Sony DSC-T70 Review
Similar to the DSC-T50 from 2006, Sony has introduced the new Cyber-shot DSC-T70. Sleek and compact, the T70 features a 3-inch "wide" touch screen LCD, 3x optical Carl Zeiss internal folding zoom lens, and a very easy to navigate camera menu. This is the "little" brother to the DSC-T200, and also includes an 8-megapixel imaging sensor, several pre-programmed shooting modes, in camera retouching of photographs and video editing, 640x480 movie mode and much more.
The touch screen adds a new level of dimension to the camera. Since there are no buttons that need to be placed on the back, this allows for a more compact and stylish look. The menu system is also easier to navigate using easy to identify icons on the screen. The screen also allows you to touch where you would like to focus while taking pictures and zooms to the point that you touch, allowing you total control while looking at pictures.
This camera fits very well into one or two hands, and is very easy to operate. You do have to watch out for your fingers on the left side of the camera, because it is very easy to block the lens witch is located in the top left corner of the camera. There are no controls on the back of the camera, leaving only the power, play, zoom and shutter release on the top of the camera. All of the other controls are now part of the touch screen menu. The screen can be operated with your fingertips or the included stylus. An anti-glare coating allows for use of the camera in all lighting conditions, including direct sunlight, it also gains up nicely in low light situations to make framing your shots easier. Fingerprints are always present with a touch screen but are not as noticeable as expected, and in most cases are not noticed at all.
Performance from the T70 is outstanding. From the time you flip the front cover open until you are able to take your first photo is just 1.9 seconds. Shutter lag is less than 1/10 of a second when the camera is pre-focused, and a mere 3/10 of a second when you include the focusing. In single shot mode, I captured 5 images in slightly less than 5 seconds without the flash, and 5 images in 11 seconds with the flash. There is also a continuous shooting (burst) mode. This mode does not work with the flash, but performed very well, capturing 11 images in 4.9 seconds, then it slowed slightly but continued to capture images. Our tests were performed using a Sony 1gb Memory Stick PRO Duo memory stick, program mode, flash off, and all other settings at the factory default unless noted. Times may vary depending on camera settings, lighting conditions, media, etc.
As with the previous T-series models, image quality is very good. Our outdoor images are have a good exposure and color saturation. The new 9-point AF system allows for sharp, clear images. The 3x optical zoom with a 35mm equivalent of 38-114mm is standard for an ultra-compact model, and is great for shooting landscapes and group portraits. If you should need more of a wide angle, there is a digital mode that changes the view from 4:3 to 16:9. The zoom end is not enough to really zoom in on something off in the distance, but it does help in framing and or singling out your subjects in groups. At the wide end there is some barrel distortion and there was some chromatic aberrations, (purple fringing) throughout. Sony has incorporated several technologies into the camera that do a great job in reducing motion blur and noise that work very well. Images taken with ISO 400 or less show very little noise, some in darker areas, but with the ISO higher than 400, the noise becomes much more noticeable as it goes up.
The T70 features a tiny flash unit with a range of about 10 feet at wide angle with the ISO set to Auto. This is a typical range for an ultra-compact consumer model, and is sufficient for most interior shooting. While it doesn't have the power to illuminate an open room, you should still be very pleased by your close-up portraits and small group shots. However, be sure you enable the Redeye Reduction flash mode via the Setup menu. I found traces of red eye in a large majority of our people shots when this feature was turned off. Once this problem is over come, the T70 produces beautiful portraits that show good flash exposure, sharp facial features and natural skin tones.
Movie mode on the T70 works very well. The videos are very clear and smooth, and the camera handles moderate lighting situations very well. When using the steady shot, there is a little bit of noticeable noise, but the image is very still when shooting handheld and is worth using it if you do not have a tripod. You have the option to record in VX Fine (640x480), Fine (640x480), and 320 (320x240), several different color modes, and a feature that is just starting to become available on more cameras is the ability to use the full range of the zoom while recording. You are also given the ability to edit video inside the camera. In order to record movies you will need a Sony Memory stick Duo Pro in order to record video. Remember that the video files are large so you will need a large memory stick if you plan on taking multiple videos.
Powering the T-70 is a 680 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery that recharges outside of the camera. This battery provided more than enough power to take over 150 pictures, many with the flash, several videos and completed all of our tests without having to be recharged. Since it does not have to be charged in the camera, we recommend having a second battery to keep charged as a backup.
Bottom line - The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 is a very stylish and appealing ultra-compact digital camera. With the very easy to navigate touch screen menu, full automatic and several pre-programmed scene modes, this camera was designed to be used by anyone. On top of that the performance and image quality are excellent, leaving you with one outstanding digicam. With a MSRP of US$299, this is a must see for anyone in the market for a powerful and stylish digital camera. If you love this model but want a more versatile zoom range, along with a larger touchpanel LCD, check out our review of the Cyber-shot DSC-T200.
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