Nikon DL18-50 Review
|Full model name:||Nikon DL18-50|
|Sensor size:||1 inch
(13.2mm x 8.8mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / OLED|
|Native ISO:||160 - 12,800|
|Extended ISO:||160 - 12,800|
|Shutter:||1/16000 - 120 seconds|
4.2 x 2.5 x 2.3 in.
(106 x 63 x 58 mm)
|Full specs:||Nikon DL18-50 specifications|
Nikon DL18-50 Review -- Initial Impressions
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 02/22/2016
02/01/2017: Changed availability to unknown
02/13/2017: Noted cancellation of this product, based upon a statement from Nikon.
If you've been patiently awaiting the release of the Nikon DL18-50 since it was first announced in February 2016, your wait is unfortunately over. Just days shy of the first anniversary of the DL18-50's announcement, Nikon has now officially revealed that the camera will not reach the market due to issues the company has encountered with its image processor coupled with soaring development costs and a market that's been continuing to slow down.
Although you won't be able to buy the Nikon DL18-50, there are certainly some other options available to you. For one thing, if you're willing to consider an interchangeable-lens camera instead, then there's the Nikon 1-series lineup. The Nikon V3, Nikon AW1 and Nikon J5 all share the same sensor size as the DL18-50, and just one or two lenses would give you similar or even greater zoom reach and versatility than the DL18-50's built-in lens would have done.
Alternatively, if you're willing to consider other manufacturers then there's the Sony RX100-series, which essentially created this form factor in the first place and still continues to reign supreme over its 1-inch sensor-based rivals in terms of popularity. The Sony RX100, RX100 II, RX100 III, RX100 IV and RX100 V all remain available from Sony as of this writing, and each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages over the DL18-50, as you'll see in our comparisons below:
With the simultaneous launch of its J1 and V1 interchangeable-lens cameras back in late 2011, Nikon became the first company to use a 1"-type sensor -- dubbed the "CX-format" in Nikon parlance -- in a mass-market camera. Now, the Nikon DL18-50 takes that same sensor size, and for the first time in a Nikon product, puts it into a fixed-lens camera.
There's a lot to be said for the DL18-50's sensor size. Although the Nikon 1-series cameras have struggled to compete against their larger-sensored mirrorless rivals, 1"-type sensors have proven to be very popular indeed in fixed-lens cameras like Sony's category-defining RX100 and RX10-series, as well as those subsequently launched by Canon, Leica and Panasonic. And now, Nikon enters the fray with the brand-new DL-series, which at launch consists of three distinct models.
All three DL-series cameras -- the Nikon DL18-50 which we're discussing here, as well as its siblings, the Nikon DL24-85 and Nikon DL24-500 -- are based around the same 1"-type, 20.8-megapixel image sensor and a next-generation EXPEED 6A processor. Many features are shared between the three cameras, but there are some very important differences, as well.
Beyond the sensor size, resolution, and image processor, the Nikon DL18-50 and its siblings also share blazing-fast performance. Each of the three cameras can shoot at a whopping 20 full-resolution frames per second with autofocus between frames, and as fast as 60 fps with focus locked from the first frame. Each also sports Nikkor-branded optics complete with Dual-Detect Optical Vibration Reduction, and hybrid autofocus systems with 105 phase-detect AF points. The trio also offer 4K video capture, and debut a brand-new wireless image transfer and remote control setup called Nikon Snapbridge, which is based around Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low-Energy radios. There's also an NFC radio for quick-and-easy pairing with Android devices.
The most significant point of differentiation can be found in their lens design and capabilities, a detail that we'll be coming back to in a moment. The DL-series cameras also provide different viewfinder options, LCD articulation mechanisms, and of course also differ in their basic body designs.
The Nikon DL18-50 which we're discussing here, is coat-pocket friendly and targets wide-angle fans with an 18-50mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 optic. If you can't simply move further back from your subjects to fit everything in the frame -- think architectural photography, landscapes, and so forth -- then it's the camera for you.
The Nikon DL24-85, meanwhile, is the smallest and lightest of the trio, fitting easily into a coat pocket or at a stretch, perhaps even into a pants-pocket. It strikes a middle ground between its siblings' lens offerings, with its 24 to 85mm-equivalent f/1.8-2.8 Nikkor lens hitting the bases from a generous wide-angle to a moderate telephoto.
Both the DL24-85 and DL-18-50 cameras have simple tilting displays, and lack a built-in viewfinder, opting instead for an optional, hot shoe-mounted accessory finder.
The Nikon DL24-500, finally, takes a rather different tack. Its SLR-like body hosts a much more far-reaching optic. The DL24-500 compromises on maximum aperture and size, and in the process shoehorns in a whopping 21x zoom lens which covers everything from a generous 24mm-equivalent wide-angle to an extremely powerful 500mm-equivalent telephoto. Maximum aperture falls from f/2.8-5.6 across the zoom range, and as well as a built-in electronic viewfinder, the DL24-500 also boasts a more versatile side-mounted tilt/swivel LCD.
Comparing to its rivals from other brands, meanwhile, the nearest equivalents are the Canon G7X and G7X Mark II, and the Sony RX100 III and IV. The Nikon DL18-50 is a fair bit larger than all four other cameras, with dimensions of 4.1 x 2.5 x 2.2 inches. That's within a tenth or two of the same height and width, but a good 0.5-0.6 inches greater thickness. Loaded and ready to go, the overall weight is a couple of ounces heavier than those cameras, too.
None offer the same wide-angle capabilities as Nikon's camera, though, making this a particularly special offering. Where the Nikon DL18-50 can reach all the way out to an 18mm-equivalent wide angle, its competitors' lenses all start from a 24mm equivalent. On the flip side of the coin, the Nikon DL18-50's Nikkor lens has a 50mm-equivalent telephoto, where the two Sony cameras can reach a 70mm-equivalent telephoto, and the two Canon cameras take you all the way to a 100mm-equivalent.
Of the trio of new Nikon DL-series cameras, the Nikon DL18-50 marks out the middle ground on pricing, with a list price of US$850 or thereabouts when it finally ships. Availability was originally slated for June 2016, but development issues with the new image processor have delayed shipments into 2017 with no firm date disclosed. The Nikon DL24-85 is the most affordable, priced at around US$650 and should be available around the same time. Finally, the Nikon DL24-500 will carry a price tag right around US$1,000 when it lands, again with availability around the same time.
Nikon DL18-50 Technical Information
A look beneath the skin of the widest-angle 1-inch camera yet
At the heart of the Nikon DL18-50, you'll find a 1"-type backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor, also known as a CX-format sensor in Nikon parlance. Sensor dimensions are 13.2 x 8.8mm. That's the same size as used in Nikon 1-series interchangeable-lens cameras. It also features prominently in Sony's RX100 and RX10-series cameras, as well as its QX100 lens-style camera. You'll also find the same sensor size in the Canon G3X, G5X, G7X, G7X II, and G9X, the DxO One iPhone accessory, the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114), the Panasonic FZ1000 and ZS100 (aka TZ100 in some markets), and the Samsung NX Mini.
Sensor resolutions for the cameras above are predominantly around the 20-megapixel mark, although some of the older Nikon 1-series models are as low as 10 megapixels. With an effective resolution of 20.8 megapixels, that places the Nikon DL18-50 amongst the cream of the crop in terms of on-paper resolution. Total resolution is 23.27 megapixels, and there's no antialiasing filter overlaid on the image sensor.