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The Cameras that Made Me

Updated: Jan 22

Down memory lane we go...


There was once a time when the camera in your phone didn't exist. A time when waiting a few hours, or even weeks, just to see the photos you snapped was considered normal. Sounds crazy, I know, but I lived it - those were the good old days.

Sounds crazy, I know, but I lived it - those were the good old days.

The world was mostly analog in my youth. The digital revolution was just starting to sputter and cough and spin the gears in motion. Cassette tapes turned into CD's. VHS stepped aside for DVD's. CRT televisions replaced with plasma. Letter mail loosing it's favour to e-mail. The world was rapidly changing and no technology was safe from the improvements of the digital era - not even my beloved 35 mm film cameras.


35 mm Film Cameras Ruled the Streets


Before cell phones existed with cameras front and back (to get that all important selfie), 35 mm film cameras ruled the streets. They came in 3 common form factors:

Most popular were the fully automatic point and shoot cameras, while the single use disposable were a party favorite. I, however, was fortunate that my mother owned a 35 mm YASHICA SLR.



The YASHICA FX-3 Super 2000

Purchased way back in 1987, this was my mothers very first SLR camera. I have fond memories and photos of this camera sitting on a tripod with the count down release timer buzzing away as we waited for the shutter to click. Fast forward to 1998 and I put a check-mark in the "Photography" box as one of my elective courses for grade 10. Seemed like an easy way to pick up a grade and the dark room was super cool. Out came the old YASHICA!


Compared to the other cameras being used in the class, the FX-3 was still a decent camera. Plus I was rocking TWO zoom while most people only had a single prime.

Key Features:

  • built in light meter

  • shutter timer

  • 1/2000 max shutter speed

  • 42-75 mm f3.5 - 4.5 zoom

  • 20-210 mm f4.5 -5.6 zoom

It was a great camera and I snapped some amazing photos with it. However, it lacked two key features that every modern camera now has - auto exposure and autofocus. Plus, it was my mothers camera and she was very protective with it. I guess forgetting it on the bus ride home from school on a Friday night didn't help... sorry mom :)

You Never Forget Your First

The PENTAX MZ-M


Grade 11 rolled around, and having enjoyed photography class so much, I enrolled again for another semester. They didn't actually have a grade 11 class, so I signed up for grade 10 again. Seeing a passion for photography bud in me, my parents bought me my very first SLR camera - a PENTAX MZ-M. Of all the cameras at the time (Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Minolta), I'm not sure why they chose a PENTAX. Back in the day, PENTAX was known as a high quality camera AND their SMC line of lenses were considered some of the best. Every chance I had, I was snapping pictures on my very own camera. I was fortunate enough to have a well paying job, so the cost of buying rolls of film and having them developed was never really an issue.


Back in the day, PENTAX was known as a high quality camera AND their SMC line of lenses were considered some of the best

Key Features:

  • built in light meter with a range bar graph

  • auto aperture and shutter exposure

  • film power drive - up to 2 fps

  • spot meter exposure lock

  • auto ISO detection

  • +-3 EV exposure compensation

  • aperture stop down to preview depth of field

  • 35-80 mm f4 - 5.6 zoom lens

Photography quickly became my favorite past-time, which probably kept me out of some trouble during my teenage years. When planning my direction for college, I was very torn between my two choices - software developer or photographer. In the end I went down the software developer route, and looking back, that was probably the right choice from a finanicial viewpoint. But, I will always be left to wonder... what if?

The Last Film Camera

The PENTAX MZ-6


It was 2004 and I was half way through my Computer Engineering Technology - Software Developer (a mouth full) 3 year diploma program. The Ontario government had been very kind and generous with their college loans and we were sitting on a pile of cash. Funny story, but it turns out that when you're married, no matter how young, the income earned by your parents has no influence on your loan application, so we basically got the max! Good thing we were very frugal with our money and penny pinched whenever we could, otherwise things could have ended badly.


All the penny pinching paid off when I purchased the PENTAX MZ-6 from Blacks Photography (anyone remember them??)

My passion for photography was still alive and well, and I had a burning desire to upgrade to a camera with autofocus - the last modern feature I still lacked. All the penny pinching paid off when I purchased the PENTAX MZ-6 from Blacks Photography (anyone remember them??) I even splurged and picked up a telephoto zoom! It was serious money for a college student, but we had the cash and I was banking on a successful career in Software Development.


Key Features:

  • autofocus with zone and point selection

  • built in flash

  • support for TTL flash exposure

  • auto picture modes (not that I ever used them)

  • aperture (Av) and shutter (Tv) priority auto exposure modes

  • exposure bracketing and double exposure

  • film power drive - up to 2 fps

  • 28-90 mm f3.5 - 5.6 autofocus zoom lens

  • 100-300 mm f4.7 - 5.8 autofocus zoom lens

  • auto ISO detection

  • spot meter exposure lock

  • aperture stop down to preview depth of field

The autofocus made photography SOOOO much easier, especially when trying to capture a candid moment. TTL flash made it possible to capture beautiful portraits that really wouldn't have been possible without an external light meter. It was an amazing camera that served me very well. Even as the digital era began to take over, they simply couldn't compare to the images I was capturing on slide film.


Moving On...


The PENTAX MZ-6 would be the last film camera I ever purchased, and one of the last made by PENTAX. The world was going digital, and I was being left behind. As film became harder to source, my interest for SLR photography slowly died off, replaced by the convince of my point and shoot Lumix digital camera. It wasn't nearly as good, but it sure was easy to take pictures and upload them to the various forums I frequented. It wouldn't be until 2018 when I picked up another SLR - digital that is ;)


Thanks for reading folks! Stay tuned for the next blog post where I talk about my rediscovered passion for photography!

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