Getting a new camera used to be a momentous occasion for me, but with point-and-shoot digital cameras being pretty commonplace (even ones on the higher end), it's not unusual to replace cameras somewhat frequently. That made me think back on my camera history, and how I went from 35mm SLRs to compact, but am now back to interchangeable lenses.
While not my first camera I used, the Nikomat EL is the one I remember most fondly. I used it through high school and college, and it even went with me to Europe for a month. For that trip, I used a Tokina 35-105mm f/3.5 that had a lot of glass - it took a 72mm filter. This was the camera that let me flourish in photography, even though (more likely because) it had few bells and no whistles. It's pictured to the right with my dad's 43-86mm f/3.5 (a much-maligned lens, but it served us well). I then used a Nikon F3 for close to 15 years, less for the first few years after Kellen was born (we got an autofocus SLR to keep up with him, and also used a pocket-sized Olympus which we could take everywhere).
The first digital camera I really enjoyed using was the Canon G7. It was very responsive, gave me a lot of creative control, and the quality was quite good (most of the photos on this site were taken with it). I did end up doing a lot of post-processing to fix distortion and clean up low light shots. For the last year, I've also been taking more pictures with my phone, since it's something I always have with me. Not great photos, but certainly usable, especially with some fixing up.
So what did I end up with? I got a Panasonic G2 because I felt it was time to get back to interchangeable lenses and the SLR-like form factor. This camera is so much smaller and lighter than the SLRs of my past, though - a little more than a pound, including lens and battery. It's not that much larger than the G7, all things considered (the lens being the largest addition).
One other major reason I decided on this camera was that I'm not limited to Micro 4/3 lenses; because of the way the mount is positioned to the sensor, you can get adapters for most every lens system out there. I have one for the Pentax lenses I got for cheap, and am looking forward to using my telescope again.
Just going through the exercise of looking at lens options got me thinking about how long I used to hang onto cameras. It occurred to me that the way things used to work is the body was a means to align the lens and film; if new lenses came out, you used them with your existing body. And a roll of film only committed you to a few dozen shots; you could try out a roll for not too much money (relative to the camera, that is).
I used to think that I wanted a camera to be pocketable (or nearly so) to encourage me to take it with me all over, but that meant essentially saying "this is the lens I want to use for the next several years". I thought it would be liberating to get out of that loop. True, I'm still tying myself to using the same "film" (meaning sensor and processor) for the next several years. Each time I've upgraded cameras has been a big leap in both, and I'm sure they will continue to improve. Fortunately, the new camera is much better than the G7, and since I was pretty satisfied with that, I think I'll be fine. And as long as Micro 4/3 sticks around, I'll be able to get a new body (possibly with a newer kit lens) but still use my old lenses, just like I used to with the Nikons.
Am I happy with the G2? I haven't used it very much, but so far it seems to handle very well. I like the size (larger than the G7 but still easily carried), and it's been fun trying out different lenses. Here are a few of my first photos (the flowers were taken with a Pentax 135mm lens with the adapter).