Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70 review:

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70

The H70 is a simple black (or silver or red or blue) box with a slight cylindrical grip on its right side that gives you a place to rest your fingertips in front and thumb in the back. Its body is compact and lightweight, considering its long zoom and wide-angle lens. Most of the H70's weight seems to come from its lens and battery pack. The lens is a G lens, which Sony only uses in its dSLR cameras, advanced HD camcorders, and a few Cyber-shots. Overall it has a nice design, but it's not quite perfect.

Its controls are fairly easy to master. On its top is the shooting mode dial, shutter release, zoom ring, and a power button. The power button is flush with the body, making it difficult to find without looking. Also, if you're not careful with your finger placement, it's pretty easy to cover the sliver of a flash bulb on the front-right side.

On back is a 3-inch LCD, which, though large, can be difficult to see in full sun--even at its highest brightness setting. To its right are the remaining controls: a Playback button, a directional pad with a select button at its center, a Menu button, and a Delete button. Along with navigating menus, the directional pad turns on the camera's smile- and timer-activated shutter release options, changes flash settings, and changes the brightness of the LCD as well as what information it displays. Unfortunately, the icons for each are just engraved in the pad, making them tough to see in dim lighting.

The single Menu button accesses all settings, except shooting modes handled by the dial on top. Press Menu and a column of shooting-mode-specific settings appears on the left. At the end of the list is a toolbox icon for accessing general settings. What's also nice is that the camera can warn you about adjusting certain settings. For example, if you set the H70 to spot meter light, you won't be able to turn on Face Detection. The H70 tells you onscreen that Face Detection is not available because of Spot metering being selected. Cameras from other vendors generally make you guess what needs to be shut off in order to turn on a blacked-out option.

Sony continues to give you the option of using either Memory Stick Pro Duo cards or SD/SDHC/SDXC cards for storage. Also, the H70 has Eye-Fi wireless SDHC card support that will power off the camera once wireless media uploads are complete and offers the ability to enable and disable the card's Wi-Fi via the camera menu.

There's a single slot for both SD and Memory Stick cards next to the battery located in a compartment in the bottom of the camera. Next to the compartment is a proprietary multifunction port for connecting a USB/AV cable. A component cable version is available for purchase as well.

One last note about features: the camera has both standard optical image stabilization and an Active option that helps to suppress shake while the shooter is moving with the subject, such as running alongside someone playing soccer. It does help, and by help I mean it's worth switching on, but it's not going to make your video rock-steady.

As Panasonic did with its stripped-down compact megazoom, the Lumix ZS8, Sony made the H70 almost too basic for its price. Whether it was done to make upselling to the HX7V easier, I don't know. But with only $70 between them and a whole lot of feature differences including an Exmor R sensor, full HD movie capture, GPS, and a 920K-dot-resolution LCD, the H70 is a tough sell unless you truly only want a basic compact megazoom that takes nice photos. And while it's still around, the HX5V is a better deal, too.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Nikon Coolpix S8100
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8
Canon PowerShot SX130 IS
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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