Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 Review

Review Date: February 23rd 2009
Author: Zoltan Arva-Toth

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Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 10M JPEG mode, which gives an average image size of around 3.5Mb.

If you are a real stickler for image quality, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 will not please you. Chromatic aberrations, limited dynamic range, smearing of fine low-contrast detail and high-ISO noise all prevent it from being an IQ champ. On the other hand, the photos produced by the camera are unlikely to disappoint those who it is targeted at. Sure, the lens has some CA, but it's less than what you'll see from most other folded zooms, and you need to make fairly big prints to see it anyway. Sure, the dynamic range is limited, but by watching the live histogram and engaging the D-Range Optimiser, your chances to avoid blown highlights and blocked shadows are better than with most other digital compacts. Sure, there's some smearing of low-contrast, high-frequency detail, but properly lit scenes are recorded in admirably great detail. Sure, photos taken at high ISO are noisy, but the noise is fairly finely grained, and not nearly the ugliest we have seen. And the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 has some real strengths, such as a great super-macro mode and a very effective anti-shake system that can prevent blurring introduced by shaky hands.

Noise

There are seven selectable ISO settings on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700. The base sensitivity setting is ISO 80, at which the photos are essentially noise-free, although smearing of high-frequency, low-contrast detail can be observed. At 100% viewing, noise is fairly apparent in photos taken at ISO 200, more so at ISO 400, but the noise is quite finely grained and tightly packed, meaning I would not hesitate printing most ISO 400 shots at 18x24cm size. This observation has prompted me to use this sensitivity setting on a regular basis, which is why one-fifth of our Sample Images were taken at ISO 400. At higher settings, noise gets higher, whereas at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, both noise and noise reduction take their toll. Having said that, I am surprised that ISO 3200 is actually usable at the common print size of 10x15cm, as long as you are not bothered by the significant drop in saturation at that setting. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. Unfortunately you can't change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look, so you will have to edit the images later.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700's lens produced some chromatic aberrations in a couple of images, but not as much as I had expected from a folded zoom. These are the worst examples I have found.

Example 1 (100% Crop)
Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 has a supermacro mode, in which the zoom is fixed at wide angle, but you can go as close as 1cm to your subject and achieve some astonishing magnification. You can completely fill the frame with a subject that measures only 15x20mm! There is fairly obvious barrel distortion at this setting, but less than I am used to seeing in wide-angle supermacro photographs. Sharpness consistency is, however, quite poor at this setting, with only the centre being truly sharp. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

Macro Shot (100% Crop)

Flash

The flash settings on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 are auto, forced on, slow sync and forced off. The small built-in unit is not really powerful, and the ultra-slim design of the camera did not allow a hot-shoe to be included; so the only way to get more flash power is by using optical slaves. With the lens set to its widest angle and the flash turned off, there is only mild vignetting observable. When you engage the flash, you can see more pronounced light fall-off in the corners, as the flash cannot evenly illuminate the entire frame. At the telephoto end, the difference between the shots taken with and without flash is less obvious in terms of vignetting. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (35mm)

Auto Flash - Wide Angle (35mm)

ISO 64
ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (140mm)

Auto Flash - Telephoto (140mm)
ISO 64
ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. The flash caused quite a lot of red-eye. The red-eye reduction mode did not help much, but there is post-capture red-eye removal as well, in playback mode.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Flash - Red-eye Flash

Flash - Red-eye Flash (100% Crop)

Night Shot

The slowest shutter speed of the camera is apparently 2 seconds in the Twilight scene mode, which is not great news if you are seriously interested in night photography. Still, as long as you are shooting in well-lit city streets, you can take a few nice night shots. I have included one that was taken at 2 seconds, f3.5 at ISO 100 to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)
   

Anti Shake

These examples are 100% crops from two photos taken at 1/13 second at the 140mm equivalent zoom setting. As you can see, engaging Sony's Steady Shot anti-shake system can mean the difference between a sharp and a blurred photo when taking hand-held shots at shutter speeds that are critically slow for the focal length used. Importantly, Steady Shot will not help when even longer exposure times are needed in those cases, disengage Steady Shot and mount the camera on a tripod.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% crop)

Anti Shake On (100% crop)
1/13th sec / 140mm
     
Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.

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