I've owned a variery of cameras over the last ten years, from bulky DSLRs like the Nikon D50 to the much more pocketable Sony NEX-3N, but I've never enjoyed carrying a separate camera around. It was always another device to carry, something else to remember to bring. For the last couple of years, the only camera I've been using is an iPhone.
After moving to the U.S. earlier this year, I've been tempted by the thought of a dedicated camera to take better shots than the iPhone is capable of, especially in low light. However, I still didn't want something else to carry. With that in mind, I decided to purchase the $479 DxO One after reading some favorable reviews.
The DxO One isn't like any other digital camera–it has a built-in Lightning connector and is designed as a a companion for the iPhone or iPad. Since most of the typical camera functions are offloaded to the iOS device and companion app, the unit itself is extremely small and feels more like a tiny battery pack than a fully-fledged camera.
When the camera is connected to an iPhone using the Lightning connector, the appearance of the two is reminiscent of one of the first digital cameras from Casio. It can also pivot around 60 degrees in either direction. The DxO One has a 1-Inch 20.2MP sensor, the same one found in the popular Sony RX100 III, and a 32mm equivalent fixed lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. There's full support for PASM modes, and the camera even shoots RAW. There's even microSD card slot to save these to, though JPEGs are automatically synced to the iPhone1.
After using the DxO One for a week, I've been completely blown away with the quality of the shots it produces, especially in low light. It even works with a Bluetooth remote camera button I bought for less than $20 to use with my iPhone, so long exposures are super-easy to perform. Here are a few examples from my 500px gallery, edited using Adobe Photoshop Express (click through to view more detailed information about the camera settings for each photo):
The DxO One certainly isn't cheap and there are many point and shoot cameras that offer more functionality for less money. There's no optical zoom and it's video recording capabilities are overshadowed by the 4K support the iPhone offers. But there's no other camera that works as seamlessly with the iPhone as this. The DxO One's portability, ease of use, and regular feature updates makes it one of the best cameras I've ever had2, and it's perfect for my needs. It's so small and light that there's never a question about whether I want take it somewhere–it just comes with me.
DxO have recently announced a range of new accessories for the DxO One, such as a waterproof casing and optical adapter, further expanding its functionality. If you use an iPhone and want to take higher quality photos but, like me, don't want to carry a whole other camera around, I urge you to check out the DxO One.