All about the optics: Nikon’s new DL-series offers fixed-lens 1-inch cameras from pocket to superzoom
posted Monday, February 22, 2016 at 11:02 PM EST
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. Although the Nikon 1-series has struggled to compete against larger-sensored mirrorless rivals, the one-inch sensor size underlying 1-series cameras has gone on to become very popular indeed in fixed-lens cameras like Sony's category-defining RX100 and RX10-series. With the debut of three fixed-lens cameras in its brand-new DL-series, Nikon finally takes Sony head-on, joining rivals Canon, Leica and Panasonic in offering yet another direct competitor to Sony's popular one-inch cameras.
All three DL-series cameras -- the Nikon DL18-50, 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. Although many features are shared between the three cameras, there are some very important differences, as well. While the most significant point of differentiation can be found in their lens design and capabilities, the trio also provide different viewfinder options, LCD articulation mechanisms, and of course also differ in their basic body designs.
The Nikon DL24-85 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. The Nikon DL18-50, meanwhile, is just ever so slightly larger and targets wide-angle fans with an 18-50mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 optic. Both of these 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 takes a different tack, with its SLR-like body hosting 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.
Of the group, the Nikon DL24-85 is the most affordable, priced at around US$650 and available from early summer 2016. The Nikon DL18-50, meanwhile, ships around the same time, but with a pricetag of US$850 or thereabouts. Finally, the Nikon DL24-500 will carry a pricetag right around US$1,000 when it lands, again with availability projected for this summer.
We've just published our hands-on previews of all three of these interesting new cameras. For the full story, read our in-depth previews as your photographic needs and budget dictate!