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Old May 15, 2010, 9:37 AM   #21
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5-O using your "Disclaimer" as a guide I found the ZS7 was much better overall for my own end use...the HX5 clearly fell on it's face as I couldn't even get a decent macro out of it...so I didn't waste anymore time with it...probably my skills were to blame also...I found the ZS7 impressive where I wanted it to be, theres macro's, everyday pic's, zoom capability included:
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pa...sharpness.html
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Old May 15, 2010, 9:43 AM   #22
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Took some outdoor shots in our courtyard on auto today using the zs7. It was smart enough to try to use the flash to compensate but the flash wasn't strong enough. I didn't get any of the streaking issues yet but the pictures came back over exposed in both iAuto and Scenery mode.
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Old May 15, 2010, 9:53 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perihelion View Post
Took some outdoor shots in our courtyard on auto today using the zs7. It was smart enough to try to use the flash to compensate but the flash wasn't strong enough. I didn't get any of the streaking issues yet but the pictures came back over exposed in both iAuto and Scenery mode.
I use A or S Mode mostly...I would definitely give P mode a try on the ZS7...I think the HX5 I had was bad? I never got a good sharp shot out of it?

Last edited by LTZ470; May 15, 2010 at 10:30 AM.
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Old May 15, 2010, 3:35 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perihelion View Post
Took some outdoor shots in our courtyard on auto today using the zs7. It was smart enough to try to use the flash to compensate but the flash wasn't strong enough. I didn't get any of the streaking issues yet but the pictures came back over exposed in both iAuto and Scenery mode.
The flash on the ZS7 is better than the ZS3 but it's still poor. Regardless, I would never recommend using the flash on any camera unless you need to. As suggested above, Program Auto is a better choice than iAuto on any cam. In Program Auto mode, you can enable auto bracketing and that way you have the same shot at 3 different exposures which will enable you to choose which is best plus get an idea of whether or not the camera tends to over/underexpose at the default setting of 0.

The streaking will appear on screen for both stills and video. However, it will not appear in the captured stills as the sensor is able to compensate for it. It is not able to compensate for the streaking in video however which is one of the primary reasons that CCD sensors are not used in standalone camcorders.
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Old May 15, 2010, 7:29 PM   #25
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Took a bunch of indoor shots with the ZS7 at the mall today. Picked up the HX5 as well, its charging now. I'm surprised to see how long the Sony battery takes to charge compared to the quick 2 hours the ZS7 needs. Still not that impressed with the shots I'm getting from the ZS7, we'll see how the Sony performs tomorrow. I wonder if my expectations are off. I'll take the advice above and try using less auto and more of the P mode. I did use the scenes on the ZS7 which helped a bit but not as much as I had hoped. The 12X optical zoom is impressive though.
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Old May 15, 2010, 10:51 PM   #26
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Took a bunch of indoor shots with the ZS7 at the mall today. Picked up the HX5 as well, its charging now. I'm surprised to see how long the Sony battery takes to charge compared to the quick 2 hours the ZS7 needs. Still not that impressed with the shots I'm getting from the ZS7, we'll see how the Sony performs tomorrow. I wonder if my expectations are off. I'll take the advice above and try using less auto and more of the P mode. I did use the scenes on the ZS7 which helped a bit but not as much as I had hoped. The 12X optical zoom is impressive though.
I do think your expectations are a bit off actually. The HX5V will outperform the ZS7 indoors (such as the mall) though the AWB on the HX5V indoors is terrible. You will need to use manual WB in most (not all) cases indoors or you will have very yellow unpleasant images. Both of these cams have tiny sensors though so neither is going to give you great low-light (i.e. indoor) shots. If you can do without the zoom and video, the Canon S90 would be a good choice for indoor shots and overall better IQ. Scene modes should be kept to limited use. A number of the ZS7's scene modes will raise the ISO and drop the resolution. At low ISO, the ZS7 will provide better IQ than the Sony but the Sony will give more even results across the ISO range.

Here's a random shot from Olympic Centennial Park in Atlanta, GA. Exposure is at the default and this was taken in Program Auto. It is untouched except for a resize.

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Old May 17, 2010, 12:16 AM   #27
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That's a great shot FiveO. I found that in bright sunny conditions, both cameras performed extremely well. I had to zoom way in to discern between the two. I did notice that to the naked eye, the video quality on the ZS7 handled fast motion better than the sony did. I got blurring on the sony where the ZS7 kept the image smooth. Image stabilization on maximum zoom for both cameras was impressive. I know that the sony CAN deliver great images, my desire is to find a camera that DOES deliver great images with my limited skill in photography and my fiance's even more limited point and shoot habits. Neither of us is familiar with white balance or manual exposure settings so we're not going to go much further than turning the flash on and off, and using macro mode where it makes sense. In this environment, and for low level indoor shooting, I found that for my shooting style, the ZS7 outperformed the HX5 which was a huge surprise to me. I actually got the ZS7 in an attempt to prove to myself that the Sony was the right choice but at the end of the day, the Panasonic won me over and I've decided to return the Sony instead. Again, its more to do with my poor photography skills than the capabilities of the camera but the ZS7 was more flattering in my hands in terms of the images it turned out. I'm posting my comparison shots on picasa web shortly, I'll put up a link soon. Thanks for all the advice everyone.
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Old May 17, 2010, 12:24 AM   #28
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Link to Comparo Shots:
http://picasaweb.google.com/11636390...eat=directlink

The pictures aren't organized so that equivalent shots are side by side, still working that but you can tell which shots go together.

Update: Reordered the pictures so that the same shots are together and the cameras can be compared. Final conclusions to come.

Last edited by Perihelion; May 17, 2010 at 12:28 AM.
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Old May 17, 2010, 2:25 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perihelion View Post
Link to Comparo Shots:
http://picasaweb.google.com/11636390...eat=directlink

The pictures aren't organized so that equivalent shots are side by side, still working that but you can tell which shots go together.

Update: Reordered the pictures so that the same shots are together and the cameras can be compared. Final conclusions to come.
You know whats funny ... I can tell which camera is which just by looking at the thumbnails. That's what happens when you drive yourself batty for 3 weeks comparing them.
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Old May 17, 2010, 7:44 AM   #30
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Comparison Notes

The Goal:
To find a point and shoot camera that produces good photos despite our lack of photographic experience and photography skill. We're looking for something with a lot of the "it just works" factor for our shooting conditions.

Shooting Conditions:
We shoot mostly indoor party shots, music recitals, family events, and a few outdoor travel shots on vacation. We're looking for an all around performer that does well in all of these situations with good zoom and image stabilization that can take a decent movie to be watched on a fair sized LCD TV.

Based on the info on this site and others, I had originally purchased the HX5 and then decided to get the ZS7 as well to confirm that I had purchased the the better camera for us in the HX5. For the first half of the review, I kept trying to convince myself that the HX5 was better. See the verdict for more details.

Price:
Sony HX5: $399 CAD at Future Shop (regular price).
Panasonic ZS7: $399 CAD on sale at Blacks Photography.

Aesthetics:
In general, both devices were pretty nice to look at. My father and I took the camera shootout as our weekend task and he liked the ZS7 right away. We got the blue one since that's the model that was on sale. Aesthetics are a very personal choice but I'll say that the Sony is more understated while the Panasonic silver and blue color scheme pops right away.

Hardware:
From a form factor perspective, the two units are almost exactly the same size. I say almost because I was trying to reuse an old case and the Sony fit while the Panasonic was just a little too big for the zipper to do up. To the naked eye, they're very close although the Panasonic feels heavier in the hand with a slightly sturdier feel. My father said that the Panasonic felt better built and liked that it was made in Japan. I found the build quality on both to be very close but the buttons on the ZS7 seemed to have a more reassuring click feel for some reason and the comments that other sites make about the HX5 battery door being thin is definitely true. That flap feels like its made of paper. Also, the screen on the ZS7 is more flattering. It makes you feel like you took better shots because images on it look better than the Sony's. Its not until you get the pictures onto the big screen that you can really tell.

Menus and Interface:
Both cameras were very close here again. The ZS7 gives you more options and settings if you use them. We mostly just used them on auto with the flash on and off.

Performance:
I certainly couldn't tell the difference in shot to shot time or flash recharge time. Both cameras needed time to recharge the flash between shots, but I found that both cameras performed better with the flash off.

Outdoor Bright Light Pictures and Macros:
Both cameras really performed in these conditions as expected. Couldn't really choose between the two except that I found that I had to take 3-4 pictures with the Sony to get the one I liked where as I would just snap one with the ZS7 and I often got what I was looking for. It just seemed to suit my shooting style more naturally. See the gallery and decide for yourself.

Movies:
When recording at a fixed angle or panning slowly, both cameras took excellent movies and I think the HX5 produced richer colors. When panning more quickly though, the Sony was quick to blur and you could really see it in the lines of objects. (Car bumpers, window frames, etc). The ZS7 seemed to handle this better. Both cameras were running on the same model and size class 4 SD card.

Indoor and Lowlight Shots:
This was the big surprise for me. This is where everyone said the HX5 would win and where I was hoping for that "you just get the shot you want" magic from the Sony. In my test results, my father and I agreed that the ZS7 produced clearer and sharper pictures than the HX5. The HX5 shots seemed a little blurry and even trying HHT mode didn't seem to enhance the exposure much. For full wide angle shots, my fiance commented that the colors on the ZS7 were more true to life under our incandescent lighting than the HX5. A note on the flash - the Sony's flash is very strong. Whenever I used it, the subject of the photo came out over exposed and everything else came out really dark. The Panasonic's flash isn't as strong so the result wasn't as dramatic but flash pictures still weren't pretty. Both cameras took more appealing shots with no flash.

Verdict:
We can only judge these two cameras with the naked eye on photo appeal which I know is a very subjective thing. For our shooting conditions, we chose to keep the ZS7 since we found that most of the time, we took a single snap on auto and got what we found to be a very pleasant picture without having to dig through the menus and change settings. I was really surprised by this decision and indeed spent the first half of the weekend trying to justify why the Sony's pictures were better to myself but after looking at everything on the big screen, I gave in and accepted that for us, the Panasonic was a better camera. See the gallery for our head to head shootout.

Gallery:
http://picasaweb.google.com/11636390...eat=directlink

Update:
The great thing about fabric is that it stretches slightly. Got the ZS7 to fit in the old camera pouch...bonus! (because I'm too cheap to buy a new case)

Last edited by Perihelion; May 17, 2010 at 11:57 AM.
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