Nikon DL18-50 Tech Info
Nikon DL18-50 Technical Info
by Mike Tomkins | Posted: 02/22/2016
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.
Output from the image sensor is handled by a newly-developed Nikon EXPEED 6A image processor. Although no direct comparison is made to the previous generation, the company notes that EXPEED 6A offers both high performance and good noise reduction capabilities.
By default, sensitivity ranges from ISO 160 to 6400 equivalents. This can be pushed to a maximum of ISO 12,800-equivalent, but only when shooting in program, priority or fully-manual modes.
Together, the image sensor and processor provide some seriously impressive performance according to Nikon. Of course, we've yet to test these claims in the lab or the real world, but the company tells us that the Nikon DL18-50 is capable of a whopping 20 frames per second burst capture, and that's with automatic focus, exposure and white balance adjustments between frames. (For those times when 20 fps is simply too fast, a reduced rate of 10 fps is also available.)
If you're willing to lock focus, exposure and white balance from the first frame in the burst, though, you'll manage even faster. Full-resolution shooting is possible at a mindblowing 60 frames per second in this state, and a reduced rate of 30 fps is also provided.
The key feature distinguishing the Nikon DL18-50 from its simultaneously-launched DL-series siblings is its Nikkor-branded, 2.8x optical zoom lens. Offering a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 18 to 50mm as the name of the camera would suggest, this optic has actual focal lengths of 6.7 to 18.5mm. Maximum aperture starts from a bright f/1.8 at wide-angle, and falls slightly to f/2.8 at the telephoto position.
The lens has a formula consisting of 11 elements in eight groups, including one High Refractive Index element, one Extra-low Dispersion lens element, four aspherical lens elements and one aspherical Extra-low Dispersion element. To help combat flare and ghosting, Nikon has applied its Nano Crystal Coat technology to the design. And to prevent smudges, dirt or moisture on the front lens element, there's also a fluorine coating.
The Nikon DL18-50 features a hybrid autofocus system pairing contrast-detection with dedicated phase-detection autofocus pixels on the image sensor. The system has a total of 105 phase-detection autofocus points, and 171 autofocus contrast-detection autofocus points.
By default, the system operates in an auto-area mode whereby one or more of 41 available focus areas will be selected automatically. You can, however, opt to choose a single area manually. Both face detection and subject tracking functions are included. There's also a focus lock function.
At the wide-angle position, the Nikon DL18-50's lens will ordinarily focus to as close as six inches (15cm). Shift to the telephoto position, and this increases to one foot (30cm). There's also a macro mode, capable of focusing to 1.18 inches (3cm) at wide-angle, or 7.8 inches (20cm) at telephoto.
To help fight blur from camera shake, the Nikon DL18-50 includes a Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction system. This provides two operating modes for still imaging, with a choice of either normal or sport modes. For movie capture, electronic vibration reduction is used instead of the true mechanical image stabilization which is used for still imaging.
By default, the Nikon DL18-50 doesn't include a viewfinder, meaning that you'll need to frame and review your images at arm's length. If you prefer to shoot thru a finder, though, an optional DF-F1 electronic viewfinder accessory is available. This has a high resolution of 2,359,000 dots, and can be tilted upwards for comfort when framing subjects at a low angle. Both an eye proximity sensor and a diopter adjustment function are included, but we don't yet know the dioptric adjustment range.
On the rear of the Nikon DL18-50, you'll find a 3.0-inch Organic LED display with a resolution of 1,037,000 dots. Framing accuracy on the OLED monitor is manufacturer-rated at 100% both vertically and horizontally.
To help with framing images from awkward angles or just framing selfies, the Nikon DL18-50 includes an articulation mechanism that allows the OLED monitor to be positioned for better visibility. You can tilt the display upwards by 180 degrees, or downwards by 80 degrees.
The Nikon DL18-50 offers a fairly typical choice of flexible program, shutter-priority, aperture-priority, or manual exposure modes. These are paired with a full auto mode, scene modes (Bird Watching; Close-up; Food; HDR; Landscape; Multiple Exposure Lighten; Night Landscape; Night Portrait; Portrait; Selective Color; Sports), creative mode (20 effects, five effect groups including Light, Depth, Memory, Classic and Noir), user settings, and movie mode.
Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 30 seconds using a mechanical shutter, or as fast as 1/16,000 second with an electronic shutter. In manual mode, you can also specify exposure times as long as 120 seconds.
Exposures are determined using matrix, center-weighted or spot metering, and exposure compensation is possible within a range of +/-5EV. Within a +/-3EV range, you can opt for a 1/3EV step size; beyond this point, you only have a fixed 1EV step size. An exposure bracketing function is also provided, but we don't have specifics as to its range and step size at this time.
White balance modes on offer include two Auto modes, Cloudy, Daylight, Flash, three Fluorescent modes, and incandescent, plus a preset manual mode and direct color-temperature selection.
A two or 10-second self-timer is provided, should you want to avoid camera shake or get yourself in the picture.
The Nikon DL18-50 does not include a built-in flash strobe, which isn't too surprising given its extreme wide-angle nature. You can, however, mount an iTTL-compatible external strobe in the camera's hot shoe. The flash will sync at all shutter speeds when using a mechanical shutter, but with the electronic shutter you'll only be able to sync flash at 1/60 second or slower.
The Nikon DL18-50 can record not just stills, but also movies at up to Ultra High-Definition (4K) resolution. In 4K mode, frame rates are limited to a choice of 25 or 30 frames per second. Drop the resolution to Full HD, and you have a choice of 25, 30, 50 or 60 frames per second. At HD resolution, the same four choices are also provided.
In addition to standard movies, the DL18-50 can also record slow-motion movies with capture rates of 120, 240, 400 or 1,200 frames per second. The 120p rate is available at Full HD resolution, and 240p at HD resolution. Boosting the frame rate again to 400p will slash resolution to just 800 x 296 pixels, and boosting it one last time to 1,000p will see resolution reduced to a postage stamp-sized 400 x 144 pixels.
Movies are stored with H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC compression and include AAC stereo audio.
Want to get your photos onto social networks or into the hands of a client as soon as possible? If so, you'll want wireless connectivity -- and the Nikon DL18-50 has you covered. A full complement of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC radios is provided. The latter allows for quick-and-easy pairing with Android devices, but due to Apple's refusal to open up the NFC radios in their recent devices for third-party use, iPhone and iPad users will still need to pair manually.
Nikon has also debuted its new SnapBridge wireless transfer functionality for its new DL-series cameras. This allows Bluetooth Low Energy-capable devices to function in an always-on transfer mode, automatically sending images to your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet as they're captured. (The tech uses Bluetooth Low Energy to keep the devices paired, and then automatically brings up a Wi-Fi connection as needed for high-speed transfer.)
Nikon's SnapBridge app will need to be installed on your smart device for this to work, but registered users will find a couple of additional benefits. For one thing, you'll gain access to 20GB of storage on Nikon's ImageSpace service. (Thumbnails aren't counted towards this storage allocation, and so an unlimited number of thumbnails can be stored). Also, Nikon SnapBridge users will be automatically alerted when a new firmware update becomes available for their camera.
Nikon SnapBridge will also provide for remote camera control and live view, and can synchronize your camera's clock with that on your phone automatically. You can also enter copyright details or photographers' names on your phone for transfer to the camera and tagging into your images.
The Nikon DL18-50 includes a range of wired connectivity options. Catering to data transfer, there's a USB 2.0 High Speed connection. To put your photos or movies onto a high-definition display, there's a Type D HDMI micro-connector which can provide a clean output at 1080p resolution. And as already mentioned, there's a flash hot shoe / accessory shoe on the top deck, which is compatible not only with external strobes, but also with an optionally-available viewfinder accessory.
The Nikon DL18-50 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital cards. These include both the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC card types.
As you'd expect in a camera aimed at enthusiast use, you can store your images not only in compressed JPEG format, but also in Nikon's proprietary, 12-bit losslessly-compressed .NEF raw format.
The Nikon DL18-50 draws power from a proprietary EN-EL24 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. Battery life is rated as 290 frames or 55 minutes of movie capture on a charge, to CIPA testing standards. Battery charging is said to take three hours, and the battery charges in-camera by default. If you want to use the camera while you charge a second pack, you'll need to buy a standalone charger separately.