In what is becoming a bit of a trend among name brand companies, technological solutions are popping up for filmmakers that use the screen and electronics of our smartphones in tandem with third-party hardware.
The ever-increasing capabilities of our touchscreen smartphones means we all have mini-computers in our pockets and can easily look to a future when these devices are even more powerful and useful. The first wave of mobile productivity tools came by way of apps, but there's a trend that's been gaining momentum that opens up our smartphones to scores of other uses.
Smartphones meet hardware
Start-ups have flooded crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo with different physical products that connect through a wired or wireless connection, meant to use some combination of a smartphone's screen, storage, sensors and processing power in conjunction with the third-party device. But recently, we've seen some notable names announce products that could be attractive to filmmakers and film professionals.
Last month, we profiled ClipMic Digital from the renowned audio equipment maker Sennheiser. One end of ClipMic Digital plugs into an iPhone's Lightning port while the other end is a lavalier mic. In this scenario, the iPhone is used primarily for storage.
DxO ONE: A better camera for your iPhone?
This month, another well-known company, DxO, has announced an iPhone add-on that utilizes the iPhone's Lightning port to turn it into a camera that approaches DSLR-quality (according to the company). Now, I know the popular refrain from iPhone users is that the camera is already amazing, but for those who are more discerning about image quality, the iPhone's built-in camera might not reach the bar.
The camera add-on, dubbed the DxO ONE, sports a 1-inch 20.2MP CMOS back-side illuminated (BSI) sensor and a single fixed 11.9mm lens (equivalent to 32mm full frame FOV) that opens up to f/1.8. In this system, the iPhone is used as a live view screen, for settings adjustments (through an iOS app) and for storing jpegs. The DxO ONE provides the camera hardware and a microSD slot for capturing video, all in a tiny device less than 2.7-inches tall and under 4 oz.
The camera can record 1080 resolution video at 30fps and 720 at 120fps, but that may not speak to its strengths as an imager. DxO, known in the photographic industry for its camera sensor and lens tests, undoubtedly put a lot of work into making the DxO ONE into something that could draw the attention of professionals who want the ability to take a high-quality picture at a moment's notice. The DxO ONE even works as a standalone camera, but you lose the ability to preview what you're shooting.
The DxO ONE performed very well in the company's own DxOMark tests, putting it on par or above several popular DSLRs. While some may be skeptical about a company's evaluative score for its own product, its recent win of 'Best European Photo Innovation' from the European Image and Sound Association (and its 20-person panel of editors from top European photo magazines) speaks to the praise that this diminuitive camera is already generating.
For those looking for a way to improve the low light and overall optical performance of their iPhones, the DxO One might just fit the bill. Oh, by the way: that bill is $599 for the DxO One, which is slated to ship in September.