I want to thank everyone who helped me with my dilemma yesterday. The effect of reading all those comments had just the effect I wanted—it clarified my decision (not "the" decision, n.b., because others might easily come to different conclusions).
Downside of the Sony A6500 for me: the cost of the two lenses I'd want (Zeiss 24mm ZA and 55mm FE) plus the stiff cost of the body make it too expensive (I'm poor right now). The fact that it offers no true raw is a glitch too, but then, all three cameras have drawbacks—the anti-intuitive menus on the Olympus, and the rumored "shutter shock" and less-than E-M1 Mark II-level IBIS of the Panasonic are similar nagging departures from a perfectly well-rounded appeal, in each case.
The E-M1 Mark II is deeply impressive and probably the best all-'round choice technically, but the extremely high price coupled with the fact that its biggest strengths, while they'd be nice to have, do not dovetail very well with my actual needs, push it outside the pale. Again, just for me.
With the GX8, I've used it, loved it when I used it, and missed it when it left. I love the tilting viewfinder, find the handling amenable, and tend to like the files. And Panasonic's lens offerings are extensive and excellent, never mind all the other Micro 4/3 options.
So this morning I contracted to buy a used 12–35mm, and in the next couple of months I'll be looking for a black GX8 with low miles on its odometer. Next up on the GAS-treatment front: deciding whether I can live without the Fuji's B&W, which I love. X-Trans sensors are the best for B&W of any I've found.
Probably should make a clean break, though. Shooting two systems has never worked well for me.
I've been thinking of a few other things, too...maybe doing a OC/OL/OY project myself, for one thing.
And for another, I think I've decided that in the future I'm going to be a little more outspoken about my admiration for Panasonic. I've been a fan for some years now, since the GF1, and I love their lenses, many of which, as you know, are co-branded with Leica. Within every such megacorp is a smaller division of designers, engineers, planners and marketers who make up the photography divisions. They fight their own fights within the broader company, although we never hear about that. And those people might well be no less invested and devoted than the people who are keeping Leica alive. (How do you think the team that developed the NX1 feels now?)
Several people said that they'd rather buy their cameras from a dedicated camera company than from an electronics giant, and I understand that, but in the brave new world of today, more diversified corporations might actually be more stable in the long run. I suppose the wild card is that corporation's devotion to its photographic products, which might not be as high at a megacorp as at a company where photographic products are the legacy business with proud histories stretching way back. Samsung doesn't need cameras to survive, for example, and can even complain about the incursion of smartphones on its camera business—even as it is itself churning out smartphones by the ton! Anyway it's always been a highlighted difference between Nikon and Canon that so much more of Nikon's bottom line depends on cameras and lenses. It makes the company weaker, ironically, not stronger.
I had one more thing to say but I've forgotten what it was. If I remember, I'll insert it here later.
[UPDATE: What I'd meant to add was that I'm going to start saving up for the GX[x][where x>8] right now, just in case the GX[x][where x>8] is an updated GX8 and doesn't ruin too many things that are good about the GX8.
Hey, you never know. Could happen. :-) —M.]
Who needs just the right camera?
For perspective, a little story I've told before. Years ago, way out in the sprawling exurbs of Chicagoland, during my 10-year flirtation with golf (a sport for which I have negative aptitude, but loved playing for the sake of camaraderie with my brothers and cousins), I ran across a jaded, aging, Dickensian salesman in a stuffed, dusty, old-timey Dickensian golf equipment store. (No, he did not have a Scots accent, nor was he wearing plus-fours and tartan socks.) We got to talking, and eventually the conversation came around to custom-fitted clubs.
I told him I didn't need fitted clubs because I was just a beginner and didn't play much. He sighed the sigh of a deep maven who has seen everything. "Everybody says that," he replied, "but the truth is the exact opposite. Look," he continued, "I played number one on my college team. I spent two years on the Nike tour. I'm a scratch golfer today. My swing has been grooved since I was twelve...
"...And I can play with anything. You could walk through this whole store and pick any set of clubs at random and I could play with them. I'd adjust. I'm good; I can do that."
His opinion was that experts aren't the ones who most need fitted clubs—beginners are. But, of course, beginners are the players least likely to invest in them. He pointed out that Lee Trevino used to beat guys at putting contests putting with a coke bottle on a stick, and beat guys at driving contests driving with a putter! (Both true.) But should a beginner learn golf putting with a coke bottle on a stick or driving with a putter?!
I got the point.
I've come to believe something similar about cameras. I've used literally hundreds of cameras over the years—I've written dozens of published reviews. Quite honestly, I can use any camera. As long as it isn't super far-out and specialized, you could pick one at random and I'll adapt. Doesn't really matter what it is. If I had to, I could figure out how to use it for my purposes almost no matter what. Some might be more of a challenge, some less, but hey, I'd figure out workarounds. I'd be okay.
It's beginners and people who are just getting started who can really benefit from using nice cameras, and who should spend time getting one that fits them, appeals to them, and feels best to them. It will make much more of a difference for them.
Yes, it's fun (and tough!) for me to find just the right camera. But it's not essential. Three years from now I'm sure I'll be using something other than the GX8, and I'll be more or less fine then just like I'm more or less fine now. Seriously, if I were to get the itch to do an OC/OL/OY project with an iPhone 7+, a Panasonic GX8, or a Leica S, I'd probably have just as much fun with any of the three. I'd simply figure out what I could and couldn't do, what the strengths and weaknesses of each camera are, and then just do with each camera the kinds of things each is best at.
So what camera I use is actually not a momentous decision. If for some reason I had to use my X-T1 for three more years, I'd be fine. If I had to go back to the old Sony A900 FF DSLR for three years, I'd be fine too. If I had to use nothing but the new iPhone for three years, I'd survive that as well.
The point is the pics, in the end!
Me with the GX8 (the loaner I had here for review in May '16)
...And having fun, too, of course. Which I plan to keep on doing!
(Many thanks for all the comments yesterday!)
P.S. Hope you don't mind the recycled illustrations. New example shots to come, I'm sure.
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