In addition to the variety of semimanual exposure modes, the S700 provides numerous options which deal with low light simply by raising the ISO sensitivity setting. Its Picture Stabilization mode--Mr. Shaky on the mode dial--is a program shift mode with increased sensitivity to enable faster shutter speeds. The N mode ("N" stands for "Natural Light") is a program shift mode with increased sensitivity to enable faster shutter speeds so that you can avoid using Flash. N/Flash sequentially shoots a flash shot and a shot using a program shift mode with increased sensitivity to enable faster shutter speeds so that you can avoid using Flash. SP1 and SP2--Scene Position--allow you to quickly access two different scene modes. Many of those scene modes use some form of ISO shift as well, but the ability to have quick access to two rather than just your last selected scene is a nice use of extra mode-dial real estate.
I find the S700's ergonomics a bit frustrating. First, all the buttons feel the same, as does each pole on the navigation switch. Even if you get used to them and can find them by feel, you have to fully depress and hold the buttons; if you try to move quickly, you end up making a lot of accidental changes, such as entering macro mode or turning on the self-timer instead of changing the shutter speed. Also, oddly, you increase shutter speed/aperture by pressing Down and decrease them with Up, which can be can be difficult to adapt to.
Surprisingly for a megazoom, the S700 shoots its best photos in macro mode. They still have that crunchy digital look, but they tend to be a little sharper than standard shots.
The S700's noise-suppression algorithms work pretty well. This ISO 800 shot has a bit of the brush-stroke look, but overall the edges and level of detail are well preserved. The camera does have some problems with fringing, however (inset).
At or near maximum zoom, the S700's captures don't render very sharply. This is the best of a batch that I shot; it looks fine scaled down, but you can tell from the details that nothing is very sharp or resolved, even when you've taken depth of field into account. (ISO 64, 1/80 second, f/3.5)
As with many of these megazoom lenses, the S700's shows some asymmetrical distortion at its maximum zoom on the left side. (Grid overlaid in Photoshop.)