My first camera was a 35 mm range finder camera that I bought from a guy at work. I don't even remember the brand. It turned out that the built in light meter was broken, so I bought a hand held light meter (This was in 1971.) I suppose that having to manualy measure the light level and then set the exposure on the camera was a good learning experience. The camera took pretty good pictures, but because if was a range finder camera I took way too many photos with the lens cap still on.
Minolta SRT 101
My next camera was a Minolta SRT 101 which I bought around 1972. It was a great camera and state of the art at the time. It had match-needle through the lens metering, which I really liked. It took me a long time to get used to automatic exposure that's in all cameras today. Everything was mechanical except the light meter. A year or two later I added a 135 mm telephoto lens and a 35 mm wide angle. This was before zoom lenses. Next I added a Vivitar 70 - 210 mm zoom lens. I think it weighed about twice what the camera weighed and was huge, but it really did beat having to constantly be chaning lenses. I also had a Vivitar flash unit. One of those with a tilt and swivel head.
The lens mount on the SRT 101 became worn and lenses would sometimes slip a little. It was a bayonet mount system and the lenses would just rotate a little. I decided this wasn't a good idea, so I bought a new camera body, a Minolta SG-M. The XG-M has aperture priority autoexposure in addition to manual exposure. However, the match-needle of the 101 was replaced with a series of LEDs. I just never got used to that. Around the same time, I upgraded the zoom lens to a similar, but much more compact model.
Canon Rebel T1i (EOS 500D)
My current camera is a Canon EOS 500D (or T1i). In between the Minoltas and the Canon, I had a couple of range finder cameras. I first traded my SLR for a range finder, because I couldn't afford a digital SLR. The digital range finder cameras were great and photoshop definitely beats a real darkroom (the chemicals and darkness was a real hassle). I finally decided that the range finders, although good cameras and certainly conventiently small was just not flexible enough. Besides, digital SLRs had become affordable. So, along with the EOS 500D, I have a Canon 18-55 mm zoom and a Canon 55-250 zoom. Both have image stablization, which is really great.
So, I was sitting on the patio, reading the instruction book for the new Canon, trying to learn how to use it. Some of the test photos that I took were of birds, animals and bugs that I found in the backyard. I thought they made a pretty interesting video. If you're using Internet Explorer, you will need the latest version (IE8, download) since earlier versions do not support mpeg4 video. Seems to work ok in Firefox and Safari, though. I haven't tested any other browsers, but they probably won't work. Let me know what you think.