Overall Image Quality

Excellent, in a word. Very impressive resolution, good dynamic range, 12-bits of data from the CCD means that highlights don't get blown out and shadow areas remain detailed. Accurate yet bright and vivid colours (may not be everyone's taste but you have to admit they're impressive). Despite its lower resolution, effective 2.6 megapixels vs. 3.14 megapixels of its rivals it still manages to produce sharp detailed pictures (you probably won't miss those few pixels - and Sony knew this).

Get up close to an image from the F505V and the level of detail impresses, scan over more images and you'll be hard pressed to find any visible noise, chromatic aberrations or other significant problems. A great performance in an innovative package. Whoever at Sony decided on using Carl Zeiss developed lenses in their consumer digital camera deserves a large pay rise.

Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

Carl Zeiss strikes again! As expected the F505V does significantly better than the competition for chromatic aberrations. We had real difficulty finding a real life shot amongst the 1,000+ we shot for the review which demonstrated visible chromatic aberrations (with the exception of the one below). It's worth noting that sometimes a chromatic aberration effect is amplified by blooming, an effect of the overflow of electrons from one pixel to the next.

We had to search long and hard to find a real life example of chromatic aberrations, this was the best we could do (and it ain't that impressive).. Which says a lot about that Carl Zeiss lens.
Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot (corner slightly blocked but you get the general impression). When pushed even this excellent lens exhibits some chromatic aberrations, however it's slight and overemphasized by blooming (see above).

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

Because of it's big 5 x lens you will pay a small price at full wide and full tele in the form of slight barrel and pincushion distortion. That said, barrel distortion is no worse than other digital cameras in its price range and at that amazing 5 x zoom you're only getting 0.3% more distortion than the Nikon Coolpix 990 at just 3 x zoom.

Distortion calculated as the amount of distortion to the horizontal line (from left or right to its center) as a percentage of image height.

Barrel Distortion, 1.1% @ Wide Angle Pincushion Distortion, 1.2% @ Full Tele

White Balance

Where the S70 lacked the F505V excels. Still with a limited range of preset white balance settings (only Outdoor and Indoor, hmm) the F505V has an ace up its sleeve with the manual white balance button (one-push white balance as Sony calls it). Simply set the white balance to manual, point the camera at something white and hit the little manual white balance button.. a few seconds later the camera has calculated the optimum white balance. The speed at which you can do this means that you'll never have an excuse for taking a shot with bad white balance.
(Sample images below recorded at 1280 x 960)

Outdoors, Auto White Balance Outdoors, Outdoor White Balance
Incandescent, Auto White Balance Incandescent, Indoor White Balance
Incandescent, Manual White Balance  
Fluorescent, Auto White Balance Fluorescent, Manual White Balance

Take a look at that Auto White Balance under Incandescent light, that's a perfect example of why you need good White Balance options on a digital camera. Even the Indoor White Balance has a slightly yellow/brown cast to it.. But here the Manual White Balance produces a near perfect image, outdoors you should be fine with Auto, indoors stick to manual and you'll get an excellent performance.

Some users have reported problems with the interaction of the flash with the White Balance settings on the F505V, if you're experiencing problems I'd recommend checking the Sony Talk discussion forum on this site.