White Balance

The V700 has pretty comprehensive white balance controls, with five presets (day, cloudy, fluorescent 1 and 2, incandescent), a very reliable auto WB mode and no less than two custom (manual) settings. In our tests the auto white balance worked remarkably well under virtually all light sources, with only a hint of 'warmth' in shots under low incandescent light. Pretty impressive stuff.

Outdoor - Auto WB
Red -0.4%, Blue 0.9%

Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 1.1%, Blue -1.1%
Incandescent - Auto WB
Red -0.5%, Blue 0.7%

Flash Performance

The V700's built-in flash is pretty standard fare, giving a range of up to around three meters at the wide end of the zoom, dropping to two meters at the long end. There's a fairly effective pre-flash red-eye reduction mode as the usual on/off/auto/slow-synch options. We found flash shots to be consistently under exposed, which means they all need a slight tweak in post-processing. Of course, it's better to have slightly under exposed than slightly over exposed (it's virtually impossible to rescue images with blown highlights), but even better would be getting it right in the first place.

Skin tone
Slight warm tone, under exposed
Color chart
Excellent color, slight under exposure

Macro Focus

The V700 has a dedicated macro mode that works at all focal lengths, but - as is normal in cameras such as this - is most effective towards the wide end of the zoom. This provides a minimum focus distance of around 4cm giving you an area of just over 4.5cm across to work with - not bad at all. Inevitably there is some distortion at the wide end of the zoom, and a little corner softness, though it's not as strong as some of the V700's competitors. Less acceptable is the noticeable barrel distortion when using the macro mode at the long end of the zoom - we'd expect better from a lens that so proudly boasts its Teutonic credentials.

Wide macro - 46 x 34 coverage
66 px/mm (1676 px/in)
Distortion: Average
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 37 mm
Tele macro - 84 x 64 coverage
36 px/mm (906 px/in)
Distortion: Average
Corner softness: Low
Equiv. focal length: 111 mm

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

Whilst there is measurable distortion at the wide end of the zoom (around 1.1%), it is no worse than most compact 3x zooms. It certainly doesn't have a significant impact on real-world shots. Edge sharpness is actually pretty good for a camera in this class and there is barely noticeable (0.3%) barrel distortion at the long (114mm equiv.) end of the zoom range.

Barrel distortion - 1.1% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 38 mm
Barrel distortion - 0.3% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 114 mm

Noise Comparison

Here for visual comparison are three identical shots taken at 50, 100, 200 and 400 ISO settings in our studio. One of the first things you notice about the V700's results is that noise is significantly more visible than in other 7 megapixel cameras, though this is no doubt due in some part to less aggressive noise reduction, which results in sharper, though noisier pictures. Noise starts to creep into the shadows at ISO 100, and by ISO 200 there is distinct chroma noise visible in most areas of the frame; at IS0 400 only the very brightest highlights are noise-free. Obviously with 7 million pixels you'll need to do some pretty serious enlargement for the noise at ISO 50 and 100 to be visible in a print, and if you're prepared to do some work with software such as Noise Ninja you've got a lot of sharp detail to play with, but compared to the majority of 7 megapixel cameras, the V700 is unacceptably noisy.

ISO 50 100% crop ISO 100 100% crop
ISO 200 100% crop ISO 400 100% crop

Specific Image Quality Issues

Aside from the slightly higher-than-average noise noted elsewhere, the V700 performs pretty well, with good detail, color and exposure in most situations. I personally found the results at the default settings to be over-sharpened and over-processed (with too much contrast), with some color bleeding and artifacts, but this is only a problem when you view the images at 100% or print them very large. You can turn down the sharpness, but even the 'Soft' setting produces some sharpening halos. Our only other problems were the occasional exposure problem in scenes with a very wide dynamic range (which tends to blow out highlights), a slight softness when shooting at apertures over F5.4 and the tendency to underexposure flash shots, noted above.

It's worth noting that using the V700 takes some getting used to - I found I had a lot of my pictures had camera shake when they shouldn't (in other words when the shutter speed was fairly high). I eventually worked out this was due to the excessive shutter lag, which meant I was already moving away by the time the picture was taken.

Color fringing

Not a major issue at all, we did find some purple fringing in areas - such as this - of high contrast and slight overexposure. Compared to other similarly-priced cameras it's not serious problem, and only affects a tiny proportion of exposures (and only at the wide end of the zoom).

100% crop 38 mm equiv., F6.4