Nikon's $650 advanced compact might unseat Sony

The more mainstream -- and less expensive -- of Nikon's new advanced compacts, the DL24-85, has features that rival (or outdo) the competition.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
6 min read

Nikon might be late to the party with its mainstream advanced compact, the DL24-85, but at least Nikon doesn't make the mistake of coming in with ho-hum specs as we've seen from others. It's created a new DL series of "premium" fixed-lens cameras, launching with two compacts, the DL18-50 and DL24-85, in addition to the DL24-500, a 20x full-size megazoom.

Nikon's delivers dapper duo of DL compacts (pictures)

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The two compacts are almost identical with only a few exceptions -- most notably the lens, as indicated by the product names. The DL24-85 is the more mainstream-targeted of the two; it has a longer 2.6x zoom, a built-in flash, and at $650 costs about $200 less than the shorter-zoom DL18-50. (I don't have other pricing yet, but that's equivalent to £460 and AU$900, directly converted, and a price difference of £141, AU$276.) It also has a Super Macro mode for 1:1 close-up shooting. The camera's scheduled to ship in June.

For everyday photography, the DL24-85 stands out for its fast continuous shooting rated at up to 20 frames-per-second with autofocus and autoexposure; that will likely make it a great choice for photographing kids and pets in action, if the relatively short 85mm maximum focal length doesn't hold you back. The 24-85mm focal-length range is a solid choice for most travel, landscape, street and portrait photography, though the longer 10x zoom range of the Panasonic ZS100 might turn out to be more attractive for a lot of people than the Nikon's 3.6x zoom.

Common specs of the DL cameras

  • Sensor and image processor. They pair a 20.8-megapixel 1-inch BSI CMOS sensor with the Expeed 6A processor for a sensitivity range of 160-6400, or ISO 12800 in the expanded range.
  • Stabilitzation. "Dual-detect" Optical VR. This is Nikon's branding for its optical-plus-electronic-for-movies stabilization system.
  • Lens. They have different lenses, but both have a maximum aperture of f1.8-2.8, a manual aperture ring on the lens and nine-blade apertures for smooth out-of-focus areas. Nikon also adds a fluorine coating to the front element to protect it, and they'll accept screw-on filters.
  • Autofocus. Hybrid phase- (171 points) and contrast- (105 areas) detection autofocus system, the same as in Nikon 1 J5.
  • Performance. Both can shoot a up to of 20 frames per second with continuous autofocus and autoexposure at full resolution.
  • Design. They both take the optional, hot-shoe-based tilting electronic viewfinder and have a 3-inch tilting and flip-up OLED LCD.
  • Video. Support for recording Ultra HD 4K (3,840x2,160) video at 30p, as well as slow motion at up to 1,200fps, albeit at a tiny 400x144 resolution. They offer cleain HDMI output, 4K frame grabs, time-lapse movie, and more.
  • Connectivity. Bluetooth for a persistent low-power wireless connection along with NFC and Wi-Fi.

My take

At its price, the DL24-85 looks quite promising: it offers a more-than competitive set of features, with the added bonus of its fast continuous shooting. Though I expect the DL18-50 has a better lens, it might be worth the trade-off for the longer lens and cheaper price of the DL24-85, even for hard-core enthusiasts. Plus, it's far less expensive than and will likely offer better performance than the Sony RX100 IV, though that model does have a built-in viewfinder. (The price for the Nikon's optional viewfinder has not yet been announced, that that may make a big difference in its competitive position vs. the RX100 IV.)

Comparative specs

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Nikon DL18-50 Nikon DL24-85 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100
Panasonic Lumix TZ100 (UK)
Panasonic Lumix TZ110 (AU)
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV
Sensor effective resolution 20.2MP HS CMOS 20.8MP BSI CMOS 20.8MP BSI CMOS 20.1MP MOS 20.2MP Exmor RS CMOS
Sensor size 1-inch
(13.2 x 8.8 mm)
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
(13.2 x 8.8)
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
Focal-length multiplier 2.7x 2.7x 2.7x 2.7x 2.7x
OLPF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 12800/25600 (exp) ISO 160 - ISO 6400/ISO 12800 (exp) ISO 160 - ISO 6400/ISO 12800 (exp) ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800/ISO 25600 (exp) ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800
Lens (35mm equivalent) 24-100mm
24 - 70mm
Closest focus 2.0 in/5 cm 1.2 in/3 cm 1.2 in/3 cm 2 in/5 cm 1.9 in/5 cm
Burst shooting 5.4fps
46 JPEG/n/a raw
(8 shots with focus and exposure fixed on first frame)
(60fps with AE/AF/WB locked on first frame)
(60fps with AE/AF/WB locked on first frame)
(10fps without AF; 30fps at 4K)
(with electronic shutter; 16fps with fixed focus and exposure)
(mag/ effective mag)
None Optional tilting EVF
2.4m dots
Optional tilting EVF
2.4m dots
1.2m dots
100% coverage
1.44m dots
100% coverage
Hot shoe No Yes Yes No Yes
Autofocus 31-area
Contrast AF
105-point phase detection
171-area contrast AF
105-point phase detection
171-area contrast AF
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
AF sensitivity n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Shutter speed 250 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb 30 - 1/1,600 secs (1/16,000 sec electronic shutter); Time to 120 secs 30 - 1/1,600 secs (1/16,000 sec electronic shutter); Time to 120 secs 60 sec - 1/2,000 sec (1/16,000 electronic shutter); Time to 4 minutes 30 - 1/2,000 sec (1/32,000 electronic shutter); bulb
Metering n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Metering sensitivity n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
H.264 MP4 4K UHD/30p, 25p; 1080/60p; 1080/120p; 400x144/1200p H.264 MP4 4K UHD/30p, 25p; 1080/60p; slow motion 1080/120p; 400x144/1200p MP4 UHD/30p; AVCHD 1080/60p, 60i, 30p XAVC S 4K 2160/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps
Audio Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes n/a n/a Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time 4GB/29:59 minutes n/a n/a 15 minutes 5 minutes
Optical zoom while recording Yes n/a n/a n/a Yes
Clean HDMI out No Yes Yes n/a n/a
IS Optical Optical Optical Optical
5-axis hybrid
LCD 3 in/7.5 cm
Flip-up, tilting touchscreen
1.04m dots
3 in/7.5cm
Tilting, flip up, touchscreen
1.04m dots
3 in/7.5cm
Tilting, flip up, touchscreen
1.04m dots
(97% coverage)
3 in/7.5cm
1.04m dots
3 in/7.5cm
921,600 dots
(plus another set of white dots for brightness)
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, NFC
Flash Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash No No No No No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 265 shots
(1,250 mAh)
290 shots
290 shots
300 shots (LCD); 240 shots (EVF)
(1,025 mAh)
280 shots (LCD);
230 shots (Viewfinder)
(1,240 mAh)
Size (WHD) 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.7 in
106 x 61 x 42 mm
4.2 x 2.5 x 2.2 in
106 x 63 x 58 mm
4.2 x 2.5 x 2.0 in
105 x 61 x 50 mm
4.4 x 2.5 x 1.7 in
110.5 x 64.5 x 44.3 mm
4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 inches
101.6 x 58.1 x 41 mm
Body operating weight 11.3 oz (est.)
319 g (est.)
12.8 oz (est.)
365 g (est.)
12.3 oz (est.)
350 g (est.)
11 oz (est)
312 g (est)
10.4 oz
294 g
Mfr. price $700
$850 $650 $700
Release date (US) May 2016 June 2016 June 2016 March 2016 July 2015