Well, after another couple of days use my S9500 is going, it just doesn't come close to the results I get from the Panasonic. I took it to our stables around 5pm yesterday, 90% of the shots were very flat, lacking contrast and detail, I tried shots at ISO100 to 400 and out of 50+ shots there are about 5 that are acceptable.
Maybe I have a bad camera, the flash shots are excellent but under daylight the images are just not as crisp. The problem now is what to replace it with!, 1st choice is the Panasonic FZ5 then the FZ30, not really worried about the increased noise at ISO200 as I shoot mainly at ISO80 or 100 and 95% of my prints are on 6"x4".
Have you tried upping the contrast, saturation and sharpness in the camera setup?
To my eye the panasonic has too much contrast and is too sharp out of the camera. I have noticed the s9500/s9000 captures more shadow detail. The flash shots being better is the clue, it tends to add more contrast.