My very first camera that I could truly call my own was a Pentax K-1000 purchased while I was in Jr. High. It looked so sophisticated and I was so proud of that little thing, not having the slightest idea or concern that it was by every definition a "starter" SLR. Knowing even less about setting my own aperture or shutter speed at the time, it served long and proud as little more than an under-employed "point and shoot" camera up to the day I left it in the airport at Dallas one afternoon. I was on my way to Honolulu at the time and did not discover the idiotic oversight until I was in San Francisco waiting for my connecting flight.
That was 1994 so I couldn't say that I didn't get more than enough life out of that trusty little Pentax. Not one speck of trouble did I receive over the 16 years it served me although towards the end I was certainly more aware of its limitations. The 18-55mm lens made it extremely difficult and uncomfortable to get anything close to a true close-up on a given subject and I had had no understanding of the different types of lenses or filters that were available to really exploit its limited features.
Enter the Canon EOS-10 that replaced my childhood Pentax. After discussing the options available I settled on a model that Canon was actually discontinuing in favor of something new at the time called the "Elan." I went with the older model because it was faster in sports mode, heavier and thus more durable for someone like me who tends to be rough with my toys. It was larger, too, which made it fit easier in to these bear sized hands of mine. I never did much with this one in the way of different lenses, either, spending most of its life learning how to truly use a camera of this kind. What I never did in lenses I compensated for with unique filters to heighten, enhance and alter subject images on command.
I loved that camera...still do. Except it, like the Pentax, is an "old school" standard film camera. Where my Pentax never saw a day in the shop for repairs the Canon signaled the end of its lifespan one vacation in with family a few years ago. I came back with 15 rolls of film from ten days in Hong Kong, Japan and Hawaii only to discover half of them were unusable. "Stop down" they called it, meaning the film never advanced properly inside the camera resulting in double and distorted images.
The decision to go digital stemmed from this incident, the ever faster digital world around me and an upcoming two week vacation in New Zealand and Australia. I did not want to be 10,000 miles away from home and not knowing if the shot came out, much less if I liked it or not.
I am now the happy owner of my second Canon, the SX-10. Camera technology "evolves" every four to six months so the clearance sign next to it didn't bother me. I'd never buy a camera if I waited for the "last word" in photo technology. The instructions said to take a few practice shots, "throwaway" pictures that I wouldn't expect or care much about before getting in to the serious work. These are some of them.
And if this one lasts 15 years like the two before it I will be fine for a while. But I'm taking the old Canon with me, just in case!