How and when did I get interested in photography? I'm not sure I know. There were always cameras around when I was a kid, but they were of the Instamatic kind, and mostly used on vacations. The first camera that was my own, was an Agfamatic Pocket, that I remember using when traveling to England in the summer of 1975, when I was 14. I remember well how proud I was of it, but I can't recall if it was a gift. In any case, I eventually gave it to my grandmother when I upgraded to the Agfamatic Optima 5000 Pocket (sounds fancy, doesn't it?), which I actually still have, although I haven't used it for decades. Tried to sell it on eBay, but there were no takers. Kind of glad there weren't now.

It was in school, about that time, when I got my first taste of "proper" photography and 35mm. The cameras were manual, believe it or not - no metering! You just looked at the sky and guessed, basically. It was fun! We did our own developing, of course. Couldn't get a better start, really. Maybe I'll find those old negatives someday, and scan them, just for fun.

As you can imagine, I was ready for a "real" camera of my own now. I remember quite well the arguments I had with my mother over "spending that much money on a camera". But the money was mine to spend, I had earned it working a summer job. I bought the Minolta SR-T 303b and a 58mm f/1.2 Rokkor lens. I'm afraid I always had expensive taste. This was 1977, and the camera was "baptized" on a vacation trip to Greece. One of the pictures hangs on the wall in front of me right now. And yes, I still have both the camera and the lens. There are certain things you just have to keep. Still works, of course, but I haven't shot film in ages.

A few years later, I was the proud owner of the world's most expensive 35mm camera, the Minolta XK (or XM) Motor. Of course it was a foolish purchase, but I was young and extravagant. Great camera, though! A heavy monster, but incredible quality. By then it was positive film, slides, you know. I rarely used negative film after I began using positive.

Real Life caught up with me, and even though I was sitting on all this wonderful equipment, I didn't have money to spend on film! My XK adventure ended in 1994, when I was forced to sell the camera, and most of the lenses. In hindsight, I'm actually glad for what happened. The Digital Revolution was just around the corner, rendering all that stuff obsolete!

Don't laugh now. I went from an XK Motor to a DiMAGE E500 compact camera. Heh. Really, I hadn't photographed much for a long time, when I decided it was time to try this digital stuff. I was quite pleased with the E500 then. Most people had used digital cameras for years, but it was all new to me. Not only did I go straight from high-end to low-end hardware, I went from being a semi-pro to a novice! And where'd the viewfinder go?!

To be fair, I had been busy learning about computers in the intervening years. I got my first Macintosh in 1995 and was hooked. So I was no stranger to digital imagery, but I didn't have a digital camera until 2005! I probably chose the Minolta I could afford, being true to the brand even though it now was Konica Minolta. Little did I know the E500 was one of the last models they would make.

I carried the compact with me on my summer bike trips, but otherwise it didn't get used very much, really. The next big step was when I bought the DiMAGE A200 in 2008, my first ever used camera purchase. And it's a charming camera to use! Does it have the air of perfection the old Minoltas had? It does not, but it has been a good companion through these years of re-learning.

My next camera was - a Canon! Yep, in 2013 I figured it was time to try the Next Generation of digital. Having no desire to go DSLR with all its expense and heavy hardware, I decided upon the PowerShot S100. It's a grand thing! Which I haven't yet figured out. In part, at least, because Canon writes such horrible manuals. It's another compact, but a marvel of workmanship and technology, and I look forward to learning how to use it better.

But, you see, I began to realize that "old" Minoltas were being sold online at bargain prices! This I could not resist. In 2014 I bought the DiMAGE Z10 for next to nothing. Ten years earlier, it was far from cheap. I've used it a couple of times, and even though 3 megapixels doesn't seem like much these days, it produces lovely images.

I paid considerably more for the Z6, when I bought it just seven days later - paid 17 times more, in fact… But this was the very last of the Minoltas, in perfect condition. Haven't used it much though; somehow it doesn't have the charm of the Z10, even though it's a vast improvement upon the earlier model. By now there was only one more Minolta on my wish list. The one I knew I couldn't possibly afford. Maybe someday…

Before Konica Minolta gave up the ghost, they did produce a couple of DSLR cameras, built to take advantage of the wide range of lenses already available to their analog system. The top-of-the-line model was the Dynax (or Maxxum) 7D. Well, of course I was interested! I'm the guy who used to own an XK Motor. So I kept an eye out. And in 2015 I became the proud owner of a Dynax 7D. I still don't believe it. It's in perfect condition. I got very, very lucky; the seller wanted me to have it, even though he could have gotten a much better price for it.

When it was announced, the Dynax 7D was the world's most expensive camera of its kind. Sound familiar? Now, to be fair, it's not quite built like the XK, that thing was a tank. But it's big, and it's heavy. The A200 is dwarfed beside it. This is a Camera with a capital C. And the amount of buttons on it has to be seen to be believed. No kidding. At first it seems completely over the top, but actually the 7D is as well-conceived as you'd expect. It is hopelessly outdated by the DSLRs of today with their sensors of 16MP and up (the 7D has 6MP), but remember, I started out in 1977… For me, this is the perfect camera, and at 55 I seem to have come full circle. I'm collecting lenses again! Oh dear.