The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 is an all aluminium, sliding-cover design that is available in three colours: black, silver and a somewhat lurid pink......
Considering that it is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of digital cameras, and has at various times been the best-selling camera brand in the world, Sony actually has a comparatively small range of compact cameras, with just 14 models spread over four different series. Five of these make up the T series of ultra-slim luxury compacts, of which the latest is this, the Cyber-shot T700.
Like the other models in the series, the T700 is a sliding-cover design with a corner mounted periscope-style lens, in this case an optically stabilised 4x zoom lens (equivalent to 25-140mm) bearing the prestigious Carl Zeiss name. The T700 has the same 10.1-megapixel 1/2.3in Super HAD CCD sensor as the T77, T500 and T300, but its stand-out features is its large and astonishingly sharp 3.5in 921,600-dot touch-screen monitor, which occupies virtually the entire back panel of the camera body.
If you’re looking for a luxury stylish ultra-compact camera you have a fairly wide choice these days. Of course, there’s the Canon IXUS range, in particular the IXUS 970 IS currently selling for around £205, or the new Panasonic FX37 for around £190, as well as many others. Both the 970 IS and the FX37 have similar specifications to the T700, which makes the Sony look very expensive at around £265.
The T700 emits style like Plutonium emits alpha particles. With the front cover closed the case is a minimalist flat slab of brushed metal with a nicely understated embossed Sony logo in the middle. The body is all aluminium, and is available in silver, grey or bright pink. However like a lot of gadgets that are designed primarily to look good, handling has taken a second place to fashion. The huge monitor leaves only a 5mm strip on the right as somewhere to rest your thumb, while the slippery brushed metal finish on the front provides little purchase for the fingers. This is one camera where using the wrist strap is highly recommended.
The camera’s few external controls are small and discreet to the point of near invisibility. Unfortunately this includes the zoom control which is poorly positioned and extremely fiddly. However, the touch screen system works well, much better in fact than many other recent examples. The screen is large enough to allow decent-sized buttons, and even users with large hands will have no problem operating the camera.
Despite being packed with advanced technology the T700 performs exceptionally well, starting up in less than two seconds and managing a consistent shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.8 seconds. The ninepoint autofocus system is quick and accurate, and operates well in low light conditions. There is a powerful AF assist lamp for shooting in the dark.
Image quality is good, but considering the price of the camera it should be a lot better. The lens lives up to its name, producing good corner-to-corner sharpness, and the exposure metering is also good, coping well with unusual lighting conditions. However, dynamic range is quite limited, producing burned-out highlights and featureless shadows, and high-ISO noise is also something of a problem.
Although it performs well and looks fantastic, the T700 is massively over-priced. There are better cameras that cost a lot less money.