Man-in-the-middle attack ...
I know the title may sound click-bait-y, but please bear with me for a moment if you, like me, are susceptible to the affliction we call "GAS" ...
For us photography enthusiasts, chasing gear is almost as common a tendency as feeling dissatisfied with what we already have. Thankfully, I'm not affected by the latter in any major way - instead, my personal variety of the Gear Acquistion Syndrom is mostly fueled by curiosity. I've come to the conclusion that I want to make sure my decisions are sound, and frankly, watching and reading reviews only takes you so far. But there's also a more sinister side to my own buying spree: In the past, I have dismissed some products or even brands without any personal experience, the most prominent example being my current favourite brand, Leica; I also avoided Sony when they took over the market and everyone else felt harrassed and threatened, so I thought it would be disloyal to support them (what a strange idea ...) and I judged Fuji's choice of doing things their own way to be pretty preposterous, making things more complicated for everyone involved (remember the Lightroom issues?). At least this kind of thinking prevented me from buying into any of the fanboyism surrounding these brands - but I'd be a lot happier if this attitude hadn't been caused by my narrow-mindedness but by insights instead.
During this year, I finally managed to start reducing inventory - and overall, it's been reasonably successful because I have moved on more stuff than I acquired. Nevertheless, I still bought quite a bit of new (to me) gear, fleshing out some systems, but also adding two additional ones, which seems rather daft at first glance. I tend to agree in a way because I now feel I should sell a couple of things again next year, some of which I got not too long ago. That said, I feel quite strongly that this time, my insights are worthwhile enough share them.
Let's get one thing out of the way first: My irrational preference for rangefinder style cameras should essentially have been satisfied since I bought - rangefinder cameras. That said, I do like the gestalt and in particular find the Fujifilm X-E3 very well suited to complement a Leica system (that's even true for image quality, btw.). Still, my habit of always going for the next Leica-esque camera has to be eradicated - and that might spell the end of the Sony A6*** line as well as the Panasonic GX9 in my collection. Don't get me wrong - I like both the A6000 and GX9; the Sony has the best price-size-performance ratio I'm aware of, and the GX9 is a compact, full-featured camera and a very compelling realisation of the paradigm. Nevertheless, both cameras are mainly defined by their body design. The A6000 is - at best - fiddly in operation (though I have found a way to configure it to my satisfaction), and the GX9, while clearly the more modern camera, has its own strange quirks and limitations (I'm not talking about sensor size here, mind). I won't get into this, but suffice to say that good as they are, I have better, more versatile or more pleasant options available (though it took quite a while to find a similarily small camera that could outdo the GX9 - more on that shortly).
If I actually let go of the A6000 and GX9 remains to be seen - truth be told, both have valid use cases (i.e. are part of combos that I really enjoy using). What I'm getting at here is that I should have had better reasons for buying either camera. I'm quite happy to have tried them and found out how well they work (or not), but still feel I should have approached the decisions differently.
Another big deal (pun intended) for me was to become aware of the fact while I do love the D750 and what it brings to the table, the Z6 works so much better for me I've only ever used the D750 once since getting the Z6. Granted, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 still feels a tad more at home on the DSLR, but the D750's size and weight (which are by no means huge for its class!) just don't seem justifiable anymore. That's even more true when I mount one of my formerly favourite lenses, the magnificent, yet bulky Sigma 24-105mm f/4 Art. The combo offers competitive performance all around to this day, yet I just don't see myself lugging it around again. Considering how well this setup works, there's another insight I have to finally accept: For me, it's not about the ultimate image quality (it actually never was - look at my choices!), but about practicality. I enjoy being out with a manageable amount of gear - and the D750 isn't helping with that.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have to acknowledge that as good as the GR III is, I may finally have to concede that it's not for me - it's lacking something I feel I need, and that's a viewfinder. That said, the camera's performance is so good that I'll have a hard time giving it up - and in all fairness, it's not as if it took up a lot of space ...
Which brings me to a kind of conclusion: It's important to be honest with oneself when deciding on what gear to get - buying any kind of "substitute" doesn't satisfy hidden desires and leads to more acquistions, and getting the latest and greatest may not be the best idea either since they simply may not fit your needs. In my case, the D750, good as it is and much as I like the results, hasn't prevented me from searching for other cameras, and *not* getting a Leica made me collect "work-alike" cameras I simply don't need or find compelling (the only noteable exception in this respect is the Fujifilm X-E3 - a camera I bought with the implicit intention to find it lacking; but while it's certainly not perfect, it's pleasantly well-rounded).
Had I gone for Sony early (A7!), I might now own a full FE mount system - probably built around the A7 III - and my Leica gear, though possibly not three different bodies but two M10s - it's my kind of camera. That said, I'm now determined to stick with Nikon and the Z mount because I do prefer the ergonomics and can actually hang on to most of my preferred lenses until more suitable ones become available - so there's a reasonable chance for things to settle down in the next couple of years as far as my full-frame, full-featured system is concerned. I'm looking forward to that.
Anyhow, what I'll never regret is hanging on to - the size-performance ratio is still fantastic while none of the compromises pleaguing the Sony APS-C bodies apply; the Olympus OM-D E-M5 III also outperforms the X-E3 by a comfortable margin while being only slightly bigger and heavier, and it offers a clear upgrade over the GX9. The E-M5 III is a wonderful performer, incorporating virtually all enhancements I was hoping for (the only thing I've learned to appreciate that it is lacking is an AF joystick). Small, yet powerful and versatile: That's right up my alley.
So, I may well end up selling up to four cameras, along with some lenses - not because they're bad or I don't like them or even because I regret buying them, but because I have to develop the decisiveness to act upon my own findings. However, had I not tried all those cameras and systems, I might never have learned not to lust after them (or their type). So, even if I end up *not* selling one or any of them, I'll certainly not fall into the kind of traps they stand for ever again.