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The main features include a flush-retracting f/2.8 – f/5.2, 3x zoom lens bearing the imposing Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar name, a 2.5in LCD monitor with a fairly low-res 115,000 pixels, and an optical viewfinder, although to be honest this is so small and dark that it’s pretty much useless.
The shooting modes are selected via a rotary dial on the upper right of the back panel, and include full Auto, Program, High-ISO Program and six scene modes; Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Snow, Beach, Landscape and Soft Snap, which is a flattering portrait mode.
The W70 has a decent movie mode capable of shooting 640 x 480 resolution at 30 frames a second, but then so have most compact cameras these days. Even the documentation is good, with a simplified “Read This First” leaflet a well as an excellent 106-page full manual, which is always good to see.
In overall performance the W70 does well, starting up in just under two seconds which is reasonably fast. The AF system gets a lock in well under a second in good light, which is also about average for a good system. However its low-light focusing, while a bit slower, is exceptionally good. It has an AF illuminator of almost laser-like intensity with an effective range of around five metres. The built-in flash is also very good, with a maximum range of 3.7m at wide angle and auto ISO, or a big 6.5m at 1000ISO.
The continuous shooting mode is also a bit above average. In normal burst mode and fine picture quality it can fire off a burst of four shots at a rate of one shot per second. Reducing the picture quality to standard doesn’t increase shooting speed, but does increase the count to six frames.
In fine quality mode the W70 produces JPEG files of around 3MB, and a 1GB Memory Stick Duo card is enough for approximately 290 shots. It’s worth noting that the W70 can only take Memory Stick Duo cards, so those old purple Memory Sticks won’t fit.