a smartphone is not something people will flock to right away. But if the DxO ONE grows, its future versions will get better and cheaper if the demand grows. If so, cameras like the DxO ONE might become a force to be reckoned with like the Sony and Fujifilm mirrorless camera explosion we’ve seen in the last few years.
DxO is already a very respected software company in image sensor and camera performance world, so it’s nice to see that they are now under the hood of their own camera. It will be interesting to see if this trend will take off or not, but in my opinion it has a very good shot.
As with anything else, technology predictions are a crap shoot, and to say that the DxO ONE will become the standard would be too premature. The point here is to say that we are in an evolutionary time in digital photography, and the innovators of new cameras like the DxO ONE will be better poised to become successful because they’re introducing true innovations.
Look at the rise of Sony and Fujifilm in the past few years. If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago if Fujifilm or Sony would be a major contender competing against the likes of Nikon and Canon in the pro market I would’ve laughed at you. The innovation of their X-Series cameras, and Sony’s foray into the mirrorless market with the Alpha line are gaining a huge market share and are considered among some of the best cameras today.
Camera innovators will win the future, and if the big boys stay conservative without innovating new technology, or aren’t more open to working with smartphone manufacturers, they may run the risk of becoming the next Kodak.