Second Look: The New Nikon Compact DL 18-50 f1.8-2.8 – Part 2: Go Wide

I talked mostly about the  Nikon’s DL 24-85 f1.8-2.8 in my last post, now it’s time to talk about the DL18-50 f1.8-2.8 camera.

You can see from the behind the scenes video just how quick and nimble this camera is.

The DL wide version will be about $200 more than the 24-85 and I suspect it’s mostly about the amazing zoom with Nano Crystal Coat. It’s 11 elements in 8 groups with 2 “ED” elements for those that care and it’s range from Macro 2cm! (18mm position) to infinity. The 18mm was a surprise, certainly the widest out there in this small of a camera, but how sharp is it?

Interior shot at f1.8 with the new DL 18-50 f1.8 -2.8 compact camera.

Interior shot at f1.8 with the new DL 18-50 f1.8 -2.8 compact camera.

Really, really sharp…even wide open which was a surprise for me. Nikon asked me to shoot much of the 18mm shots at f1.8 to show off the corner to corner sharpness, and so I did—and so it was.

With my DSLR’s I tend to stop down a click or two with lenses faster than f2.8 because I find the result is sharper and I still get the beautiful bokeh I paid for with the fast lenses. But with this lens at 1.8, that was it—sharpness. So I’ve adjusted my thinking with these new premium compacts and don’t have qualms about shooting wide open even with the speed of the lenses.

Speaking of wide, there’s a new “Perspective Control” function in this camera only that can correct vertical lines using a software but you see the results in real time on the back of the camera.


Since most of the features of this camera are the same as the others, sensor, image processor, AF system  and 4k video, you can check in the last article on the DL 24-85 f1.8-2.8 camera for more specifics.

I did want to mention however that one of my favorite features for street shooting on my Nikon DSLR’s is Auto ISO, which lets you set a maximum ISO to control noise and a minimum shutter speed to neutralize camera shake and/or subject movement. These cameras allow the same, though the maximum ISO in Auto are confined to these choices: 800, 1600, 3200 & 6400.

I like having Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed options which saves me on the street when going from bright to darker scenarios...

I like having Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed options which saves me on the street when going from bright to darker scenarios…

Though the 24mm – 85mm is the perfect range for the street photography I like to do, having an 18mm lens in a camera this small can let you get shots you would otherwise miss. And in a city like Dubai, I found myself frequently at the 18mm range; not just because that was part of the assignment but it simply proved the best focal length to capture the huge cityscapes in front of me. And because you can focus so close, it made sense in a lot of situations to shoot so wide, something I haven’t done much of with my DSLR system.

The electronic shutter let me shoot at 1/6400th of a second wide open at f1.8. 18mm let me fit it all in.

The electronic shutter let me shoot at 1/6400th of a second wide open at f1.8. 18mm let me fit it all in.

By the way, there is one U on the mode dial so you can program your User Settings, something I love on the D7200 and the D750.

(I wish the new D5/D500 had a similar way to globally program the camera, not a fan of the Banks).

Just like it’s other brother the D24-85 f1.8-2.8, this camera is fast and fun to use but most importantly, the quality of the images produced are why I’m sold on this new compact premium series.

You can pre-order the camera from B&H HERE.

Subscribe to the newsletter and get your free e-book Quick Start Guide for the new DL 24-85 f1.8-2.8 & DL 18-50 f1.8-2.8 which will be sent when the cameras hit the stores by clicking HERE!

This free e-book will be sent to you the minute these amazing new cameras land on store shelves.

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Add yours
  1. 4

    The pictures are amazing! As an architect I shoot mostly between 10-24mm and my qualm with any of the fixed lens cameras has been they don’t do that very effectively and it’s always a compromise. I currently use a Nikon D5100 which is great but too bulky to carry around all the time. My concern though with the DL is the lack of viewfinder and built in flash – have you had any issues with that? Do you have more pictures taken with it? Would love to see them. Interestingly have a similar (non wide angle) photo of the Burj Kalifa

    • 5
      Steve Simon

      I will eventually release more images closer to the release…it does have a viewfinder option which wasn’t ready when I played with the prototype but I’m looking forward to trying it out. I like your shot on Instagram!

  2. 6

    Steve, you mention the auto ISO setup for street shooting. I use a similar setup with the Coolpix A in combination with zone focus. I was wondering about the manual focus tools on this DL 18-50. Does it have a distance scale so you can easily set for a specific distance? If so, is it sticky if you turn the camera off and back on? And, finally, if you save a “street” setup to the “U” setting on the PASM dial, will it remember the focus distance? The Canon G7X does all of this which I find really useful, but it’s auto-ISO setup is really crude and I’d really prefer a camera with an 18-50 range because I’m primarily a wide angle shooter and love shooting wider than 24mm – not necessarily on the street but for other stuff. Thanks…

    • 7
      Steve Simon

      Ray, let me get back to you on your specific questions…good ones that I don’t have the answer to from memory. Let me see what I can find out.

  3. 8
    Abhishek Sarkar

    Steve! since Nikon is marketing only the 18-50 DL as nano coated , did you find any difference between the image quality of 18-50 and 24-85. Also could you please comment on the control/dials on this one. How quickly can we change the settings while in manual mode.

    • 9
      Steve Simon

      I thought the 24-85 was super sharp and didn’t thing the wider version was particularly sharper. But with a lens as wide as the 18, there’s a lot more opportunity for flare to compromise sharpness and the nano-coat makes a big difference. Not sure why it’s not on the other version but I never missed it. (Maybe that is why) As far as manual mode…I didn’t use it manually much but it was quick to respond.

  4. 10

    I like this camera, it could be what I am looking for to replace my Coolpix P7100, Does this camera have an AE/L AF/L button?

    • 11
      Steve Simon

      Not exactly, but you can program the function button in the way you would an AE/L AF/L button…but it’s on the front of the camera.

        • 13
          Steve Simon

          Oh, wasn’t sure what you meant at first…this is a “Creative Mode” which basically works like some of the phone photo apps, different types of color and black and white…fun to play with if you’re sending photos to your social media accounts through camera’s wifi..

    • 15
      Steve Simon

      Well I did try it but you’re most likely a better-looking thus better candidate for the selfie…it’s actually quite cool, the screen flips up completely and re-orients itself so you can stare into those pretty hazel eyes and get a good one.

  5. 16

    I teach photography to real estate agents – this is the first non DSLR I’ve seen that fits their needs. How is the distortion at 18mm, any obvious bending when used on a tripod?

    • 17
      Steve Simon

      I think it’s very good but you’ll be happy to know there is a perspective control that allows you to straighten lines in real time while viewing the image on the review screen. Perfect for real estate shooting.

  6. 22

    I’m new to photography but how wide is the 18-50 compared to the 18-55 lens on a Nikon DSLR? Do they have about the same maximum angle of view?

    • 23
      Steve Simon

      Hi Jomar, if your question is the difference between 5mm focal length it’s really not much. Of course it depends if you’re talking full frame or DX sensor Nikon. The DX has a 1.5 lens factor that means it gives the equivalent to a 27 to 75mm (18-50). On the new DL compacts the focal length quoted is the equivalent of full frame. The differences between the wide end of both cameras 18mm vs. 24mm is significant. SS

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