Through most of my formative child years, the family had pastel green plastic 120 or 620 camera that came free with a gas tank fill up. (Remember when gas stations would compete for your business by giving away free stuff?) We had the B&W pictures developed at the local stationery store in town. It took about a week to get the pictures back. The camera had a light leak so all the beach pictures came out with a big blotch at the bottom of the frame. My family saw nothing wrong with this for some reason, it was just the way the camera worked.
My first real camera was a fixed lens (50mm f2.8) Ricoh SLR with a big selenium cell on the front of the pentaprism. In retrospect, the build quality of the camera wasn't the greatest, but a picture I took of the Unisphere at the 1964/1965 World's Fair won second prize in a local photo contest. I still have some outstanding Kodachrome II slides taken with this camera. When Kodachrome 25 and 64 replaced it, I stopped using Kodachrome, since it was obvious that the new Kodachromes were a pale imitiation of Kodachrome II.
Feeling the limitations of a fixed, slow 50mm lens I bought a Minolta SRT101 with 58mm f 1.4 and a 200mm f3.5. When it developed shutter problems I bought a Leicaflex SL and never really escaped from the whole Leica mystique thing.
Hmmmm, I was given a Ricoh 35mm 1/2 frame camera that gave me a lot of itty-bitty negatives...but my first (and only) 35mm camera is the Canon AE1 (first year, metal body) that I bought. Just had it CLA'd and it works great! Those older metal bodied Canons were wonderful. Still wish I had a Canon F1-N though...
Pre-war Retina 1 (type 119) that belonged to my father. He picked it up used in Berlin during the occupation in 1946. He had a Weston Master II meter to go with it. I was 13, and he taught me how, and let me to start using it. We shot Kodachrome II, ASA 25, almost exclusively. The following year, 1970, I bought a new Pentax Spotmatic with 55/1.8 Super Takumar with my summer job earnings. I think it was around $250 at the time, I bought it from one of the New York City mail order houses that used to advertise in the back of the camera magazines. I remember Mom was totally opposed to me spending all my money, but she was wrong - it was one of the best purchases I've ever made. I still have it and use it, and except for the meter going non-linear, it works well.
Postscript- Dad never said as much, but I think he was a bit miffed his 14-year-old kid had a better camera than he! Later that summer, he bought a used Leica IIIc from Olden Camera in NY. The Retina was then effectively retired, but lingered around the family until 1996, when it was sold at a garage sale. Damn, that was just a few years before I became interested in cameras again, wish I still had it. I did inherit the Leica.
Canon EOS30-stolen when my house was burgled 3 years ago :mad:
A Nikkormat my dad gave me in the late 70's. I still have it, but I haven't used it in awhile. I still have three nice lenses for it, too! The light meter is totally shot, but I would be fun to run some film through it... I haven't in years!
My first adjustable camera was a Richoflex TLR which I used through several years of high school yearbook work back in the 1950's. My first SLR was a Miranda Fv bought new in the mid-1960's.
My first 35mm was my mom's Canon AE-1. I still use it today, but I've also acquired a Canon F-1. My first lenses were a 50/2.8 and an 80-200 (or is it a 75-200?). Now I have lenses from 28mm-400mm for those bodies. They both work really well still.
The first 35mm camera that I used was my father's Zeiss Contessa. I still use it. It has a maginificent 45mm Tessar lens and it folds up into a very small (although surprisingly heavy) package. It's far from user-friendly by standards these days, but my use of this camera was the reason I knew how to use LF lenses in shutters without ever reading a word on the subject. The Zeiss lens is mounted in a Synchro-Compur shutter that' still spot-on after all of these years. (I did once have to exercise it for a little while after the camera had not been used for about five years, but the speeds came back perfectly.) The meter has been innacurate for longer than I've been alive, but that's a problem that seems to afflict all of these old selenium meters.
The first 35mm camera that I purchased was a Nikon FE2. It's still my main 35mm camera. It has never been in to the shop for work as it's never needed it, and hopefully never will.
I'm glad so many of you shared your stories - I think those first cameras have so much mystique, when you look at them through the eyes of the often very young person who held them in awe all those years ago! I remember thinking that the Zenit was something akin to a sextant, with its light meter and little exposure calculator - so crude now, but back then I remember feeling like I was in on some big secret when my dad showed me how to work the whole contraption! Not to mention, I looked at the first picture of me with that camera, and it looks like a Pentax 6x7 compared to my then little self! To me its magic, I think some of you must have felt the same way to be here talking about it after all these years! Thanks for your memories!
Unless you count an Instamatic (126 film is sort of 35mm) I was another Zenit EM starter, although I used an old Ensign 120 TLR of my mother's before I got that. The Zenit was replaced by an OM2n which I still use constantly. Interestingly, shortly after I got the OM I was fool enough to leave both it and the Zenit on view in the car for a few minutes. Someone broke a window and stole the Zenit but left the OM2. This was about 1980 when an OM2n was state of the art. There's no pleasing some people :-).
I am surprised to see only one OM10 starter. With the optional manual adaptor they were (still are) great starter cameras. I have two and have lost count of the ones I have checked over to be bought by my students over the years.