I just wanted to outline a little of my (recent) photography equipment journey to seek others thoughts in order to help others with their journey.
I'd been a Minolta (remember them ;-) film SLR user for about 15 years. Just a basic camera with a 50mm prime. After much scrimping and saving my wife and I were able to take a trip to southern Africa in early 2008 and part of what we were going to do was a safari. So I figured it was time to upgrade to the brave new world of digital more seriously. I did my "research" and was all primed to go with a DSLR and a mid range zoom (Pentax at the time). When I went into my local camera shop, I was talked out of it and instead convinced to go with a Canon bridge camera. It was actually really good advice and the camera performed pretty darn well and I got some awesome shots. One thing though was that I missed a heap of shots as well, and it frustrated both of us a lot. Anyway I persisted with the camera moving forward for a while.
The next decision point was a trip to China to visit friends in 2011 and also to the Chengdu Panda sanctuary. We'd lost everything in the Brisbane floods so time for a camera upgrade! I'd been doing a heap of research and this time settled on a DSLR (Nikon D3100) and a travel zoom (Tamron 18-270 PZD). It was pretty good - the speed issue of the Canon had largely disappeared but the focus wasn't awesome (low contrast areas just wouldn't focus often and there's quite a few areas in China where we hit that issue). This is also where I realised I needed to invest in some education to start getting better shots. The review of shots once home wasn't cause for tears, but wasn't far away in some cases. So lots of learning and trialling of things (HDR etc).
Next purchase was when my son was close to being born early 2012. Sticking with Nikon, purchased the D7000 and Tamron 17-50 (non-VC version). Loved this kit, but the noise from the images was upsetting me. Despite some excellent advice from this very forum (sorry for not listening!) I decided it was time for yet another upgrade prior to my daughter being born mid 2013. So sticking with Nikon (I'd purchased other lenses by this stage), I gave the credit card a hernia and purchased the newly released D600 and the Tamron 24-70 VC. Cool! Now I'm a "real" photog cause I'm full frame! A whole stop of additional dynamic range and maybe two in terms of noise! Woohoo!
Anywho, this was an awesome setup for a while, but the weight and size was really getting me down. With two kids, prams, baby bags etc I found I just wasn't taking my camera with me AT ALL and missing so much of our family growing that it mad me sad. So I did a lot of thinking and thought about going mirorrless. I'd actually thought seriously about doing so before the D3100 (technology didn't seem up to my needs / wants at that time) and again before the D600. I tried the OM-D EM5 and hated the feel of it and the performance just seemed way below my D7000. Samsung and Panasonic didn't have anything that I liked at all. If only I'd known the OM-D EM-1 was so close! So to address the weight issue I sold the 24-70 and purchased the 50mm and 85mm Nikon primes. The idea being that with the 50mm strapped on in particular it was a reasonably portably (and certainly circa 600g lighter) kit. Plus the D600 was being lambasted all over the Internet (quite rightly) for the oil spot issue so selling it was going to mean taking a major bath on a near new body (prices dropped to $600 second hand for a while there).
I also made a concerted effort to take this kit with me as often as I could. And it was ok. I have some great shots with that rig that I really treasure. Truth be told though, I wasn't enjoying taking pictures with such large gear. I loved the image quality, but it just wasn't fun to use. So I started taking the camera and going to the hassle of lugging it but then not using it.
After much soul searching and helpful advice from this forum (thanks all) I've recently made the switch to mirrorless (specifically the Olympus OM-D EM-1). I've sold all of my DSLR kit. I'm loving it so far. It's a compromise in a heap of ways, importantly though, none of those compromises are effecting what I want to do! I'm actually shooting more and most importantly I'm enjoying taking photos again.
Do I regret the journey? Overall not really. In hindsight I would've skipped the D600 / 24-70 in particular and gone straight from the D7000 to the Olympus, but apart from that I think that the path has been valuable and taught me more than it's cost me. Obviously time will tell if the Oly continues to be a good call, and my needs will certainly change, but if I can get 3 years of enjoyment out of the current kit I'll be stoked!
Hope this is of interest to some, be keen to hear other stories, and also happy to answer any questions / requests for more details!