Although I've found a few models online, none of the stores I've visited stock them. And I really want to handle the camera before I buy it, so I can get a sense of how easy it is to use. I've also realized that I need to see whether it's too small, because many of the higher-end non-SLRs are so compact that operating them is like typing a text message into my tiny mobile phone. This means that I've spent my time at stores playing around with cameras that fall short of my desired specifications and also with digital SLRs, because at least those are in stock. The latter obviously have significant photo-making advantages. But they are big and, more importantly, loud. I don't want to lose the ability to take unobtrusive candids a la Gary Winograd with his trusty Leica. And, yes, I've thought of getting a Leica, but they are so pricey.
The next best option might be the high-end Panasonic with a Leica lens, because it does RAW mode and the Panasonics have a retro IIIF feel that pleases my hand and mind. So far, though, I've only seen the old 6 megapixel version, which has more of a noise problem, in stores. I'm also willing to take a leap towards a bigger fixed-lens camera with a long zoom range, because they are still lighter and quieter than digital SLRs. Anybody out there have experience with cameras of that sort? Or advice more generally?