Nikon DL24-500 gives photo enthusiasts a big zoom with a big sensor

With the DL24-500, Nikon joins Sony, Panasonic and Canon in the category of big sensor cameras with long zoom lenses.

Joshua Goldman

Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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Nikon is no stranger to enthusiast compact cameras, having made ones such as the Coolpix P7800, with its 1/1.7-inch sensor (that's slightly larger than your average point-and-shoot), and the Coolpix A, which packs an APS-C-size sensor more typically found in a dSLR. (Generally speaking, the bigger the sensor, the better your pictures.)

The new Coolpix DL series falls in between the P and A series using a 20-megapixel 1-inch BSI CMOS sensor -- a CX-format sensor size found in its Nikon 1 interchangeable lens cameras. It's a sensor size that other camera makers have been using in premium compacts because it delivers a nice balance of picture quality, camera size and price. And perhaps because it's behind here, Nikon started the line with three cameras: the DL24-85, DL18-50 and DL24-500.

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While the DL24-85 and DL18-50 are meant to be stuffed in a pocket for street or landscape or architecture photography, the DL24-500 -- the numbers correlate to the camera's 35mm-equivalent zoom range -- is a bridge camera, part point-and-shoot and part digital SLR.

Arriving early this summer with a premium price of $1,000 (about £700 and AU$1,385 converted), the DL24-500 will have a 21x f2.8-5.6 24-500mm lens, the 1-inch sensor mentioned earlier and a new processor to help it handle things like 4K UHD-resolution (3,840x2,160 pixels) video capture at 30 frames per second. The camera can also shoot Full HD (1,920x1,080 pixels) at 120 frames per second and regular HD (1,280x720 pixels) at 240fps for slow-motion clips and high-speed full-resolution burst shooting at up to 60fps with fixed focus or 20fps with autofocus.

If you like the idea of having better image quality as well as the control and features that come with a dSLR, but want an all-in-one design, these large-sensor bridge cameras are a good bet. The Canon PowerShot G3 X has similar lens and sensor specs, but on paper it doesn't come close to the DL24-500 in terms of shooting performance. The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000's 16x lens and the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II's 8.3x lens don't have the reach of the Nikon, but are faster through their range: f2.8 to f4 and constant f2.8, respectively. Nikon has a shot of pulling potential buyers from these three, Canon in particular.

Other key features for the DL24-500 include:

  • High-speed hybrid autofocus (AF) with 105 phase-detect focus areas (with 171 focus points in contrast detect AF mode)
  • Mechanical shutter: 1/2,000-30 sec.; Electronic shutter: 1/16,000-30 sec.
  • 0.5-cm (0.39-in) high-resolution OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen
  • Raw capture (NEF format)
  • ISO 160-6400 (12800 available in P, S, A, M modes)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC for faster connection and syncing to mobile devices
  • Hot shoe and a stereo microphone input jack