Nikon DL24-500 Review
|Full model name:||Nikon DL24-500|
|Sensor size:||1 inch
(13.2mm x 8.8mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / OLED|
|Native ISO:||160 - 12,800|
|Extended ISO:||160 - 12,800|
|Shutter:||1/16000 - 120 sec|
4.8 x 3.5 x 5.5 in.
(123 x 90 x 139 mm)
|Full specs:||Nikon DL24-500 specifications|
Nikon DL24-500 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 DL24-500 since it was first announced in February 2016, your wait is unfortunately over. Just days shy of the first anniversary of the DL24-500'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 DL24-500, 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 DL24-500, and two or three lenses would give you similar or even greater zoom reach and versatility than the DL24-500's built-in lens would have done.
Alternatively, if you're willing to consider other manufacturers then there's the Sony RX10-series, which essentially created the large-sensor, lon-zoom in the first place and still continues to reign supreme over its 1-inch sensor-based rivals in terms of popularity. The Sony RX10, RX10 II and RX10 III all remain available from Sony as of this writing, and each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages over the DL24-500, as you'll see in our comparisons below:
And there are other possibilities, too. Canon's G3X and Panasonic's FZ2500, FZ1000 and ZS100 are all readily available long-zoom, large-sensor cameras, and all provide interesting alternatives to the the now-cancelled Nikon DL24-500.
Five years ago, Nikon launched its first cameras based around a 1"-type sensor, the 1-series J1 and V1 interchangeable-lens cameras. In the process, it 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 DL24-500 takes that same sensor size, and for the first time in a Nikon product, puts it into a fixed-lens body.
Sensor size is a key element that enables the Nikon DL24-500's design. 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 RX10 and RX100-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 DL24-500 which we're discussing here, as well as its siblings, the Nikon DL18-50 and Nikon DL24-85 -- 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 DL24-500 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 DL24-500, which we're looking at in this preview, sports an SLR-like body hosting a truly far-reaching optic. Compared to its siblings, 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 versatile side-mounted tilt/swivel LCD.
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.
The Nikon DL18-50 finally, is just ever so slightly larger 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.
Both the DL24-85 and DL-18-50 cameras have simple tilting displays instead of the DL-24-500's tilt/swivel screen. They also lack a built-in viewfinder, something you'll find on the 24-500, opting instead for an optional, hot shoe-mounted accessory finder.
But how does it compare to the competition? There are rival cameras already on the market from Canon, Panasonic and -- if you don't need as much telephoto reach -- Sony. The Canon G3X is probably closest in terms of specifications, with a 24-600mm f/2.8-5.6 optic. That's the exact same maximum aperture range as for the Nikon DL24-500, and the same wide-angle coverage as well. Canon does give you an extra 100mm of telephoto reach, however, and despite that its camera is quite a bit smaller. Width of the Canon G3X and Nikon DL24-500 are identical at 4.9 inches, but where the Nikon is 3.6 inches tall and 5.5 inches deep, the Canon is a full 0.6 inches less tall and 1.4 inches less deep. Not surprisingly, that helps give the Canon a slight edge on weight, too, tipping the scales at 1.4 ounces lighter than the Nikon.
The Panasonic FZ1000 is also fairly similar, with a 25-400mm f/2.8-4.0 optic. That's a bit brighter than the f/2.8-5.6 lens of the Nikon, but there's just a bit less wide-angle coverage with the FZ1000, and a fair bit less at the telephoto end. Panasonic's camera is also about 0.6 inches wider and 0.3 inches taller, although that's paired with about a 0.4-inch advantage in depth. Loaded and ready to go, the Nikon tips the scales at just 27.5 ounces, versus the 29.4 ounces of the Panasonic.
The Sony RX10 and RX10 II, meanwhile, are probably more distant competitors than are the Canon G3X and Panasonic FZ1000. In the quest for a really bright f/2.8 constant aperture -- the Nikon has a variable f/2.8-5.6 aperture, remember -- Sony compromised on telephoto capabilities. Both the RX10 and RX10 II have a 24-200mm-equivalent focal length range, where the Nikon will continue on for a full 300mm beyond this point. And despite that, the Sony cameras are a couple of ounces heavier, too, although they are about 1.5 inches less deep than their Nikon rival.
Of the group, the Nikon DL24-500 is the highest-priced. It's expected to carry a price tag right around US$1,000 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. At the other end of the scale, the Nikon DL24-85 is the most affordable, priced at around US$650 and should be available around the same time. The Nikon DL18-50, meanwhile, should also ship around the same time, but with a price tag of US$850 or thereabouts.
Nikon DL24-500 Technical Information
What makes Nikon's first large-sensor long-zoom tick? Find out!
At the heart of the Nikon DL24-500, 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 RX10 and RX100-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 DL24-500 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.