Overall performance is usually Sony’s strong suit, so it’s no real surprise that the T700 starts up in under two seconds. Using maximum image quality, in single-shot mode its shot-to-shot time is approximately 1.8 seconds, which is pretty respectable, while in continuous shooting mode it can comfortably maintain almost two frames per second. The movie mode performance is nowhere near as impressive, shooting in the now standard VGA resolution at 30fps with mono audio.
The built-in flash has excellent range and frame coverage, but seems to be very prone to red-eye, which the automatic red-eye correction feature was only partially effective at removing.
Sony claims a battery duration of 200 shots, which appears to be accurate. I was also impressed with its duration over time. I’ve had this camera for a couple of weeks now, and fully charged it when I first received it. Only today while shooting the final few test shots did the battery indicator finally drop to the last of its four bars.
The T700 has a sophisticated nine-point autofocus system which is both fast and accurate in good light, and also works well in low light, although since it automatically switched to wide-area AF in low light it doesn’t cope particularly well with moving subjects under these conditions. It has a good AF assist lamp with a range of a couple of metres.
Finally we come to image quality, and here the T700 delivers results that are indistinguishable from the T77, with exactly the same problems. The Carl Zeiss lens performs as well as one might hope, producing good edge-to-edge sharpness and minimal chromatic aberration, and less barrel distortion than most other periscope-type lenses. At low ISO settings and normal lighting conditions the sensor produces good results, although higher ISO settings produce major image noise problems. High-contrast scenes run into problems with the sensor’s limited dynamic range, producing burned-out highlights and murky shadows. Colour rendition is generally very good though, with plenty of detail even in very bright saturated flowers, and overall exposure metering is very accurate, even in unusual lighting conditions.
The Sony Cyber-shot T700 has excellent build quality, respectable performance and image quality that will be more than sufficient for most casual snapshot situations. It has some useful and entertaining features, but its primary feature is its style. It is designed to appeal to a very specific kind of person; someone who would happily buy a Bang & Olufsen hi-fi. It’s not the best camera on the market, but it looks like it should be and has a price to match, and for some people that’s what really matters.