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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 Gordon Laing, November 2007

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 verdict

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 is a stylish compact that’s packed with fun technology. The slim body looks great and the sliding cover for the non-extending lens has a very satisfying tactile motion as it snaps up and down. Touch screens aren’t new to Sony, but it still feels unusual and quite fun to point at the settings you’d like to change on the T70’s wide monitor. Owners of HDTVs will also appreciate the optional component cable to deliver quality big-screen slideshows.











In terms of gadgetry, the pièce de résistance is of course the Smile Shutter mode. It’s one of those features you don’t quite believe will work, but when you see it happening, we guarantee there’ll be smiles both in front and behind the camera. Whether you’ll use it regularly is debateable, but it really does work. Just be aware for the best success, your subjects should err on the side of big toothy Cheshire Cat grins as oppose to demure smiles.

So far so good, but in some traditional photographic terms, the T70 is less impressive. The 38-114mm optical zoom range is unremarkable these days and really shown up by the 28mm equivalent wide angle coverage of several key rivals. Sony’s overly-aggressive compression and noise reduction also results in undesirable artefacts when you’re closely examining images, and the quality falls quickly beyond 200 ISO. And while the touch-screen works fine, we could do without having to OK every step.

As always, you should weigh-up and compare the features between shortlisted models very carefully. Three compacts which have particularly impressed us recently are the Canon Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 IS, Fujifilm FinePix F50fd and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33. All three are featured in our Compact Best Buys category at the time of writing, so how does the Sony T70 measure-up?



Compared to Canon Digital Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870

 
 

For only slightly more than the Sony T70, you could alternatively buy Canon’s Digital Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870. Both have 8 megapixel resolution and optical stabilisation, but the Canon’s 28-105mm equivalent range includes decent wide angle capabilities. The Canon also offers time-lapse movies. Both cameras feature big 3in screens, but Canon’s is a more conventional 4:3 shape to the Sony’s 16:9 widescreen. The Sony T70’s screen is also touch-sensitive and of course the camera additionally features its unique Smile Shutter mode along with optional HDTV output.

As seen in our Sony T70 results pages, the Canon delivers better-looking images and undoubtedly out-performs the Sony at higher sensitivities. It’s a better camera in traditional respects, but you may be drawn by the Sony’s design and gadgetry, so as always it’s a case of weighing up the design and feature-sets for your own personal requirements. See our Canon Digital Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 review for more details.


Compared to Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

 
 
 
 
 

Coming-in slightly cheaper than the T70 is Fujifilm’s FinePix F50fd. Go for the Fujifilm and you’ll get 50% more Megapixels (12 to the Sony’s 8), manual control over the aperture and shutter, and some neat approaches to using the flash for indoor portraits.

The F50fd shares a similar unremarkable 3x optical lens range, but employs sensor-shift stabilisation. It may have face detection, but doesn’t feature smile recognition, nor the T70’s touch sensitive screen or optional HDTV output. That said, the good points are pretty compelling, so if they outweigh the cons for you personally, then the F50fd is well worth considering. See our Fujifilm FinePix F50fd review for more details.


Compared to Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33

 
 
 

Another camera coming in a tad cheaper than the Sony T70 is Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FX33. Like the Sony it has 8 Megapixel resolution and an optically stabilised lens, but like Canon’s 860IS / SD870 IS, the Panasonic features wider angle coverage equivalent to 28-100mm. It also offers widescreen movie recording.

In the T70’s favour are again its big, wide, touch sensitive screen, Smile Shutter mode and optional HD output. So once again it’s a case of carefully weighing up the features and design. For more details, check out our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 review.


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 final verdict

There’s no denying the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 is a desirable-looking compact with some neat features. Sony’s distinctive styling and unique gadgetry will see it immediately appeal to some people. And to be fair the gadgets are pretty good – the touch-screen is fun to use, the HD slideshows look great and the Smile Shutter feature will really get your friends talking. Whether you’ll end up using it regularly or just for fun demonstrations though remains to be seen.

Given the style and gadgetry, it’s a shame Sony’s taken its eye off the ball a little in traditional photographic respects. It’s long been equipping compacts with unremarkable 35-105mm or 38-114mm 3x ranges, while its competition have increasingly fitted lenses with more useful wide angle facilities. Canon offers 28mm equivalent coverage on several models now, and with the exception of the FZ50, Panasonic boasts 28mm coverage across its entire Lumix range.

Click here for the Sony Cyber-shot T70 video tour
 

Then there’s Sony’s increasingly infamous approach to image processing. Now none of us like noise and we all want to fit as many pictures on our cards as possible, but Sony’s taken both a bit too seriously. The T70 is another Sony camera with overly aggressive noise reduction and rather too enthusiastic JPEG compression, neither of which are beneficial to retaining fine detail under close examination.

Of course this will only bother the pixel peepers among us, and if you stick to lower sensitivities, make smaller prints or avoid viewing images at 100%, you’ll find the T70’s images acceptable. Indeed the T70’s target audience probably won’t spend much time examining images for processing artefacts. Instead they’ll be drawn by the looks and gadgetry, will have great fun with the touch-screen and Smile Shutter, and find Sony’s typically vibrant photo output looks absolutely fine on prints and emails.

If this sounds like you, then there’s certainly enough good points about the T70 for us to award our Recommended rating, but if you care more about traditional photographic respects than gadgetry, there’s better models available. If you do like the T70's style and gadgetry though, it's also worth considering Sony's own Cyber-shot DSC-T200, which for about 25% more offers a longer 5x optical zoom range (albeit still starting at 38mm) and a bigger 3.5in touch-screen. See our Compact best Buys section for recommendations of the best all-round models.


Good points
Slim body with non-extending lens.
3in touch-screen monitor.
Smile Shutter mode really works.
Optional cable for HDTV slideshows.

Bad points
Pedestrian 38-114mm lens range.
Noise and compression artefacts throughout.
Smile Shutter more fun than practical.
No manual control over aperture and shutter.


Scores
(relative to 2007 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

18 / 20
14 / 20
15 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20

81%
 
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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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