Nikon DL18-50 vs DL24-85 vs DL24-500

DL24-85 compact camera top view on orange background

Nikon has introduces three new DL camera, the DL18-50, DL24-85 and DL24-500. All the three have a 1-inch large sensor and are equipped  with Nikon’s finest imaging technology. I was so thrilled to see Nikon announcing a new lineup of its DL Premium compact cameras. This is exactly what enthusiast photographers were looking for, especially from Nikon.

What so special about Nikon DL Cameras?

Obviously Nikon is not the only camera that entered the large-sensor compact camera market. Panasonic, Canon, Sony, Fujifilm and Leica among others, all shown a very strong presence in this field. As the compact digital camera market share is fading away, those companies need to focus their effort in making cameras that are still in high demand and can offer something that mobile phones don’t offer.

DL18-50, DL24-85 and DL24-500 Nikon cameras
DL18-50, DL24-85 and DL24-500 Nikon Premium Compact cameras (via

Nikon 1 series wasn’t a big success that Nikon had hoped for, to say at least. In order to gain market share, Nikon certainly had to strengthen its positioning in the large-sensor compact camera market. Nikon already has the Nikon Coolpix A, an enthusiast APS-C compact camera. The problem that many consumers had with this camera is that it has a single focal length, no zoom. This camera was meant to compete against other fixed focal length lenses and not against the zoom large-sensor compacts.

Nikon had to feel in the gap, and it now did it with the new DL cameras. The idea was to create a fixed-lens zoom camera, with a large sensor and fast aperture. A camera that can produce SLR quality images and has a performance of a DSLR camera. Those cameras were designed to be very versatile and easy to carry around. Each one and one of these cameras can replace a DSLR with a single lens or even a few lenses in the case of the DL24-500.

How big is a 1-inch sensor?

The DL24-85, DL18-50 and DL24-500, all have a 1-inch size sensor, which Nikon dubbed CX sensor or ‘Nikon CX format’.

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds
Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

1-inch sensor is measured 13.2 x 8.8 mm. It’s smaller than APS-C and Micro Four Thirds as you can see in the above image, but considerably larger than the 1/2.3″ sensor found in many compact cameras. This allows Nikon to create the DL cameras smaller, put more premium features and pack it with speedier performance.

DL Series Pricing

The DL series isn’t going to be cheap, as expected from premium models. The suggested retail price is $649.95 for the DL24-85, $849.95 for the DL18-50 and $999.95 for the DL24-500.  Yep, these three babies aren’t cheap. I assume that people who buy these cameras will split into three main groups: those who needs a high-performing backup  or secondary camera for their DSLR, those who are searching for a DSLR/CSC alternative and will be satisfied with the fixed focal length range and what the camera has to offer, and third, those who are searching for a high-quality compact camera or travel camera.

It’s great to have a large selection isn’t it. You can pick up the one that fits your particular shooting style. I personally find the DL18-50 to be the most exciting because of its 18mm equivalent wide angle lens, which help produce really unique landscape shots, and it’s great as a travel camera as well (I mostly shoot wide-angle when I travel).

You might think to yourself that you can but the Nikon D3300 with the 18-55mm lens for far less. Although true,  the 18-55mm is a non-equivalent focal length. On an APS-C Nikon SLR it’s equivalent to 27-82.5mm and it’s also much slower (f/3.5-5.6G). Also Nikon’s entry-level DSLRs don’t offer such a wide range of advanced features and performance. I didn’t even mention the size; the D3300 is much larger than the DL18-50 and the DL24-85, even larger than the DL24-500.

Premium Camera means Exceptional Features

Nikon didn’t take any risks and equipped the DL 24-85, DL 18-50 and the DL 24-500 with its finest digital imaging technologies, including: a 20.8MP 1″-type BSI CMOS sensor (same one as the J5 mirrorless camera), a new EXPEED 6A processor, 4K/UHD video recording, Dual-Detect VR  Optical Image Stabilization, fluorine coating on the lenses to to keep moisture and oil away from the lens, manual focus ring, large 3-inch (tilting or full-articulated in the case of the 24-500) OLED touchscreen display with damage resistant glass, Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Hybrid AF system, 20 fps burst (up to 60 fps burst using Single AF point), RAW (NEF) image capture, full manual control over the exposure, accessory-shoe/hot-shoe (only DL24-85, DL 18-50, the DL24-500 has a hot-shoe connector), SnapBridge, HDMI output, 1200 fps slow-motion recording, Motion SnapShot, Time-lapse movie, Superlapse movie, Jump Cut and 4-second movie among its other features.

Nikon DL18-50 premium compact camera top view
Nikon DL18-50 premium compact camera (top with zoom lens extended)

The DL24-85 (3.6x optical zoom) is aimed for travel, portraits and general photography. It has a versatile and very useful focal length range to take both wide angle shots and a telephoto range to bringing you closer to the subject. This specific model also has a Super Macro Mode (1:1) to help capturing tiny life-size subjects.

The DL18-50 has an equivalent focal length of 18-50mm (2.8x opticaal zoom). With such an ultra-wide angle, this camera is mainly aimed for taking landscape, nature  and architecture, but also suitable for general photography; depends what you like shooting more. The DL18-50  has the same super fast F1.8-2.8 aperture, which really helps in low-light situations and help you achieve a more prominent shallow depth of field (defocused background) effect. This specific model has a built-in perspective controls that helps to fix distortions when shooting cityscape photos at wide angles.

Nikon DL24-85 camera top view
Nikon DL24-85 camera (top)

As I mentioned, both the DL24-85 and the DL18-50 have an accessory shoe, to which you can attach the optional DF-E1 EVF (2359K-dots, tilting mechanism). Both the DL24-85 and DL18-50 lack a built-in viewfinder, whether the DL24-500 does have a built-in 2359-dot OLED electronic viewfinder.

DL18-50 vs DL24-85 vs DL24-500

Let’s take a closer looks at the differences between the DL18-50, DL24-95 and DL24-500 in this side by side specs/feature comparison table.

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I am really happy that Nikon has chosen to release these three cameras. I think it’s the first time that Nikon has convinced me to consider a 1-inch sensor camera, it didn’t do it to me with the Nikon 1 series. Enthusiasts now have a larger selection of cameras to choose from, and the new DL series is certainly one to consider. In future articles I”ll compare it versus some other popular large-sensor compact. I think that Nikon really outdone itself this time, packing such advanced and premium features in a compact body, each one aimed to different type of shooting styles.

I love the super fast lens on the DL18-50 and DL24-85, which can further help improve the camera’s low-light performance. Nikon used some of its finest glass to make a lens that can produce very high-quality pictures. Each camera its own unique enhancement for that particular shooting style that it is aimed fore. It has RAW, manual mode, and all in all it’s a camera that was designed to produce professional results, and can server as an excellent alternative to a DSLR camera.

Which one you prefer among the three?