Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 Compact Digital Camera
At a Glance
The 8.1-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-T70 from Sony is a compact point-and-shoot that feels solidly built. Unfortunately, you must navigate the camera's menu and controls via a 3-inch touch screen LCD (in wide-screen format). The panel is large, but the touch-screen controls are hard to press and annoying to use. My frustrations with it prompted no small amount of colorful language at times.
The camera's slim, minimalist design is attractive, and it has a thumb grip on its right side perfectly placed to make holding it steady easier. The only real buttons on the camera are on the top side. There you'll find a small power button and a small review button, which I found hard to press, though the larger shutter-release button worked very well. To the right of the shutter button, a small sliding button operates the camera's zoom. I found my finger often slipping off this latter button, and there was a lag between my pressing the button and the camera actually zooming in or out.
But I didn't dislike everything about this camera. The DSC-T70's ISO range of 80 to 3200 is above average compared with most of its competitors (a few reach ISO 6400). The camera also offers the ability to shoot still images in 16:9 mode, which is great for displaying on an HDTV or a wide-screen monitor. It also has a movie mode that captures 640-by-480 video in MPEG 4 format, but I was disappointed that I was limited to the 4:3 width in shooting videos.
The DSC-T70 has plenty of scene modes, including ones for fireworks, high brightness, water (to bring out blues), high speed, landscape, low light, portraits, soft background, and a new mode that Sony calls Smiles. Similar to a feature found on Olympus models, the camera in this mode takes a picture when it recognizes a smile. You can set the "smile level" to high, medium, or low depending on whether it's a smirk or laugh that you're trying to capture. I did not find this feature particularly useful, though.
One limitation of the camera is that it has no manual white balance setting--only presets.
In the PC World Test Center, the DSC-T70 scored about average for image quality and for battery life. It consistently ranked in the middle on our image-quality subcategories, except for a high score in our image quality distortion test. The camera was able to last 290 shots before the battery died from its full charge--almost exactly the average for the compact cameras we tested in the same batch.
For $300 (as of 11/07/2007), there are other point-and-shoot cameras--such as the Fujifilm FinePix F50fd or the Casio Exilim EX-Z1080--that will produce better images. The Sony DSC-T70 will surely turn heads with its slick design. However, the wow factor that the unique touch screen provides may quickly wear off, leaving you with an irritating camera that takes only average pictures.
For other, similar digital cameras, see our chart of Top 10 Compact Cameras.