Given the budget Cyber-shot DSC-S700's position at the rock-bottom of Sony's 2007 camera line, all you should really expect from it is the ability to take usable photos with minimal fuss. And by those standards, it passes muster. Just.
Compact and weighing 130g, the S700 fits comfortably in a jacket pocket. It uses a typical control layout: the mode dial and power switch sit on top, while on the back you'll find a zoom rocker; four-way-plus-enter switch for exposure compensation, flash, macro and self-timer; and image quality/delete, review, display and menu buttons.
All these controls are large enough -- the 61mm (2.4-inch) LCD leaves plenty of space for them along with a small thumb grip -- and it's pretty comfortable to shoot one-handed. However, the buttons all feel flat and hard to push, while the navigation switch doesn't always seem to register presses. Like many of its classmates, the S700 lacks an optical viewfinder, and there are times in bright sunlight that the LCD becomes unreadable.
Feature wise, there's not much to the 7-megapixel S700. As with many budget options, it sports a relatively slow, narrow-angle lens, in this case an f2.8-4.8 35-105mm 3x zoom.
From within the menus you can choose from some colour effects, spot or evaluative metering, several white-balance presets, sensitivity up to ISO 1,000, Fine or Standard compression quality, sharpness, flash compensation and single or burst shooting.
Compared with many low-budget models, the S700 performs pretty well. It powers on and shoots in just under 2 seconds. In good light when there are no contrast problems to challenge the autofocus, it focuses and shoots in 0.8 seconds -- tolerable, but not great.
But when the lights dim and contrast decreases, shutter lag increases just a bit to 1.1 seconds, which is very good for its class. It typically takes about 1.8 seconds to shoot two consecutive frames, which jumps to a reasonable 2.5 seconds when flash comes into play. The S700 provides a limited three-shot burst mode that shoots at around 1.4-1.6fps, depending upon file size and quality settings.