I received the ZS7 (red) this week from Amazon. The box says:
Digital Camera Unit
USB Connection Cable
The "battery case" is just a bit of plastic and I almost threw it out--I'm not sure what the purpose is. I think it's just to add another line item on the box. ;o) Some people have mistakenly said that this includes an HDMI cable--it does not. You will need to purchase a mini HDMI to HDMI cable. I haven't purchased one yet for this camera, so I cannot attest to the video quality with an off-market brand, but I will certainly try one (I've had good luck with Mediabridge cables, limited lifetime warranty) before shelling out the extra cash for the Panasonic cable.
I hope this helps. It's a basic kit, but it is nice that they included a hand strap. I bought an Xacti CG10 and it didn't include one. It's not a big deal, but it seems to be one of those items you can't find right away when you need it. When I get a new "toy" I want to play with it right away and I'm such a klutz, I have to have some type of hand strap for protection!
I just bought a ZS7 and there is a basic printed instruction manual to get you started, but the total operating manual is on a CD that comes with the camera. It's a 90 page (8-1/2 x 11) single side print job for your printer. The sheet is divided in half so it would be a 180 page 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 size book printed on one side, or 90 pages printed on both sides. I wish Panasonic or an after-market printer offered this manual because there are plenty of us out there who like to have their manuals handy when there are things we want to do with this camera that we're not quite sure of.
Yes, you can set the a self timer on the ZS7 by hitting the "Q. menu" button. Use the controller to scroll left/right until you find the Self Timer settings.
There is no remote control available.
For taking low light shots a slave flash would be a great addition too. Just search on Amazon for the 6 dollar "slave flash."
And don't forget to use "slow sync" flash on the ZS7 if you don't wish to purchase a slave flash. Hit the right arrow key on the 5-button controller and set slow-sync flash which forces the ZS7 to use a slower shutter speed, thus lowering the ISO used because the ZS7's low light images have a ton of noise and yellow blotching. Warning! Hold the camera steady! I set a minimum shutter speed of 1/2 second in the main menu by hitting the center button. You may want to try 1/2 of a second or even 1/4 of a second for safety ;). And set exposure value to -0.33 to extend the flash range - hit the up button on the 5 way controller.
The data is in the mts file apparently in each frame and I think in a header (I'm just beginning to get up to speed on this for a current project), this program: http://www.dvmp.co.uk/ shows the geo data (if you go into settings and turn it on to do so). Also a program called EXIFTool can show the starting gps position and I believe with some extra passed commands to it write out a tracklog of sorts for the mts video.
The Nikon P6000 works great with iPhoto. I am not promoting it, just stating that as a fact. It is slow to get GPS location, so I was here shopping for a slimmer GPS camera when I came across this question.
There is a lot of non technical info here, if you want that you can go elsewhere. This is just the bottom line by a normal primarily P&S user. I purchased the ZS7 and HX5 and have had them for 5 days to compare and will need to return one within 30. I primarily bought to use in doing residential virtual tours - photos and walk through video. I've studied these two cameras up and down online (for days) before finally determining that I needed to physically try them both and here is my summary. Though both are 25mm, the HX5 takes a slightly larger area H and W. It's stills are often softer, with less detail, but the colors are pleasing. The ZS7 has more detail, a better zoom, but the colors tend to be darker and just not as pleasing to the eye. The isweep feature on the Sony is key for me. Video on the Sony is nice with better resolution 1080, but the barrel roll is horrible - really. Its not in the stills only in the video. When walking through doors or down hallways, they are simply bent and not acceptable. Sony must get that issue fixed. The ZS7 does not have that problem at all and in general makes better, more crisp video. its my understanding that both have to process the 25mm wide angle out, but it appears that only the Lumix does it on both stills and video. Youtube has a bunch of sample video of both cameras and one person has focused on the blow out white line issue (ZS7) when bright lights hit it.....yeah sure, but that simply does not happen that much and is actually difficult to duplicate unless staring straight at the sun or car lights at night. The zoom on the ZS7 is much better. Bottom line is that each camera is truly unique, has strengths and weaknesses. I can't afford to own both, but may just suck it up and own them both for their strengths. I have taken a lot of photos in and out as well as video. If I had to choose one, right now, it would be the Sony primarily because it takes very good photos, more times than not in all conditions and it has the isweep. Its video is great outside in wide open spaces, but not inside because of the Barrel Roll. I also have the Canon SD 870 IS and may simply continue to use that for simple VGA video if I get rid of the ZS7. If I keep the ZS7 it will be primarily for its zooming abilities and it very good video abilities compared to the HX5. Its quite possible the stills colors could be fine tuned with manual configurations, but I'm not educated on that stuff and simply have not taken the time to fiddle around with it. I know that if you like manual configurations, the ZS7 is much more suited for that over the Sony. The Sony just does a lot of processing on its own to offer the best final picture that shows up and usually it works. If you are a person that does not walk through a house or an environment with close lines lines near bye like on a wall, or a door, or window then the Sony video will be just fine. For example videoing the kids or something specific in a room and definitely no problems outside. Sonys zoom is good at 10X, but 12x is actually way more closer. Still its possible that I may keep the ZS7 and buy a lesser quality Sony that does the isweep, but probably not because the Sony takes better low light photos and it also takes better back light photos because both are processed using programs in the freaking camera before it ever makes it to your computer. If you don't like that amount of processing and want the truest, most accurate colors of a bunch of flowers or something, then the ZS7 is more for you. The ZS7 is more of a DSLR than the Sony. The feel of the ZS7 is more solid, its metal, the HX5 is plastic. Both are quality though. The HX5 battery does not last very long. Most cameras smoke it in that area. You simply can't go out on a day trip and plan to take more than 1.5 hours of straight photos and video without extra batteries. This does not bother me, its just something that has to be planned for. At some point, I will get some of my samples out there... in the mean time good luck. For all around general purposes for a normal person not wanting to fiddle much with settings you should buy the HX5. If you want to spend time with settings and do post processing and require higher zoom a lot, then get the ZS7. Peace Out!
The default settings have the gps on at all times, even when the camera is shut off, that way it's able to keep the location updated without having spent a prolonged amount of time trying to reconnect to a satellite each time you turn the camera. There are two other options for the gps however. The first is airplane mode, where the gps will turn off when the camera is off, which means slower updates for the location, and also a mode to completely turn the gps off.
The ZS7 will only record up to 2 GB of video continuously before it stops. You have to push the "record" button again to restart if you want longer video. See page 73 in the operating manual which you can find on Panasonic's Web site.
Set the wheel on iA or P, push the button and have fun.
Later when you have the time and desire to do more, spin the wheel to learn what you can do with aperture and shutter priority. This is a long game. Make 100 exposures a day, everyday. After 10,000, you'll get sense of whether you want to learn more.
The ZS7 is not unique in this regard, but it is a great pocket camera fully capable of taking you from a novice to a talented photographer. Talent means creating images that look better than the reality they are taken from.
To gain the convenience of more light gathering, you'll need to spend $1000's on a dSLR. Which is fine. Until then, learn to steady the camera against a tree/car/post/boulder/monopod/ to get a higher level of image clarity in low light. You can get spectacular photographs of Carlsbad Caverns or the Gila Cliff Dwellings with the ZS7 if you mount it on a tripod.
This camera will not hold you back in daylight, but it can only gather so many photons through a lens that fits in your pocket. To freeze fast action at a distance in dim light, you simply need more glass and a bigger sensor. The ZS7 will not give you crisp images of a rock star swinging his ax, nor the nostril flare of a thoroughbred in the far turn. It will capture the memory of attending that concert and race.