Overall Image Quality

The first thing that strikes you about images from the S70 is the vivid bright colours it produces. Colours are very saturated and "strong" (I'm looking for a more accurate description). The only trouble I have with this is that sometimes colours look unnatural and over saturated. Certainly they're accurate to the original but definitely brighter. Colour is such a personal preference that only you would be able to decide whether you prefer natural looking or vivid colours.

Sharpness is another thing that becomes more apparent on closer inspection. Sony's choice to use an established lens designer has paid off well on the S70, the bright F2.0 Carl Zeiss designed lens enables sharp clear details and high resolution (in fact the highest we've recorded for a 3mp digital camera so far).

Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

Because of that Zeiss designed lens the S70 does significantly better than the competition for chromatic aberrations. I had difficulty finding a real life shot amongst the 500+ we shot for the review which demonstrated visible chromatic aberrations (with the exception of the one below). Our chromatic-torture-test revealed a very very thin magenta aberration around the outside edge, more apparent was blooming, an effect of the overflow of electrons from one pixel to the next.

The second image here is our new chromatic aberrations test shot. It's a sheet of black card with a test pattern cut into it which produces very bright regions, against a window. Camera set to full wide angle and deliberately overexposed (about) 3 stops to make the aberrations more visible.

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

Once again the 90% coverage of the LCD preview caused no end of problems trying to get the following test shots, we had to deliberately shoot "inside" the test rectangle to ensure it was close enough to the edges of the frame to measure, unfortunately this threw out the auto focus.. oh joy. As it turned out the S70 suffers from almost identical barrel and pincushion distortion as the Nikon Coolpix 990.

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

Full Wide Angle (34 mm)
1.2% Barrel Distortion
Full Telephoto (102 mm)
0.5% Pincushion Distortion

White Balance

If there's one area the S70 is lacking it's White Balance control. Offering only four options: Auto, Hold (freeze auto white balance at current reading), Indoor and Outdoor. This makes getting the right white balance a bit of a point and hope affair, I personally would have preferred the standard Incandescent, Cloudy, Sunny, Fluorescent (1,2&3) and (now that we've seen it on the Coolpix 990) fine tuning of white balance. Although the S70 features a HOLD option (record the white balance from the current scene) it doesn't work as well as it did on the F505.
(Sample images below recorded at 1280 x 960)

Incandescent Light
Auto White Balance
Incandescent Light
Indoor White Balance
Auto White Balance
Outdoor White Balance
Fluorescent Light
Auto White Balance