I got my first camera, a Nikon FM10 for my twelfth birthday. My dad was the photographer in the family and he would let me play with this cameras on occasion (a photo I took when I was eight - of a sailboat passing a full moon - still hangs in his living room). This, however, was the first one that was mine.
But I was on the fleeting edge of the age of film. Nikon's D1 had come out the year before (with its WHOPPING 2.7 Megapixels), a few years later Canon would release the 1Ds and the DSLR wars were on.
I shot with my FM10 for at least 4 or 5 years. I used the pictures to convince my 8th-grade English teacher to submit my final as a photo project rather than a written paper.
But I quickly succumbed to the pull of digital. When my dad upgraded, he handed me down his D100 and I was hooked. Eventually, I would be able to afford my own cameras and even use them to make some money. But this was the time I said goodbye to film.
Then, this Christmas, my father gifted me a Rolleiflex 2.8D. I opened the box and was floored. This was medium format. I didn't even know where to buy 120 film (he thankfully put a few in the box). I was so excited I loaded my first roll incorrectly and blew out all but two exposures.
Eventually, I settled down and found a manual online. The first thing I learned (after how to load the film) was to slowwwww down. The camera has no autofocus. It has no review screen. It doesn't even have a light-meter. Taking photos requires you to slow down, check your light, and make your adjustments. Compose, focus, recompose, double check focus, consider whether you've correctly estimated the shutter speed for this light, check it with an app, aim, CLICK.
This slow, methodical process has been almost therapeutic. Forced me to slow down and think consciously about what I'm shooting. And between the film and the cost of processing, $2 bucks an exposure will get you to slow down.
Will it be my go to camera. No. My D800 is still my workhorse, but if my Rolli can change the way I think about taking photos. To be more "mindful" in how I plan, compose, and light a photo than this may be the best camera I'll ever use.