Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70

For those who want a little more control, Program Auto lets you adjust ISO, white balance, autofocus points, light metering, and exposure values, as well as control the amount of Sony's Dynamic Range Optimization used for rescuing shadow detail. There is a full manual option for control over aperture and shutter speed. It's limited to two aperture settings each at the wide and telephoto ends (using a neutral density filter); f3.5 and f8 for wide and f5.5 and f13 for telephoto. There are a few more sets of stops available through the zoom range: f4-9, f4.5-10, and f5-11. Shutter speeds are adjustable from 1/1,600 to 30 seconds. It's more than you get on most point-and-shoots, so I'm not complaining; just don't buy this expecting a lot of control. Also worth mentioning is that the H70 has exposure bracketing that will take three photos, one at the exposure you select and then two more at plus and minus 0.3EV, 0.7EV, or 1.0EV. It doesn't do this terribly fast, though, so you may want to use a tripod and only with still subjects.

Shooting performance is generally slow. From off to first shot takes approximately 2.2 seconds. Shutter lag in bright conditions is livable at 0.5 second; it goes up to 0.7 second in dim lighting. Shot-to-shot time without flash is long at 4.1 seconds. Using the flash extends that time to 4.8 seconds. Lastly, the DSC-H70 can shoot continuously at 1.7 frames per second, though that's only for three shots. I wouldn't recommend the H70 for regularly shooting kids, pets, and sports because it's just too slow. That's not to say that you won't get the occasional action shot, especially if you take advantage of the camera's three-shot burst. Unfortunately the screen goes black while it's firing so you won't know if you caught what you wanted till after it's done saving.

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.

Conclusions
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
1.1 
1.8 
1.5 
0.7 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8
1.5 
2.1 
1.4 
0.8 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot SX130 IS
2.1 
6.1 
2.9 
0.8 
0.6 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55
1.8 
4.5 
3.7 
0.8 
0.6 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70
2.2 
4.8 
4.1 
0.9 
0.5 

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

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    Where to Buy

    Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70 (Silver)

    Part Number: DSC-H70/S Released: Jan. 4, 2011

    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Release date Jan. 4, 2011
    • Image Stabilizer Optical (Steady Shot with Active Mode)
    • Digital camera type Compact
    • Optical Zoom 10 x
    • Optical Sensor Type Super HAD CCD
    • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.3"
    About The Author

    Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.