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Design

The lens dominates the front of the camera, it seems to be an almost conscious decision on Sony's part to emphasize the "big glass" by making it bulge out of the side of the body.

Finished in a combination of that "digicam magnesium alloy" we've all come to know and purple plastic it's trendy enough to keep your wife / girlfriend happy, but cool enough to pass your critical "looks are important" test. Size roughly similar to the C-3030Z I found the aesthetics to be fairly good, one criticism that became obvious was the small hand grip, it's just not big enough to do any good, your fingers don't as much wrap around it as fingernails grip the edge of the rubber grip, a bit bigger would have been nicer (I could imagine clumsy fingers covering the edge of the flash). A chunky dotted thumb grip on the back ensures you know where to put it, just so the zoom control is perfectly positioned (uh oh, we're back to rocker style zooms, go back to separate switches Sony, they're much more reliable).

Otherwise weight balance is good, you're carrying the battery in the palm of your hand (as it's located in the hand grip) and if you need to supporting the camera with your left hand is just a case of gripping the bottom of the lens.


Top Information LCD

The top LCD gives a current camera status display. Because the DSC-S70 uses Sony's excellent InfoLithium batteries you'll see an accurate four bar battery status icon which gradually empties as the battery is used up (this is repeated on the rear LCD with a readout of the exact number of minutes of battery life remaining). Other details displayed on the top are focus mode, flash mode, exposure compensation, resolution, available MemoryStick space (as a bar chart) and frame number count.

Details shown below.


Rear LCD Display

Sony have used a traditional LCD on the S70, it's not the impressive sun reflective type seen in the F505, rather a normal TFT. That said it does perform fairly well outside in sunny conditions (though the plastic protective cover could have done with an anti-reflective coating.. I do love looking at myself but not EVERY time I take a shot). Various amounts of status information is displayed on the rear LCD (you can of course opt for just a pure preview image with no status information.

Details shown below.

Unfortunately I measured that the LCD image is only 90% accurate, that is the framed scene you see is only 90% of what the camera will record as part of the image.


Viewfinder

If you're used to shooting with a compact film camera then the viewfinder will come as no surprise. SLR shooters will definitely be a little disappointed, but we can't criticize Sony any more than any other digicam manufacturer, nobody has yet come out with a decent viewfinder on a compact digicam (and yet they can be found on certain compact film cameras). Center of the viewfinder display is the center target cross which also indicates the AF area. On the left side of the viewfinder is a dioptric adjustment dial.

 

Unfortunately Sony decided not to place any parallax error lines in the Viewfinder so you'll find shots taken from less than 1 meter away will suffer from a vertical parallax; downward shift).

The three indicator lights on the edge of the viewfinder shows the status of:

Red Steady Writing to MemoryStick
Green Steady AE / Focus Lock
Green Blinking Focusing
Orange Steady Flash ready
Orange Blinking Flash charging


Battery Compartment

On the right hand side of the camera, behind a flush fitting door is the battery compartment. The S70 takes Sony's InfoLithium "M" batteries (cunningly the same battery as my PC100 MiniDV camcorder), rated at 7.2V 8.5Wh (or read another way 1180 mAh) each pack will last about 2 hours (with the LCD on). The battery is charged inside the camera, just connected the supplied DC supply to the little socket on the rear. A readout of current charge status is displayed on the top LCD while the battery is charging. Of course the DC supply can also be used to power the camera in a tethered environment.

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