The Cyber-shot DSC-WX70 will be available in black, silver, pink, and purple; and ships March 9th for $229.99.
In the U.S. this model will only ship in black, silver, pink, and purple, however we did handle a–presumably Japan-only–white model that was very attractive. The smooth front surface, while too slippery to grip easily, was at least sleek, stylish, and resistant to fingerprints.
The rear panel, on the other hand, is extremely prone to greasing. With all of the real estate is dominated by the touchscreen, this leaves no way to comfortably hold the camera except planting your thumb right on top of the LCD.
The interface is nearly the same as most other Cyber-shots, with only minor changes made to the design since the incorporation of the touchscreen. The most significant difference occurs on the main shooting screen, where the quick menu is no longer accessed by a physical button, but instead displays touchable options on the left and right sides.
The interface is actually quite intuitive. Most icons on the screen are touchable, so selecting options is quick and easy. There are also plenty of automatic modes to choose from.
A few extras features designed to help beginners have also been included. Like many Sony cameras, a "Shooting Tips" option displays basic advice for capturing shots the way you want. Sadly our model was in Japanese, so we didn't get much help there. Alternatively, touching a question mark at the top of the screen causes all menu options to blink, allowing the user to select them and get a short description of each. This could be very helpful for new users trying to decipher the onscreen display. Finally, a blink detection feature displays a warning if the camera detects your subject has blinked. This didn't work perfectly in practice though, and we're skeptical about its usefulness.
The WX70 has nearly the same dimensions as the WX9 but weighs almost a full ounce lighter. The chassis can be comfortable to hold, but it's difficult to use with one hand and requires leaving your thumb right on top of the LCD. The front of the camera lacks grip, although the raised Sony logo gives some small measure of traction. Ultimately this camera is best operated with two hands, and don't forget those wrist straps either.
Thankfully the touchscreen itself is very responsive. And that's a remark we rarely make of compact cameras.
In one way or another, all of this camera's shooting modes are automatic. In the picture below, we see (from top-left) iAuto, Superior Auto, Movie mode, Program Auto, Intelligent Panorama, Background Defocus, Picture Effects, Scene mode, and 3D. No aperture priority, shutter priority, or manual exposure modes are available.
One of the key differences between the new WX cameras and the rest of the W-series is the inclusion of more automatic modes, including Superior Auto. According to Sony, this mode automatically recognizes the correct scene mode out of 33 options, quickly shoots and combines up to six different shots, optimizes dynamic range using an HDR technique, and lowers image noise by drawing from all six layers.
Intelligent Scene Recognition (iSCN), on the other hand, simply selects the proper scene mode and camera settings. This mode comes in two flavors: Auto and Advanced. Auto mode takes a single shot with optimal settings, while Advanced mode immediately takes a second shot if lighting conditions are difficult.
The WX70 captures HD video at 1080/60i, and all clips are recorded in AVCHD. Built-in stereo microphones reside on top of the camera, and a wind cut option is available.
Burst mode performance is rated to 10 frames per second at maximum resolution, for as many as 10 consecutive shots. Self-timer mode has a few different options: 10 second, 2 second, and automatic portrait modes for one or two people. There is also an automatic Smile Shutter mode, with adult or child priority.
All the typical playback menu options are available here, including thumbnail view, EXIF details, magnification, etc. There's also some light in-camera editing options like trimming, red-eye correction, and unsharp masking. For the...younger...users, there's also a Photo Creativity mode, with which you can add silly things to your photos using an including stylus.
The WX70 features 3D Still Image and 3D Sweep Panorama modes, as well as an Intelligent Sweep Panorama HR mode that stitches together 15 different shots. Background Defocus mode is decent for taking attractive macro shots, and Anti Motion Blur and Hand-held Twilight modes are also useful.
Minimum focus distance is an impressive 5cm, and available autofocus modes are Multi Point, Center Weighted, Spot, Flexible Spot, Tracking Focus, and Face Tracking. An autofocus assist lamp resides on the front panel, and our experiences on the show floor suggest speed and accuracy were adequate.
The WX70 has no manual shutter or aperture, but all the usual metering modes are available: Multi Pattern (Evaluative), Center Weighted, and Spot. Shutter speed extends from 4 - 1/1600 seconds. Exposure compensation is capable of the typical +/- 2.0 EV in 1/3-stop increments. Face detection auto exposure is also available.
In practice the high contrast areas of the show floor gave the camera trouble. Our memory isn't sharp enough to remember whether it's any worse than the WX9, or whether the hall had better lighting last year, but the general effectiveness of the metering system seemed poor for a mid-range point-and-shoot.
ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 all the way up to 12800, a major upgrade of the WX9's 3200.
In addition to automatic and "One-Push" manual, a pretty decent variety of white balance presets have been included: Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, and Flash. This camera's face detection suite also alters white balance automatically.
Sony claims they've improved their optical SteadyShot by combining it with a digital method. We won't be able to judge the effectiveness of the system until it's in our lab, but apparently the feature works during video shooting too.
14 Scene modes are available, including High Sensitivity, Soft Snap, Landscape, Gourmet, Beach, Fireworks, and Backlight Correction HDR. Beyond that, 9 Picture Effects are also available, including HDR Painting, Miniature, Toy camera, and Watercolor.
The WX70 uses the same 16.2 megapixel, BSI CMOS sensor as last year's WX9. This is a 5x optical zoom model, with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 125mm. Minimum focus distance at the widest focal length is 5cm.
Sony claims their "Clear Image Zoom" technology allows 10x magnification with a minimal impact on image quality. But we've heard that before.
The WX70 uses a 3.0-inch "Xtra Fine" touchscreen. Resolution is 921,000-dots, just like the WX9. The touch functionality is more responsive than most cameras, and 5 levels of brightness control are available.
Maximum flash distance is a respectable 5.3 meters, and a few advanced options have been included, such as Slow Synchro and Red-Eye Reduction. Sony's "Natural Flash" mode takes a reference shot to correct color for more lifelike subsequent shots with flash.
A miniHDMI terminal is concealed underneath a port cover on the right panel. Underneath the camera, adjacent to the battery compartment, rests a microUSB port. The WX70 also supports TransferJet, a close-range wireless interface, to send and receive files.
The WX70 will use Sony's NP-BN1 lithium battery, just like the WX9 did. We don't have a CIPA rating yet, but the WX9 was rated to 210 shots.
This camera is dual compatible with all SD and Memory Stick Duo cards. Amusingly, the show floor model used SD cards. Apparently not even Sony is promoting their proprietary format anymore.
The Cyber-shot WX70 isn't really a replacement for any camera in the W-series lineup, but it's most closely related to the WX9, considering many of the similar features and hardware, save for the brand new touchscreen. We expect this camera to compete directly with the Canon 500 HS and the Nikon S100, both of which are touchscreen models, but both of which are more expensive.
We like the responsiveness of the touchscreen, a characteristic that's tragically rare in this industry. The intuitive interface works well as a result. And we also have a feeling new users will appreciate the various automatic functions.
Sadly this camera is overly difficult to use with one hand. It's slippery in the front and prone to greasy thumbprints on the back. Price and positioning may also be a bit of an issue for the WX70: it's clearly built for ease of use, but the price puts it solidly in the mid-range.
We're interested to see if our testing support's Sony's claim that image stabilization has been improved, and also whether or not the so-called Clear Image Zoom actually increases magnification without destroying image quality. But for that, we'll have to wait until the camera's release on March 9th. The Cyber-shot WX70 will retail for $229.99, and will be available in black, silver, pink, and purple.
Meet the tester
Chris was born and raised less than ten miles from our editorial office, and even graduated from nearby Merrimack College. He came to Reviewed after covering the telecom industry, and has been moonlighting as a Boston area dining critic since 2008.
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