Road Train !!!!!!!!!!

by Russell McMahon

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What camera was it that made you fall in love with photography? Was it a little crappy point and shoot that you still took great photos with? Was it an old film SLR? The magic of polaroid as a kid? Or the DSLR you bought the other day?

To copy the guidelines from the equivalent stack overflow question:

  • As with all poll type Q&As, please make certain your answer is NOT listed already before adding a new answer - searching doesn't always find it (model naming variations, I assume).
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  • If you see a duplicate, vote it down so the top entries have only one of each model listed.
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40 Answers 40

The Olympus OM-1 that was originally my Dad's.

I loved that camera - much smaller than today's monsters. Fully mechanical - the battery was only required for the light meter. The viewfinder was a real thing of beauty - much more light comes through than the viewfinder of any DSLR I've used. The feel of it in the hand, the lovely clunk of the shutter ... I'll stop now. Suffice to say I loved using it, and still feel the occasional pang of guilt when I think about it gathering dust on a shelf.

Olympus OM-1

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Some more exotics:

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CANON AE1-P I was going for a nikon but ended up with 2 canon, AE1 and AE1-P ...

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Wasn't a camera, not in hindsight. What really turned it from "this is sort of interesting" to "this is absolutely amazing" was the first print I made, so maybe...

Adox MCC paper

Adox MCC paper; the resurrected version of the Agfa paper we used at school. The camera obsession came later.

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I can't say it was really a camera that tickled my fancy originally. I spent a good year researching digital SLR cameras, DSLR camera functionality, and photographic theory before I ever purchased a camera. I think it was more the theory that attracted me at first than anything else.

Today, now that I've been working on my photography with my Canon 450D for about 15 months, its become more about the art than anything else. And now, the camera that I really want to get my hands on is the Canon 5D Mark II (or Mark III, if it comes out soon enough.)

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Same! Although you've both spent more time with one and more time before one. I'd always wanted to do photography but only recently got a chance to use a decent camera, as well as time to sit down and learn the mechanics of everything. A week with my 50D and I'm loving it! I just wish I had money to get past this crappy kit lens :P –  Nick Bedford Aug 24 '10 at 23:52

Nikon FE-2

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I worked in a camera shop from the age of 15 and always loved the manual cameras (Pentax K1000 was my first and I too had an Olympus OM-1 that I loved) but it was one of these I always lusted after, and when one came in second hand I snapped it up. Wish I'd kept it and had the money to build a system around it and pay for the processing to really find out what it was capable of.

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Minox 35 GT

A real pocket beauty that handled standard 35mm film. Reputedly a smallest 35mm camera ever mass produced. It had no manual controls but one could fake aperture correction by changing film ISO speed setting (which was not autodetected from the film case).

I took thousands of photos with this camera, all on dia film, and I only stopped when it fell into water and died :(

I also had an original Minox flash for 35 GT which was also a small pocket wonder.

Minox 35 GTImage by Softeis

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Canon Powershot S100

My first camera, and it was a digital camera that can fit in my pocket. I took hundreds of thousands of photos throughout high school with this camera. I moved on to bigger and better cameras since then, but nothing bit me harder with the photography bug than this camera.

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Hundreds of thousands? –  Naseer Aug 26 '10 at 0:50

Chinon CEII that My Dad gave me as a student.

Bit big and clunky, but at the time M42 screw lenses were dirt cheap on ebay, so I was able to get a few interesting extra lenses for it. And everything's manual, so you have to learn the basics.

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The Canon A-1, with the speedy 50/1.4 prime lens. I also loved the 24/2.8 wide angle. Here it is with the 50/1.4 - just look at that glass:

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Sadly it got stolen out of my car, and I've only recently gotten back into photography on the digital side.

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I was interested in learning photography for a while but never got around to it until I got my first real camera:
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From that moment (or actually a couple weeks prior), I read about photography like crazy. Then, a couple months later, I sold it for a K-x, heh. Yeah, I'm a neophyte.

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I'm kind of modern, since my first camera was digital. FUJIFLM Finepix S3000:

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The best thing about this camera is that it has 2 LCD. The viewfinder is digital!

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That's an... interesting design. –  Nick Bedford Oct 19 '10 at 8:54

Not one camera got me to fancy photography; I got excited from a crappy Logitech webcam, then a D2H that I managed to lay my hands on for a period, and afterwards I enjoyed running around taking snaps with a slow, zoomless, cheap, horrible Sony P&S.

If you love photography you'd love the tool of the trade too, but the machine in itself probably won't be the only thing that will get you to catch the bug.

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K800i

I shot hundreds and hundreds of photos with this, I'd had digital cameras before but they needed to be remembered, and charged and stocked, this was always with me and always ready quickly. Moved swiftly onto a much better camera, then stopped for a couple of years, then moved back into the DSLR game.

Still kind of miss that K800i.

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My Zenit B, with a Weston Master II meter. I think the meter cost more than the camera!

Both long since departed, but gave me a great grounding in the basics.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/artysmokes/4392070874/in/pool-camerapedia#

http://www.westonmeter.org.uk/westontwo.htm

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My eyes.

I wanted, and still want, to get a record of everything I see.

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Ah, great question. Mine was my father's Yashica Electro 35 GSN, it's roughly as old as I and it still works!

Yashica Electro 35 GSN

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My first DSLR - a Canon 400D/XTi. After various point and shoots, it really showed me the depth of photography.

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--Kodak DX6340--

And now: Nikon D40 with 35/1.8G

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The Nikon D50

Best Qualities:

  • Wonderfully ergonomic: Fitted my hand like a glove --- I was never afraid about dropping it, so had the courage to stick my hand out all kinds of places, off the edges of boats, buildings, right down next to water... That kind of confidence leads to great pictures!

  • The introductory DSLR; it was really the one that kicked the whole business off, 'nuf said: reasonable price, decent resolution, and it worked with every nikon lens from the last 20 years.

Nikon D50

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The Linhof Kardan Color. I worked with this camera for three years.
It is careful, painstaking work where you aim for the highest quality possible. It was a transformative experience.
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A blue and black plastic camera, almost a toy but a functional film camera, ordered with help from my parents and boxtops clipped off some some breakfast cereal. This was in the 1960s, when I was maybe 6 or 7, maybe older. No idea make or model, but if I had to bet a dollar, something Kodak designed to get kids interested in taking pictures (and pestering parents to buy film). Well, it worked!

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Attempting a semi-generic answer (which won't match everyone's experience, to be sure, but hopefully will be more generic than some, allowing for less duplication of concepts -- if someone wants to turn this answer into a community wiki, please feel free):

The camera that made me fall in love with photography was the all-mechanical SLR (except for the electronic light meter, which you could use the camera without having batteries for) that my parents let me use. In my particular case, it was a Nikon FM, but I think the same story could apply with any number of cameras (e.g. another poster's Olympus OM-1). The things that made the difference for me were:

  • It had a macro lens. Being able to take a photo of something and have it appear life-size (actually slightly bigger) on the film was a wonder to me. From pennies to human eyes to rainbows from a crystal window hanging, falling across the patterns of denim, this somehow got me excited about things (I'd later get into much more interesting macro subject matter than some of those).

  • All mechanical. There's a certain sound about things, as the other poster talks about, but also it allows for one to explore the workings -- to open up the camera and see what happens as you slowly re-cock the shutter, for example, or to find the little lever that interfaces between the camera and lens to cause the aperture to close when you fire the shutter or hold the DOF-preview button. Not to mention the fact that it just sort of Always Works -- worst case, you stop having a light meter.

  • It had interchangeable lenses. In my case, besides the 55mm/2.8 macro, there was also a 70-200 zoom lens. I've always liked telephoto, somehow, so having this was cool. And having the old-school style where the outer barrel moved, and had the flaring DOF-guide, was just somehow satisfying. (If anyone doesn't know what I'm talking about, look at the lens in this video-explanation of DOF; he describes them about 1:45 in.)

  • It was an SLR -- I was actually looking through the lens that the picture would be taken through. This was magical to me, somehow -- and certainly an improvement over the alternative for doing things like macro.

  • It was what my mom was using -- and always nice, as a kid, to emulate mom and dad, right? :)

  • I could do long exposures with it. I think I'd used the camera before I really discovered the wonders of this, but BULB mode with a locking cable-release allowed me to take pictures that were unlike the world I saw with my naked eye, which was really neat to me.

  • Beyond just long exposures, it also just let me have control of exposure, and in particular exposure time. When I learned that to get a good photo of a TV (classic CRT, of course, and NTSC in my case), you wanted a shutter speed of 1/30 of a second. If you used a faster shutter speed, only part of the frame would be lit up. Wow. Only part of the frame is lit up at one time?? And that's not just something that someone has told to me in the abstract, but it's something I can actually take a photo to prove? That sure got me excited. And then I turned it around, and for a cell-animation of Snoopy, I ended up with a nice still image of the dog house, with four dancing snoopy poses ghosted on top of each other. How cool is that?

  • The optical split-screen focusing screen, with a ring around that of (not that I knew the name at the time) micro-prism indication... having a way to really know when things were in focus: very handy. But also fascinating -- "hey, weird -- if I move my eye around, half this inner circle goes dark. What's going on? That's weird, but cool!"

I'm sure there were other things, too, that I'm forgetting to mention.

The bottom line, for me, is that this was the camera that got me excited about photography. As other answers have said, getting into the darkroom later was a very important step, as well. But really, I was already hooked, thanks to this camera.

I'm even lucky enough to have had my mom give it to me, years later, when she got a DSLR. As with other posters, I feel guilty at times for leaving it on a shelf. But then, sometimes, I take it off the shelf, and shoot with it. And it's still a joy to me to do so. :)

Hopefully others can relate to a similar experience -- again, feel free to make this a community wiki and add your own bullet points, or just add them in the comments.

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I got a Praktica MTL-50 for Christmas when I was at school. The way the two red LEDs indicating exposure changed relative brightness and the split-prism focus screen both felt like magic to me.

Praktica MTL-50

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Olympus C-2020
, which we got in 2001, I think. It's basically compact by today's standards, but had full manual control, with apertures ranging from f/2.0 to f/11, ISO up to 400 and whooping 2.1 megapixels.

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The Canon Powershot G1 is what made me fall in love with creating photos.

The ability to frame a shot, take it, and see the result instantly was the primary factor initially.

Canon Powershot G1

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Nikon N2000 got it in high school - made me really love photography!

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A Nikon EM, sort of a point-and-shoot beginner's SLR, that I got in high school (way back when ... mid 80s?). It was hard to control because the meter always set the shutter speed, but it was a 35mm camera so you could develop your own B&W film and make your own prints. And that started my love of the craft of photography.

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My dad gave me his old Minolta X-570 and X-700s. Then I was given a Ricoh with the dual viewfinders and m42 and an m42 yashica and a ranger finder yashica electro 35 gs

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I had one of the "better" regular film cameras with advanced autofocus and digital picture count + macro modus from Braun. Can't remember the name, so I couldn't provide you a photo.

BUT, here is a sketch of the shapes I can remember!

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Very recognizable is the rounded square shape of the lense which comes approximately 1 cm out of the device when turned on.

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