Sony Cyber-shot T70
Manufacturer: Bristol Cameras
Price: £123 (£145 inc VAT)
Features that were only to be found on digital SLRs this time last year are now almost standard on digital compacts. They all have high-ISO sensitivity settings, allowing for shots in low light without the flash, and all but one of the cameras here – the GE model – has optical image stabilisation to deal with camera-shake. Also, the megapixel ratings are enormous, and 3in screens are becoming the norm. In short, it’s pretty hard to buy a bad digital camera these days, but some are of superior quality and better value than others.
Despite being the smallest and second-slimmest camera in this group, the T70 has a remarkably solid body; it feels almost like it’s hewn out of a single chunk of aluminium. It’s only 90mm wide, but still packs in a 3in display. It manages this feat by being devoid of buttons at the rear. In fact, there are only four physical controls on the whole camera, and one of those is the power button – it’s all controlled with a touch interface. This could be more intuitive, though: hand the camera to a friend and they’re unlikely to be able to find their way around it.
With its rounded edges and waif-like dimensions, the T70 slides beautifully into a pocket, and the solid construction means it will probably survive if you forget about it and sit down on it. When it comes to shooting, you get assistance from Super Steadyshot image stabilisation, plus fast autofocus and shutter response times. The eight-megapixel resolution – relatively low in this company, but still adequate for A3 printouts – helps high ISO performance by not cramming too many pixels into too small a space on the sensor. As a result, ISO 1600 is just about acceptable for Facebook snaps, although ISO 3200 is unusable. At lower sensitivity settings, some detail is lost to noise-reduction smearing, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice at normal viewing distance.
Downsides include an infuriating proprietary USB cable and Sony’s dogged insistence on using its own Memory Stick format rather than SD Card, although the price premium on Memory Stick is less than it once was; you can now pick up a 4GB card for about £20. A token 31MB of internal flash memory will let you take a few shots, too.
The T70 may not be the last word in image quality, but the sheer class it exudes in terms of design, build and operation, along with a decent price, makes it the best here.
Nikon Coolpix S610c
Nikon Coolpix P6000
Canon Digital Ixus 980 IS
Back to: Compact Digital Cameras