Welcome to APUG, Robin.

This is a film only forum. You may want to try DPUG.com or somewhere else for digital specific questions.

As to lighting, which is not that different from film to analog, you are running into a classic problem. It's so classic, most photography classes teach this as direct lighting and defused lighting. You are right in every aspect of your observations. There is no such thing as "perfect" lighting. Lightly overcast days, which is often called "open shadow" are the easiest. Colors are reasonably bright and vivid and contrast range is smaller and easier to manage. "As much light" is probably something you would NOT want to do.

What kind of "mood" are you going for? Or, are you just trying to capture all the shade and color without blowing out or blocking up? You can take great photographs in each condition. We need to know what you want before anyone can give you an advise.