Looks can be deceiving
At first glance the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 doesn’t look like a sub-$600 camera — not by a long chalk. With its ultra-compact 95x58x16mm dimensions, single 1/2.3in CCD sensor, maximum image resolution of 10.1-megapixels and 4x optical zoom, it appears to have more in common with a basic point-and-shoot model. (Indeed, when it comes to pixel count and appearance, it is virtually indistinguishable from Olympus’ Mju 1040, which currently retails for half the price). So what gives? Has the infamous ‘Sony Tax’ finally gone too far? Or is there more to this camera than initially meets the eye? A bit of both, as it happens.
- 4GB inbuilt memory, excellent touch-screen LCD display, stylish design, improves on its predecessor in all areas
- Expensive for a point-and-shoot unit, some minor imaging issues
The DSC-T700 is a well-rounded compact camera that can also moonlight as a digital photo album. It might be a little pricey for a 10.1-megapixel camera, but its excellent playback functionality is arguably worth the extra dosh.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
Beneath the DSC-T700’s deceptively low-key appearance lies a feature-rich camera designed with social interactivity in mind. Sony is touting the DSC-T700 as a ‘portable photo album’; a moniker that suits the unit well. With 4GB of onboard memory, an extra-large touch-screen LCD display and integrated PhotoMusic slideshow software, it’s one of the best cameras we’ve seen for both storage and playback. If you enjoy instantly sharing photos with family and friends (and who doesn’t?), these features are nearly worth the price tag on their own. Thankfully, the T700 also acquits itself well in the imaging stakes, although its lens and optical zoom could have been a bit larger. Nevertheless, it remains an attractive (if pricey) model that will suit anyone in need of a stylish, peer-friendly offering.
The DSC-T700 shares much in common with Sony’s previous high-end T series model, the Cyber-shot DSC-T300. We were mightily impressed by the enhancements it has to offer. For instance, the 3.5in LCD display now boasts a resolution of 921,000 pixels — that’s four times the number found on its predecessor. As you’d imagine, this makes a huge difference to playback clarity, with images appearing rich and razor-sharp. Another improvement to the LCD is its touch screen interface: the display feels a lot more responsive this time around, with none of the annoying sluggishness that plagued the DSC-T300.
As mentioned above, the DSC-T700 also comes equipped with 4GB of inbuilt memory (compared to 15MB on the T300). This allows you to store up to 40,000 images directly to camera, with Sony’s bundled Picture Motion Browser software allowing you to resize files to maximise storage space. Naturally, a Memory Stick slot is also included, which boosts the onboard memory by up to 16GB.
Speed is another area where the T700 improves upon its daddy. The delay between powering up the camera and taking your first shot averages around 1.5 seconds, which isn’t too shabby. Taking consecutive photos with the flash enabled took a little over 2 seconds between shots. This is mainly thanks to the impressive shutter speed of 0.5 seconds.
In regards to image quality, the DSC-T700 gave a similar performance to previous T series units; which is to say, its output was good without being outstanding. During testing, our shots retained excellent colour and contrast up to an ISO sensitivity of 400. Predictably, noise became a significant issue at ISO 800 and above, with graininess obscuring fine details. As with the T300, we also noticed a fair amount of haloing in high-contrast areas, along with lens distortion towards the edges of the frame. Thankfully, none of these issues were serious enough to mar the quality of printed photos.
The DSC-T700 comes with the usual bevy of consumer-friendly features, including face detection, Smile Shutter technology (now with three sensitivity levels), Intelligent Scene Recognition (Sony’s version of Intelligent Auto) and a handy anti-blink mode that automatically takes a second picture if one of your subjects blinks. The inclusion of optical image stabilisation is also much appreciated, and helps to justify the camera’s premium price tag.
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